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Face frames with pocket hole screws

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Forum topic by Spitfire1 posted 11-21-2016 03:08 PM 902 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Spitfire1

53 posts in 577 days


11-21-2016 03:08 PM

Topic tags/keywords: pocket screws face frame joinery dowels

I’ve been using pocket hole screws for some garage cabinets and I’ve been have trouble with the wood splitting. IThe face frame are maple with maple plywood cabinets. it’s very frustrating to say the least and I am about ready to give up on pocket hole screws and try dowels. I am wondering if anyone else has had this issue?

Secondly, I’ve noticed the tendency for the screws to twist unless you clamp the $h@! Out of them. So I’m beginning to question how much a time saver they actually are.

Thanks for you input!


15 replies so far

View Loren's profile

Loren

9633 posts in 3486 days


#1 posted 11-21-2016 03:15 PM

Leave a “horn” on the end of the stiles to
control splitting, cut off after assembly.

You can also glue the joints first with butt
joints and pocket screw after the glue has
dried.

... and yeah, movement of the work is
a problem with the Kreg-format pocket
holes. There’s another format that uses
a different angle but it generally uses
more tooling to cut the pocket hole.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4807 posts in 3799 days


#2 posted 11-21-2016 03:31 PM

Maybe a stupid question for ya…....what screws are ya using? Is the depth stop set correctly.
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

View firefighterontheside's profile

firefighterontheside

16948 posts in 1695 days


#3 posted 11-21-2016 03:46 PM

I have rarely had splitting. It usually is a function of the grain you are going into. It can split when the screw is lining up perfectly with the grain. This can be remedied by orienting boards such that the screws don’t line up with the grain. I use pocket holes 99% of The time with 3/4” lumber and so use 1 1/4” screws. I assume you are not screwing into end grain. I either use the vice grips with the big jaws or a large size quick clamp across the joint while I’m putting screws in. These keep them lined up pretty well while putting screws in.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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ScottM

565 posts in 1985 days


#4 posted 11-21-2016 03:49 PM



Maybe a stupid question for ya…....what screws are ya using? Is the depth stop set correctly.
Bill

- Bill White

Also make sure of the thread type you’re using. Coarse for plywood, fine for hardwoods. You can also drill an additional pilot hole into the non-pocket side. With the two pieces clamped together, run 1/8” bit into the pocket hole for the pilot.

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

489 posts in 1519 days


#5 posted 11-21-2016 03:53 PM

I would second asking what screws are you using. I have only ever used the Kerg screws and have never had issues with splitting even right up to the end of the frame. There might be other screws that work just as good but I have gotten good results with those so always stuck with them.

Yes, when putting face frames together if your don’t clamp them together tightly it will twist or shift. That plate and clamp that Kerg makes is pretty handy and works really well for face frames but is a bit pricey for what it is. A good clamp on the end of your bench would probably work just as well if a bit slower to change out.

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Spitfire1

53 posts in 577 days


#6 posted 11-21-2016 05:30 PM

I’ve been using the 1-1/4” Kreg screws fine thread in 3/4 maple. It seems some people have had great luck with pocket hole screws. I can’t say I’m a big fan up to this point.

As far as assembly goes I’ve been using a parallel clamp to hold the bars together and a couple quick grip clamps to hold the pieces down on a 90 degree jig I’ve made.

View muleskinner's profile

muleskinner

896 posts in 2275 days


#7 posted 11-21-2016 05:38 PM

Like Loren, I always glue first. If fact I probably am just wasting my time with the pocket screws but it’s kind of a insurance back-up for cabinets that are going to have heavy use. Oh, and I’m careful not to over torque.

-- Visualize whirled peas

View clin's profile

clin

751 posts in 835 days


#8 posted 11-21-2016 06:17 PM

It’s been my experience you do have to clamp the @#$%^& out of anything you pocket screw if you want accurate alignment. Since the screw is angled, as it tightens it is trying to pull the pieces out of alignment. Only solution I know, is to clamp in all directions as much as possible.

Concerning splitting, another possibility is over-tightening the screw.

As said, a pilot hole would help. Driving just about any screw without a pilot hole runs the risk of splitting. Often you get away with it, sometimes not. All wood is not the same.

-- Clin

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

489 posts in 1519 days


#9 posted 11-21-2016 06:52 PM



Like Loren, I always glue first. If fact I probably am just wasting my time with the pocket screws but it s kind of a insurance back-up for cabinets that are going to have heavy use. Oh, and I m careful not to over torque.

- muleskinner

I took a face frame apart recently made with pocket screws and glue. Once the screws where removed it took little more than lightly tapping on the face of the joint to cleanly break it apart along the joint lines. End grain glue will grip the piece and hold it strong enough to keep it aligned for screws but it’s pretty weak overall. There was remarkably little damage done to the pieces when I broke them apart.

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2708 posts in 3276 days


#10 posted 11-21-2016 07:08 PM

I’ve used them for all types of applications in maple, oak, cherry, mahogany, and walnut. Can’t say I’ve ever really had any issues. Those size screws are the same type I use too. In fact, the kreg jig has made me a lazy carpenter. I join most of my stuff with it instead of other methods. I often use the screw to hold together a glue joint as long as it doesn’t show. No clamping needed in some glue-ups.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View moke's profile

moke

1036 posts in 2615 days


#11 posted 11-21-2016 08:29 PM

I would second the over-tightening…..I tork them until they are JUST tight, then hand tighten with a screwdriver….I find the drivers to be too much power and even if I turn them down….hand tightening, let’s me feel it better.

I use glue on anything that is not plywood….the top ply is so incredibly thin now days that I want to be able to replace a piece if I hand sand through the top ply…

Just my .02

-- Mike

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bondogaposis

4480 posts in 2190 days


#12 posted 11-21-2016 09:07 PM

Back off the clutch on your driver so it quits driving before splitting.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Logan Windram's profile

Logan Windram

341 posts in 2301 days


#13 posted 11-21-2016 09:22 PM

go frameless, problem solved

View CharlesA's profile

CharlesA

3294 posts in 1636 days


#14 posted 11-21-2016 10:52 PM

There’s a reason the Kreg clamps are made the way they are. I’d recommend the right angle clamp. https://m.lowes.com/pd/Kreg-Right-Angle-Clamp/3115809

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View Loren's profile

Loren

9633 posts in 3486 days


#15 posted 11-21-2016 10:53 PM

Another thing you can try, if you don’tr want
to invest in the Kreg clamps or something similar,
is to put a pair of wire nails in the end grain
and clip them off close to the end, then
press the parts together so the wire nails
align the parts… then clamp and insert screws.

Tiny thickness differences in parts have driven
me nuts with pocket screws. Big shops use
pneumatic clamping tables and wide belt sanders
on face frames to reduce the very crazy-making
labor of sanding down misaligned face frame
corners in hard woods. This is one area where
heavier stationary planers tend to do a better
job than benchtop planers (with their superior
finish planing and flexing heads), they get those
parts planed to more consistent thickness.

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