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Rational Root
02-06-2011, 11:31 AM
I tried some test plugs...

The plug cutter is one of the tapered ones, I think a Veritas, but I'm not sure.

I am using a drill in a drill stand. And the cutter seems to continually burn the outside of the plug, which results in a find dark circle at the outside of the plug.

I tried a slower drill speed, but that seemed to break up the plug. (too slow)

I tried repeatedly lifting the cutter clear, to allow the bits to clear, it was better, but still not good.

So, what am I doing wrong?

Thanks
D

Paul Girouard
02-06-2011, 11:44 AM
Dull cutter, you can try to spray some Teflon spray / dry lube on it and also set out a blow snout to keep the cut clear of waste.

Fuller makes the best plug cutters IMO , I've used other brands when a Fuller wasn't ordered on time , thankfully the local Ace and Lumber yard now stock Fuller bits and plug cutters.

Good luck.

Canoeyawl
02-06-2011, 12:06 PM
They can be sharpened with a file...

Paul Girouard
02-06-2011, 12:27 PM
They can be sharpened with a file...

Generally people who don't know the cutter is dull , don't have the talent / tools / where with all to sharpen a plug cutter. It can't be done with a normal flat file , at least not done right. They could make it worst by botching up the angle of the cutters. Exacerbating the issue.

Canoeyawl
02-06-2011, 01:53 PM
I like to give the benefit of doubt, "People" especially boat builders can learn to sharpen anything.
(It can be done with a flat file, it's not rocket science - I do it all the time... the only part that needs to be worked is the cutting edge).

Edit to add; "excacerbating the issue" would be putting teflon/silicone on a glue surface.

Tom Lathrop
02-06-2011, 02:01 PM
Whether its taper plug cutters or taper drills, these cause much more heat than straight cutters. I get just as good results with straight plugs as tapered ones.

gibetheridge
02-06-2011, 02:16 PM
http://www.swanseatimber.co.uk/shop/images/uploads/productImages/BMCVERTPC10.jpg

Those 4 pronged cutters are hard to sharpen well, it's very easy to wind up with 4 legs of different lengths. They should be done with a tool and cutter grinder at a sharpening shop.

Having said that, if the steel is not too hard you can touch it up with a file if you're careful.

Put it in a vise. Color the top beveled edge of each cutter with a felt marker so you can see where the material is being removed. You want to do this so that you retain as much of the original angle as possible.

Use a small fine file and count the strokes it takes to get the worst cutter down to sharp, then take the same number of strokes on each of the remaining cutters.

Now flip it end for end and stand it up on the 4 legs on top of the table saw. It should be perpendicular to the table top and all 4 cutters touching.

Next, if the leading long edge of each cutter (the edge that is creating the taper) is dull it will need to be filed as well.

Same rules apply, count the strokes.

Test the leg lengths again and touch up if necessary.

Shown next is the type of cutter I prefer. They're easier to sharpen and you can use them with a hand held drill since they don't "walk". Just press it down and pull the trigger.

http://www.wolfcraft.us/images/photographs/TaperedPlugCutters-ALL.jpg

Ron Williamson
02-06-2011, 02:21 PM
If the rpm is low enough and it's breaking up, try to slow down the feed pressure,too.
You don't say what the wood is,but softwood is worse for the plugs breaking up.
Also,check that the table is square to the quill.If it isn't,you can still make plugs,but any rotation of the workpiece will snap them off.
I've sharpened mine(LV,3/8", tapered) LOTS of times.It ain't rocket surgery.
Assuming that it's a four flute cutter like mine....
First,still in the press,touch the slowly spinning cutter LIGHTLY onto an unused(you'll make a divot)flat section of a sharpening stone.
This will joint the tips of the cutting flutes so that they're all at the same height and hit the work at the same time.
Clamp cutter upside down in a vise.
Then with your new 6" fine file(You should have one anyway)lightly file the cutting edges one at a time,(following the angles carefully) until the shiny spots from the sharpening stone JUST disappear.
I like to file towards the cutting edge,then carefully knock the burrs off by lightly running the file down the face of the flute.
Five minutes, tops.

R

Hey,cross posted.

