Drilling Out a Broken Dowel

It's kind of like pulling a wisdom tooth. February 26, 2007

How do I remove a broken dowel from a canopy bedpost finial without breaking the finial? I recently had two dowels broke off the finials leaving about 2" as I was struggling to erect the canopy frame by myself.

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor M:
You need to drill out the dowel. You can do this either at the drill press with the workpiece in a vice with cork-lined jaws that conform to the profile of the finial, or if the finial is small enough you can make a set of jaws for a dowelling jig to fit around.

Don't just clamp down without some cushioned shop made jaws to match part of the outside radius of the finial or you'll deform the edges. Also, be sure to do a good estimate on your depth settings so as to not blow out of the top of the finial.

From contributor B:
I would do pretty much what Matt said, but you may want to try something a little different. Instead of trying to drill out the entire broken dowel, try to drill a small hole in the center, and then screw a screw about half way down. Then, depending how much glue was used or how old the bed is, you can pull out the dowel. Its kind of like pulling a tooth. The screw makes it easier to pull out, perhaps with pliers or a claw hammer. When it comes out, it leaves a clean hole.

From contributor T:
We jig the finial (version of previous posts) and bore on the center of the dowel/finial after cutting the dowel off flush with finial bottom; starting with undersize bits and increasing the bit size incrementally till either the remaining dowel walls release with the boring. Or when its bored out to near final size, we pick out the remaining "peanut-shell" walls with an awl, leaving the original bore. Then we might do a final on-size bore to clean up. It often makes sense to glue the new dowels into the posts. That makes it easier to fit the tester rails over and slide the finial on last.