How to hide screw heads

By Steve Maxwell

Photo by iStockPhoto/Thinkstock

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Wood screws offer strong, fast ways to join project parts, and they can be made virtually invisible too. Tapered wooden plugs make it happen. Typically 1/2″ in diameter on their large ends, tapered wooden plugs can be bought from a store ready-made or cut in the shop using a drillpress attachment. Either way, you need to prepare two-part holes if you want to use plugs. The first part is drilled about 1/4″- to 3/8″-deep on the face into which the tapered plug will be installed in later. This step is called counterboring. Next, drill a 1/8″-diameter hole in the middle of the counterbored hole, through the wood for the screw shank. It’s always wise to create counterbored test holes in scrap wood first, to check how your tapered wooden plugs fit before drilling into your project. Ideally, you want the plug to form a tight fit within the counterbore while the plug’s top is flush with the surrounding wood.

A sharp spade bit is an excellent tool for counterboring. You can even grind down the edges of a spade bit on a bench grinder, allowing you to make a smaller hole if a particular plug needs it. Although store-bought plugs are convenient, they’ll never blend in with the surrounding wood well. Shop-cut, tapered wooden plugs made from project scraps offer the best visual match with the surrounding wood, especially when they’re prepared with face grain on the top end of the plug. Installed carefully, with grain aligned to the surrounding wood, the plugs become virtually invisible. Use a tiny bit of glue during installation, then let it dry thoroughly

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