Pillowed Ebony Plugs for Greene and Greene Projects
Except for Darrel Peart’s book, it’s tough to find a source for “how to” on G n G projects. I don’t know how the Hall’s did it, But I thought I’d show my technique for making the pillowed ebony plugs common in Greene and Greene style furniture.
I stole most of this stuff from fellow Lumberjocks, – I steal so much stuff that I can’t keep it all straight…just trying to pull it all together for this project and share it back – hopefully it will help someone else.
I’m building a batch of stools in the G n G theme – each has 82 various sized pillowed plugs for a total of ~782 – so any shortcut I can come up with to make the task easier is all good!
My Method: – 3/8” plugs
The first step in making the plugs is to rip ebony stock to slightly larger than final size (3/8 + ~1/16) and roughly 10 -12 inches long. I then use a jig (stole from someone at L.J. ???) to hand plane to a final thickness.
(My ever present supervisor…)
The jig is set up so that the plane rides exactly 3/8 + 1/64 above the stock. The holders binding the stock in the picture are under 3/8 and has sand paper underneath. The holders bind the piece, the plane glides on the rails and the stock is turned until each side is planed and it gets to final size.
Next I cut the pieces in ½ and use the jig designed by Darrel Peart in his book – G nG Design Elements for the Workshop – to start forming the pillow.
The next step is my own variation – I use a table top drill press and put the piece in the chuck hand tight. I use a piece of ¼ inch ply and double stick tape to attach 4 different grits (150 to 320) and walk the piece along the spinning plug – you can get the general idea from the video (I was holding the camera so the technique on this plug is a little lacking….). After you get the hang of it, pieces come out more uniform and better than I can do by swizzleing them around on sandpaper by hand. After I pull it from the chuck I swirl it around on some more 320 to get the tell tale “drill spin” marks out of the piece, put it in a buffer and it’s ready to cut to length.
This method is much faster and makes better pillowed plugs than anything else I’ve tried.
Even better than using my slave laborer……
I built a little sled to ride in the band saw. The picture is pretty self explanatory – The stop is adjustable for multiple length plugs. I use an eraser on a number 2 pencil to hold the meat when I push through so things don’t go flying. When the stock gets to short for Darrel’s jig, I sand off the saw-marks from the rough stock and just chuck it in the press and form the pillow there (a little more sanding)
The last step is to cut a taper on the bottom of the plugs with a sharp chisel.
Fast and does a good job, makes even pillowed corners, lets you use the stock til it’s so short you can’t hold on to it – Hope this will help someone else along their journey.
-- The Gnarly Wood Shoppe