Pocket hole screws

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Forum topic by D_Allen posted 02-11-2011 02:24 AM 1675 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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495 posts in 2205 days

02-11-2011 02:24 AM

Do you remove them when the project is finished, or at some point before?
I’m not really that cheap but was just wondering.
Seems to me that it would leave a void in the wood that could, in some cases, cause a problem later.
We always remove clamps after the joint is set. Isn’t this just a different kind of clamp?
I’m wondering if removing them would cause the surounding wood to relax and possibly weaken the joint?

Well, someone has to think of this stuff!! ;-)

-- Website is finally up and

9 replies so far

View Jeff in Huntersville's profile

Jeff in Huntersville

404 posts in 2616 days

#1 posted 02-11-2011 02:41 AM

The screw is an integral part of the joint. Without them it’s a simple face to face joint that even with the best glue wouldn’t be very strong. What is meant by “after the joint is set”? You can remove the clamp as soon as you snug up the screw. To be sure we’re talking about the same thing, by clamp you do mean the Vise-Grip clamp, right? Again the joint can’t relax or loosen as long as you’ve tightened the screw properly.

View woodworkerscott's profile


361 posts in 2235 days

#2 posted 02-11-2011 03:00 AM

When you drill a pocket hole and insert a screw, it should be permanent. Pocket holes should be strategically placed to not be seen if possible. The screw is there for strength, not as a temporary fastener to hold until the glue dries. Pocket holes can be plugged with wood for aesthetic reasons.

-- " 'woodworker''s a good word, an honest word." - Sam Maloof

View D_Allen's profile


495 posts in 2205 days

#3 posted 02-11-2011 03:41 AM

What I was getting at is the idea that the screw is the clamp, or one of the clamps. I have read comments other places that suggested that you can remove them but unless there is a reason to not have metal in the project, I’d leave them in place. My comment about removing the clamps refers to the fact that if you just used dowels or biscuits, you remove the clamp when the joint is dry(set). I sometimes rely on the pocket hole screw to bring the 2 pieces together while I am clamping the faces tight to the workbench. I used to just use biscuits and clamp the work. Of course that way I had to use a lot more steps and more time. I was just wondering what would happen to the joint if I removed them. I won’t of course as I have plenty more. On my current project I used biscuits and pocket holes because I edge joined plywood to solid maple. Probably not needed but did it anyway.

I guess I wonder about too many things…..I’ll just get back to work!

-- Website is finally up and

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 2496 days

#4 posted 02-11-2011 03:11 PM

I very seldom use glue when I do a pocket hole joint. That’s one of the advantages of pocket holes.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 2490 days

#5 posted 02-11-2011 03:31 PM

The screws are supposed to stay there forever. They’re what gives the joint it’s strength. I don’r bother to glue my joints since they’re just simple end grain to long grain joints which are very weak.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Jack_T's profile


623 posts in 2453 days

#6 posted 02-11-2011 04:58 PM

The screw in a pocket hole joint primary function is not as a clamp. It may have a secondary function if you also glue the joint but that is not its true purpose.

The screw makes the primary connection between the two pieces of wood. Removing the screws undoes the joint. Think of the screw as the dowel in a dowel joint or a biscuit in a biscuit joint or a tenon in a mortise and tenon joint.

-- Jack T, John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life."

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 2472 days

#7 posted 02-11-2011 06:19 PM

I agre with all of the previous postings. It’s taking what Jack T described above with dowels, biscuits, etc. actually past that because the screws are pulling the two pieces of wood together like a clamp does. So they’re also sort of like a permanent clamp.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

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2608 posts in 2472 days

#8 posted 02-11-2011 06:25 PM

While many people choose to hide them, you can also use them as a design element if you so choose. I’ve made several projects where I chose to highlight the pockethole joinery, using a different species of plug.

Serving Tray
5-Board Bench

I’ve got several other similar design ideas floating around in my head right now as well that I have not yet built.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View D_Allen's profile


495 posts in 2205 days

#9 posted 02-12-2011 02:58 AM

Jonathan…I like those ideas, and the projects. I had never thought of using them like that.
I suppose you could even use the void as part of an inlay to really hide them.

-- Website is finally up and

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