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Plug cutter?

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Forum topic by Charlie posted 08-24-2013 02:10 PM 1270 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Charlie

1017 posts in 942 days


08-24-2013 02:10 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

So I’m working on my new easel and part of it involves putting screws THROUGH the face (from the front) and into the edge of a rail. I don’t have any “pretty screws” that I’d feel comfortable leaving exposed. So my thought was to use a 3/8 forstner to recess some washer head square drives and then plug the holes.

I don’t have a plug cutter, never used one (that I can remember). And it looks like the only place I can go get one TODAY is Rockler (about a 40 minute drive). I don’t want end grain and I’m building this out of cherry so I don’t want to just go buy oak or birch face grain plugs, so it seems my best bet is to buy a plug cutter and make the plugs myself.

If you think I have other options, please speak up. I only have a couple hours to decide. :) I want to keep moving on this.

Also… if I do the recess with a 3/8 forstner, can I just go get the plug cutter like a few days from now? Any reason that a plug from a 3/8 plug cutter wouldn’t fit well in a hole drilled with a 3/8 forstner?

And how far below the surface should the screw head be? I mean…. how much room should I plan to get a plug in there decently?

Thanks, guys.

Charlie


18 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

1793 posts in 1150 days


#1 posted 08-24-2013 03:12 PM

The plugs cut by a plug cutter are usually tapered a little, allowing a tight fit. There’s no reason to be conserned about getting it (the cutter) today. I’ve never really measured how deep I made the recess, but prpbably about 1/4” was the average. If you want to look, the RTS 2000 plug cutters from Woodworker’s Supply are about the best I’ve ever used. If you just want some cheap ones, most box stores have them.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, we sent 'em to Washington.

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Dallas

2913 posts in 1143 days


#2 posted 08-24-2013 03:34 PM

Here’s a simple way, it might work for you.

grab an old piece of 3/16-1/4” steel.

Drill a hole in it of the appropriate size. Leave it rough.

Cut a piece of the wood you want to use for a plug about 4-6” long, or just long enough to make all the plugs you need and just a bit larger than your finish size, using the grain direction you want.

Chuck the piece of wood you are using for the plugs into your hand drill and using a firm hand drill it through the piece of metal you just drilled a hole through….. waa-Laa, instant plugs!

edit:
(Hint: with a piece of plug 3/8” in diameter, no mater which direction you go it will be end grain.)

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

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GrandpaLen

1514 posts in 929 days


#3 posted 08-24-2013 03:40 PM

Charlie,

If you have any dowel stock on hand, a crosscut section can be used for this purpose, albeit end grain that will be exposed.

You can stain it with a contrasting color and use it as an accent element. Get real fancy and file a shallow pyramid on the exposed end, use a black marking pen to color it, glue it in and call it Green and Green accents.

Other dowel stock options would be foam paint brush handles, pencils, or take out your pocket knife whittle down any scrap then chuck it in your drill and sand it to the proper diameter.

You could get whimsical and just use a shirt button for future inspiration at the easel.

If this won’t work for you then you may have to wait till your next trip to the store.

...by the way, a 3/8” plug is tapered to fit snuggly into a 3/8” hole.

Best Regards. – Grandpa Len

Work Safely and have Fun.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

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Woodmaster1

474 posts in 1243 days


#4 posted 08-24-2013 03:44 PM

I got a nice set of three from Rockler.

View Charlie's profile

Charlie

1017 posts in 942 days


#5 posted 08-24-2013 04:25 PM

GrandpaLen,
Interesting ideas! :)
But this has to be flush with the face or a canvas could catch on it while raising or lowering.

I have to keep in mind that this is an easel and it’s going to get paint on it. Nature of the beast. The screws I have are bright and shiny silver. Zinc coated maybe. Don’t know and don’t care. :) They’re almost like chrome. If they were brass flatheads, I’d probably leave them exposed, but I don’t want philips heads and I can’t find any brass, square drive, flatheads inch and a half, #6 or #8 locally.

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GrandpaLen

1514 posts in 929 days


#6 posted 08-24-2013 04:42 PM

Charlie,
Store bought or Plug Cutter produced, either will likely stand proud of the surface. You will have to sand them down to level them with the surrounding surface.

If you drive them flush, you take the chance of splitting the surrounding grain.

...just a thought, can the screws be installed from the back of the frame?

Best regards. – Len

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View Don W's profile

Don W

15037 posts in 1224 days


#7 posted 08-24-2013 05:01 PM

I use my plug cutter all the time. I agree with everything that’s been said, but if your going to paint it anyway, why not just slightly counter sink and use wood filler or putty. Just make sure you prime it good so its the same texture as the surrounding area.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View Greg..the Cajun  Box Sculptor's profile

Greg..the Cajun Box Sculptor

5109 posts in 1965 days


#8 posted 08-24-2013 05:19 PM

I buy tapered plug cutters from Lowes and they work just fine. They carry 5/16, 3/8 & 1/2” an are inexpensive. I use them all the time…I glue them in with epoxy and then trim them flush with a chisel. Very easy to use and the plugs are best cut with a drill press

-- If retiring is having the time to be able to do what you enjoy then I have always been retired.

