As the name says, plug cutters are used for cutting wood plugs that you will use to hide unnecessary holes or screw heads. That will give your woodworking project a beautiful finish and smooth look. You don’t need to worry about hiding fasteners with filler. Sometimes filler does not match with the wood surface. Wood plug created using plug cutters, can hide any fastener you can name that is used in woodworking.
Plug cutters are a common and must-have tool among woodworkers. You will need some of the best plug cutters for creating smooth plugs and that’s why I am here to guide you.
What is a Plug Cutter?
A plug cutter is a woodworking tool used for cutting plugs from blocks of material. It’s most commonly used in the production of wooden dowels. The plug shape can vary, however, and it can be cut to suit the needs of the project at hand. Plug cutters make it easy to create plugs by hand without any special skills or techniques needed! Plug cutters are available at most larger hardware shops and come in different sizes to accommodate your specific needs.
|Snappy Tools Tapered Plug Cutter||5/16-inches||Check Price|
|CMT 529.158.31 Plug Cutter||5/8-inches||Check Price|
|W. L. Fuller 11681000. 1 Inch Plug Cutter||1/2-inch||Check Price|
|General Tools S31 Plug Cutter||3/8 inch, ½ inch, and 5/8 inch||Check Price|
|Fisch Tapered Plug Cutter||5/8 inch||Check Price|
Types of Plug Cutters
There are two types of plug cutters. One is a straight plug cutter and another is a tapered plug cutter. There is only one difference between these two plug cutters. Before going to the difference, first I will give a brief description of each of these plug cutters.
Straight plug cutters are the simplest plug cutters when cutting a plug out of a piece of wood. When you cut a wood plug using a straight plug cutter, the diameter of the wood plug will be evenly distributed from top to bottom. Which means the plug will be a straight plug. Using a straight plug will be difficult as it might require some extra force to insert into a hole in some cases. Because the friction between the outer wall of the wood plug with the inner wall of the hole is excess than it requires. This problem may not occur if you are covering an unwanted hole or screw top.
Now here the tapered plug cutter has come to fix the problem that occurs with the straight plug cutter. Tapered plug cutters cut plug from the wood in a way that the plug almost looks like a wooden cork. That means the diameter of the head is slightly greater than the diameter of the tail. This tapered shape plug eliminates the problem of struggling to insert the plug into a hole.
Tapered plug cutter also creates smooth plugs by shaving the plug sides that give you just a couple of taps with a mallet to insert the plug into a hole tightly. In this case, the plug gets to blend in with the surface and you may not even need to use glue for keeping the plug cover tight.
Some plug cutters give a little chamfer right on the tip end of the plug and this chamfered end will be in the downside while inserting the plug into a hole. This chamfered end gives you a huge benefit while inserting into a hole and lets you match the grainline of the plug with the wood surface you are working on.
Size of Plug Cutters
There are various sizes of plug cutters on the market you can get. Usually plug cutters are of 6mm, 8mm, 10mm, 12mm, 15mm, 16mm, 20mm, and 25mm. Some other sizes are also available for example; you can find smaller size plug cutters where the size is less than 8mm.
Smaller size plug cutters are needed when you are working on a delicate wood project or you need to fill a narrow hole and to fill that hole you will need a small plug that matches the size of the hole. On the other hand, bigger plug cutters are for big wood projects or for creating a thicker plug that will match for covering a wider hole.
Other than that the difference between the sizes, there are no differences in performance or quality among smaller plug cutters and bigger plug cutters. Various sizes of plug cutters exist only because of covering a different diameters of holes.
Before creating a hole, you should make sure that you are drilling the hole according to the correct plug cutter. For example, if you own only an 8 mm-sized plug cutter then you will need to drill a hole with a diameter of 8mm. A bigger or smaller-sized hole will not let the plug be fitted properly. One thing to mention that, plug cutters are measured on the inside diameter.
It is always a good thing to own a set of different sizes of plug cutters so that you will be less worried while drilling a hole and finding the plug cutter that suits you.
Best Plug Cutter List for DIYers
Here is the list of the 5 best plug cutters based on my usage and the recommendation of other professionals.
