9 Secrets to Make the Best Pocket Hole Plugs

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DIY pocket hole plugs are a great way to fill pocket holes but sometimes they chip or become jagged. These tips will help make the best pocket hole plugs.

You may also enjoy these 9 Solutions to Common Pocket Hole Problems.

Pocket hole plugs are a great way to fill pocket holes. Pocket hole joinery is a quick and easy way to assemble DIY furniture, but those little oval holes left behind aren’t very attractive. You can make your own DIY pocket hole plugs with a Kreg Pocket Hole Plug Cutter.

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The Kreg Pocket Hole Plug Cutter cuts plugs from leftover scrap wood from your furniture project, so the plugs will exactly match the wood of your project. With a pocket hole plug cutter, your pocket holes nearly disappear, you’ll take your furniture building to the next level and make your DIY projects look more professional. A plug cutter is a “gotta have it” tool for the DIY furniture builder! Skate over to my plug cutter tutorial to see how to make your own DIY pocket hole plugs.

Recently I’ve received several messages from DIYers who were running into an issue with their plugs. After drilling the plugs they noticed the edges of their plugs were chipped or jagged. What causes pocket hole plugs to become chipped or jagged?

There are a few reasons pocket hole plugs become chipped, but with a few simple tips, we can reduce the chances of jagged edges. Here are 9 secrets I use to reduce chipping and make the best pocket hole plugs.

9 Secrets to Make the Best Pocket Hole Plugs

Best Match

For the best match use leftover scrap wood from your DIY furniture project. If you don’t have any wood leftover from your project use the same species of wood in a similar color and grain pattern.

Grain Pattern

Selecting a grain pattern that most closely matches the wood where your pocket holes are located is not the only reason to think about grain pattern when drilling pocket hole plugs. Drilling cross-grain will produce plugs with edges that are more chipped or jagged. It also increases the chance of the plug splitting in half. Drilling the plugs with the grain (like in the example below) will produce cleaner looking plugs and will lessen the chances of chipping.

Also be sure to look at the end grain of your blank. Grain that runs more parallel to the blank will chip less. Grain that runs more perpendicular to the blank will tend to chip more.

For the cleanest looking pocket hole plugs drill with the grain and into grain that runs more parallel to the blank.

Drill Speed

Set your drill to the highest speed. If you’re using a cordless drill be sure the battery is fully charged. A battery that is wearing down or worn down won’t spin the drill as fast as a fully charged battery and this can cause the edges of your plugs to chip.

Feed Rate

Insert the plug cutting bit in the plug cutter guide block until it hits the plug blank, but do not turn on the drill. Slightly raise the drill bit and bring the drill up to full speed. Then gently lower the bit to the blank and start cutting the plug. When the bit first starts to cut the plug it’s important to let the drill control the feed rate. In other words, don’t apply any pressure at this point. Then when you start to feel a slight resistance on the drill bit you can apply very light pressure.

Properly Seated

Wood chips can build up on the bottom of the jig and in between the blank and the guide block. It’s important that the blank is properly seated at the bottom of the jig and against the guide block. Be sure to check this area each time before you drill a new plug and remove any wood chips.

Properly Clamp

It feels to me there is more force on the blank than when drilling a pocket hole in a workpiece. Just like it’s important to make sure the blank is properly seated it’s also important to make sure it’s properly clamped in the jig. If the blank shifts or twists in the jig it could cause the plug to chip. Adjust the clamp so it’s slightly tighter than when you’re drilling pocket holes. Clamp the blank in the jig and give it a tug to be sure it’s secure.

Reduce Heat

There’s a lot of friction when drilling pocket hole plugs and this friction creates heat. To reduce heat buildup use the vacuum port and a Shop Vac to remove the wood chips while drilling. It’s also a good idea to allow the bit to cool between drilling plugs. Oh and don’t touch the bit to see if it’s hot. Trust me, it gets hot!

Release the Plugs

The plugs will remain in the blank after drilling. The pocket hole plugs will need to be cut in order to release them from the blank. You can cut them free with a band saw, jigsaw, scroll saw or even a hand saw. I prefer to remove my plugs by cutting them on the band saw. Skate over to Step 5 of my plug cutter tutorial to see how to release the pocket hole plugs

Using the Plugs

Once the plugs are free from the plug blank they’re ready to use. Apply a stainable glue to the plug, insert it in the pocket hole and allow to dry.

The plug will be raised or proud of the surrounding wood. If the plug sinks below the surface of the surrounding wood your pocket hole drill bit may be set to drill too deeply. Check the setup of your Kreg Jig here.

There are several ways to trim the pocket hole flush to the surrounding wood. You can sand it flush, cut it flush with a flush cutting saw or trim it flush with a chisel. When I first started making my own DIY pocket hole plugs I would sand them flush.

Then I tried a flush cutting saw. A flush cutting saw is my least favorite way to trim the plugs to the surrounding wood because there is a chance you could accidentally saw the surrounding wood.

Recently I switched to using a chisel to trim the plugs. I think a chisel does the best job with the least chance of damaging the surrounding wood. A few notes about using the chisel to trim plugs. First, be sure your chisel is sharp. Second, trim from the opposite end from where you inserted the plug. Lastly, leave the plug just slightly proud and then sand flush.

Have some gaps around the plug after sanding? Make your own DIY wood filler using this two-ingredient recipe. One of the ingredients is sanding dust from your project so you know it will compliment your furniture project.

FREE Pocket Hole Mistakes Guide

Master your pocket hole projects with this FREE ten-page Pocket Hole Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make Guide! The guide is overflowing with useful hints and easy tips to help you avoid time-consuming mistakes. Click below, get your FREE guide, and tackle your next pocket hole project with confidence!

Pocket Hole Questions?

Having some pocket hole problems? Can’t get your Kreg Jig setup properly? Are your pocket hole joints loose? Do your pocket holes crack? If you have a question about pocket holes and you didn’t find the answer in Kreg Jig Tips and Tricks directory then skate over to this form and ask your pocket hole question!

Final Thoughts

Making DIY pocket hole plugs is a great way to fill pocket holes but sometimes the plugs can chip or become jagged. These 9 tips will help you create better pocket hole plugs.

Thank you for stopping by to check out pocket hole plugs tips. If you found this information helpful, would you please pin it to Pinterest? Other DIYers would appreciate it and I would too! Thank you – Scott


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