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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Easiest DIY Dowel Centering Jig EVER

Sometimes us DIYer's are self taught enthusiast.  Whether you are a DIY welder, woodworker or any other handcraft-er of sorts, you are probably like me in thinking "there must be an easier way"!
I had this "brilliant" idea (I always do) :) to make bobbins/spools like the vintage ones you can purchase on Ebay (if your rich and famous) and fill them with 5 yards of quilt binding. Because this idea is for the boutique project I've been involved in this past year I was determined to make these bobbins because the price of the vintage ones are too high to make any sort of profit on.  So I set out to make my own.  Now of course they will not be vintage but since even the vintage ones are so hard to come by I decided that ladies/gents that sew would love to be able to purchase replica bobbins with bias tape.
Okay so I made my first one.  It took me forever to figure out how to get the hole all the way through the dowel and have the hole in the center of the dowel...  Drilling a hole in a dowel straight is another story in itself and this post is not about that, it's about finding an easy way to mark the center of the dowel without a lot of marking with a pencil.  I found plans for jigs that you could use to scribe lines all the way around the dowel to get the center point. YUK  Since it is my intention to make 50 of these spool (I think they will be a good seller....hoping) this method was too time consuming and I hated having to draw all these lines over and over again.  So....  I began thinking about it...and this is so easy you'll want to kick yourself in the butt if you have ever tried any of the other options available on the internet for getting the center of a dowel!
Okay, finally I'm getting to the part you are probably waiting for, HOW to do it.
You have to have a forstner bit the size of the dowel you are wanting to mark the center of; one like this:

Then you need to get a piece of scrap wood at least slightly larger than your bit and at least 3/4 inch thick.
Using your forstner bit drill through your scrap piece of wood until the point (see the point on the bit above) barely comes through, leaving a tiny pin hole that can be seen on the other side of the wood where you did not drill.

This is a piece of 1x2 scrap pine I had from making a raddle (weaving tool) it is not necessary to have a dado cut into your wood, it's just a scrap piece I had and the dado wasn't a problem for this application so I used it.  In the picture below can you see the tiny hole left on the other side of the wood by the forstner bit?

Now, believe it or not your jig is complete....  place your dowel that is the same size as your forstner bit into the hole you made then using a small nail gently hammer that nail through this tiny hole into your dowel just enough to make an indentation, this is your CENTER YAAAAAA.  The indentation the nail makes will also help you when you begin to drill the hole you need in your dowel because your drill bit will not veer off course as easily.

Here I am placing my dowel into the jig, then I will flip it over.

Here is the jig with the dowel in it and flipped over.  I've placed a nail in the tiny hole and hammered gently enough to make a mark but not so much that I have to use a claw hammer to get the nail out.

Here is my perfectly centered hole in my dowel...YAAAAAAA

Now, even though this post is not about drilling the hole in your dowel, I thought I'd share another tip with you.  You can use this same jig to hold your dowel upright and straight for drilling your hole.

Now having said that, there is one exception.  If you have an awesome drill press that will actually drill a hole all the way through your dowel (I don't, I have to turn my dowel over and drill again to make a hole all the way through a dowel longer and a couple inches or so) then you will not want to use your jig to hold your dowel in a straight upright position, you will want to make another jig using the same forstner bit to hold your dowel upright and straight to drill your hole.  By the way, if you have a drill press that will drill all the way through your dowel...I AM JEALOUS!  :)

So here is my project started, in this item for sale there will be this rack made using Home Depot rulers that will have picture hangers on the back so it can be hung if desired and 5 or 6 spools (haven't decided yet) filled with 5 yards of bias tape on each bobbin/spool in different colors.  I think (still thinking about it) I'll leave the spools unfinished so customers can finish them if they want or not if they don't.  I have considered putting a color wash on them that will match the bias tape but that is more work so....thinking, always thinking.

This is the first spool I made before the centering jig...if you look closely the hole is NOT centered.  :)  mistakes always seem to inspire creativity don't you think?

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