Jay Greer
02-06-2011, 02:27 PM
A good Quality plug cutter should not be soft enough to be effected by a file. I prefer diamond hones for keeping the edges or edge, depending on the type of cutter, keen. A good set of water slip stones is also an excellent choice. If you are turning your plugs dark, you are also getting the cutter hot enough to draw the temper. A drill press is the prefered tool to power the cutter bit. I wouldn't build a boat without one. The bandsaw is the other must have machine.
Jay

Paul Girouard
02-06-2011, 02:30 PM
Edit to add; "excacerbating the issue" would be putting teflon/silicone on a glue surface.



Ya right! A properly sized hole for a bung and a properly cut plug would never come out , without driving a screw into it to get it out, even un-glued and any moron would know to spray the cutter not the wood. Just like I've read here never your wax on your table saw / planer / jointer bed as it will contaminate the wood and effect the finish! Bull feathers I say! Wax away , let it dry buff out with a rag never a problem in my experience.

But having a novice sharpen a drill bit or plug cutter , almost a sure thing you can just throw the thing away when they're done , as it will be so out of whack it'll be useless.

But I guess they / he has to learn some day , so sure go ahead and sharpen it! , what can it hurt, it's not cutting properly now anyway!

Canoeyawl
02-06-2011, 02:31 PM
Google shows 61,000 hits > "Sharpening plug cutters" (http://www.google.com/search?q=sharpening+plug+cutters&hl=en&num=30&lr=&ft=i&cr=&safe=off&tbs=)

TerryLL
02-06-2011, 02:35 PM
The best sharpening device I've found for plug cutters is a 1X42 belt sander with a 150 grit belt. I sharpen my cutters frequently and once touched up on the belt they cut fast and clean. Same goes for counterbores. I don't pay much attention to getting the four cutting edges exactly the same and it doesn't seem to make any difference.

Ron Williamson
02-06-2011, 02:39 PM
I'm certain to have drawn the temper on my one and only plug cutter,but it still does pretty well.

We always leave some of the jointer unwaxed,but the planer is fair game.
Buff?Never.
A few hundred pieces of wet cedar will buff it as much as it needs.
R

gibetheridge
02-06-2011, 02:40 PM
Ron,

I like your jointing method, provided one has access to a drill press, but I would be reluctant to gouge the stone. I bet it would work well using a clamped down file instead. Good one.

Paul Girouard
02-06-2011, 02:43 PM
Jeesh this is like a abortion thread in the bilge , so may opinions , almost all of then WRONG!


Just kidding LOL!

gibetheridge
02-06-2011, 02:47 PM
Terry,

If all of the legs are the same length it will stay sharp longer, since otherwise one longer cutter would be doing a disproportionate amount of the work. Also, for the same reason, the cut will be somewhat cleaner. His problem is actually with the sides of the plug being burnt, caused probably by the edges of the legs being dull.

TerryLL
02-06-2011, 03:19 PM
Terry,

If all of the legs are the same length it will stay sharp longer, since one longer cutter won't be doing a disproportionate amount of the work. Also, for the same reason, the cut will be somewhat cleaner, not that that matters very much either since that end will be in the counterbored hole. His problem is actually with the sides of the plug being burnt, caused probably by the edges of the legs being dull.

I do a lot of work in black cherry, which scorches quite easily. The quick and dirty method I use to sharpen plug cutters and counterbores results in scorch-free plugs and holes in cherry, no problemo.

I may not be a purist when it comes to sharpening tools, but my methods work just fine.

yzer
02-06-2011, 03:37 PM
The best way to keep plug cutters sharp is to store them in oil or coated with oil. I've never cut more than a couple of hundred at a time and honestly, I don't even use a drill press. I put the scrap wood on the floor and cut with a corded power drill. Maybe 10% of the plugs will be defective. Good enough for me.

Here is a collection of old cutters that I may sharpen some day. I like the four on the left. The cutter type on the right dulls quickly and will distort under too much pressure. I haven't bought any of that type for years.

http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c374/yzer1/DSC00755.jpg

DuncanvdH
02-06-2011, 04:45 PM
As mentioned already, I think drill press is the word. I also first used a drill in a drill stand and had a success rate of 1 out of 2 for the smallest
(1/4") veritas plug cutter. Now moved to drill press with a belt to select speed. At the lowest speed the torque is huge and you can cut plugs
with ease. There are also virtually no vibrations like with the normal drill in the stand.

