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Cutting plugs off

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Blog entry by Nels posted 164 days ago 697 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve always liked the look of a plugged hole. I’m currently finishing 15 Arts and Crafts chairs. I have a tendency to overkill. This problem comes from corriecting mistakes for years. On these chairs I used mortise and tenon joints with glue and screwed each joint
The 15 chairs have 14 plugged holes each. When I first put plugs in I tried a chisel, saw, belt sander (not my best move) and found all of these have draw backs. Lately I’ve been using a router. Even with a router, using a new hinge mortise bit, I have them break off and leave a “divit”. Logic told me to use a dovetail bit, but that wasn’t much of an improvement. Now I use a core box bit. This doesn’t leave a flat surface but it always gets sanded anyway. Of the 210 plugs, not one had a problem. For one or two plugs I still use a chisel, but give it a try, it works great!
One other problem with plugs is getting the grain in the right direction. Haven’t solved that yet. With oak they can fool you.



13 comments so far

View patron's profile

patron

12973 posts in 1944 days


#1 posted 164 days ago

good tip nels

when i was taught about this
‘check’ the grain by chipping with a chisel too
bevel down
chip the top of plug
if the grain is going up
proceed in slices (raising the handle each pass)
if going down
come at it from other side

when a scrap block of multi plugs are made
they can be ‘popped’ with a slim screw driver
(it can leave the top at an angle)
depending on the grain
which can make them hard to drive straight

or cut them all off with the bandsaw
which leaves the saw marks across the grain
confusing which is which

when i had a bunch to do recently
i took a magic marker and marked a line
on all of them first
then band sawed them off
it only took a moment
but worth the extra time

squeeze glue on some cardboard
and rub each plug thru it
getting it on the sides of the plugs
wiping the bottom each time
(so a glob of glue doesn’t fill the hole
and keep the plug from seating)
to see the mark (that face in the hole)
they all came out good

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Nels's profile

Nels

32 posts in 231 days


#2 posted 164 days ago

That’s interesting you say that (magic marker). I was thinking of that when I wrote down the problem. Also I put glue in the hole and then rubbed it around with a match stick.

View patron's profile

patron

12973 posts in 1944 days


#3 posted 164 days ago

done the matchstick thing too nels

many don’t realize glue (liquids)
don’t compress (why hydraulics work)
if there is to much in the hole
and you beat the plugs in
it can split the wood
or keep the plug from seating right

to remove plugs
i use a screw into the center of them
it pulls them out
but if the lower screw head is full of glue
they are hard to remove (for any repairs)

the matchstick way is just more time consuming too

i worked in the boat yards for 10 years
and laid many teak decks
thousands of plugs
made cans and cans of them
(forget the marker with these
the pop with screwdriver
left the grain visible on the top side
if they broke tilted
just hammer slightly at an angle

sliding 40 -50 around the cardboard and glue
and pounding them in all at once
was much quicker
adding more glue to the cardboard as it got used or dried

then sanded everything with a 7” body sander

had 3 guys sanding for days on some boats

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

5416 posts in 2031 days


#4 posted 164 days ago

Nels, I use a Japanese pull saw (with no set to the teeth) to cut plugs. Don’t know the Japanese name but most places sell it as a “Flush Cutting Saw”.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View  Box 's profile

Box

4937 posts in 1911 days


#5 posted 164 days ago

I have cut and used thousands of plugs of many different wood types over the years and have always used a sharp chisel to trim them. After chiseling flush you can smooth them out with a card scraper or sandpaper. I always mark the direction of the grain with a pencil line to maintain the orientation.

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

5416 posts in 2031 days


#6 posted 164 days ago

Greg, I’ve seen guys trim plugs that way, too. They were faster with a chisel than me with a saw. I’m not that good.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Lumberpunk's profile

Lumberpunk

186 posts in 940 days


#7 posted 164 days ago

Japanese flush cut saw.

http://www.leevalley.com/en/Wood/page.aspx?p=69373&cat=1,42884

I just used one on a project with about 80 plugs… fast and clean, minimal sanding.

View Grumpymike's profile

Grumpymike

1014 posts in 918 days


#8 posted 164 days ago

I like patrons method, with a variation, depending on the wood, I will use a chisel or flush cut saw leaving them a hair proud, by placing a strip of painters tape on either side, then RO sander to flush. (Note: if you have a glob of squeeze out, clean it up first)
This puts a bit of sanding dust in the tacky glue and helps hide the seam. Then during final sanding after all has thoroughly dried the seam is hard to spot.

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View Nels's profile

Nels

32 posts in 231 days


#9 posted 164 days ago

I enjoy reading the comments. I have been in woodwork installation for 40 years. One thing about working with guys from all over the country, you learn lots of different ways to do things. Thanks for the ideas guys!!!

View hoosier0311's profile

hoosier0311

355 posts in 628 days


#10 posted 164 days ago

I always use the oscillating tool, just leave a tad proud and sand with a block.

-- I'm only deaf in one ear,,,,,I just can't hear out of the other one., Denny, Indiana implant, living in PA

View jinkyjock's profile

jinkyjock

225 posts in 177 days


#11 posted 164 days ago

Like Gene Howe I use a Japanese flush-cut saw (Kugihiki) and find few problems. I find it best to make an initial small cut on one side of the dowel and then a larger cut on the other side working towards my initial cut.

View Texcaster's profile

Texcaster

634 posts in 277 days


#12 posted 164 days ago

I like to have my plugs proud… finish sand, plane or scrape before plugging. I use a bit of veneer with a plug size hole to protect the surface as I saw the plug off. I then pare from 3 directions with a # 3 fishtail gouge and lightly flatten the top.

-- Bill....... I listen very closely to the timber and then impose my will.

View Mean_Dean's profile

Mean_Dean

1268 posts in 1750 days


#13 posted 164 days ago

Well, I’m going to have to throw my lot with the flush cutting saw guys. I use one on all my plugs, and it cuts them off nicely. Just a little sanding with the RO sander, and done. Also, because the saw’s teeth have no “set”, they don’t mar the surrounding surface.

-- Dean

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