I decided to make my masts and sprit out of swiss pear. They need to be 5/16" in diameter at the base, and tapered. Obviously there is no commercial source so I'll make my own. The first step is to drill a 21/64" hole in some mild steel. Then I cut out mast blanks on the table saw a hair larger that the hole. I sharpened the tip of the blanks, then chucked them into my 1/2" electric drill. Using the steel as a drawplate, I pushed the spinning wood through the hole. The resulting dowels were a bit rough, bu I have at least 1/64 to play with and they clean up easily. Once they're at 5/16", I'll taper them. Here's a photo of the blanks and the resulting unsanded dowels. I also linked to a You Tube video showing the technique.
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