1. Snappy Tools 5/16″ Tapered Plug Cutter
Snappy tools 5/16-inches tapered plug cutter is a plug cutter of a renowned brand among other woodworking tools maker. Its size is about 5/16-inches which is the inside diameter of the plug cutter.
This plug cutter’s body is made of hardened steel that makes the tool lasts for a longer period. Hardened steel has great wear resistance and durability than standard steel. Hardened steel is made by heating the carbon steel to a high temperature and then the quenching and tempering process is done. Because of the lack of ductility in hardened steel, you don’t have to worry about this plug cutter getting bent while cutting a plug out. This plug cutter doesn’t easily get rusted because of the build quality. The plug cutter body has high impact and wear resistance that makes the plug cutter last even in regular rough usage.
As this plug cutter is tapered so the plug cutter will create a slightly tapered plug. A tapered plug is a type of plug where the diameter of the top of the plug is a bit greater than the diameter of the bottom. This gives you the advantage of easy insertion of the plug into a hole. This plug cutter cuts the plug at the beginning in the stated size of the plug that is 5/16-inches and then slightly tapers the plug at the end. So you can tight fit the plug into a hole without applying any glue.
This plug cutter not only creates a tapered plug but also chamfers the end of the plug. So you can get an easy start while using the plug for covering holes. You don’t have to use extra force to insert the plug rather a couple of shots with a hammer or mallet will make the plug easily insert into a hole. Then cutting the part of the plug that stands out of the surface and sanding smooth will leave a plain surface.
The size of the hex shaft of this plug cutter is 3/16-inches and this hex shaft can easily fit into the quick change chuck that you can attach to a drill press.
- No need to sharpen
- Cuts plug into the perfectly tapered shape
- Easily fits in a quick-change chuck in a drill press
- Long-life for the body made out of hardened steel
- Stays sharp even after a couple of days of use
- Have to control the wobble for a clean cut
2. CMT Wooden Plug Cutter
The minor or the inner diameter of CMT 529.158.31 plug cutter is 5/8-inches; overall length is 3-inches and the shank size is half inches. This plug cutter will cut plug with the size of a bit less than 16mm so that you can easily cover a hole with a diameter of 16mm. As the plug cutter is a straight plug cutter so the plugs will be straight which means the diameter from top to bottom will be the same.
There are 4 cutting edges in this plug cutter. The advantage of these multi-cutting edges is higher feed rates and lesser chip load on each cutting edge. With these 4 cutting edges, you can cut a fine hole and a smooth plug out of the wood. Multi-cutting edges also put less pressure on the cutting edges of the plug cutter while cutting a plug out which also makes the plug cutter lasts longer and lessens the chance of sharping the edges more often. Another advantage of multi-cutting edges over a single cutting edge is plug cutter produces less heat because cutting edges don’t keep continuous contact with the workpiece.
This plug cutter is best to use with a drill press. Recommended operating speed of a drill press with a plug cutter of any size is 1000 RPM (Revolutions per minute) on softwood like pine wood and 500 RPM on the hardwood like hard maple. The maximum suggested speed of this plug cutter is 500 RPM on hardwood and 1000 RPM on softwood which matches with the recommended operating of a drill press with a plug cutter. So this plug cutter will suit perfectly with a drill press and can make smooth plugs from softwood as well as hardwood.
The body of the plug cutter is made of alloyed steel. Alloyed steel is a special type of steel that is alloyed with various elements for increasing the overall performance of the steel. Alloyed steel contains a variety of elements for enhancing various properties of the steel like adding copper for corrosion resistance, adding sulfur and bismuth for improving the work performance of the metal, adding nickel for increasing toughness, adding chromium and manganese for increasing firmness of the metal and lots of other elements for boosting the properties of the steel.
- Can cut smooth plugs from hardwood
- Cutter doesn’t get jammed in low speed
- Doesn’t get hot easily while cutting plugs
- Very sharp cutting edges
- Can cut smooth plugs quickly
- Does not make a beveled end for easy insertion of the plug
3. W. L. Fuller Plug Cutter Drill Bit
With the 1 inch of inside diameter and 1/2-inch or half inches of shank size, the W. L. Fuller 1 inch plug cutter can cut big plugs with the size of 25.4 mm. So you can cover bigger holes with the plugs made out of this plug cutter. This plug cutter is made in the U.S.A.
