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When I need plugs to fill screw holes, I probably have more than enough, already cut and labeled in sealed plastic bags in my shop cabinet.
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Plugs On Demand

Saving time & material

Text and photos by Tom Hintz

   Most woodworkers cut wooden plugs for filling screw holes to dress up the finished appearance of their projects. The common practice is to cut what plugs are needed from scraps of material left over from the project. While this is occasionally necessary to properly match wood color, in many cases it matters little if the plug was cut today or months ago, as long as it came from the same kind of wood. I have even used plugs cut from a different type or color wood to simulate dowels.

   Probably the most time consuming part of cutting plugs is setting up to do it. Actually cutting the plugs takes very little time. Rather than cut a few plugs from a scrap of wood and throwing the rest away, why not get all the plugs the piece will yield and save the surplus? The additional time is minimal, especially compared to the time you will save the next time you need plugs.

   I now make a point of cutting plugs from the entire piece of scrap, and then saving the extras in a zip-lock plastic bag, marked with the type of wood the plugs are cut from. Keeping the plugs in a sealed plastic bag prevents them from swelling due to humidity or otherwise becoming contaminated. I use the Hefty brand freezer bags as they have a panel on which you can write with a felt tipped pen.

   Now, when I need plugs to finish a project, I often have more than enough on hand, ready for use. On those rainy afternoons when there is no project on the bench, I can use up some scrap making plugs for use later when I have less time.

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