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The traditional tool for making dowels is a dowel plate, an iron (or better, hardened tool steel) plate with a hole having the size of the desired dowel. To make a dowel, a piece of wood is split or whittled to a size slightly bigger than desired and then driven through the hole in the dowel plate. The sharp edges of the hole shear off the excess wood.
A second approach to cutting dowels is to rotate a piece of oversized stock past a fixed knife, or alternatively, to rotate the knife around the stock. Machines based on this principle emerged in the 19th century. Frequently, these are small bench-mounted tools.
For modest manufacturing volumes, wood dowels are typically manufactured on industrial dowel machines based on the same principles as the rotary cutters described above. Such machines may employ interchangeable cutting heads of varying diameters, thus enabling the machines to be quickly changed to manufacture different dowel diameters. Typically, the mechanism is open-ended, with material guides at the machine's entry and exit to enable fabrication of continuous dowel rod of unlimited length. Since the 19th century, some of these dowel machines have had power feed mechanisms to move the stock past the cutting mechanism.
High-volume dowel manufacturing is done on a wood shaper, which simultaneously forms multiple dowels from a single piece of rectangular stock (i.e., wood). These machines employ two wide, rotating cutting heads, one above the stock and one below it. The heads have nearly identical cutting profiles so that each will form an array of adjoined, side-by-side "half dowels". The heads are aligned to each other and one head is shaped to make deeper cuts along the dowel edges so as to part the stock into individual dowel rods, resulting in a group of dowel rods emerging in parallel at the machine's output.
Happy April Fools, folks! The raffle is fake, by the way. You can still search for animals, though.