I've got some dowels whose diameters are slightly bigger than what I need, and I don't want to purchase some smaller ones since I'm on a tight budget. Does anyone know how to reduce the diameter throughout the length of the dowel, preferably efficiently? I only need to reduce the diameter throughout the dowel by 0.25~0.5 cm.I was thinking maybe I can sand it down either with sanding paper, file, electric sander or a electric belt sander, but am not sure whether it will work or will be time efficient (the project is slightly in a rush). Many thanks.

  • 2
    I haven't tried this, so your mileage (kilometerage?) will undoubtedly vary... there are commercial dowel plates ( leevalley.com/us/wood/page.aspx?p=70555&cat=1,42524 ) that you could probably mimic by drilling a hole through reasonably thick (~4mm) steel plate. Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 15:39
  • While this is not the question you asked most of the answers still apply here.
    – Matt
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 16:02
  • @Matt, I agree that some of the answers to that other question apply here, but I don't think it's a duplicate. This question assumes you have a dowel already, but it's just a bit too big.
    – grfrazee
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 15:51
  • @grfrazee True. But several of the answers work for making a smaller dowel out of a larger. Pencil shaver and dowel plate for example. Seems like a good dupe to me. The questions dont have to match for a good dupe target.
    – Matt
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 16:07

3 Answers 3


While you can sand dowels to reduce their diameter it's not the most efficient method even to take off just a millimetre or two, and it's difficult to ensure consistency along the length. Especially since you want to remove as much as 5mm I think you'd be much better of using a cutting rather than a sanding operation, following the rule shavings > dust where possible.

So I think your best option here would be to rig up a simple dowel-cutting tool, which at its most basic requires one piece of wood, a sharp edge of some kind and two clamps to hold everything in place.

Here are a few different iterations of the concept:

Various dowel cutters

And a few links for more details:
Tim Manney's site

  • dont think i've come across this tool many times before, will check it out.
    – tsp216
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 14:03

Chuck the dowel in a drill and make a jig. Two pieces of wood 90 degrees. Glue sandpaper to them and then turn on the drill. Depending on how much you want to take off and it doesn't sound like much I would use a lighter grit. Good luck.

  • that sounds quite creative, I'll try it
    – tsp216
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 14:01
  • The only drawback to gluing the sandpaper to the wood is that you're going to wear out the sandpaper pretty quickly (especially with hardwood dowels), and replacing glued down sandpaper will be a pain.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 16:09

As you suggested, the simplest way is sanding. I would start with a coarse grain sand paper (60 or lower) to get the bulk of the material removal, since 2.5 to 5 mm is quite a bit to sand away. The best way to reduce the diameter evenly is to put the dowel in a drill, then spin the drill while at the same time holding the sand paper to the dowel.

A few suggestions:

  • Don't hold the sand paper with your hand - it will get very hot very fast. Use a thick glove, or better yet, a concave piece of wood to hold the sand paper. Going slower with the drill will help with this.
  • If the dowel is thicker than what can fit in the chuck of the drill, shave off at the tip of the dowel until it does. This will cost you a few CM off of the length of the dowel.
  • If the dowel is fairly long, you should brace it on the other end. The simplest way would be putting the end of the dowel through a round hole in a piece of wood.
  • Yes, you are right. I always got the two confused. Corrected.
    – Eli Iser
    Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 7:07

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