So I was building some drawers today with my long coveted pocket hole jig and kreg pocket hole screws. After watching numerous videos over the years I thought it would be magic in tool form – idiot proof. After struggling with shifting joints and split ends I had become all but disenchanted. So I took to the internet to look for a solution. Surely I couldn’t be the only one with this problem. Sure enough there were others. And yet other’s had answers. Clamps!!! (Always the answer) I had already tried clamping a stop block on the work piece that I was screwing into to keep the joint from shifting as I tightened the screw but that had not worked. The Clamp Must Be Across The Joint!!! Just like It’s being glued.
BY NO MEANS DO I TAKE CREDIT FOR THIS. Clearly this is would be most handy woodworker’s solution to eliminate joint movement. But I would like to take the detail a bit further to explain how this gives the best joint and eliminates shifting and splitting.
The shifting part is easy. Clamp it down hard and the force of the screw being torqued will not exceed the force of the friction created by the clamps. DONE! Now for the splitting.
Normally when a pocket screw is used the screw supplies the clamping pressure. If you are using a power driver you will have the torque up high around 14-20 (whatever units) where it can really crank the screw and bring the work pieces together. HOWEVER, this causes splits and strips as the screw wedges between the grain. WITH clamps there is no need for this . Let the Clamps provide all the force, turn down the torque on the drill to <10, and snug the screw. When you release the clamp the screw will hold the force in a static position (stay put) rather than trying to increase the force while moving (2 factors which are damage prone).
Long story short:
Clamp light, line up your marks, clamp hard, snug the screw with MODERATE torque, release the clamp. NO shifting or splitting!!!