I picked this up at a local 2nd hand store. It is 20"x2"x1/2", cast iron. The holes go from 1/8" to 3/4" diameter. Years ago, I helped a friend put a post & beam addition on his home. All Dovetail, scarf joints, etc., with homemade oak dowels. He made the dowels by taking split square pieces of seasoned oak and pounding them thru a large hole in a thick piece of metal he had made, shaving off the outer edges. He had holes decreasing in diameter until it was the 3/4" he wanted. This looks like the same idea. But starting at 3/4" and possibly ending at 1/8", or whichever size was desired. Is this what I think or am I off base? enter image description here enter image description here I added a profile shot to show it's thickness, this looks like old cast iron, I see no marks to identify the manufacturer, is this common to not have a manufacturer on the cast? Is there a way to figure out hold old this is? When did they stop making these out of cast iron?

Thanks for all of your feedback.

  • This certainly looks to be a dowel plate. Not sure if you were being generic there, "It's cast from iron" or specifically meant cast iron but if it is the latter that would be an odd choice for the material as it's quite brittle. – Graphus Oct 9 at 20:41
  • Graphus, I added a profile shot to the original posting to show it's thickness. Since it's 1/2" thick, it looks like it can handle the job of rounding out square pegs for round holes. – Scannit Oct 9 at 22:34
  • Please don't tack on additional questions to a Question. Each SE Question should be about one thing, as much as possible. To answer the questions though, yes, no (can only guess), and I don't believe these would ever have been commonly made of cast iron because as I mentioned it's brittle and easily fractured. Now instead of grey cast iron, the common type, it could be the other form, nodular cast iron. But if this was user-made as it appears to be the chances are very slim indeed that it was cast. Being forged from wrought iron, mild steel or some form of carbon steel is far more likely. – Graphus Oct 10 at 12:04

It is called a dowel plate, and several manufacturers sell them nowadays - e.g., Lie-Nielsen. You could also make your own, which might be what you have there. You are spot on with the usage - pound a piece of square stock through the holes in decreasing diameter until your dowel is the size you want.

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    Aren't the holes of a dowel plate typically square-edged, though? These have a fairly extreme chamfer on them. This seems like it would prevent the wood from splitting off, compressing the waste instead of forcing it out away from the hole. – SaSSafraS1232 Oct 10 at 23:44
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    @SaSSafraS1232, the chamfered holes are usually on the exit side of the tool. – B540Glenn Oct 11 at 17:30

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