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square pegs in round holes

PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 7:15 pm
by SeanHellman
We all are, fighting against the grain as we do.

Serious point, I would like to know about pegs. That is pegs in holes for draw boring and holding joints together etc.

Has anyone used a square peg in a round hole? I know that people have used them as decoration on joined furniture, has anyone got any evidence for them being used anywhere else, timber framers? or even rake makers?
I have seen eight sided pegs what about 4 sided ones, or am I barking up the wrong tree?

Re: square pegs in round holes

PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:08 pm
by emjay
Hi Sean. Some of the old oak 5 bar farm gates here in Radnorshire are pinned together with square oak pegs hammered into round holes. They seem to have stood the test of time quite well.

Re: square pegs in round holes

PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:16 pm
by Davie Crockett
I've heard of roofers using square oak pegs to secure cotswold stone roofing stone. Apparently it holds the stone better.

Re: square pegs in round holes

PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 10:23 am
by Brian Williamson
Pegs used in timber framing are (generally) octagonal (and tapering). Most framing joints are 'housing' joints, that is to say one piece of timber sits within another (ie, mortice and tenon, bridle etc). Here there is little or no tendency for the joint to pull apart sideways.

Where lap joints were (are) involved I think you'll find that square pegs were commonly used. Here there is the possibility of the joint falling/being knocked apart sideways and the four corners give much more 'bite' and resistance to pulling out than eight. I imagine that such pegs would need to be parallel sided (or at least have minimal taper) as they need to bite equally into both timbers. I beleive that there was (is?) a european tradition of using square pegs with heads.

An added difference would be that housing joints would be draw-bored but lap joints not. So tapered pegs almost essential for the former and a liability for the latter.

As for hay rakes, there is certainly some evidence of square ended pegs being used. I can certainly see it reducing the likelyhood of the tine being knocked backwards through the head as can happen with round tines. Most (if not all) of the rakes we'd see nowadays are a product of the industrial revolution. Squaring mass produced round pegs would have been an extra step that might have been dropped by the bigger industrial manufacturers but carried on by some one-man local makers. Speculation on my part, that.


Re: square pegs in round holes

PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 6:41 pm
by 81stBRAT
Square pegs hay rake Buck rake.
A few images of square pegs in round holes, rakes pre 1960 could be much earlier. Possibly made by Bert Colbran crafstman who could make anything in wood ladders chicken coops trugs etc.some of the holes in the buck rake have been squared some not. My opinion pegs made by hand square and tapered look better in a hand made rake, easy to make a device to round off top of peg, then square section bites in and stays there.

Re: square pegs in round holes

PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 6:43 pm
by 81stBRAT
Two images which did not apear before

Re: square pegs in round holes

PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:09 am
by Ken Hume
Hi Sean,

Please check out The Oxfordshire Woodland Group web forum link to "square peg in a round hole" where we provide measured evidence based information on how medieval rafter pegs were both made and fixed in cruck timber-framed roof construction.

We are currently appproaching the point where we will need to fit rafters to our own recently built and raised 2 bay cruck frame in our South Oxfordshire woodland. You can see this on ourTwitter feed.

We could do with some help to raise and fix the 34 hand hewn rafters and so any local bodgers are very welcome to get in touch with me at

Ken Hume