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Forum topic by Abn101mp posted 03-12-2017 02:16 PM 424 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Abn101mp's profile


51 posts in 791 days

03-12-2017 02:16 PM

I am building 2 matching night stands out of ash. There wont be a drawer, only two shelves.
Im wondering if I should use pocket holes or dado joints. I have had mixed results with ash using dado’s due to a lot of chip out. I use my router when I do dado’s to minimize the chip out, but most times it is unavoidable.
Just curious if anyone has used pocket holes on ash before and if its as equally as strong.

-- Dan,Mid-Maine

2 replies so far

View JBrow's profile


1366 posts in 1119 days

#1 posted 03-13-2017 01:38 AM


I do not use pocket screws. However, I would think it would be a strong joint if the pocketed screw extends at least 1” into the table leg. I would prefer two screws at each joint over one screw. Predrilling the properly sized pilot hole in the leg would make driving the pocket screw easier and reduce any chances of splitting the table leg.

One potential problem with pocket screws securing a solid wood lower shelf to the legs is that if the shelf expands or contracts, the shelf could pull or push on the legs and weaken the joinery at the top of the legs or crack or bow the shelf. It is not clear to me how pocket screws could be used and allow for wood movement. On the other hand, if the lower shelves are plywood, then expansion and contraction would be unlikely to cause any problems.

Perhaps you have already tried to tame tear out when routing dados. If not, then clamping a backer board to the leg flush with the workpiece’s dadoed surface on the edge where the router bit exits the cut should support the surface wood fibers of the leg and reduce or eliminate tear out.

Any fuzz or tear out on the face could be controlled by first make shallow cuts on the surface along the edges of what will become the dado. These cuts could be made with a hand saw or utility knife, cutting through several layers of the surface fibers. The dado could then be cut. Perhaps a better alternative would be a down-cut spiral bit that slices the surface wood fibers in a downward direction toward the bottom of the dado. Little or no surface fuzz or tear out should be the result. These suggestions contempt a handheld router operation when making the dado cuts.

Even with dados, some provision for wood movement for solid wood shelves would be required. Also, a developing a method for securing the lower shelves to the dadoed legs would be a good idea. Generally, glue alone on a horizontal to vertical glue-up, even when one piece is housed in a dado, could be a weak joint.

View Woodknack's profile


12430 posts in 2579 days

#2 posted 03-13-2017 02:09 AM

If you are going to toss it in five or ten years and redecorate, pocket screws; otherwise use traditional joinery. You can help the tear out by scoring with a knife.

-- Rick M,

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