One of the hallmarks of Greene & Greene-style furniture is the square plug. It’s a detail that shows that the maker is willing to go the extra mile. If you’ve ever made a project with a bunch of square plugs, you know that extra mile can turn into many extra miles. There are several ways to go about it, and once you perfect a method you have plenty of time to think as you work away at the task. Darrell Peart has been making Greene & Greene-style furniture for a long time, and written about it in his book and in articles for Popular Woodworking Magazine. Along the way he came up with a great method for making square holes.
These new punches, available from Lee Valley Tools, are used with a common drill bit to pare all four sides at once, and excavate the junk from down inside the hole. When I first learned about these I ordered a set (they are available in sizes from 3/16″ up to 1/2″), and I’ve been using them for the last couple weeks. To make a long story short, they work and they work very well.
Place the points of the punch on your layout lines and tap the end a few times with a hammer. This sets the location of the hole. The next step is to use the punch as a guide for drilling. The hole in the center of the punch takes a drill bit (not included) that’s 3/64″ smaller than the outside of the punch.
The drill bit slips inside and removes most of the waste. I found it best to alternate a couple times between drilling and smacking. It’s easy to get the punch back to where it was and I couldn’t find a way to goof up the process. The punches are in two pieces; the short cutting part threads into the longer end. In some sizes, I needed to unscrew the punch to get my drill bit to the right depth.
We shot a brief video this morning, showing the punches in action. If you’d like to learn more about Darrell and his work, his web site is worth a visit. While you’re there, you can also order a copy of his book “Greene & Greene: Design Elements for the Workshop” or get information on classes he teaches.