Best method for removing bungs - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 12 Old 02-02-2011 Thread Starter
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Best method for removing bungs

I have to take up our floorboard for the first time to access a water tank. I am trying to remove the strips of Teak and Holly that have the screws that will allow the floor to come up. The bungs are (so far) not easily removed.

I thought I could just "pop" them out with a screwdriver, but the bungs seem to be varnished in or something. I have used a dremel to get down to the screws and have gotten some of them up eventually, but it is not a neat job and I have a long way to go. Little pieces of the surrounding wood are splintering.

What do I need to do to get the bungs out. Has varnish maybe gotten inside?

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post #2 of 12 Old 02-02-2011
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Try drilling a pilot hole into the bung, and screwing a woodscrew down into that, and pull up on the woodscrew with a pair of pliers. That might pull the bung out.

If it's been HEAVILY varnished, this might cause the screw to simply tear out of the bung, in which case you'd be no worse off than with the dremel.

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post #3 of 12 Old 02-02-2011
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They may be basically glued in by the varnish.

What I do is screw a wood screw down in the middle of the bung and see if it will lift the whole bung up. If not drill out the centre and carefully use a 1/4" chisel to clean up the remaining pieces around the edge.

Good luck.
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post #4 of 12 Old 02-02-2011
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Gary is headed in the right direction. The plugs may be resisting because the installer glued them in. If that is the case, then extra care is needed. I have no idea why people glue in plugs; if properly installed, they will not come out. The trick is to use tapered plugs.

If the plug is 3/8", use a 1/4" Forstner bit to remove most of the plug down to the screw. Be gentle or you'll bugger up the bit when you get to the screw. If the plug is larger, use an appropriately sized Forstner bit. Then take a 1/8" (sharp) chisel and gently pry the edges of what's left of the plug away from the flooring. Work from the inside of the plug outward, instead of the other way. If done carefully, there will be no splintering.

To reinstall, buy a tapered plug cutter and make your own using a drill press. Do not try to free hand it without the press; won't work. If you don't have a press or can't find access to one, you can use a drill stand. There is no need glue the plug. Simply insert and light tap into place. Revarnishing will seal the edges. Easy.

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post #5 of 12 Old 02-02-2011
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If they were installed properly, they're varnished in place. If they were installed by an idiot, they were epoxied in place instead. If they're varnished in place, they can often be removed with little damage to the surrounding wood...if they're epoxied in place, you're screwed.

Drilling a small pilot hole into the bung and then driving a screw into it will often remove it fairly cleanly, though it is a bit more labor intensive than some of the other methods. Another technique is to drill it out using a forstner bit. Don't use a good bit to do this, as the tip and blade edges will get munged up if you hit the screw head beneath the bung.

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post #6 of 12 Old 02-02-2011
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When I removed some bungs from teak and messed up on the removal, I redrilled the hole to enlarge it and inserted a larger diameter bung in its place.
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post #7 of 12 Old 02-02-2011
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I watched a master shipwright remove bungs from my teak deck for repairs over the years. His technique was fast, very simple, and effective.

1. Take an awl and bang a hole in the center of the bung. That will normally cause a crack across the bung.

2. Take a small sharp chisel and remove the bung.

Most times, they come out cleanly with this technique. I've done it a bunch of times.

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post #8 of 12 Old 02-02-2011
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I've tried all methods listed here on various bungs around my boat. I prefer drilling a pilot hole and using a screw to extract it, but that doesn't often work if the bung is glued in.

Lately I've just gone straight for the fostner bits and have had success. I still get some splintering, but I plan on doing what Lancelot says and to drill a larger hole and plug.

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post #9 of 12 Old 02-02-2011
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post #10 of 12 Old 02-02-2011 Thread Starter
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Thanks all.. Great advice and some of it just validates what I suspect - it's the varnish getting in. It's not epoxy - I would have made no progress. I guess it could be wood glue. Hopefully its just the varnish though.

When I finish getting them up and taking out the floorboard I am thinking of finding some other way to make it easier to pull up the floor. Some kind of bracketing etc. It's not good to have to do all of this just to get access to an area.

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