Greene inspired Night Stand #19: Making Lots of Ebony Plugs

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Blog entry by ChicoWoodnut posted 09-13-2008 09:51 PM 10906 reads 15 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 18: Making Drawers Part 19 of Greene inspired Night Stand series Part 20: Setting Ebony Plugs »

I have been making Ebony plugs for the nightstands. There are 96 plugs in this project (48 per nightstand) so I needed to make a production run out of it. I decided to do a little “how I did it” for those who might need this in the future.

The plugs will be set into their square holes with the edges flush to the surface. The tops are pillowed ~1/64” making them sit proud. Each plug must be polished to give it a beautiful sheen.

I started with 6 1/4” X 3/4” X 3/4” ebony pen blanks that I bought off of ebay. They were pretty reasonable and high quality pieces. Ping me if you want the source.

Next I cut them down to 5/16” squares with the band saw. If you make 5 sticks you can do both ends at the same time and make 10 plugs at a whack.

I use this jig to turn them into perfectly square 1/4” stock. Actually they are ~1/64” over 1/4 so they will fit into 1/4” holes tightly.

This is done with my #4. Plane two opposite sides until the plane takes no more shavings, then the other two sides leaving smooth square stock.

I made a jig using Darrell Peart’s model from his book “Greene & Greene – Design Elements for the Workshop”. I won’t reveal the dimensions out of respect for Darrell but the general idea is to spin the stock in the hole rounding off the end. The Worksharp actually works pretty good for this because I can use finer sandpaper than a disk sander (which I don’t own). I highly recommend Darrell’s book if you want to make furniture in this style.

This is what the end looks like so far.

I used my Jointer push paddles with 220 sandpaper to further sand the ends round and smooth. The foam padding makes this pretty easy. It takes about 20 seconds to get each end ready for the next step.

I loaded up a polishing wheel with green polishing compound and buffed the end of each stick. The wheel is actually spinning in this picture. The camera froze it pretty well ;) I will not use the green stuff again. I would rather use jewlers rouge or diamond paste but I couldn’t source it where I live. I’ll be ordering some on line for next time.

I had a hard time getting a good shot of the polished end. It has a nice warm black sheen. The green stuff is hard to clean off.

Next I cut off the 1/4” plugs from each end. I tried to use the bandsaw but it was a little scary when the plug tried to get jammed in the table plate and came shooting back at me. It was just as easy to use my back saw.

A cornucopia of ebony plugs.

It wasn’t a lot of fun but not too bad. It takes about 15 minutes to do 10 plugs (five sticks x 2 ends). Now that I have it worked out I will be more productive in the future.

Next step, making square holes and setting plugs.

-- Scott - Chico California

11 comments so far

View bfd's profile


502 posts in 3801 days

#1 posted 09-13-2008 10:13 PM

Hi Scott,

These look great! perfect timing too because I have to make some ebony plugs on my next project. I will be pinning some through M&T joints in a figured bubinga side table. Thanks for the detailed explaination and the great photos.

View stanley2's profile


344 posts in 3789 days

#2 posted 09-13-2008 11:07 PM

Scott – I’m looking forward to your blog on champhering the sides quickly and efficiently without having them jump around and falling off the table – that’s 384 cuts. You probably saw that Darrel keeps the cut-off under control on the bandsaw using the rubber end of a pencil – it works.

-- Phil in British Columbia

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10091 posts in 4046 days

#3 posted 09-13-2008 11:31 PM


Thank you!

Tip for using Band Saw:
Get a cardboard backer from a Pad of paper… 8×10 is a nice size.
Cut into the cardboard 1/2 way across it and stop at 1/2 way through it.
(blade should be about in the middle of the sheet.)
Turn off BS.
Tape down the corners.
Proceed to use it for your small pieces… will not fall into that space!

Works like a charm!

Very nice procedure for making them!

Can hardly wait to see the finished projects.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View Texasgaloot's profile


464 posts in 3694 days

#4 posted 09-13-2008 11:53 PM

These are turning out really cool. I can’t figure out why all my square plugs won’t fit in my round holes, though.

-- There's no tool like an old tool...

View ChicoWoodnut's profile


904 posts in 3809 days

#5 posted 09-14-2008 06:00 AM

Brian: Thanks! I can hardly wait to see that side table. Does it have any bent laminates?

Phil: The Chamfering won’t be nearly as horrible as making all the holes for the plugs to sit in.

Joe: Thanks for the tip! I’ll be using that one in the future. I was thinking of making a zero clearance insert but didn’t want to spend the time. The paper idea seems elegant.

Tex: Chamfer the bottoms. Then they’ll fit ;)

-- Scott - Chico California

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4121 days

#6 posted 09-14-2008 03:12 PM

Very nice.

I’m trying to work some G&G influence in to my rustic designs.
Because I make a lot of pieces for my craft business, I like to mass produce the components as needed.
I use various kinds of twig pegs made from local woods such as hickory, walnut, oak, etc.
Ebonized white oak pegs makes a good contrast to paler woods.

I use a Japanese style pull saw to slice my pegs and decorative pieces.
I can use them to slice coin-thick pieces from wood with great precision.
Take a peek at Lee Valley for a good selection of these saws.

Where my rustic design meets G&G, instead of chamfering the tops of the pegs, I hand cut random facets with a sharp knife.

The diversity of LJ influences helps enrich us all.

Many thanks for sharing.

-- 温故知新

View Mario's profile


902 posts in 4045 days

#7 posted 09-15-2008 03:24 PM

Thank you so much for showing this process. It is nice to see how people do things as it helps us all improve.


-- Hope Never fails

View Todd Thomas 's profile

Todd Thomas

4969 posts in 3442 days

#8 posted 01-19-2009 02:22 PM

thank you for the information here…I’ve been wanting to do this and you’ve saved me some time..thanks

-- Todd, Oak Ridge, TN, Hello my name is Todd and I'm a Toolholic, I bought my last tool 10 days, no 4 days, oh heck I bought a tool on the way here! †

View AaronK's profile


1506 posts in 3458 days

#9 posted 07-31-2009 06:13 PM

WOW. i wish i had discovered this a couple months ago. I was killing myself trying to get 1/2 and 1/4” sticks planed and square. i shouldve thought to use something like the jig you show in the 3rd figure. man, i just cant believe how easy it couldve been!!!!!

View a1Jim's profile


117086 posts in 3571 days

#10 posted 08-02-2009 07:28 AM

well done

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View schroeder's profile


702 posts in 4119 days

#11 posted 08-04-2009 02:18 PM

I can’t tell you how helpful for me this was! – just when I needed this info! – Thanks much for taking the time to blog this project.


-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe

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