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While most people think of larger diameter wood dowels such as broom sticks, wood handles and flag poles, dowels have many uses with smaller diameter objects. Smaller diameter dowels are used for different applications in the health and food and beverage industries.
Small dowels in the food and beverage industry include skewers, some with pointed ends and some with blunt ends. Other uses are for candy apple sticks, marshmallow and rock candy sticks. These dowels often have a ball tip. Wood skewers are typically produced at diameters from 1/8” – ¼” that range from a couple inches up to 10” length for large scale food processors. Dowels for this use are almost always made using birch wood because it is non-conductive, doesn’t splinter as well as being tasteless.
In the health and beauty industry, small diameter dowels include manicure sticks. Some sticks are used with a cotton ball wound around the end and others to push back cuticles and the ends are dependent on the use, such as blunt or pointed. Sticks can also be produced in a variety of colors. Manicure sticks are typically 5/32” in diameter with ends pointed and / or beveled. Originally intended for the cosmetic industry, these dowels have found considerable application in the electronics industry as a non- conductive, heat-resistant tool for assembly and repairs. While often called orangewood sticks, these small diameter dowels are made almost exclusively from white birch. Wooden manicure sticks are inexpensive, environmentally friendly and disposable.
A small diameter dowel with various shapes on each end has also found considerable use in the electronics and telecommunications field. A spudger is a thin tool used for adjusting or holding down wires, typically in tight spaces. These are often made from plastic, though wood is an ideal medium as it is relatively durable, heat resistant, soft enough to not mar delicate surfaces, ESD safe and finally inexpensive. As such, manicure or orangewood sticks have become commonplace in assembly and repair of electronics.
Knitting needles are also a use for small diameter dowels as well as for a variety of crafts. While production scale dowel orders are available from suppliers such as Arnold Wood Turning, smaller dowels can be found at craft, chef and beauty supply stores.
Secondary operations on dowels include ferruling, laser imprinting, pad printing, rounding, silk screening, tapering and tennoning.
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