I don’t hate much, but I do hate a scruffy looking pegged joint.
You know, when the peg doesn’t fill the hole.
When you’ve only got the show face to get tidy, it isn’t too troublesome, particularly if you follow a few procedures. Where things start to get a bit testing though, is when both sides of the hole will be seen.
This problem is escalated further when the peg is going in to a drawborn joint.
It’s All In The Peg
A good peg will be ever so slightly tapered. This allows it to enter easily, without damaging itself or the hole. Once it starts to get whacked in to the joint it tightens up and begins to fill the hole.
Getting that taper right is important, if you go for too much you might end up with a peg that remains so loose it’s rattling around the arse end of the joint. It could also be at risk of coming loose with time or a knock.
Creating a neat exit when drawboring a mortice and tenon is a particular challenge because the offset in the two holes bends the peg within the joint. It can also cause the peg to compress which makes it thinner. Of course this bending action is the whole point, but the bend and slight damage send the peg off straight and make for a particularly rough exit.
Creating Immaculate Pegged Joints
The trick to getting things neat in both scenarios (both draw boring and straight pegged joints) is in that taper. And through adding a bit of a point to the entry end of the peg.
The point on the end may seem unnecessary, but it’s incredibly effective at helping to guide things in. As a result you’re able to get away with far less taper which of course means a much better chance of a tight job on both ends of the hole.
The perfect peg needs to be made well over length. If I was off in to inch thick stuff then I’d make the peg about 2 – 2 1/2″ long.
The entry end of the peg wants to be a nice sliding fit within the hole. At the other end you’re after a ‘not a chance’ type fit, you know, the maybe with a hammer type of tight.
If you knock this sod in, it will tighten up nicely on the show face. On the back of the joint, whilst being ever so slightly looser, it should still be visually tidy.
A Tidy Rear End
If it isn’t tidy enough on the back, and it probably isn’t if it’s a drawbored joint or if you’re going through thick stuff, then once it’s banged in, cut the peg a good 1/8″ over length. This gives enough material to batter with a hammer, preferably a peening hammer. The idea is to mushroom the peg in to any gaps making the finish a lot more presentable.
I’d avoid this hammer action on the show face unless absolutely necessary. The result is not as crisp as a peg that simply fits tight.