A few months ago, during one of their all-too-frequent sales, I ordered a pocket hole plug cutter from Rutlands. This was in the time before I purchased my pocket screw jig but, as it was on special offer and I knew I’d be wanting one eventually, I decided to take the plunge. At the time though, they were out of stock and unable to clarify when it would be available again… They were talking months, not weeks!
A few months went by and, only a few weeks ago, I placed another order with them for this same item, as it was now shown live on their website as ‘in stock’ and available to buy. Thankfully, the plug cutter arrived next-working day and, although I haven’t done an awful lot with it since, I have at least been able to tinker with it enough to be able to share some of my initial impressions and opinions of its performance with you, here.
Only days after placing my order during their 14% sale, I received a new e-mail, alerting me to the fact that the cutter I’d just received in the post had now been reduced by £5 in price! Frustrating, yes. But, what I found worse was Rutlands’ unwillingness to offer any further compensation beyond the discount I had already received across my entire order… Maybe I was just expecting too much. 😛
It’s quite a terrifying sight, at the cutting end. It actually reminds me of a parasitic water-borne killer that appeared in an early episode of The X-Files… Maybe it’s just me!! 😛
From the tip of the spurs, you have a potential cutting length of 80mm. Most pillar drills will have a maximum plunge depth of between 75-80mm. So, with a clearance restart between the tips of the drill and the workpiece before you start drilling, it seems a bit overly-optimistic to be able to expect to produce dowels or plugs any longer than 70mm.
That’s right, I did say dowels… 😉
You see, the packaging clearly advertises this as a “Tenon Dowel” cutter. I’m not sure I would’ve realised so soon had it not been stated on the box but, it’s very true. Alright, so you would need some kind of jig to hold a workpiece ready for forming round tenons on the ends of a blank but, I did find it to be an accurate method for producing quick, clean 3/8in diameter dowels.
In fact, if I ever get around to making those French Doors for my mum’s house, I intend to use this cutter to produce my dowels for draw-boring each of the mortise and tenon joints. All I need then is a 3/8in diameter drill bit (all of my others are metric – 9mm or 10mm).
For an item of tooling that may seem a little on the cheap side, I found that this cutter performs very well in both hard and softwoods.
It cuts quickly, both the plugs and holes are clean and, after producing a number of samples cut both with and across the grain direction, it’s still cutting well and not burning. To me, it didn’t feel blood-spillingly sharp out of the box but, it seems to be doing its job very well.
Using a fence of some sort is essential to locate the workpiece or offcut and to help keep it steady. With smaller pieces like this, I also like to use a clamp. Seeing just how fast this cutter will work its way through the wood, I know that I definitely want to keep my flesh and fingers well out of the way!
Cutting across the grain of this spruce offcut (necessary to fill some pocket holes, where you need to fill a cross-grain hole), I found that one of my plugs ‘compressed’ after it was released from the block with my bandsaw. Just wanted to share the photo, that’s all! 🙂 I’m sure it’s to do with the spongy nature of this fast-grown softwood.
So, although I’ve yet to try and use this to fill a pre-cut pocket hole [coming soon!], I’d certainly recommend it, if you’re even considering buying one for yourself. It’s perhaps also worth mentioning that Trend do their own version. There probably are other brands as well. I’m not really sure of what else to add here but, please do feel free to ask me anything.
Thanks for reading.