DIY Wood Dowel Hooks

Saturday, October 22, 2022

wood dowel display hooks for barrel stave
Right, there are a bazillion tutorials online about how to DIY wood dowel hooks quickly and easily, say in 15 minutes, or I suppose in this case these are more like wall display pegs, but this DIY is different. 

How so?

Well, maybe not technically different and no doubt the process is nearly the same but these specific DIY wood dowel hooks/display pegs hold something extraordinary. 

Spottily I’ve mentioned in extreme passing, and more directly, that I had something special, that something special was going to happen.  And it did.  

So ultimately this post is briefly about these wood dowel wall display pegs, heh, but mostly about what’s on them:  a wood barrel stave piece. 

Huh?  What’s so exciting about this wood barrel stave piece?  It came from Glenfarclas Distillery in Scotland and I was there and brought it home. 

outside and inside of wood barrel stave piece from Glenfarclas
Top, outside.  Bottom, burnt inside.  It still smelled of whisky when I got it home.
What's a wood stave?  It's a piece of the wood barrel used to age whisky.  In this instance, barrels made in Spain used for sherry then used for whisky in Ballindalloch.

See, back in the 1940’s, my great uncle Wesley Polk was the Chief State Highway Engineer downstate there in Springfield, Illinois.  I discovered in my research that he even worked on a portion of Route 66.  

Anywhoo, he passed away in 1965; I never met him. 

My parents went down and collected items from his home and brought them up north.  For some unknown reason, they grabbed some of his liquor collection.  

As it turns out, people would stop in to visit him, bottle of liquor in tow, um, seeking.........ok, they bribed him for contracts.  And he didn't drink so he just held onto them.

My parents are not interested in liquor either, so, odd they grabbed them, therefore the bottles sat and sat and sat.  For decades. 

Until their big move when one day they offered Mike and I two crates filled with old bottles, "take them otherwise we’ll toss ‘em".  I am so happy we brought them home. 

After poking around online, I came to understand one bottle in particular held interest:  

Glenfarclas whisky bottle in still room
Photo credit:  John Paul Photography
What makes this particular bottle special?  Initially I was told because a.) it's old and b.) it's a single malt.  Additionally, I suspected it might have been part of a small shipment back in the 1930's to East St. Louis but wasn't positive.

Online, people were offering me attractive monetary sums for this bottle, one even going so far as to not reveal the name of the interested buyer (pretty sure I figured it out).  

This got me thinking.  These are random people and I don't think I like knowing that some rando' will have a part of my family history....lemme just drop an email to Glenfarclas, see what they say.

I heard back from the Chairman of the distillery himself, Mr. John Grant.  Yes.  I about fell on the floor.  

He said yes, this looks good, thank you for contacting us, we are interested.  We'll pay you what you've been offered.  

I said terrific (all the while thinking to myself holy sh*t, ok this is outstanding, the bottle will go where it's cherished, where it originated; I like this way better) and I'll use the funds to come visit someday, hopefully meet you, see the bottle on display.

Oh right the DIY wood dowel hooks.  Here's my supply list:

John Grant writes me back and says all right, we'll buy the bottle from you but too, we'll fly you out and take you around Scotland for a week, all on us.  


Now.  This kind of thing does not happen to me.  I am the walking definition of Murphy's Law, as we've well established.  My jaw hit the floor.  I about passed out.  I could not believe it.  I still cannot.

We emailed back and forth for about five years.  First Mike and I tried to find someone who could watch mean ol' Finn.  Impossible.  Then the pandemic hit and still no help on a dog sitter.

Then Mike said, babe, you should just go, go without me.  That broke my heart in THE Worst way.  I really wanted him to go.  My cool woodworking friend Scott went in his place.  Lucky Scott, right?!

Needless to say, the hardest part of the trip was Mike not going.  That and next to it, packing the bottle to go in my checked baggage.  Dammit, TSA.

