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Square wooden pegs are widely used in carpentry and cabinet making. Indispensable in all wood-wood connections, they add the stamp of authenticity to the achievements of the craftsman as those of the amateur. A simple tool makes it possible to manufacture it at will by valuing the falls.

Text J. Jacquin - Photos B. Petit-Falaize

Practical advice

● When assembling, the dowels should never be too close to the edge of the room, so as not to burst the wood. Also use the mallet with caution.
● Block the end of the template with a cleat or press in the direction that you push the planer, and hold it laterally.

The pegs are round or square pieces of different lengths, slightly conical or pyramidal, used to block the mortise and tenon joints, or half-timber, crossing the parts from one side to the other.
● The traditional furniture in solid wood is particularly gourmand dowels: it takes more than a hundred for a two-body buffet. They can be bought ready-made, in bag or in bulk (seven cents of euro coin at Weldom). But it is very easy to make them yourself. It's more economical, and you're sure to never miss it in the middle of a weekend.
● We are only interested here in the manufacture of the only square pegs, the most widespread. If you look closely at a cupboard or an old sideboard, you will find that the ankles, which look round, are actually square. Their rounded shape comes from the crushing of the angles when they have been forced into the mallet into the round hole.

Template

The jig used to cut the ankles is made from a long hardwood drop. A central recess of 20 mm wide by 120 mm long is made with a chisel. Lay the walls and dig the bottom with a fairly steep slope, so that the depth is 6 mm at one end and 12 mm at the other. These dimensions will be those of the square peg once cut. Depending on the thickness of the tenon / mortise joints to be made and the diameter of the holes, you can make the dowels to the length of your choice.

Training exercise

The first operation will consist in cutting an oak fall (in a board, preferably) of about 100 mm in length. Take the standing timber and cut square with the chisel to obtain an approximately square section of about 12 x 12 mm. The blade will follow the wire of the wood by splitting it, which will give the peg a maximum resistance that do not have those cut at the saw.
● Block this blank at the bottom of the template's throat and set its top face to the planer. Turn the ankle over and do the same on the opposite side, until the iron of the plane is flush with the surface of the template.
● Place the dowel on the third side and repeat the operation. Once its four sides are erected, it will have a pyramidal shape of 6 mm at its thinnest end, and 12 mm at its widest end.
● With intermediate lengths, you will get different useful sections, approximately 6/8 x 70 mm, 6/9 x 90 mm, 6/10 x 100mm. Always use dowels longer than the thickness of the parts to be blocked. Depressed in force with the mallet (but without excess so as not to burst the wood), the ankle must protrude from both sides. It is then adjusted with a chisel or screener.

Make the template

Make the template

A drop of solid oak parquet is ideal for the realization of the jig. In the first third of the length, draw in pencil a rectangle 20 mm wide and 120 long.

Mark with chisel

Mark with chisel

Holding the chisel vertical, mark the whole periphery of the rectangle with a mallet about 2 mm deep. The beveled side of the blade is oriented towards the inside of the path.

Get a flat bottom

Get a flat bottom

Scissor off successive chips so as to obtain a smooth flat bottom. The thinnest end points to the longer length of the template.

Discard squares

Discard squares

In an oak cut cut to the right length, cut out squares about 12 x 12 mm in section, splitting the wood in the direction of the thread. The chisel does not cut the wood, it separates it.

Dress in a plane

Dress in a plane

The raw ankle, locked in its notch, is raised with the plane with hand on a first face, then returned three times. Push the tool until the iron is flush with the surface of the template.

Locate the length of the post

Locate the length of the post

Locate with a pencil the length of the tenon which will be lodged in a one-eyed mortise. This type of assembly, which does not reveal standing wood, is appreciated for its aesthetics.

Drill the holes of the mortise

Drill the holes of the mortise

All the trick of locking with ankle is there: first drill the holes of the mortise. Locate the holes on the post and drill it by slightly shifting the drill towards the shoulder.

Block and sharpen with chisel

Block and sharpen with chisel

Depressed with the mallet, the ankles tighten more and more the assembly as they sink. Once the blocking is assured (no glue with the ankles), chisel with chisel.


Video Instruction: How to make a Square Peg Drawbore | Paul Sellers