The body is made of carbon steel. Carbon steel works well as a cutting tool like knives or blades because of its tensile strength. Typically carbon steel is harder than other types of steel and the reason for this hardness is, steel goes through various processes to be carbon steel. Where other types of steel have less percentage of carbon is mixed, carbon steel has a higher percentage of carbon and the percentage can go up to 3.8 percent concerning the weight. Carbon steel has more durability than other steel.
The build material of the plug cutter body which is carbon steel is hardened for long life. Hardening is done by giving heat treatment and then quenching followed by tempering and this hardening process gives the material a harder and stronger structure.
As the body material has no ductility feature so the plug cutter will not bend so easily and you can use this plug cutter for a longer period. Where typical carbon steel has less rust resistance, the hardening process gives the carbon steel a huge boost in the rust resistance feature. The body can easily handle frequent use and heavy workload without being worn which gives the plug cutter a long-lasting life even in daily abuse.
This plug cutter doesn’t eject the plug out which leaves the plug unharmed as ejecting the plug may damage the plug’s outer surface and the sizes of the plugs will vary. The plug cutter will leave the plug attached to a breakable base in the board so that you can easily break out the plug with a screwdriver or other tools.
As the plug cutter is tapered so the plugs will be slightly tapered and with the chamfered end you won’t have to struggle for inserting the plugs into a hole.
- Works well with both soft and most hardwoods
- It Cuts large plugs smoothly
- Suits perfect with a drill press
- Hardened body material gives long life
- Doesn’t eject the plugs out of the board
- Cutter legs will spread if the cutter gets hot
4. General Plug Cutter Set
General tools plug cutter set consists of three plug cutters with the size of 3/8 inch, ½ inch, and 5/8 inch inside diameter. 3/8 inch plug cutter will cut a plug of approximately 9.5 mm diameter, ½ inch plug cutter will cut plugs with the diameter of 12.7 mm and 5/8 inch plug cutter will cut plugs of almost 16 mm diameter. Shank, which is the part of a plug cutter you insert into a drill and this shank size of all the plug cutters is the same which is 3/8 inch.
So you will not have any difficulty inserting these plug cutters in a drill press chuck without changing the chuck or worrying about the chuck size as most of the drill press chucks are either ½ inch or ¾ inch. Not only in a drill press, but you can also use this plug cutter with a hand-held cordless drill as the plug cutter will suit both the drill press and a cordless drill.
The body of the plug cutter is made of hardened alloy steel. Alloy means the combination of two or more than two metals. Alloying is done between the base metal and other alloy elements for enhancing mechanical properties. For steel, various elements are added to make alloy steel which has better properties and can give better output than typical steel.
While steel is mixed with other metals to make alloy steel, hardened this alloy steel makes the steel stronger and increases various resistance like rust resistance, corrosion resistance, etc. Thus steel also gets the ability to function properly at a high temperature without wearing or tearing which gives the plug cutter more efficiency even in rough use and you don’t have to worry about the plug cutter being worn and make imperfect plugs.
This plug cutter will cut straight plugs as the plug cutter is a straight plug cutter. Plug cutter will also eject the plug automatically so you will not need any screwdriver or other tools to get the plug out of the board. This will lessen the time you need for creating plugs to using those plugs for covering counterbore or countersink holes.
Because of the body material the plug cutter is built with which is hardened alloy steel, you can cut plugs from softwood like pine as well as hardwood like oak.
- Cutting plugs from hardwood is easy
- Can be used in both drill press and hand-held drill
- Self-ejects the plug from the board
- Plug cutters have great heat resistance
- Same shank size of all three plug cutters
- Produce much heat while cutting plugs from hardwood
5. Fisch Tapered Plug Cutter (5/8″)
Fisch tapered plug cutter is a 5/8 inches sized plug cutter with four fluted-shaped cutters for cutting smooth and tight-fitting plug that you can use for inserting the plug into the holes of furniture, board, or your woodworking project to give your project a sleek look. When there are vertically parallel shallow grooves on an object then this shape is called fluted shape. There are four cutters and these cutters are aligned in fluted shape and this shape is very effective for cutting plugs from any type of wood without any hassle.
