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    Pocket-Hole Joinery Basics





    Some woodworkers turn up their noses at pocket-hole joints, seeing the ugly holes and also doubting the holding power of the screws. And it is true that pocket screws are used mostly by carpenters and kitchen-cabinet makers. But pocket-hole joinery has its place in the woodshop too. For one thing, we woodworkers make plenty of built-in cabinets, where the rough oval holes can be hidden. And pocket holes are a good way to attach tabletops and build quick jigs around the shop. The jig you need to drill them is inexpensive, so why not get one? You’ll definitely use it.
     

    By the way, pocket screws are remarkably strong. In fact, some cabinetmakers don’t even bother using glue on the pieces.
     

    A pocket hole goes into one piece at an angle, allowing a screw to go in and be driven through to an adjoining piece. The head of the screw sits in a “pocket” so it doesn’t sit above the surface. Simple clamp-on jigs make drilling pocket holes a snap, and screwing the pieces together is even faster.

    A pocket screw in action. In this illustration, a pocket screw is being used to join two pieces of wood together. Notice how the specialized drill bit used for these screw bores two distinctly sized holes to accommodate both the screw shank and head.

     

    Pocket screws are the quickest way to join workpieces of all sizes, and they are remarkably strong, but they do leave an ugly hole behind. That’s fine if you can hide those holes on parts of the project that won’t get seen, like the top of this kitchen cabinet, where the countertop will sit. By the way, the woodworker will add a decorative panel to hide the pocket holes on the side.

    How Pocket Screws Work

    The process begins with the specialized jig. Pocket-hole jigs are simple to use. The jig holds the workpiece in place and guides a specialized bit as you drill the holes.

     

     

     

     

     

    Important tip: Use a clamp (in this case a specialized "face clamp") to bring the two pieces of wood into alignment as you drive the screws. Without the clamp, the screws will pull the workpieces out of alignment.

     

     

     

     

     

    Pocket screws can do it all. This carpenter used them to build face frames, and now he's using them to attach the frames to these cabinet boxes.
     


    AsaC

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    AsaC
    Asa Christiana writes:

    Hi, Michael--The key is to put the holes where they won't be seen, like on the inside of the cabinet or face frame. In the last picture above, where the holes are showing on the outside of the cabinet, there will be an end panel going over that side. In another picture the cabinet being built will go side-by-sde against another one. This is why pocket-hole joinery is often used in built-in cabinets, where the sides of the cabinet are usually hidden, and if there are some pocket holes inside the face frame no one will really mind.

     By the way, if you must have the pocket holes where they can be seen, there are special plugs you can buy to fill them, in a variety of woods, but the plugs will still show up as big ovals. I think you can buy them from Rockler, Woodcraft, etc., and probably Kreg too.

    iamlobo69
    Michael Bowman writes:

    When using pocket hole joints, what is best way to fill in holes from drilling initial screw holes?

    gene2728@aol.com
    Eugene Graham writes: I make doll furniture and I fill the drill holes with a good wood filler. After it dries I sand it and if necessary do a final finish fill. After sanding I primmer them then paint. You can't even tell the holes were there.
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