Problem Solving Products: Issue 21

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This article is from Issue 21 of Woodcraft Magazine.

When it’s okay to screw up your wood

THE PRODUCT: Wood Threading Kit
MADE BY: Woodcraft
WHAT IT DOES: Creates matching threads on hardwood dowels and in holes.
AVAILABLE AT WOODCRAFT: ½", ¾", 1", 1¼", 1½" diameters, #12T13-#12T17
PRICE: $32.99 to $42.99
TESTER: John English

Anybody who collects antiques knows of the myriad of applications that old world woodworkers found for threaded dowels (see “Best Applications” on page 69). The large, coarse threads offer remarkable holding power and an astonishing degree of torque. And now, with the Wood Threading Kit—which offers precision cutters—you can make short work of cutting both inside and outside threads, though a few precautions are in order.

THE KIT: The kit includes a threadbox for threading the dowel and a tap to thread holes for the threaded dowel. The hard maple threadbox has a cast and machined aluminum guide and a V-shaped steel cutter held in place by a brass cutter lock. The matching tap comes with a steel T-bar handle that provides torque while threading the pilot hole.

THreading SETUP: For external threading, choose perfectly round and straight-grained hardwood dowels for best results. I took the threadbox to the lumberyard to check that the dowels I bought were a good fit—not too loose or tight. Use the hole in the rectangular hardwood block screwed to the bottom of the threadbox as a guide. The dowel should fit into this hole without any slop.

Following the instructions, I sanded a 1/8" chamfer on the dowel end to be threaded by rotating it against a belt sander at about 45° as shown in Photo A. Then I clamped the dowel vertically in a bench vise with wooden jaws, and applied a light coating of linseed oil as a lubricant during threading. (The oil can be reduced later on with mineral spirits, if a different finish will be applied, and tung oil works, too. See the Tip Alert.) More lubricant usually means a smoother cut, but a bigger mess.

THE TEST: Next, I placed the threadbox on the dowel end, applied a little downward pressure during the first turn, and then kept turning in a clockwise direction as shown in the above photo. Once you start, do not back up more than a quarter turn or you could mess up your threads. If the cutter is sharp (and ours came from the factory that way), the whole operation will go very smoothly. I achieved excellent results on the very first try.

The Wood Threading Kit accommodates ½", ¾", 1", 1¼", 1½" hardwood dowels and includes a threadbox (A) for the external threads and a tap with T-bar (B) for carving out internal threads; to drill the starter tapping holes, you’ll also need a 3/8", 5/8", 7/8" (C), 17/8", 13/8" drill bit, respectively. For a blind hole (as opposed to a through-hole tap) pick up an appropriately sized bottom tap (D).

BEST APPLICATIONS: The Wood Threading Kit proves ideal for making antique planes, handscrews, bar clamps, vises, and veneer presses. In the world of home furnishings, you’ll see threaded parts used in adjustable candle and music stands, novelty boxes (having wooden nuts and bolts), tabletop nutcrackers, knockdown furniture, and toys.

TESTER’S TAKE: Though the kit is remarkably easy to use, the cutter will require sharpening with extensive use. I found it fun to use contrasting species such as walnut dowels on maple projects. Two things to keep in mind when threading dowels are to oil the threads before screwing the dowel into the hole (or it will never come out!), and also to thread a long dowel and then cut it off close to the threadbox, so that you don’t have to reverse the cutter along the part that you want to keep. 

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