Oh and I had my plug cutter professionally resharpened for something like $5.

wardd
02-06-2011, 05:13 PM
I've heard of another way to make plugs and dowels

take a 1 inch thick piece of steel and drill a series of holes in it one hole on size and another slightly oversize 1/64 or 1/32

from the bottom take a larger drill/counter bore and open the hole up leaving about 1/4 thick steel on size

whittle a piece of wood down over the finished size, doesn't have to be perfectly round

drive it through the oversize hole with a hammer then the on size hole

Bob Cleek
02-06-2011, 08:10 PM
I've heard of another way to make plugs and dowels

take a 1 inch thick piece of steel and drill a series of holes in it one hole on size and another slightly oversize 1/64 or 1/32

from the bottom take a larger drill/counter bore and open the hole up leaving about 1/4 thick steel on size

whittle a piece of wood down over the finished size, doesn't have to be perfectly round

drive it through the oversize hole with a hammer then the on size hole

That only works for making trunnels or other round pieces with the grain running the length of the piece. For bungs to cover screws and the like, you need the grain running across the face of the ends of the plug. No way you'll be able to pare them off flush with a chisel if the grain is running the wrong way!

As for sharpening plug cutters and keeping the prongs all them same length and the bevel fair all the way around... here's what you do:

Chuck the cutter in your drill press (making sure the spindle is perfectly perpendicular to the table, of course) or, even better, chuck the cutter in your engine lathe. Turn the cutter at SLOW speed and 'bring Mohammed to the mountain," using a diamond hone or the like. (You may even want to turn the chuck by hand, rather than with the engine running, since it isn't the power you need, but rather the "jig" of the drill press to hold the cutter steady.) If you don't want to freehand it, and there's no reason you should, once you have the cutter chucked up solid, set the hone on a wedge of wood and clamp it to the drill press table so it presents to the cutter edge at the proper angle, and then gently lower the bit. You should get a perfectly beveled even edge out of that.

It's even easier on the lathe, since all you have to do is mount the diamond hone (or even your tool post grinder, if you're lucky enough to own one of these) in your tool post and use the tool holder's adjustments to set whatever angle you want and then move the abrasive tool into the slowly turning cutter. (If you own an engine lathe, you should already know that the ways and other bearing surfaces of the machine MUST be sheilded so that none of the abrasive dust from the abrasive stone or hone can find its way in the bearing surfaces of the machine and cause wear and loss of accuracy.)

(This is also an effective method for sharpening drill bits, especially large diameter ones.)

Slow speeds, and/or sufficient cooling lubricant, are important, since a high speed will generate heat that will take the temper out of a sharp edge in an instant. On the other hand, as said, if you don't have a drill press or engine lathe handy, (and those who do probably already are well familiar with this sharpening technique, since it's how it's done in the factory to begin with), you're better off sending a good quality cutter to the sharpening service. Your local sharpening shop should be your friend. Most of your good tools will love you for it and it's a small investment. Properly maintained edges will stay sharp for a long while, but for the really tricky stuff, like sharpening saws (especially carbide edged circular blades) and regrinding edges on long-edged tools, like draw knives and thickness planer blades, the pros will do a better job for a very small charge.

SamSam
02-06-2011, 08:18 PM
Go buy another, they are cheap.

paladin
02-06-2011, 08:20 PM
Listen to Cleek on this one. I bought a lotta them to use in asia, and finally made one person responsible for plug cutting, and purchased a drill press just for the purpose. Bought a lot less plug cutters after that.

Rational Root
02-07-2011, 09:16 AM
Thanks guys,

Some comments, the plug cutter is practically new, I've tried about 20 oak plugs and about 20 sapelle plugs.

Veritas do suggest honing in their instructions. I will try that, I have a fine diamond stone.

I'm probably not going to shell out for a drill press for a few dozen plugs - that would make them about the most expensive plugs in the known world. I'm nearing the end of the build, and apart from anything else, I'm running out of room for new tools.

I have found someone who sells sapele plugs by the hundred for about 15

That may be a good option.