I have mentioned it before but then the sole sales outlet Lowes USA did what Lowes does best when it has a really good product, it stopped selling it. Anyway, I found a US maker making it again, Montana brand, and I thought you might like a set. I did a video on using it on my Instagram and Facebook pages, actually, two on Instagram, the second one is on sharpening the cutter too. Just hit the Instagram and Facebook icons lower right sidebar. The videos in those places are not the same so no repeats.

What makes it unique is it is one of the only plug cutters designed to be used with a hand drill or drill driver which is a very handy thing if you do not own a drill press/pillar drill because all the others rely on the perpendicular offering to the wood via the extra piece of very large and space-hogging equipment. Here’s a quick video on using one with either the drill press or the hand drill and then another showing that they can be quickly sharpened over the years to come. I have used the same set for over ten years to date.

Just so you know, I take no kickback, sponsorship or free gear.

28 Comments

  1. Samuel on 7 February 2020 at 10:37 pm

    I didn’t even know about plugs,..very nice finish and tool.
    I was thinking about bathrooms and the house project. I have been planning my own bathroom to be renovated off and on.
    Conventional vanities are very uninspired and expensive, well over $600AUD for a custom size even without the top or basin.
    Interested to see how u may approach fixed and wet area designs in your Housefull project,



  2. Tom Stenzel on 8 February 2020 at 5:57 am

    Paul, thanks for the link.

    Almost 20 years ago I received as a gift a large Craftsman toolkit for use with a cordless driver. It had twist, spade and masonry bits, along with large assortment of screwdriver bits. I now see that it included Montana tools like their screw guides, self centering drills, countersink sets. I wondered where Sears had gotten some of these things, I’d never seen them before.

    Over the years I’ve inflicted damage a lot of wood with these tools (I’m not calling what I do woodworking). They’ve held up well and I still use them. Even if I don’t get their plug cutters I can now replace the missing parts of my kit.

    Thanks,
    Tom Stenzel



    • JBarlycorn on 10 February 2020 at 10:17 pm

      You could call it therapeutic and occasional useful wood mangling.



  3. Stewart Perry on 8 February 2020 at 7:32 am

    Hi Paul, I bought a set of these last year (they’re available online in the UK through Rutlands) and have been very impressed with them. I did find that the cutting edges as supplied were a little rough, and they performed better when the flat cutting faces were polished with diamond paddles to remove the machine marks. It sounds like you’ve put out a video demonstrating this but I don’t see the link to it above?



  4. Mario Fusaro on 8 February 2020 at 1:35 pm

    Thanks, Paul. I just ordered a set from Montana. Up to now, I’ve been hammering scrap through the dowel making plate to make plugs. This will be easier on the ears…… LOL!



  5. Alan-planesaw on 8 February 2020 at 2:58 pm

    Sold in the U.S. in Woodcraft stores. Woodcraft.com



  6. Richard Garrow on 8 February 2020 at 4:09 pm

    As always Paul your readership goes far and wide. The the place in the US is now sold out. It does not take long after you mention something to either go up in price or sell out quite quickly. I know it will come back we just have to wait, which I am always prepared to do for something you believe in. I am still chasing one of the router plans with the large square base. I was quite surprise a few weeks ago. I fellow here in the USA is making them and when he did the first batch the of course sold out with in minutes. So I put my name down for one, and kept in touch with him via IG. So I got an email the other week asking if I was still interested well I was over the moon and of course said yes please. So I am hopeful to have by summer end. Thank you and all your team for all you do. All the best sir..



    • Rocky Mountain Twist/Montana Brand on 10 February 2020 at 6:42 pm

      Paul, we are so glad to hear that our plug cutters have served you well over the years! The projects that you create are beautiful. We believe that our customers would greatly benefit from your tutorials and expertise. Would you be ok with us linking to this article, from our website?

      We did sell out of the 3pc plug cutter set on our website, but we are working hard to get more produced. You can also find our set at Menards, Rutlands, Rockler, Woodworkers Supply, and Woodcraft. To address Richard Garrow’s comment, we do not plan on raising the cost of these although we can not directly control what the previously mentioned stores decide to sell them for.



  7. Steven Newman/Bandit571 on 8 February 2020 at 4:25 pm

    Been using an OLD tapered plug cutter , 3/8″, that I bought from Veritas when they first came out with them…..one tip….run the drill press as slow as you can…it tends to burn the wood at higher spreads, and breaks off the plug….doesn’t clear chips fast enough to spin that fast.

    Watch the grain, and when they are trimmed flush, they will blend in, and disappear.



    • Paul Sellers on 8 February 2020 at 6:52 pm

      With this set of three, I cut one hundred plugs in each wood without breaking one. ALso, they each fit the relevant diameter hole perfectly.



      • Steve P on 8 February 2020 at 11:26 pm

        What do you use plugs for? I have used them for covering screw holes but seems like a lot of your joinery doesn’t use screws so i am curious why you need so many?



        • Paul Sellers on 9 February 2020 at 8:59 am

          I’m not at all any kind of purist woodworker legalistically shunning modernity. So many fine developments have amazed me coming from the past century and two but especially so in the first two decades of this one. Self-drilling, self-countersinking screws obviate their connection to mass-making but the engineering is truly remarkable. Also, whereas I do not feel any secondary component can outdo the well-planned and well-executed joinery I love all the more, I feel no checks about strengthening any support I can give to a joint if I want or feel the need to. Hence I would not feel any compromise using screws to replace clamps initially until the glue goes off and especially in awkward situations where a clamp will not work. Would I then take the screws out? No, not at all, there’s no point. So if it were visible I would use a hole and plug to conceal what might otherwise look ugly or mar the clean lines and continuous grain I like. I actually like some metal components too. Even a more a perfectly countersunk screw where the screw seats to exactly the right depth withing the cone-shaped ‘V’ offered by a counterink bit.



