The Rot Doctor


Subject: Screw plug removal
Date: Sun, 14 May 2000

Thought I'd share my method, which worked well for me. It handled 5 plugs every 3 1/2 minutes, working by myself - as usual.

With a small bladed (1/8") screwdriver, lightly tap 4 small depressions, one at each quarter hour spots slightly in from the edge of the plug. This accomplished two things. It seemed to break whatever bond remained holding the plug in place AND, prevented the prying of the plug from tearing the surrounding wood of the toe rail.

Again, with the small driver as a chisel, from 1/3rd of the diameter of the plug, angled toward the center, chisel in and pry. Go to the opposite side, about 1/4 of the way in from the edge and chisel, again, toward the center. At this point, most frequently, the plug comes out in a couple of pieces.

If not, still with small screw driver in hand (that's part of the trick...not changing tools all the time), make this "V" deeper, enough so you hit bottom (the screw head). With gentle prying, the plug popped away from the hole sides.

Changing to a dental pick to clean out the cross of the head, I used a small piece of plastic tubing to blow out the hole. The most time was spent cleaning the cross to give the best chance for the bit to bite. The only other thing I used is a DeWalt 12V ratchet chuck cordless drill. It can be set to provide very little torque to the fastener. And, like an impact wrench, in reverse, will "shake" the faster loose. Best investment I ever made for this type of work.

Of 148 fasteners, I counted so I could get the location of...only one head broke off, one other broke 1/3rd of the way up from the point and 4 more just spun.

Worked, obviously, for me.

John G.
1966, 30' CC Crusader

Thanks, John. Mind if we post this on our letters page? Might be helpful to some readers.