Plug size is very important when you are hiding counterbored or countersink holes or repairing knots on a wood surface as ill-fitting plugs in your woodwork will make your work look like amateurish work. A slight difference in diameter between the plugs and holes you want to hide makes the plugs useless. This is where the Fisch plug cutter is very effective in making perfectly sized plugs which allows the plugs to be very snug fitting.
This plug cutter is a tapered plug cutter for making slightly tapered plugs where the size of the first 3mm of the plug is the stated size of the plug cutter and then the cut gets wider at a 3 degree included angle. For this tapered shape of the plugs, you will not have to face any difficulty while using the plugs for giving smooth finishing in your projects.
Plug cutter is made of tool-quality alloyed steel that gives the plug cutter hardness, toughness, wear resistance, tear resistance, high-temperature resistance, and boost in other properties of the body material. So you can work with this plug cutter for a long period without the plug cutter getting twisted, scratched, or rusted. Thus the plug cutter will have a long-lasting life.
The shank size of the plug cutter is 3/8 inch and it will be no trouble to attach the plug cutter with a hand-held drill, power tools, or large machines for reliable and consistent performance. But the plug cutter gives its best output with a drill press so it is recommended to use the plug cutter by attaching the plug cutter with a drill press.
- Making plugs is easy from both softwood and hardwood
- Four sharp teeth for quick work
- Cutter doesn’t get twisted in high temperature
- Four fluted shaped cutters for creating a tight-fit plug
- Shank size fits with any drill press or hand-held drill
- Plugs are very slightly tapered
Plug Cutter’s Buying Guide
From covering counterbored holes or countersink holes or even repairing knots on wood, a plug cutter is the best choice over wood filler because using wood filler may leave a mark of your covering or repairing work but using a plug cutter will leave no mark of your work and leave a smooth and glazy look to your woodworking project. You should give importance to a couple of the things mentioned below before you buy a plug cutter.
Plug Cutter Body Material
Body material is a great matter of fact in the case of a plug cutter because while using a plug cutter, it creates a lot of friction and heat. Heat is produced mainly for the constant rotation of the plug cutter while cutting plugs from wood.
So whatever the body of a plug cutter is made of, the body should be resistant to heat for creating a tight-fitting plug. Alloyed steel has good heat and wear resistance and doesn’t get twisted easily from heating so alloyed steel will be a good choice for the body of a plug cutter. Carbon steel is also a good choice because carbon steel has more durability than other steel or metals.
You should also consider the shank size of a plug cutter. A bigger shank may cause a problem as the shank may not fit properly in a drill press or hand-held drill and you will need a chuck that suits the big shank.
Usually, shank size isn’t a problem as manufacturers always build a plug cutter with the proper shank size that will fit any drill press or other tools. But you should be cautioned as there also exists some plug cutter with bigger size shank that you have to face trouble to fit in another tool or machinery.
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Single Plug Cutter or Plug Cutter Set
I prefer having a set of plug cutters over having a single plug cutter but having a single plug cutter is not also bad and let me explain from both sides so that you will have a clear explanation about which side you will pick.
If you are professional in woodworking then a plug cutter set is a must thing to have. As plug cutter set contains various sizes of plugs so you can hide holes of different sizes from small to big without worrying about not having the required plug cutter.
Now if you are a DIYer or you casually do woodworking then having a single plug cutter will not do any harm. Besides, owning a set of plug cutters and not using them is a total loss. You can also make a set by buying a couple of plug cutters of different sizes and it is always a good choice of having more than a single plug cutter.
Tapered Plug Cutter vs. Straight Plug Cutter
Before going to the conclusion of who’s going to own the crown, I give a brief description of which plug cutter does what. So a tapered plug cutter will cut a slightly tapered plug that will give you a snug fit and a straight plug cutter will cut a straight plug.
Between straight and tapered, a tapered plug cutter is a good choice because a tapered plug cutter will cut plugs in a way that will give you an easy start while using the plugs for covering holes or knots. But using plugs created by a straight plug cutter may require extra force initially to insert the plug in a hole. So I will recommend you to buy a tapered plug cutter if you want your plugs to be inserted into a hole with fewer struggles.