Additionally special about this bottle is that at the time, back then, no one was really making single malt whisky, it wasn't popular so it was made mostly for blending.  To find a single malt of this age, that is rare.  Talk about extra paranoid packing it.

So off I went to Scotland.  

I'll continue the story in another post as I should really get to these DIY wood dowel hooks, these display peg thingies.  In the meantime, please buy lots of Glenfarclas whisky.*

Right!  DIY!  Ok!

First I measured up my piece of barrel stave then measured how far it would stick out from the wall by holding it up against my workbench.  

Based on that, I cut three pieces of 3/4" dowel:  two at 1 1/2" long and one at 2 1/2" long.  When you cut these, you can cut them straight up and down as I did or in the case of a hook, cut them on an angle.

Yes, more dowels.  They're great, what can I say?!

Using a ruler,* find the center of the dowel by drawing an X, meaning connect opposite corners to form the X which finds you center.

finding center on square dowels
I tried dowel screws first, the only size Menards had at the time, and they were too fat for wall anchors so I went with hanger bolts eventually.
With a drill bit just barely matching the diameter of the dowel screws* or hanger bolts* you're using, drill out the holes.

tools for drilling the dowel holes
If you can drill straight, I am cheering you on but I used my drill guide.*  Tip:  measure the end of the hardware going into the dowel and tape off your drill bit* with painters tape* so you know how far to drill.
Twist one end of the dowel screw or hanger bolt into the dowel.  Feel free to paint the dowels, stain them, seal them up, what-have-you.

screwing in hanger bolts to dowels
Back where you want to hang your item, do some measuring and ugh some math.  In my case, I found center of the wall.

Drill out the hole in the wall and pound in your wall anchor.  As my wood stave piece isn't heavy, I went with just regular wall anchors, and in this case #12 to hold the #10 end of the hanger bolt.  

After putting the middle in, I whipped out the laser level,* skootched it down to center of the dowel then measured equal distances in from the wall sides for the remaining wood dowel hooks/display pegs.

placing DIY wood dowel hooks/display pegs on wall
Then just screw in your DIY wood dowel hooks!

screwing in wood dowel hook into wall anchor
Due to the lip of the wall anchor, they'll unfortunately sit a little proud of the wall.
Set the item you're displaying on your new display pegs and voila!  Super cool!

displaying wood barrel stave on DIY wood dowel hooks
Now I get to wake up every morning, see this wood barrel stave...

wall display with wood dowel hooks and barrel stave
The murder of crows is by John Fesken.
....and think of my great uncle Wes, the bribes.....

close up of wood dowel hook peg and wood stave the bottle came to us....

close up of barrel stave end and wood dowel wall display peg

....the adventure of learning more about the bottle, the emails back and forth, planning the trip...

view of completed wall display with DIY wood dowel hooks

...going to Scotland...

view of wall with artwork
...John and Ishbel Grant, Debs, Douglas, Callum, John, Chloe, Donna, and Steve, to name a scant few of the exceptionally remarkable people I met at Glenfarclas.

What a way to wake up, huh?!

*The Glenfarclas whisky link is a Drizly affiliate link.  The dowel screws and hanger bolts are both Amazon and Home Depot affiliate links.  The rulers, drill guides, drill bits, painters tape, and laser levels are Amazon.  The wall anchors are a Lowes affiliate link.  Mwah, thanks!  Please see the "boring stuff" tab for more info.


  1. That is amazing! What a once in a lifetime adventure! Looking forward to the next post.

    1. Oh thank you so much! It was for sure a once in a lifetime adventure and I am immensely grateful. Excellent, thank you!

  2. I want to hear more about your Scotland trip. I'm an American whose husband was offered a 3 yr. post to Edinburgh in the 1970's. We spent the time well. Where all did you go?

    1. Oh wow, how fabulous! I have no doubt that was a tremendous time! Ok, no problem, I'll get on a post then! My friend and I did pretty much a circle around the country with a brief jaunt to the Faroe Islands but I'll share more. Thank you for asking!


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