Dining Table Using Pocket Hole Joinery

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Project by vrice posted 03-20-2012 05:56 PM 19867 views 16 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My son, Adam,was home for spring break. When he got here he said he wanted to build a dining table for his apartment he shares with 3 other boys. THEY DON’T HAVE A TABLE TO EAT ON. However, he was in his car. No way to transport a piece of furniture that big. Then I thought about the pocket hole jig I got for Xmas last year. That would be a PERFECT solution. He could build something that, when disassembled, would fit into his trunk. So, I designed him a simple table such that all the parts would fit into his trunk. We went down to Home Depot and spent $40 dollars on cheap construction lumber, SPF 2×4s , some Douglas Fir fence posts and some 1”x10”x8’ pine. Maybe another $5 on some pocket hole screws. BINGO! In about 4 days of Adam working on this, off and on, with a little guidance from me, he built a nice little table. Plenty big enough to seat 4 boys. The pictures show a few stages of the construction. Note in the pictures showing the completed table, YOU CAN’T SEE ANY SCREWS! That’s one of the great things about pocket hole joints. THERE INVISIBLE! And this thing was ROCK SOLID when complete. I was a little worried about stability. That was misplaced. Adam decided to wait and apply a finish when he gets back to Abilene. You can see how all the pieces fit into his trunk. I love this jig!

-- Vic Rice

17 comments so far

View KnotCurser's profile


2026 posts in 3213 days

#1 posted 03-20-2012 06:07 PM

This looks like a fantastic design and easily broken down and set back up again.

I have one word of caution for you though – it appears that you aren’t allowing for the tale top to expand/contract which it most certainly will do.

I have this bad vision of this top in the middle of winter splitting itself open because it’s not allowed any “wiggle room”.

If you would run a very quick, slim dado about an inch down on all the inner rails you could easily use clips to attach the top – that would allow movement and still be easy to break down, etc…..

Just a thought!

Again, this looks really sturdy and well thought out – great job!


-- Robert Rhoades WoodWorks / Email: /

View a1Jim's profile


117234 posts in 3722 days

#2 posted 03-20-2012 06:14 PM

A quick and thrifty solution for a table ,but I have the same concern Bob has about not allowing the top to expand and contract due to wood’s hydroscopic nature. A easy fix is to remove the pocket and install the top with figure eight fasteners ,the allow the top to move.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View KnotCurser's profile


2026 posts in 3213 days

#3 posted 03-20-2012 06:26 PM

For anyone wondering about this issue, refer to the following great article on the “Fine Woodworking” website:

Hope this helps!


-- Robert Rhoades WoodWorks / Email: /

View a1Jim's profile


117234 posts in 3722 days

#4 posted 03-20-2012 06:32 PM

Good info Bob it gives a number of options.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View SuburbanDon's profile


487 posts in 3139 days

#5 posted 03-20-2012 08:51 PM

Nice work. How are the pocket screws holding up over time ? I have them but have never used them for any kind of furniture yet. I’m if (or when) they come loose.

-- --- Measure twice, mis-cut, start over, repeat ---

View DamnYankee's profile


3312 posts in 2707 days

#6 posted 03-20-2012 09:08 PM

Pocket hole joinery is NOT NEW! There are lots of antique/heirloom pieces built using pocket hole joinery (freqently on tops – ie table tops, dresser tops, etc). The only thing new about pocket hole joinery is the mass produced/marketed jigs.

-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

View Kelen's profile


270 posts in 2537 days

#7 posted 03-20-2012 09:45 PM

Looks great. I’m a big fan of pocket holes!

View doncutlip's profile


2832 posts in 3701 days

#8 posted 03-20-2012 10:04 PM

Looks great, pocket screw joints rule!

-- Don, Royersford, PA

View scamp238's profile


106 posts in 2645 days

#9 posted 03-20-2012 11:43 PM

I didn’t see where anyone in this thread say that pocket hole joinery was new.

-- Brian, North Georgia

View a1Jim's profile


117234 posts in 3722 days

#10 posted 03-20-2012 11:50 PM

Hey Brian
Pocket hole joinery is not new there are pieces of furniture with pocket hole joinery that dates back to the mid 1800s.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View 308Gap's profile


337 posts in 3148 days

#11 posted 03-20-2012 11:54 PM

Great beer pong table.

-- Thank You Veterans!

View woodrookieII's profile


273 posts in 2808 days

#12 posted 03-21-2012 01:27 AM

Nice college dorm table.

If the top does decide to do something weird, it’s all good. It’ll just add more character.



View vrice's profile


101 posts in 2836 days

#13 posted 03-21-2012 03:07 AM

Thanks for all the advice on the table top. This issue did cross my mind. However, given the expected term of use (a year or two tops) and the short time involved I opted for the easy approach. And the other factor the wood in this top cost me about 15 bucks. So, it may well buckle. Hopefully not within a year or two. If it does my son can just replace it.
Since each table top plank was secured via a pocket hole screw coming up through an apron piece, I am assuming the joinery would change a bit to accommodate the use of figure 8s. In that case the top would be held together via pocket holes BETWEEN planks, not between a plank and an apron. Then the top would be secured with figure 8s, right?

-- Vic Rice

View vrice's profile


101 posts in 2836 days

#14 posted 03-21-2012 03:11 AM

GREAT article from FW Bob. Thanks.
Given the ease with which this thing went together I am considering building me a portable kitchen island (with better wood!) so I will need to be more diligent about the treatment of the top. Again, I appreciate all the advice.

-- Vic Rice

View Sorethumbs's profile


38 posts in 2792 days

#15 posted 03-21-2012 02:37 PM

I think the pocket hole could simply be modified to allow movment. First drill a traditional pocket. Then grab a drill bit that is larger in diameter than the pocket screws shank, but smaller than it’s head. Drill-out the middle of the pocket through the boards edge. Install the tabletop with a light clutch setting on the drill (very little torque). Viola, movment.

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