Advice Needed to Solve Problems with Pocket Hole Joinery

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Forum topic by gerrym526 posted 02-25-2008 01:50 AM 15713 views 2 times favorited 30 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View gerrym526's profile


274 posts in 3773 days

02-25-2008 01:50 AM

I’ve had a Kreg jig for pocket hole joinery for several years now. Have built face frames for cabinets, and found it saved time.
However, I struggle with two nagging problems-
1) When fastening hardwood together, even though I use the fine thread screws with beeswax applied to reduce friction, still have frequent splitting of the wood I’m driving the screws into.
2) I’ve yet to figure out the right type of jig to construct to hold carcass pieces together to keep them from shifting after glue has been applied and I’m driving the pocket hole screws (this particular problem really drives me nuts!). Is it just creative use of clamps, or something better?

Any of you who have been using this system have suggestions for these problems?

Thanks in advance for the help.

-- Gerry

30 replies so far

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4126 days

#1 posted 02-25-2008 02:02 AM

I am in the market for one of those Kreg sets, so I will be interested in hearing how this topic is solved.

Do you still have splitting if you use the course threads on hardwood?

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4279 days

#2 posted 02-25-2008 02:09 AM

I use a special screw made just for pocket screws. Those would be pocket screw screws…kinda screwy. I also use a “vice” clamp to clamp my face frames.

View gerrym526's profile


274 posts in 3773 days

#3 posted 02-25-2008 02:13 AM

Bill-haven’t tried coarse thread screws, but it could be the next step. Kreg recommends fine thread screws for joining hardwoods, and coarse threads for sheet goods/MDF-but you never know what will work until you try it.

Dennis-the screws I mentioned using are directly from Kreg, so they’re made for pocket hole joinery. That’s what makes the problem so frustrating.

-- Gerry

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4279 days

#4 posted 02-25-2008 02:18 AM

I’ve heard this same problem with the kreg set-up posted here before. I get a few failures with my portacable set up but not enough to worry about.

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4126 days

#5 posted 02-25-2008 02:22 AM

Maybe you can try the McFeely’s screws as a replacement too? They seem to have all kinds of screws, and even some for pocket holes.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View relic's profile


343 posts in 3902 days

#6 posted 02-25-2008 02:29 AM

Hey Gerry
I’m not sure I fully understand your problem but at times I’ve used a face frame clamp from busy bee tools that has helped. Here are a couple links. Best of luck.

-- Andy Stark

View jeffthewoodwacker's profile


603 posts in 3769 days

#7 posted 02-25-2008 02:31 AM

To keep the carcass pieces together you can use the kreg clamp with the point and pad. A couple of clamps place in strategic positions helps as well. If you are using the 1 1/2 inch kreg screws and have splitting try using the 1 1/4 inch kreg and see if that makes a difference. I always use a few test pieces of scrap to determine what screw is best.

-- Those that say it can't be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 3839 days

#8 posted 02-25-2008 03:18 AM

I set the stop on the pocket-hole bit so the hole is just a little shallower than Kreg recommends. This avoids splitting through the face. I’ve also had the ends split on Hard Maple (I suspect other very hard woods might have similar issues) and I’ve resorted to pre-drilling near the ends.

I’m not clear on your question about the casework assembly. Could you post a photo of the problem?

-- -- --

View mrtrim's profile


1696 posts in 3845 days

#9 posted 02-25-2008 03:23 AM

gerry , i feel your pain man as for the splitting , maybe try not putting your pocket hole too near the edge of your stile if possible . i do a lot of wainscoting so the stiles are a little wider than most cab. frames . ive found i get splitting more if the screws are close to the end of the rail . i think you may have a certain amount any way if your useing a grainy type wood . i never use fine thread screws for one i feel they strip out too esily, and there are so many threads i think it could be having a wedge type effect ?? id try the course threads and see if it helps clamping , first i think its important that your stock all exactly the same thickness . if your useing pre milled stock it can vary a little and cause you great pain . in my opinion the clamps leave some to be desired . i used to do a lot of welding and i have some clamps the have a double clamping head thier like two of kregs clamps that work with only one handle ive tried useing these with a flat piece of steel across the two jaws on the face side and i seemed to have some success . on the backside the two jaws are one on the stile and one on the rail . kreg also has a single jaw clamp that anchors to your bench and pushes stile and rail both flat against the benchtop it looks like it would work better if the frames are small but the ones i do are much to big to use it . like yourself im gropeing for a better way !lol


View Boardman's profile


157 posts in 3726 days

#10 posted 02-25-2008 03:37 AM

Gerry -
You could try starting the pocket screw, backing it out, then pre-drilling the receiving piece. A pencil line across the 2 pieces would assure correct line-up for the driving of the actual screw.

View gerrym526's profile


274 posts in 3773 days

#11 posted 02-25-2008 06:05 AM

Thanks for the suggestions.

I reviewed the Kreg website and it looks liike their right angled clamp (the one mentioned by jeffthewoodworker) might solve the carcass assembly problem.
Will try the coarse screws to eliminate a possible “wedge” effect and post the results. I should have added that the Kreg face frame clamps work fine. It’s holding the cabinet carcass assemblies togehter while driving the screws that I was having problems with.

The one thing I won’t do is pre-drill the piece, although I do thank those of you who suggested it. The reason I bought the Kreg jig in the first place rested on their claim that you could cut down on assembly time. If I have to add a pre-drill step to the assembly, I’ll throw away the Kreg Jig and use my biscut joiner for putting together face frames!

-- Gerry

View Suz's profile


51 posts in 3722 days

#12 posted 02-25-2008 01:42 PM

HI Gerry,
You said: “Any of you who have been using this system have suggestions for these problems?” I was just wondering if the screws you are using have the little “self drill slot” in the side of the screw? I’m just guessing and grabbing for straws while looking for a solution.
I guess I never had any problems of splitting in the wood that I was screwing into. I’ve had the piece with the pocket holes drilled into split when I tightened the screw too much, but I cannot remember the other happening.
You also said you would go back to using biscuits, but then you would have to fool around with all those clamps again to hold things tight while the glue dried. That is what I find so handy about the pocket screw system no clamping!

-- Jim

View DaveBaker's profile


67 posts in 3716 days

#13 posted 02-25-2008 11:12 PM

I have not split a frame yet using them. Maybe your not setting the drill deep enough? I have made tons of face frames from hardwood and never split one, which I was really concerned about when I first started using it. I use Kreg Fine thread screws for hardwood and course thread for softwood.

As for carcass construction, I just hold the panels in place with one hand while driving the screw with the other. When attaching the face frames I use a biscuit jointer and put a few slots in the face frame and the cabinet bottom which helps align and hold it in place since this overhangs the cabinet bottom, which just makes it easier for me to assemble alone.


-- Upstate New York -- Do what you love and never work a day in your life.

View TampaTom's profile


74 posts in 3718 days

#14 posted 02-25-2008 11:38 PM

On the shifting piece issue – I usually clamp up what I’m assembling like I’m not using pocket screws. A few Besseys across the piece and there’s no way there will be any shifting.

As far as the splitting, I’ve only had it happen on Brazilian Cherry – that’s it. Hard Maple, Oaks, Beech, Birch, all of them have been done with no issues….

-- Tom's Workbench -

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3927 days

#15 posted 02-26-2008 01:08 AM

I’ve had a few splits in Red Oak. I use clamps as well.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

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