View MT_Stringer's profile

MT_Stringer

1900 posts in 1887 days


#9 posted 08-24-2013 06:05 PM

@Charlie – I bought a set of three at my local Lowe’s. They did the job for me. I did exactly what you are describing…and will be doing it again today or tomorrow while building another toy box.

Hope this helps.
Mike

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

2528 posts in 1008 days


#10 posted 08-24-2013 06:11 PM

I got my plug cutters from Ace Hardware. Side grain plugs make the nicest finish and are nearly invisible if you use scrap from the same wood as the project. The screw heads should be at least a 1/4” below the surface. Apply glue to the plugs before driving them home, leave them proud. When the glue sets trim them almost flush w/ a chisel then sand the final bit.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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Charlie

1017 posts in 942 days


#11 posted 08-24-2013 06:33 PM

GrandpaLen,
Not being painted. Just…. it’s an artist easel so it’s going to get paint on it when I’m doing a painting. The 2 places most likely to get paint slopped on them (...err…. placed in an unplanned manner….) are the upper and lower canvas supports. Both of which are replaceable. I’m thinking of just doing a rubbed oil finish on it. Tung oil (real tung oil) or linseed oil. Maybe both. Who knows? It’s a TOOL… a FIXTURE. It’s purpose is to hold the canvas.

So why cherry? (My wife asked the same thing)
Basically ‘cause I got the cherry cheap, cheap, cheap. And I’m cheap, cheap, cheap!
No, seriously, it was $2.30 a bd ft.
It’s 90/50 and I liked it and it was actually cheaper than buying select pine. And, of course, much stiffer. I could have also done it in brown maple for a bit less.
The stuff is lightly planed on both faces but still at 15/16. There are plane skips, but they mostly run it through lightly to see what they have and how to sort it. I got it from a custom millwork shop.

I could glue and nail this together most likely, but I’m seriously considering building a few for sale, so I’m trying to work out all the procedures and materials and time so I have some idea what to charge. I spent the better part of the day yesterday just selecting the best boards, rough sizing, jointing and planing. A couple of the pieces are 2-1/2×70 inches long and need to be very straight so I had to go through a select the boards that were really straight to start out.

So I went and bought the plug cutters at Rockler, picked up some star knobs and other hardware, and stopped at Home Depot to pick up a piece of 1/8” thick x 1-1/2 aluminum flat bar stock.

Now I have to go out and make a drill press table… hehehe…. it never ends. It’s like a puzzle. You need to do this before you do that.

View Charlie's profile

Charlie

1017 posts in 942 days


#12 posted 08-24-2013 07:46 PM

Just tried the plug cutters from Rockler. This REALLY isn’t working as expected.
The 3/8 plug cutter cuts a plug that’s so sloppy there’s no such thing as “drive it home”. It just falls out!

I thought, “did I grab the right Forstner bit?”—- yup
Tried a different 3/8 drill bit. Same thing. Plug is way undersized and sloppy.

Plug cutter in drill press running 750 RPM.

Right now I’m feeling like that was a wasted hour and a half round trip.
I am ASSUMING if I have a 3/8 hole, I want to cut a 3/8 plug.

If not, then I’m the dummy.

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firefighterontheside

4356 posts in 513 days


#13 posted 08-24-2013 08:19 PM

Drive the plug cutter into the wood about 1/2 inch. Break it out with a screw driver. Use the end that was inside the board and not the exterior end. Put some glue on the plug and push into the hole. Once glue dries use a sharp shisel to cut it off a little proud of the surface. Then use sander to san off excess. That should work if your forstner and cutter are same size.

-- Bill M. I love my job as a firefighter, but nothing gives me the satisfaction of running my hand over a project that I have built and just finished sanding.

View MT_Stringer's profile

MT_Stringer

1900 posts in 1887 days


#14 posted 08-24-2013 08:53 PM

I cut my plugs a bunch at a time then rip the board where the plugs are still on the board. I rip the thickness I need.
A little glue and pound them in with a mallet. Sand when dry.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

2528 posts in 1008 days


#15 posted 08-24-2013 09:52 PM

Maybe you are not going deep enough with the counter sink? The plug may be bottoming out before the taper catches. Most plug cutters cut a tapered plug, you have to set them deep enough for the taper to “catch”. Try on a scrap board that you drill a deep hole in and see if the plug fills the hole before it is flush w/ the surface. If that doesn’t work, you have a disparity in diameter between the plug cutter and your bit.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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