Author Topic: Oak or softwood dowels?  (Read 648 times)

Oak or softwood dowels?
« on: April 13, 2021, 07:12:14 am »
I'm building some raised beds with sleepers laid narrow edge down, two sleepers high. The bottom layer will be screwed together with threaded rod driven through and into the ground to stabilise it and the top layer screwed together and also into the bottom layer vertically with sleeper screws. I plan on boring a wider hole than the bolt shaped screw heads an inch or so deep and filling with wood dowels to hide the sleeper screw heads and tidy it all up. The question is with softwood sleepers should I use oak or softwood dowels. Oak would obviously be more resistant to rot but would it work driven into a softwood sleeper?
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

robgul

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Re: Oak or softwood dowels?
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2021, 07:40:25 am »
I'd go for softwood as it's more like to shrink/expand in parallel with the softwood sleepers and keep the "hole" filled.
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Re: Oak or softwood dowels?
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2021, 10:56:05 pm »
I made a feature of my fixings. Coach bolts with large square galvanized washers Underneath. It's on our allotment. Lynn was asked where she brought it...
Maybe I should post a picture sometime

Re: Oak or softwood dowels?
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2021, 08:26:05 am »
Whichever wood you use, the grain of the dowel will be exposed and so the dowel will soak up water faster than the surrounding timber and also dry out faster.  For that reason oak dowel might be better.

Better still, get a plug cutter and cut a plug so you have the grain lying in the same direction as the sleeper grain and then just use the same timber as the sleepers.  Everything will move in harmony.
Sic transit and all that..

Re: Oak or softwood dowels?
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2021, 10:14:15 am »
I like the plug cutter idea but don't have any spare sleepers.

I ended up buying 16mm beech dowels as they were available and precut to 9cm lengths. Since I need about 50 that's reduced the number of cuts needed by 1/2 as I will just need to flush cut them with a Japanese saw.
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

Aunt Maud

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Re: Oak or softwood dowels?
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2021, 06:18:23 pm »
Beech will rot away, as it isn't a durable timber.

Re: Oak or softwood dowels?
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2021, 10:48:05 am »
I like the plug cutter idea but don't have any spare sleepers.

I ended up buying 16mm beech dowels as they were available and precut to 9cm lengths. Since I need about 50 that's reduced the number of cuts needed by 1/2 as I will just need to flush cut them with a Japanese saw.

Yup beech is an indoor timber.  I often cut plugs from the unexposed side of the timber.  Only I will know.
Sic transit and all that..

Re: Oak or softwood dowels?
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2021, 02:39:14 pm »
Beech will rot away, as it isn't a durable timber.

Oh bugger. Maybe I should have gone for oak.

Will it rot any faster than the softwood sleepers its plugging holes in though ?
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

Re: Oak or softwood dowels?
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2021, 03:07:07 pm »
Bit the bullet and ordered some oak dowels. Might as well do it properly.
I guess the beech ones will come in useful for something - I have 65 16mm x 90mm ones ....
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

Aunt Maud

  • Le Flâneur.
Re: Oak or softwood dowels?
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2021, 06:10:51 pm »
I would hope that your softwood sleepers have been tantalised. If so, then yes.

But then, if you bore into them you'll go past the depth of the tantalising, so stopping water getting into that point is a priority if you want things to last.

Re: Oak or softwood dowels?
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2021, 09:39:40 am »
I would hope that your softwood sleepers have been tantalised. If so, then yes.

But then, if you bore into them you'll go past the depth of the tantalising, so stopping water getting into that point is a priority if you want things to last.

Yes tantalised. Ill slop something suitable in the holes before I drive the oak dowels in.
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

Jaded

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Re: Oak or softwood dowels?
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2021, 10:06:36 am »
What have they been tantalised with  ;D ;D
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

Re: Oak or softwood dowels?
« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2021, 06:55:05 am »
Would sleepers react to tantalising anyway?
Sic transit and all that..

PaulF

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Re: Oak or softwood dowels?
« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2021, 07:21:51 am »
Would sleepers react to tantalising anyway?

You'll have to ask an incubus.