From contributor J:
Sharp chisel turned upside down (bevel angle going away from the work). Chop off like butter with the grain, leave proud 1/16", random orbit sander. Pretty quick to knock them off this way, actually, and they seldom if ever cut off below the surface when you're holding the chisel in this manner.
From contributor F:
Contributor H has a great idea. He was working on a deck, though, and on finer work, you may run into trouble if the surrounding areas aren't perfectly flat, i.e. router bit mill marks where you don't want them.
If you know how to sharpen, contributor J's idea is great, as well. That's how I do them, except I use a sharp block plane and scrapers to do the final leveling. But again, knowing how to sharpen and tune hand tools comes into play.
A lot of machine-only cabinetmakers would experience a whole different and exciting world by learning how to use and sharpen hand tools. It is hard for the uninitiated to understand the pure joy of quickly knocking the top of your face frame or little bit of stile flush with a finished end or stringer with a plane instead of a belt sander, or quickly using the various types of scrapers to remove cross grain sanding left by the wide belt instead of lots of random orbital sanding.
You mentioned expensive planes, and I can only assume you gave up on them in frustration at not getting them to perform correctly. I can only tell you that they will work if you put the time into understanding them and tuning and sharpening them, and they will solve your current problem. The block plane I would use is an inexpensive tool.
From contributor L:
Use a flush cutoff saw (reversible for those lefties) and drill or punch a hole the size of the plug in a piece of aluminum flashing. Place the flashing over the plug and use the cutoff saw to cut it down. This will leave the plug proud about 1/64", with no surface mars. Use an orbital sander to finish it off. Should take about 20 seconds per operation.
From contributor R:
Contributor H's idea always worked for me - a router on sleds. Just set the bit down to a playing card and go. It leaves just .010", which sands off in a heartbeat. To do production, you don't have time to mess around with planes, chisels, etc. - you need something that plugs in. This is the same method we use to shave down the squeeze, when joining solid surface material.
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Comment from contributor D:
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