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 http://chicowoodnut.home.comcast.net