How to install countersunk screws w/ plugs

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Forum topic by Andrew posted 12-31-2011 05:40 AM 4905 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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316 posts in 2393 days

12-31-2011 05:40 AM

I am working on the “i can do it” step stool – it’s all done aside from finishing and plugging thee screw holes. It’s my first time trying to countersink screws. I think, for starters, I didn’t drill the pilot hole deep enough for the screw shaft, and 2 of my screws broke as I was screwing them in (with a hand screwdriver). These are #8 1-1/4” screws.

Once I drilled a bit deeper, I put the plugs in, but they did not appear to go in deep enough to hold tightly. I ended up sanding off a bit of the bottom part of each plug on a drum sander so the “thinnest” part of the taper was no longer in existence. I filled each hole with glue and tapped the plugs in with a hammer. Now they are dying and in there fairly tightly.

I am concerned I didn’t; do it correctly. It’s a tiny stool for a 2-yr-old so I am not overly concerned about the two missing screws, but I am concerned that the plugs may come out.

Anyone care to give a quick how-to? Thanks!


-- Andrew - Albany. NY

10 replies so far

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3587 days

#1 posted 12-31-2011 06:24 AM

I’d say if the plugs are at least 3/16 thick and since they are glued in, they are there forever.

If you’re still nervous the only alternative is to drill them out, remove the screws and drill the counter sink deeper.

-- Joe

View Andrew's profile


316 posts in 2393 days

#2 posted 12-31-2011 06:26 AM

If they’re in there forever, I’m happy. What’s the best way to remove the little nub sticking out on top? Sander? Chisel? Utility knife?

How long should I wait before doing that? 16 hours suffice?

-- Andrew - Albany. NY

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1880 posts in 3587 days

#3 posted 12-31-2011 06:33 AM

I’d use a sander, and wait at least 24 hours so the moisture dissipates. If you sand it flush while it has a high moisture content, when it finally dries out, it may not be level with the surrounding surface.

-- Joe

View ShaneA's profile


6956 posts in 2624 days

#4 posted 12-31-2011 06:34 AM

16hrs will be long enough. Flush cut saw, chisel, sander will get you there. Good luck

View Sawdust4Blood's profile


405 posts in 3047 days

#5 posted 12-31-2011 06:59 AM

I’d agree that if there is at least 3/16 glued in, they’re there forever. I cut mine close to the surface with a small dozuki saw then clean up the rest with a block plane. Sander works too but it just takes longer and I’m not the king of patience.

-- Greg, Severn MD

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3094 days

#6 posted 12-31-2011 07:28 AM

If you have a drill press, you can buy plug cutters in various sizes to make your own plugs from scrap pieces of whatever wood you’re using. If you don’t have a drill press, try using pieces of dowel of the right diameter or premade plugs. The premade plugs are usually sold in packages wherever you find dowels.

I go for at least 1/8” of countersink, run in my screw, squirt in a blob of glue, and tap in a plug leaving it a bit proud. When the glue dries, sand it flush and you’re good to go.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View klw's profile


17 posts in 2387 days

#7 posted 12-31-2011 07:31 AM

If the plugs are very tall, and you try to sand them off, you may end up with an uneven surface. Trim them as close as you can before sanding.

Sharp chisel, razor knife, “really fine” tooth saw, etc. Patience will be your friend here. Sand using a block of wood to maintain a flat surface.

-- I don't remember being absent minded...

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3334 days

#8 posted 12-31-2011 07:58 AM

I use a tapered plug cutter that works great. Drill the plug hole with a brad point bit and follow with a pilot hole. The tapered plugs fit snug and precise. I always use a sharp chisel to trim flush.

View Andrew's profile


316 posts in 2393 days

#9 posted 12-31-2011 02:41 PM

Thanks guys. I’ll go buy one of those flush-cut saws, then follow it up with sandpaper on a block. I’ll post pics when I’m done.

-- Andrew - Albany. NY

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2995 days

#10 posted 12-31-2011 10:34 PM

Put a thin piece of card against the plug, then use a hacksaw blade on top of the card to prevent saw marks, plug will finish slightly proud, then just a quick sand down.

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