          • Steve P on 10 February 2020 at 5:23 am

            Understood. I meant no disrespect, just genuinely curious as I am new to all this and haven’t watched every build video. But, I recently made the serving tray, and used the brass screws up through the bottom in case of spills etc. But I messed up the countersink. It came out all “wobbly”. I guess because i predrilled the holes before using the countersink bit?



          • Paul Sellers on 10 February 2020 at 8:53 am

            Probably not drilling the holes first, more likely the countersing because not all countersinks are created equal. many of them vibrate off centre as they work the inverted cone shape. Perhaps consider a metalworking deburring bit like the ones I use.



        • nemo on 9 February 2020 at 1:41 pm

          Agree with you there, SteveP.

          I liked the remark mr. Sellers made a while ago that’d he’d rather see the honest gap in a dovetail joint than trying to cover/fill it up with glue and sawdust. Using plugs I find rather similar, literally covering things up. It’s not a method that I would personally use, it’d feel like cheating to me. Either the honest screwhead or nothing at all. A matter of personal preference/taste, I suppose.

          A more rational reason is that if I ever want to take something apart later, hidden screws would damage my saw or other tools. Covered screws can cause a surprise. Visible screws don’t.



          • Paul Sellers on 9 February 2020 at 2:58 pm

            Now I have to really disagree here. If you made it, how are screws suddenly going to somehow creep up on you and “surprise” you? And let me make it clear too, it’s not a question of somehow surreptitiously hiding screws but, as I said, sometimes they draw more attention than they need to get and it’s nothing more than that. I think this goes to another level without the true consideration it deserves. In a recent project, the joints worked perfectly to prevent dislocation but hadn’t enough length to resist pulling out under stress. Two screws in the back and through to the tenon were a perfect solution. End of story. Think baby cot recently too. A safety issue was resolved there and so too adjustability.



          • nemo on 9 February 2020 at 6:24 pm

            I know you weren’t talking about surreptitiously hiding screws but thinking more about the general aesthetics or practicality of clamping. But as for screws surprising you when dismembering a piece you’ve built yourself – I definitely see that happening to me, and similar things have happened to me. In fact, something related to it happened yesterday, as I wasn’t sure if I had only screwed, or screwed and glued, a simple wallbracket (to hang pliers from). I was hoping I had only screwed, but had actually screwed and glued (my normal ‘quick and dirty’ construction method). My memory isn’t nearly good enough to recall the fine details of how I made something, even only a year later. It’s also a reason why I carefully document most of my projects, for my own future reference and benefit.

            I’ve been surprized a few times in the past by hidden nails and screws so expect it to bite me some time in the future if I did that. That, plus the (more important to me) fact it just “wouldn’t feel right” to me. Can’t really argue it from a rational viewpoint. Come to think of it, if I’d use plugs to cover up a hole I think I would actually remove the screw. I’d feel better about it, even if it might slightly weaken the joint. Maybe in a sense I am a purist or trying to be holier than the pope…

            I recall you using plugs too in your recent bookcase project. I’ll try to keep an open mind about it without judging too quickly/harshly.



  8. Peter on 9 February 2020 at 9:09 am

    Thanks for this, but I am afraid I cannot see any link.



    • Kam Leo on 9 February 2020 at 8:28 pm

      Click on “Montana Brand”, blue-colored text, in the first paragraph. The link will lead you to the site which currently says “SOLD OUT”.



  9. Lee Haelters on 10 February 2020 at 5:00 am

    Plenty of occasions to cover a visible dowel end with a nice, face grain plug.



  10. Anders Teigen on 10 February 2020 at 12:01 pm

    Thanks for the tip! Any metric equivalent?



    • Paul Sellers on 10 February 2020 at 12:36 pm

      Doubt it – Made in the USA, but on the 3/8″ one, entry diameter is 9.53mm, and then it expands gradually in diameter to 10.3 So a 10mm hole is about perfect.



  11. Derek on 10 February 2020 at 1:53 pm

    Noted that Lidl had plug cutters in last week.



    • Paul Sellers on 10 February 2020 at 3:01 pm

      Yes, but they don’t quite cut it. Not all of Lidl/Aldi stuff is good.



  12. Don Hummer on 10 February 2020 at 4:43 pm

    I have a fishing tackle box full of drill and driver stuff. This is my go to on the job plug cutter, I have some for the shop and the drill press but the diameter of these plugs is excellent for a cheap little excessorie.



  13. Philip Dommer on 10 February 2020 at 10:30 pm

    Here’s the reply I got from Montanna when I inquired about the shartage and informed them of this blog by Paul.

    “Yes, he did an excellent review, and we have had a lot of inquiries because of his post.  He’s a popular guy!!  We manufacture the plug cutters for Lowe’s and put the Kobalt brand on them. ”

    So see Paul, Lowes didn’t discontinue them as you thought.



    • Paul Sellers on 11 February 2020 at 8:07 am

      Actually, they did, for a season. Now they have rebranded and brought them back as Kobalt



  14. MarkMe on 11 February 2020 at 8:25 pm

    As of today, Feb 11, three Lowes stores near me in Maine have the Kobalt plug cutters in stock. I finally bought a set today. As of three days ago, they were also listed as available on the Lowe’s web site.



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