I am working on a project that requires a few cherry dowels around 3/4" long and 3/16" in diameter. I don't think I can get cherry dowels from the home center and I don't want to wait for an order to be shipped. I decided to build a dowel jig. It's nothing more than a steel plate with a series of holes (or dies) of decreasing diameter. The idea is that when the stock is driven through a die, any wood that doesn't fit will be trimmed away. Then the next smaller die is used, trimming down the stock a little more. This process is repeated until a dowel of the desired diameter is produced.
I started with this rough stock. These are cherry scraps about 1/4" x 1/4" at the largest.
I whittled the stock into a rough octagon then whittled a point on one end so it would fit in a die. Then I drove the stock through the dies in succession, starting with the largest which is 1/4". Here are the 3/16th dowels produced by driving the stock through the first 5 holes.
About half of my stock broke as I drove it through. This is because the grain wasn't straight or the wood had a flaw. The stock will break if there is any weakness so choose your stock carefully. Next time I'll use better wood and get a better result.
The largest hole in the jig above is 1/4" in diameter. The holes decease by 64ths to the smallest hole which is 1/8". I'd have to support the dowel stock somehow if I try to make a dowel smaller than 3/16".