Doweling plate number one
A doweling plate -- or doweling jig? -- is just a piece of metal with holes the diameter of your intended dowel. You whittle a piece of wood to slightly larger than your intended dowel, make the ends a little narrower than the hole, and pound the wood through the hole with a mallet. What results is a small wooden cylinder: a dowel!!!
The first photo (above) shows the basis of my doweling jig: a piece of angle iron, left over from another project (it already had the two small holes on the ends, and the small hole in the middle). I asked my brother-in-law, who does metalworking, to drill two additional holes. This gave me a total of three holes in the middle for making dowels; the two on the ends are for mounting the doweling plate to the frame.
The holes are guidance holes: because the metal for this doweling plate is thinner than most doweling plates, there's a chance that the resulting dowels might pull to the side as they go through, resulting in curved dowels. So I drilled holes through the wood to keep the dowels straight. I also "relieved" the underside of the holes a little bit -- so only about half of the thickness of the wood is actually guiding the dowels.
-the knife (a multi-tool, recently given to me by Old Roommate) that I used to whittle the ends down
-an example of a dowel blank
-the hammer I use to gently tap the "dowel extractor"
-the "dowel extractor", made of copper (explained below), and
-a completed dowel!
Usually each dowel is driven out of the doweling jig by the next, incoming dowel. But how you do remove the very last dowel? For this, I made a "dowel extractor". It's length of scrap copper tubing (courtesy of my wife's late grandfather's pile o' metal things, next to our chicken coop!). I'm using copper because it's softer than the steel doweling plate -- so if I accidentally bump the edge of the doweling hole with the dowel extractor I won't mess up the edge. The stripey electrician's tape just makes it easier to find it among the debris -- and also indicates "NOT GARBAGE! THIS IS AN ACTUAL TOOL.".
I'll post pics of the other doweling plate when I've made more progress on it.