Living Room Built-In {post 6: Make A Pocket Hole Plug Jig & Pocket Hole Doors}

If you use a pocket hole jig to assemble cabinet doors, you are left with holes on the back of the door that can be seen.  This may not bother you, and I decided it didn’t on Pip’s built-ins for her room because I didn’t want to deal with it and it wasn’t going to be seen by many.  For the living room built-in, I decided I needed to do something about them.  Using the plugs that Kreg makes is an option, but Kreg intentionally leaves them long so you can trim them for an exact fit.  I decided that if I needed to trim them anyway, I’d do it a little cheaper.  Here’s my DIY pocket hole plug jig.

Here’s a picture of one of the doors I put into the built-in for the living room.  I actually didn’t mean to construct them this way…I meant to do it the same way I constructed the drawer fronts on Pip’s closet organizer.  But I remembered that after I had already routered the edges on all the 1x3s I used for the rails and stiles.  Oops.  Constructing them this way  makes it more difficult to assemble the door perfectly square and end up with cuts that meet exactly right on the corners.

Mitered Corner Pocket Hole cabinet doors

One door was perfect and it was the one I did second.  For that door I assembled 3 corners, and then used the clamps in the picture to square up the door before screwing in the pocket  holes for the last corner.  To make sure the door is square, you measure the diagonal corners–each measurement should be the same.  If not, adjust the clamps until they are.  The one that I did first, and didn’t square it up with the clamps before attaching the last corner, did not turn out exactly square…I had to shave off the top edge.  Next time I construct a door or drawer front that is going to be inset, I’ll plan on making it a little oversized so I can shave it down to perfect (thanks for that hint Dennis!)

Now onto the pocket hole plug jig.  First step is to take a piece of scrap and drill the pocket holes into both ends.  I used my miter saw to shave off some of the ends of the boards after I drilled the holes, so that the screws could move freely without catching on the wood.  Don’t take off too much though, then the screw falls right through the hole (I did that the first try…).  Put screws into each pocket hole.

Pocket Hole plug jig

Next up is to cut some of your dowel into smaller sections.  I think mine were 1.5″.  Use a 3/8″ rod for the Kreg Jig system.  Pound them into place with a hammer–it will be a tight fit.

Pocket Hole plug jig--dowels in place

The guy in the video purchased a hand saw to cut these flush.  It was inexpensive–you can watch the video for his recommendation.  I already had a Dremel MultiMax**, so I didn’t want to purchase another tool.  I used the wood and metal blade that comes in the Dremel MultiMax 14 piece accessory kit.  I think there is a blade included with the Dremel that works, but we did another project with that one and I needed to use a fresh blade (you’ll see that project sometime soon).  It worked well for my purposes without having to shell out more money for the 3/4″ flush cut blade that is recommended in their video.

Pocket Hole plug jig--flush cut the dowel

Then pop out the plugs by tapping the screws with a hammer.

Pocket Hole plug--tap out the plugs

You can see in this photo that the plugs were burnt.  I had to play around with the speed of the Dremel to get it like the first photo of the plugs cut flush.  When I had it at the higher speed, I couldn’t move the blade through the wood fast enough and it created the burned edge.  Slowing down the speed worked just right.

After you remove the plugs from the jig, you can put them into your project.  You’ll have to tap them in with something.  I used a hammer, but that creates dents in pine.  A rubber mallet may have been a better option–or using a block of wood between the project and the hammer, which is what I switched to after the first few dents :)

Pocket Hole plug jig--plugs tapped into the project

It isn’t perfectly flush, at least in my initial attempts with this jig.  I used wood putty over the entire area.

Pocket Hole plug jig--wood putty

And finally, I sanded it all smooth with my finish sander and 220 grit sandpaper.

Pocket Hole plug jig--finished product

I was pleased with the finished product.  This was painted too, so the back of the door ended up with a nicer finish than if I had just left them with the exposed pocket holes.

You could also just stick a 3/8″ dowel into your project and flush cut it there, but I didn’t want to chance marring the door.  I don’t like to add any more steps than necessary to a project, but I will continue to use the pocket hole plug jig to make the plugs!

Pocket Hole plug jig--finished door

Other posts in this series:

Living Room Built-Ins {post 1: The Befores}

Living Room Built-Ins {post 2: The Plans}

Living Room Built-Ins {post 3: The Reveal}

Living Room Built-Ins {post 4: Coping Base Moulding}

Living Room Built-Ins {post 5: How to Install Crown Moulding}

**Dremel sent me the Dremel MultiMax and the 14 pc accessory kit to try out and tell my readers how it performed for me.  All opinions about the product are mine alone.

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About Pink Toes and Power Tools

I'm a DIY girl with a blog. Trying to complete one project before I jump into the next one!

4 responses to “Living Room Built-In {post 6: Make A Pocket Hole Plug Jig & Pocket Hole Doors}”

  1. Tracy Smith says :

    Hey, Nice job on the jig!! I do the same thing, minus the jig for my pocket holes… let me explain. I do use the plugs that Kreg sells and I glue them in place, wait for them to dry and then use my multi tool to shave off the excess. I use the same blade (wood and metal) and make sure that when I go at it, I keep that blade as level as possible and go slow. Then, when I get it all off, I take my sander to it. To get that seemless look that you did, I too use wood putty to fill in around the plugs or any low spots and it comes out looking great! Nice to know that I’m not the only one who does this and using the multi tool is a great alternative to the small pull saw (I have one of those too but it’s time consuming and difficult to get into tight spots at times)

    Thanks for sharing and the project came out looking awesome!!! :-)

  2. Monica says :

    Wow! Well done! You make it look easy… maybe some day we’ll play with those tools…

  3. Olly Parry-Jones says :

    I like your solution. In fact, I wish I’d thought of it myself, as I ended up buying a cutter that fits in a drill piece but only really produces 3in long dowels. ;-)

    If you cut each dowel a bit longer, would you be able to use the ‘off-cuts’ as plugs also? It might take a few goes to get the right length but it could save time if you only need to make half as many cuts.

Thanks for taking the time to tell me what you think!

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