Experiments in plug cuting

Clarke 8pc Plug Cutter SetThis week I was finishing off the stair balustrade project that has occupied a few weekends recently. The half newel was fixed to the wall on the landing using three screws that I had counter bored holes for into the wood. I've also learnt the subtle difference between countersinking, where the screw is flush with the surface, hole usually has sloped sides. Counter bore is where the hole is parallel sided and the screw head is deep down in the wood. My intention was to cut some wooden plugs to fill the holes from the same wood stock as the newel in order to give a nice finish to the newel.

I looked on screwfix where there was a set for cutting plugs and also found in Machine Mart the set that I eventually bought. I went for these above screwfix for price and as they had two sorts of plug cutter, chamfered and standard.

Plugs before popping them out The chamfered give a very subtle chamfer to the end of the plug to allow easy insertion into the counter bored hole. The standard are just parallel sided plugs when cut.

 I don't own a pedicel drill or drill press so I used a good hand held power drill. At first I tried cutting plugs by putting the drill on a moderate speed setting and trying to cleanly push onto the wood. As predicted the plug cutter made a mess of the wood before getting a hold into the wood and going in.

On my next attempts I cut a hole, just bigger than the plug cutter through a bit of scrap wood, clamped it to the piece I was cutting a hole into and then tried cutting the plug. It worked giving a much better result as shown. I tried cutting the plugs out by sawing the backs off but found simply using a screw driver to lever them out worked just as well. You can see the plugs on the lid of the plug cutting set, top photo.

Finally I glued the plugs into the counter bored holes, leaving them slightly proud, sanded down and for a first attempt they made an acceptable finish. My lesson from all this is to be careful to cut very clean counter bored holes in future to produce a neat hole for the plug to go in, this improves the finish. You have to learn these things by attempting them...Finished plug in place 

You can make out the plug in the wood on the above photo, a good finish. The attempt to cut the plugs out from sawing behind shown below.