In Disguise

When you do need to use screws in a project, why not try to disguise their use as far as possible?

With the following line-up of bits from, this is a very easy task indeed.

ttlineupFrom left to right, we have the non-marring, non-burning, adjustable depth stop countersink.

Next, a set of three carbide tipped plug cutters.

And finally, a carbide tipped plug planer.

Instead of drilling the countersink so the screw head is flush with the surface, I have adjusted the depth of cut so the countersink will set the screw a good 5mm below the surface.


As you can see, the non-mar countersink with carbide tips gives a very clean hole.  This is then glued and screwed into position, and normally that would be how it is finished.  Instead, let’s really disguise the existence of the necessary screws.

On the drill press, mount up the appropriate plug cutter.  These need to be in the drill press, both for safety, and to ensure you cut a clean plug.  The workpiece needs to be secured during the operation, again to have a plug cut, rather than drilling a very messy hole!

I’ve used all three plug cutters here to see how the sizes of the resulting wooden plugs actually look.  Made from the same material as the timber above, so the plugs are as invisible as possible.  Of course, you can always go for a contrasting timber for a different look.

ttplugThe carbide tipped plug cutters made this a very easy job indeed.  I’ve seen all manner of methods for removing the plugs, from sanding away the back edge, cutting the timber through from behind on the bandsaw etc, but in this case, I used a screwdriver to carefully lever the plug sideways until it snapped free.  That was pretty easy too.

The plugs were then roughly cut to length before being glued in.  Left proud by a couple of mm.  I tried CA glue and PVA glue.  I can tell you now, PVA wins hands-down.  The CA wicks into the work and stains the edge of the plug and surrounding timber, so it stands out like the proverbial dogs …….  Gave that away as a joke, and used PVA instead.

The next tool to get a workout is the tungsten carbide tipped plug planer.

It mounts in a handheld drill or drillpress.  A very large plastic base provides stability, and the TCT are set to be fully flush when it plunges.


There are other methods for cutting off plugs, such as a very flexible, one-sided saw (the teeth are set so it cuts flush on one side of the blade).  You can use a wood plane (but being careful not to plane the rest of the timber,  Pare it away with a chisel.  End of the day though, a quick plunge with this plug mill is pretty simple, and fast.  Especially if you have a number to do.

If you are careful with the plugs, ensuring grain direction is considered, planed flat and a very quick sand, the plugs virtually vanish, disguising any use of screws in a project.

ttfinishNot bad, if I do say so myself!

A really good set of complementary cutters to make the job really easy.

2 Responses

  1. That plug planer is $111 not including freight, I think people’s money would be better spent on a Veritas or LN block plane or some Berg chisels which are equally expensive but at least have other uses in the workshop

    • It comes down to your degree of use. For the occasional plug, there is a myriad of methods available that will achieve a very similar degree of success. If you are doing a lot of plugs, perhaps as a cottage industry where you are making kids’ toys or furniture or something, then this may be a very attractive option.

      True for pretty much any activity & tool in the workshop. Do you need one that is specialised to a specific activity, or more multifunctional? Do you need one that will do the job (and only the job), or one that risks the possibility of planing away more of the surrounding material than intended? It is a quantities-game to be sure.

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