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How do I Remove the Teak Plugs from my Teak Trim to Facilitate Easier Refinishing?

One tool I find invaluable for pulling teak plugs is a very old gimlet. This looks like a corkscrew, but has a tapered wood drill bit, actually an auger. I think Johnstown Distributors still sells them. Twisting it drills into the plug and when the bit hits the screw head, the twist lifts out the plug. (Go-slow so as not to bugger up the screw slot(s)).

Charlie Pearsall

Here is how I remove the plugs:

To remove the wood plugs...take a fine threaded sheetrock screw, cut the head off, put it in your trusty battery drill, aim at the center of the plug and screw it in. When the screw tip hits the head of the ss screw it should (with luck) drive the plug out cleanly. Probe the Philips into the hole, light whack with the hammer till you find the slot and unscrew the fastener. To replace the plugs I don't use any type of adhesive; I just dip them in Cetol and tap them in with a hammer, chisel flush and then sand flush with a wood block wrapped in sandpaper.

Capt Al Watson, Kindred Spirit #55

When I removed the plugs from my rails all I did was drill a hole down the center of the plug just large enough for the screwdriver tip to fit through. As I backed the screw out it pushed the plug right up and out of the hole. To replace the plugs I didn't use any type of sealant or adhesive, I just tapped them in with a hammer and then sanded them down flush with a palm sander. In 5 years I haven't have any problem with plugs coming out. One note: when replacing the plugs try and line up the grain on the plug with the grain of the wood. Otherwise they show up more, instead of becoming almost invisible.

Steve Schultz, Relaxer

Well, I really screwed up this time!

I purchased a brand new set of drill bits and tried to drill out the old plugs. Unfortunately I lost some teak around the plughole. Any suggestions on what to fill the void with? I am just about to call Catalina and see if I can buy a brand new handrail.

Jack Brunner

If the area around the hole, which has been damaged, is not too large, you may drill the hole larger and install a larger plug. I have had some luck repairing damaged teak by dropping a bit of super glue into the dent (scratch, etc.) and sanding the nearby teak. The teak dust created mixes with the super glue and sets right away. After the glue is saturated with teak dust, add more glue and sand. Continue until the damaged area is smooth. I have had no trouble getting Cetol to cover the repair -- but it may appear a bit dark -- usually looks like a small pin knot in the wood. If done right, you will be the only one who will notice the repair.

I don't think you'd have too much luck with this method if you were trying to fill a thin void entirely around a plug, however, as your repair might be only on the surface. In the future don't try to drill out the plugs. Rather, drill a small pilot hole into the plug (you'll hit the screw head underneath -- don't drill into that). Then with a screwdriver, drive a screw into the hole you just made. The screw will bottom out on the head of the screw under the plug, and, as it keeps turning, should lift the plug out of the hole. Good luck.

Larry D

You can buy a plug cutting set (which fit any electric drill) at many hardware stores, typically they have 4 sizes of plugs and cost less than $10. The plugs are used by furniture makers all the time. You can get a piece of teak at West and cut you own plugs. Just use the next larger size, and use a slightly smaller (by say 1/16") diameter drill bit on the rail. You can email me off if you need specifics.

Wytold and Carol, Dreamtime

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