Friday, May 25, 2012

Perfectly Square Pegs By Hand

This idea for making square pegs popped into my head when cutting grooves for a drawer bottom.

I had used my plow plane, so there were square-shaped holes in the back of the drawer that needed to be plugged.

That's when I spied an offcut from a drawer side. The thin piece of wood beneath the groove was essentially half the shape I needed.

So I grabbed my plow plane**, dialed in a 1/4" width and depth, plowed an edge of a scrap piece of wood, laid the board on its side, and plowed a groove on the face.

Well, I'll be darned. It worked like a charm. I had a perfectly square 1/4" peg.

This method does require a plow plane, but based on the idea, you might find another tool that will work equally as well.

And as you approach the 1/4" depth on the second groove, the peg will want to tip down because it's no longer supported beneath the cut.* Keep your hand tight against the plow plane's fence to ensure that the peg stays in position.

The peg will snap off when you're very close to the bottom of the second groove, and you may have a tiny sliver of wood that can be removed with a chisel, but this is the easiest way I've found to make perfectly square pegs by hand.


*If you need to make a bunch of pegs on a regular basis, you could make brass spacers that fit into the first groove which will then support the second cut. You can use the same spacers to set up your plow plane.

**For those who are interested, I have a Lee Valley Veritas plow plane. I do not benefit in any way from the sale of their tools.


nolandm said...

Cool idea Kari. Now I just have to get a plow plane!


Brian said...

You could try to jam something into the first groove as you're plowing the second. That might help the "snap" factor.

Jonathan said...

You might want to let Lee Valley know... Plow plane AND peg maker. Cool idea.


Tom Stephenson said...

Clever girl! I'll steer my wife to you to explain why I had to buy a plow plane! Hope you and Nancy have a great holiday!

Unknown said...

Oh yes, is it ever time for a plow plane, thanks for the great tip Kari!

Kari Hultman said...

Hey now, I don't want anyone's wife being mad at me! But yeah, you need a plow plane. ; )

Brian, I thought about that, too. In fact, if you needed to make a bunch of pegs on a regular basis and at regular sizes, you could make a brass spacer that you could also use to set up your plow plane. I'm definitely going to use this with future projects.

Mark Dorman said...

you could use the plow plane to make wooden spacers .
I have used my router plane and 1/8th inch blade for this.

Mark D

Anonymous said...

Pretty cool!
I've outdone my allowance for tools this week!

Anonymous said...

Can"t you do the same thing with a slitting gage?

Eric said...

This is another example why I follow this blog like a hound dog follows a hot scent !
Yours is by far one of my favorite sites Kari.

Kari Hultman said...

Mark, this plow plane has come in handy on more than one occasion. I just ordered the 3/4" blade and conversion piece so it will work as a rabbeting plane. Thank you for posting your idea about using a router plane.

Chris, I guess you have to wait until next week, then. ; )

Ron, there's an idea. I've never used a slitting gauge (nor seen one in the wild) but it's certainly worth a try if you have one. Let me know if you try it and if it works.

Thanks, Eric. :o)

Bob said...

I just get somewhat tickled when I see Lee Valley being mentioned anywhere outside of Canada. Silly of me, I know.
I'm Canadian, eh.
I was even slightly amazed to see some of their "Veritas" line in Las Vegas way back in 1991.
Others gamble. I shop for tools. Probably just as expensive a pursuit though.

Shawn G. said...

Now here's the real trick. Use your plow to create the groove, say 1/4. Then make the 1/4 square in another species. Now you have a perfectly sized inlay for things like picture frames or table edges. If you're really wacky you could repeat the proces with a 1/8 and get an inlay in an inlay.

Richard Arnold said...

I have used this technique myself, not to make square dowels, but just as a labour saving method to produce large rebates. I suppose the square peg that is left is a bonus that hadn't occured to me!!!
Love the blog. Thank you for taking the time to write it.
Kind regards, Richard.

Daniel G said...

Lee Valley seems to like the idea themselves; they just posted a video of this very technique on their youtube channel (link provided in my signature)

Kari Hultman said...

Bob, I have lots and lots of Veritas tools...

Shawn, great idea!

Thanks Richard. :o)

Daniel, thanks for letting me know.

McMullen Carpentry and Joinery said...

I work as a carpenter in London and I came across your site while doing some research online. Just wanted to say how you inspired me to put away the power tools and get back to basics. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Ha - wish I'd seen this an hour ago = making a box with my 11 year old and had fun much planing down stock to 3/8 square to fill a thru dado we plowed... Great tip.