116 – Ebony Plugs

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This video is an accompaniment to my column in the Aug. 2009 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine. The video focuses on pillowing ebony pegs, an adornment commonly found in Greene & Greene style furniture. The method is adapted from Darrell Peart’s techniques. Now although the video focuses on the pegs, the article shows you how I built my John Hall frame reproduction. And if you want to build one yourself, you can download the article and the full-size templates below.

Download the PDF of the article and the full-sized patterns, courtesy of Popular Woodworking.

There is sure to be some deja vu here. Some of you may remember me linking to this when the original article was released. But once again, this is an opportunity to add this video to my site archive, while giving you an opportunity to download the PDF of the article for free. Guild members will have even more deja vu since I produced a similar but more in-depth video that now lives in the Guild Archive.

Categories: Techniques, Whisper Minis


  1. Marc, do you have any problems with the finish on the plugs when you sand to 4k and then buffing? Are they still able to absorb any? Thanks for another great video!



      thewoodwhisperer April 15, 2010

      Great question. I would imagine the bond to the ebony plugs is very weak. But when I apply the finish to these pieces, I am usually wiping, so most of the finish gets wiped off anyway. Whats left on those little plugs is quite minimal. But if you are putting on a thick film, I would be very careful about what makes contact with those plugs. I dont think they would survive the fingernail scrape test.

    • jamesodowd February 12, 2011

      i have many basic hand tools but hate using the router does anyone have tips or tricks i can use without chopping my fingers off

  2. Kenton April 15, 2010

    no time to watch this now but i just made a bunch of these today thanks to marc and darrells insperation. Was kind of a pain for my lack of tools but a chisel and patience works well lol. now i understand that good timing everyone talks about

  3. Arek July 15, 2010

    Marc where can I find the information about this jig you mentioned in video? I have few pieces of furniture to do with ebony plugs so jig would be quite handy…

      thewoodwhisperer July 15, 2010

      Hey Arek. As I mentioned in the video, the jig is Darrell Peart’s design and I believe the only place you will find the plan is in his book.

  4. David Lopez October 2, 2010

    Excellent demo. Seeing you do and explaining makes me feel like I can try it out. How long did it really take you to sand the plug?


  5. Chad Eichler October 28, 2010

    Do you recommend setting these plugs after you apply the finish to the main piece or should you get them glued in place before you apply any finish. Does it matter much? I figure sanding between finish applications would be easier without the plugs in so hoping I can just set them after final coat is applied.



      I usually install my plugs before finishing, but you bring up a great point. I think if you can avoid getting finish into the hole, you are actually better off installing them afterward. I’ll have to try that on my next G&G piece.

  6. James Currell October 3, 2011

    Hi Marc,

    loving the site and the videos!

    Just an idea – how about sticking square blank in the lathe and using skew chisel to round/pillow end?

    Thanks for all the great tips,



      Well, given my turning skills and experience, I’d have to say trying to pillow end grain ebony with a skew chisel would probably result in beautiful ebony projectiles and perhaps flesh wounds. :)

  7. James Currell October 4, 2011

    I’ll give it a shot and let you know how I get on!



  8. Steve Rosenblum January 4, 2012

    I just came across this video from William Ng which demonstrates a different way of pillowing the ends of the ebony plugs using a drill.
    It looks fast and easy.


      Hey Steve. William’s method is awesome. I’ve been using it since my last class with him.

      • Andrew Levine June 25, 2013

        I just came across the same video. I’m going to try a G&G style serving tray in a few weeks. Never done G&G – can’t wait to try it!

  9. Thanks! I needed a quick reminder tutorial for a sitting bench that I am making. My project only required four though.

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