Square peg in a round hole

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Forum topic by Jeremymcon posted 11-09-2017 07:30 PM 790 views 0 times favorited 1 reply Add to Favorites Watch
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415 posts in 1532 days

11-09-2017 07:30 PM

I have been building a rocking chair for what seems like forever now, and finally glued it up last night! One thing I really struggled with was the square pegs to secure the crest. I had trouble keeping them aligned, and trouble making them look nice and even – I wanted them to be proud of the surface of the chair, with a faceted cushion like shape.

Anyway, I found a method that worked for me, and hadn’t seen it anywhere else, so I thought I’d share it!

Basically, I drilled a 3/16” hole for the peg, chiseled the opening of the hole as square as I could with 1/8” chisel, being careful not to make the opening too wide.

Then, I milled some square pegs on my bandsaw from nice straight stock, at about 1/4” square. Then I cut the pegs to the depth of the hole plus about 1/8”.

Next step was a bit fiddly, but it was the only way I could make it work – I whittled the pegs down with sharp knife. I kept the first bit of the pegs square, but tapering down to my 3/16” square, then whittled the rest of the peg round (well, round-the-clock).

The tapered square end if the peg really helped to even out any inconsistencies in my work squaring the hole with a chisel, and I also think that it helped to align the peg in the hole – it would slowly twist into the correct orientation as I gently pounder it in with a small rubber hammer.

Next step was trimming the pegs, which was also a step that I couldn’t make work. I tried using a chisel, but I tended to dent the wood around the peg. I tried sawing and sanding, but it was hard to get a consistent shape.

I settled on my spoon carving hook knife! Worked like a charm. It has a relatively long handle so I could use two hands to get some leverage without pressing the tool itself on the workpiece.

So take away for me was this : chisel the hole opening square, make oversized pegs, taper the square section of the peg, and trim/shape with a hook knife.

I’d be open to suggestions about better ways to do it – how does everyone else do this? It’s a pretty common detail, do maybe I’m missing something simple?

1 reply so far

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3997 posts in 2074 days

#1 posted 11-10-2017 12:08 AM

Nice solution!

I did something similar with my picture frames and their pyramid plugs.

Begin with a 3/8” square plug and cut a small shoulder/tenon with the TS blade raised a tad. The idea is to get the tenon 5/16” corner to corner. This will fit into a 5/16” drilled hole on the project (with a dab of epoxy).

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