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Workshop tip: Shape and ebonize walnut pegs in a single step

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Square pegs add both strength and decoration to frame joints of all kinds. While my personal favorites are ebony with a pyramid shape, ebony is pricey and can be hard to find. I recently discovered I can use my bench grinder to burn the ends of walnut plugs, darkening the wood and forming the little pyramids at the same time. Use the finest wheel on your grinder, and dress the edge flat. Then all you have to do is add a little right-angle fence to the tool rest, and set the rest at 20° to the wheel. Feed the stock carefully into the wheel on all four sides. With a little practice you’ll get a consistent pyramid shape, with the slight burning action of the wheel leaving the end grain smooth and dark. To cut the pegs to length, I use a bench hook and fine saw.

—JIM COX, East Aurora, N.Y.

Illustrations by Dan Thornton
From Fine Woodworking issue #291

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