What is the most efficient way of cutting plugs? I use 3/8" plugs and trim and sand approximately 2000 a day. We are currently using cheaply made Stanley wood rasps. I have tried everything from Japanese cut saws to expensive planes and still have not come up with a solution. A belt sander will not work. I am looking for a way that is not physically draining to my employees. I feel like I own a sweatshop when I have three workers running either wood rasps or sand blocks with coarse sandpaper. This is really cutting into our production and is quit a monotonous job to perform. I need a solution.
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor H:
I had about 15,000 ipe plugs to cut on a deck in the Bahamas some time ago. We replaced the plastic router base with a 1/4" ply base. To the ply base we attached two hardwood pieces 1/2" X 1/2" X 5". These pieces were parallel and about 2" apart. Now it's just a matter of lowering the mortise bit down to the level of the bottom of the hardwood pieces. The hardwood rides on the deck boards while the bit cuts the plug flush.
If you know how to sharpen, contributor J's idea is great, as well. That's how I do them, except I use a sharp block plane and scrapers to do the final leveling. But again, knowing how to sharpen and tune hand tools comes into play.
A lot of machine-only cabinetmakers would experience a whole different and exciting world by learning how to use and sharpen hand tools. It is hard for the uninitiated to understand the pure joy of quickly knocking the top of your face frame or little bit of stile flush with a finished end or stringer with a plane instead of a belt sander, or quickly using the various types of scrapers to remove cross grain sanding left by the wide belt instead of lots of random orbital sanding.
You mentioned expensive planes, and I can only assume you gave up on them in frustration at not getting them to perform correctly. I can only tell you that they will work if you put the time into understanding them and tuning and sharpening them, and they will solve your current problem. The block plane I would use is an inexpensive tool.
Comment from contributor D:
I've had success with using plugs which were 1/16" shy of the hole depth. I use liquid nails, which is thick enough to hold the plug flush (use a metal bar or blade to push it in and don't over do it) and it sets in 10 minutes. As long as the precut plug is level, little or no sanding is required. I swear by liquid nails as an adhesive. Just make sure that you don't use too much because it will ooze out unless you’re doing paint grade.