How to Use Plug Cutters
Plug cutters are mainly used for creating plugs that will fill counterbored holes or other unwanted holes that you want to cover up. Plug cutter gives the advantage of creating the plug of the same material that will match the wood project you are working on. You can easily disguise a wood hole by using a plug rather than using wood filler. Where wood filler may leave some marks on the wood surface, cutting matched plugs with a plug cutter will leave no marks on the surface that it will look like there were no holes before.
Another advantage over wood filler is, when you use plugs with a little bit of glue to fill a hole, it will dry quicker than wood filler.
To use a plug cutter you will need a drill press and attach the plug cutter with the drill press. A drill press which is also called a drilling machine is a device for cutting holes into hard surfaces like wood or metal. You can also attach plug cutters with a cordless drill but creating holes may not be as accurate as a drill press because the steadiness is higher in a drill press than in a cordless drill. Drill press also gives a sturdy and smooth cut.
Whether you are using a drill press or a cordless drill, the plug cutter may skate a bit on the surface of the wood before cutting the plug. To avoid this skating, you can make yourself a jig and you can use it to drill through the holes of the jig into the wood surface for controlling the location and the motion of the plug cutter.
When using a drill press attached with a plug cutter, make sure that the cutter goes to a certain depth from the surface of the wood piece that you are using for creating the plugs. In this way, the cutter can create a bevel shape to the top end of the plug so that you can easily insert the plug into a hole. With some glue, insert the plug in a way that the grain of the plug matches the grain of the timber.
Give a couple of gentle taps over the head of the plug using a mallet of rubber or wood until you get a snug fit. Remove the extra part of the plug that stays out by using a chisel and then sand the wooden surface smooth with sandpapers or electric sanders. This way you can easily fill or cover the holes in a wood with a plug.
Frequently Asked Questions Answered
1. How to Remove Wood With Plug Cutter?
To use a plug cutter, start by selecting the appropriately sized blade. It’s important to make sure you select the size according to the plug’s final size. The next step is to align your woodblock on a work surface and score along the line you would like to cut with a pencil or knife. Now, place the plug cutter over the scribed line and firmly press it down onto the woodblock. As you do this, push down on the handle of the plug cutter while simultaneously pushing against one end of your material block. You’ll notice that as you’re cutting into the block, your material will be forced out from beneath your newly made hole. Once you’ve finished making your cuts around your block, remove both ends of it and take out the newly made plug.
2. What Speed to Use a Plug Cutter?
Plug cutters are used on wood made from hardwoods, softwoods, or man-made materials. The rotational speeds required will vary depending on the type of material you’re cutting into and can range anywhere between 150 to 400 RPM’s for most materials. As always, it is important that you read your plug cutter’s specific guidelines before making any cuts.
3. What are the Advantages of Using a Plug Cutter?
Plug cutters are the easiest way to cut plugs. All you have to do is have the plug cutter in one hand and a piece of wood in the other. Turn the plug cutter on, and then give it a little tap with your hand to get it started. With a single cut, you can make plugs of all sizes.
4. How do You Sharpen a Wood Plug Cutter?
While sharpening a plug cutter is a little bit of a specialty, having a sharp plug cutter is practically essential. The plug cutter should be sharp enough to cut through wood. If it’s not sharp enough, you need to sharpen it. Hold the plug cutter of your choice at the end of a bench vise. You can use either a conventional flat grinding wheel or a grinding wheel with a diamond tip.
5. Can I Use a Plug Cutter with a Hand Drill?
Yes, plug cutters can be used with a drill press, and they can even be used with a hand drill. The process of using a hand drill is almost the same process as using a drill press. However, there is a slight difference. Because of the procedure with a drill press, you’re able to use the plug cutter in a direct line. Because of this, you won’t be needing to move the plug cutter because of a slight deviation of the hole.
6. How do You Use a Plug Cutter Without a Drill Press?
Yes, a few plug cutters are available at the market that can be used without a drill press.
Plug cutter has definitely brought some classiness to woodworking projects and you cannot deny this whether you are a professional or a DIYer. It is now a very popular tool in the woodworking area.
By considering plug cutter’s popularity, I have created this article for giving you a clear clarification about plug cutters with a list of the best plug cutters out there so that you can pick yours. For further questions and explanations or if you have any opinion to share, you can comment down below and I am always here to help.
Till then stay safe and stay happy, adios!!