Short end of the stick

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We’ve talked before about the cheapening of woodworking products and supplies. I stumbled across another example over the weekend.

Yes, many woodworking supplies are getting cheaper and shoddier – and more expensive at the same time. This is a fact and woodworkers have discussed it repeatedly here and elsewhere. You can usually avoid junk by just buying supplies from higher-end vendors. Don’t like plywood with veneer so thin you can see the grain of the substrate through it? Then don’t buy it at a Big Box store, and get it from a “real” lumber dealer instead. Easy enough.

But sometimes the cheap things sneak up on you. Like hardwood dowels, for example. Dowels are about as simple as it gets, and the only two real issues with dowels are if they’re consistent diameter and if they’re straight. And because of the nature of wood itself, you’re going to have those issues no matter where you buy them. For that reason, I’ve never hesitated to grab them at the Big Box store when I needed them. But the other day I came home with this:

Finger-jointed dowels? Yikemo, just how cheap can you get? I had no idea it was even finger-jointed out of shorter pieces until I was cutting it the other day and just happened to notice the difference in grain right where I was about to cut.

On the plus side, now that I know that finger-jointed dowels are “a thing,” they’ll be easy enough to avoid from now on simply by looking closely at them before buying.

Still, it’s an extreme of cheapness I never would have expected.

A.J.

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