Making those little pyramid plugs....

Any words of wisdom in making the classic pyramid shaped square plug. a la Green & Green furniture. A recent article in FW showed th author with a chisel bevel down and apparently levering against the plug to establish each ramp. Is that the best way??
Please keep 'Use a chisel, doofus' comments to a minimum...
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brian roth wrote:

Use a chisel, doofus. Use it bevel down and lever against the plug to establish each ramp. <G D & R>
(Well, somebody had to say it eventually. Might as well be me. I don't know a Green and Green from a sack of wet doorknobs though, and have no idea what you're talking about.)
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On Sat, 30 Oct 2004 03:31:58 -0400, Silvan

Brian, the names are "Greene & Greene", FYI. Traditionally, they are hand-carved as the author stated. A ScarySharp(tm) chisel edge is the key to doing it quickly, easily, and well.

Aw, yer taste is all in yer mouth, Silvie.
http://www.artscraftsfurniture.com/Methods2.htm
http://www.woodmagazine.com/woodmag/153/greenepicframebg.jpg
http://www.craftsmenhardware.com/Pages/nails.html http://www.gamblehouse.org/photos/index.html are some examples of architects Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene's magnificent style.
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On 29 Oct 2004 18:32:44 -0700, brian_j snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (brian roth) wrote:

Yes, they're tricky. Any doofus can make them, but good looking ones need care - and symmetry.
Practice ! Practice until they're good. Then don't use them either. Mount a few up in sample holes and stare at them. The go practice some more, once you've realised they weren't as good as you first thought. This is just the sort of job that looks worse the longer you look at them and you get fussier.
There are two approaches to how to make them; make a pyramid peg and insert it, or insert a rough peg and cut the pyramid in situ. This is somewhat up to personal choice, a little owing to the type of timber, but mainly controlled by size. You can cut the little ones afterwards, but this is impractical for big ones.

You can (an old FWW note) make a pyramid-plug carving chisel. This is a cut down chisel that's very short and very skewed, with a short ball handle to it. It's also useful to round the top edge of the bevel, like a big mortice chisel. You use this in the way you describe, but because it's so skewed you can also use it for a side that's alongside a long leg or rail.
For small pegs, I either cut them before or in-place. Anything over 1/4" though I do beforehand. I've made them from 1/8" on a side up to 1". 3/16" is the smallest I do now though, as the smaller ones tended to get "lost" and just looked like round pegs.
I make small pegs from African blackwood or bog oak. I'm moving away from the blackwood, because I want to use local timbers wherever possible. Both are quite hard and brittle, also dark coloured. Over 1/4" I use oak. This is ebonised, fumed or natural - usually fumed. End grain tends to finish a little darker anyway, so for Craftsman style work that's enough. Greene and Greene gets bog oak, or ebonised oak in larger sizes.
Small pegs up to about 3/8" are made by ripping down square stock. I then crosscut to length, then form the pyramid (if I'm doing it that way) and finally round the other end. The small blackwood pegs are made pyramidal with a low-angle block plane and an angled shooting block. The tiny ones are sanded. Larger pegs are bandsawn on a sliding jig, then planed gently just for a better finish. This jig is length-critical, because I guide from the round end, not the pyramid. This avoids the need to make two jigs, for first and second sides, but it also means that I need a new jig for new lengths (actually just a new guide rail on the existing base). Forming an even pyramid is always easier by making a symmetrical wedge, then forming the intervening faces. Finally I round the starting end with a desk pencil sharpener, the sort with a pair of rotating milling cutters.
Larger pegs are shaved roughly to size with a drawknife and shave horse, the tops are possibly bandsawn roughly, but they still have their tops finished with the block plane and shooting block.
When driving them in, I prefer to use a light hammer for the smaller pegs. This gives more "feel" if you're driving them into a blind hole. It does tend to distort the pyramid though, although the 5 face "rosehead" can be attractive too, if done evenly.
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On Sat, 30 Oct 2004 20:01:48 +0100, Andy Dingley wrote:

thanks. filed in my stuff to learn collection.
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