If woodworking is your thing, it’s likely that one of the few pieces you don’t mind buying in prefabricated form is the dowel. These long cylinders can supplement craft projects (for instance, tons of DIY home decor), but they can also serve as the building blocks for your next complex, visionary sculpture. Wooden dowels are generally made with hardwood such as beech and poplar, which makes them reliably strong. We’ve scoured the market to find the best dowel rods of various lengths and diameters; check out our recommendations below.
1. Darice Dowel Rods
Crafting mainstay Darice offers the best all-purpose dowel rods in our book. Made of poplar, the rods feature a tight grain and look uniform from piece to piece, with no unsightly pockmarks or stains to distract the eye. These sturdy rods are also burr-free from end to end and feature perfectly flat bases. We also like that Darice offers rods in a variety of diameters, from ¼ inch to 1 inch, and in lengths up to 36 inches.
2. StesoShop Wooden Dowels
Can’t decide which dowel size to buy for your projects? We recommend picking up this 60-pack of wooden dowels, which includes pieces in three diameters: ⅛, 3/16, and ¼ inch. Each rod measures 12 inches in length—the most common consumer length for this material. The smaller dowels give you the best of both worlds: stable and not likely to break, yet still nicely slender and easy to cut with a knife without producing uneven edges.
3. Bright Creations Square Wood Dowel Rods
Unlike traditional dowels, which are cylindrical, these feature a square cross-section—perfect for joinery projects that require snug-fitting pieces. These ¼-inch-thick rods are precisely cut, with smooth and even edges, and accurate 90-degere angles. They are also free of warping and have an attractive grain.
4. Woodpeckers Dowel Rods
These Baltic birch dowels are a good choice for educators on the hunt for affordable products they can buy in bulk. You can pick up a pack of 1,000, 2,500, or even 5,000 and choose among six lengths, from 6 inches to 48 inches. These dowels measure ¼ inch in diameter and are well sanded to ensure that the rods you receive a splinter-free—particularly important when handled by young artists. Our one gripe is they are not as precisely cut as higher-end products, but if you’re buying in bulk, you’ll likely find rods that match up well.
5. Hill Wood Products Dowel Rods
All other dowels on this list are made of light-colored hardwood. If your projects require something with a darker finish, consider working with woods like cherry, red oak, and walnut. Hill, a decades-old Minnesota wood products manufacturer, makes beautiful (and pricey) dowels in all three of those wood types, and they are available in seven diameters. The rods are well cut, totally smooth, and perfectly round. They are sold by the piece, each one measuring 36 inches long.