Looking at the surface on a wooden boat, often the way the planks are fastened to the frame is unnoticed. Every fastener is covered with a wooden plug called a bung.  If the bungs match the wood in the plank and the grain of the wood is flowing in the same direction, the bung seems to disappear, especially after stain and layers of varnish.

Whether you are building a new wooden boat or giving new life to an existing vintage boat, here are some bung tips from a professional:

Making Bung Sticks – Tips from Joel Terbrueggen

– Save and mark scraps of wood used in the planking process. Mark the planks and scraps with the same identification number so they remain a matched set.

  • – Place the scraps in separate marked containers.
  • – I like to cut them into 12” pieces that I can run through my drill press with a 3/8” plug cutter. Set the drill to leave about 1/16 inch uncut at the base of the plugs.
  • – Cut the strips on a Band Saw or break off the “sticks”, put them into the proper container until needed.

Be EXTREMELY careful if cutting on a Band Saw (see pictures of my thumb!)


  • – Now when inserting the bungs, make certain the grain is going in the direction of the grain in the plank.

A drop of wood glue is put in each hole over the recessed screw head.  Once the bung is tapped snuggly into the hole, snap the bung stick off to move on to the next hole.  When the bungs are set, the excess tops can be chiseled off before sanding them to a smooth surface. 

Joel Terbrueggen is a member of the Ohio Valley Chapter of ACBS. He has presented many restoration lessons which are available in the Video Library available on our ACBS Members Only site under the Resources tab.  Joel also donated his extensive library of cataloged photos taken as he performed surveys on antique and classic boats over a 16 year period.  These are also in the ACBS Members Only site under the Resources tab.  Joel Terbrueggen currently does much of the wood restoration on boats at the Motor Boat Garage in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Watch for more tips from Joel in the future. 

Have you kept a log of the restoration of your boat?  Please share it with some pictures.  

Email to kathyparker@acbs.org
OR Click here to submit pictures or news from your chapter events.

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