Dowel wood seems calculated to raise blisters without a good job of sanding and finishing. Between the effort needed to track down a dowel of that length and thickness, cutting it, sanding it and finishing it, I wonder if you couldn't scrounge through dumpsters for deposit bottles and buy a real jo for less effort ;-)
some people just like to build things with their own hands. a friend of mine did just that. he could have buy a bunch of nice jo, but decided to make one himself. it's also good that he's a wood worker too.