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Not long ago, I refinished the woodwork in my living room, planing away old stain to reveal lovely tight-grained fir.
Because the new finish is clear, I wanted to fill the nail holes with something nicer than sawdust and glue. I have a Plugger drill bit (available at leevalley.com) that reams tapered holes for plugging with sharpened dowels. This worked, but the finish soaked into the end grain of the plugs and darkened them too much.
So I decided to try cutting cross-grain dowels with ends that matched the surrounding face grain. These can be fragile, but I found I could sharpen them in an old schoolroom-style pencil sharpener and tap them gently into place with a hammer. When the glue cured I planed the plugs level, sanded, and finished. The results look great.
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