LumberJocks

Pocket Hole Question

  • Advertise with us

« back to Joinery forum

Forum topic by wholesalestunna posted 11-05-2018 01:27 PM 899 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View wholesalestunna's profile

wholesalestunna

3 posts in 11 days


11-05-2018 01:27 PM

Okay, I know a lot of people hate pocket holes for a lot of really good reasons but there’s definately a time and a place for them. Can you help me understand when the proper time and place for them is? I understand that with the wood swelling and shrinking you don’t want to use them for breadboard ends, but what about just the vertical slats making up a regular table top without breadboards? Would the wood shrink and swell causing that to split or would it just kind of move with the wood? Also what about attatching the top to the frame of the table? Thanks


24 replies so far

View Dustin's profile

Dustin

572 posts in 914 days


#1 posted 11-05-2018 02:28 PM

I’m not sure by what you mean by the “vertical slats making up a regular table top”. If by that you mean using pocket screws to edge joint boards for a top glue-up, don’t bother: a joint-ready edge holds just fine with glue, and pocket screws don’t really offer anything in that scenario. If you are referring to attaching the aprons to the legs, than pocket screws are shunned in favor of more traditional and sturdier methods (mortise and tenon, floating tenons, etc).

As for attaching the table top to the aprons, you generally want to attach it in such a way that the fasteners do not restrict wood movement. To this end, many of us use things like figure 8 fasteners, L-clips, or any number of other methods that allow the top to move. If you want to read a little more on this, I found this link: http://www.craftsmanspace.com/knowledge/17-ways-to-fasten-a-tabletop.html

Hope that helps, and let me know if I misread anything.

-- "Ladies, if your husband says he'll get to it, he'll get to it. No need to remind him about it every 6 months."

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

3134 posts in 1654 days


#2 posted 11-05-2018 02:31 PM

I do use them frequently for face frames or in conjunction with Dominoes or biscuits for connecting exposed cabinet sides.

But I will comment that your post brings to mind many ways pocket screws are inferior and can get you in trouble.

The two applications you refer to are both ill-advised use because in the first case pocket screws are meant to joint wood at 90° angles, not parallel grain. Plus, it is unnecessary and can lead to error in a panel glue up, as pocket screws will move the wood unless clamped.

As well with attaching the top to an apron or frame. With the grain no issue, but across the width, there is no allowance for movement. Clips or other methods are used to attach tops.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View pottz's profile

pottz

3348 posts in 1158 days


#3 posted 11-05-2018 02:34 PM

i agree with dustin on this,the only thing i use pocket screws for is when im making face frames for cabinets,makes assembly fast and easy,dont need clamps.but there are many other uses.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

5136 posts in 3417 days


#4 posted 11-05-2018 06:03 PM

I have resisted the urge to buy a pocket hole jig ever since they first came out. I was starting to think that maybe I should give it a try, but the cost has gone way up, so I think I will skip it. I’ve never really found a situation where pocket holes would solve a joinery problem. Traditional joint making is the best way to go.

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

5051 posts in 2524 days


#5 posted 11-05-2018 06:54 PM

but what about just the vertical slats making up a regular table top without breadboards?

Most table tops are horizontal, what do you mean by vertical slats?

Pocket screws definitely have a place, no. 1 is face frames. I use them all of the time for shop jigs and even cabinets for the shop. I will also use them in furniture construction in non-structural situations.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View jutsFL's profile

jutsFL

37 posts in 15 days


#6 posted 11-06-2018 02:58 AM



I m not sure by what you mean by the “vertical slats making up a regular table top”. If by that you mean using pocket screws to edge joint boards for a top glue-up, don t bother: a joint-ready edge holds just fine with glue, and pocket screws don t really offer anything in that scenario. If you are referring to attaching the aprons to the legs, than pocket screws are shunned in favor of more traditional and sturdier methods (mortise and tenon, floating tenons, etc).

As for attaching the table top to the aprons, you generally want to attach it in such a way that the fasteners do not restrict wood movement. To this end, many of us use things like figure 8 fasteners, L-clips, or any number of other methods that allow the top to move. If you want to read a little more on this, I found this link: http://www.craftsmanspace.com/knowledge/17-ways-to-fasten-a-tabletop.html

Hope that helps, and let me know if I misread anything.

- Dustin

Agreed.
Top with just panel glue up is more than sturdy. The aprons to the top, try a quick search on z clips or figure 8 clips. Pocket screws for aprons to legs, perfect spot for them IMO – in fact, all hidden butt joints are perfect pocket screw spots…that is, depending on how snooty of a woodworker you are ;)

-- Jay - FL

View BlasterStumps's profile

BlasterStumps

942 posts in 613 days


#7 posted 11-06-2018 03:15 AM

Just finished a large drawer out of plywood put together with butt joints, glue and pocket hole screws. Love it. Probably could park my F150 on that drawer and it wouldn’t give. Also used pocket hole screws on the frame of a cabinet and really liked them in that build as well.

-- "I build for function first, looks second. Most times I never get around to looks." - Mike, western Colorado

View CWWoodworking's profile

CWWoodworking

184 posts in 352 days


#8 posted 11-06-2018 03:15 AM

Pocket hole is my preferred method. Are there down falls to it? Sure. Just like any method.

Strength, speed and quality, should be measured appropriately.

Pocket hole allow me to be competitive with a lot of people. Ymmv.

View lumbering_on's profile

lumbering_on

563 posts in 663 days


#9 posted 11-06-2018 04:24 AM

I was leery of using pocket hole screws for years, but I decided to give it a try because time was becoming an important consideration for me. After trying them, they really do have some advantages as well as disadvantages. The big advantage is time. Apart from just driving screws straight into the wood, they are easily the fastest way to create a joint out there. It’s also very easy to mate the two ends, although there are times it’s harder, but those are times I don’t use pocket holes. Contrary to popular belief, they are quite sturdy joints and allow for limited movement of wood, but never use them in a table top. Just go to any decent furniture store and you’ll find pocket hole joinery in most non-upholstered items; there’s a reason for that.

Of course, there is a tendency for some to go overboard with pocket hole screws. The biggest issue with them is the fact they’re screws, which means they are rather unsightly. Any time they’re not hidden you’ll see them plain as day, and filling the holes doesn’t hide them, despite what some argue. It’s also hard to argue that if you’re making heirloom quality furniture for yourself that using screws doesn’t’ exactly fit the bill.

View Tony1212's profile

Tony1212

242 posts in 1908 days


#10 posted 11-06-2018 03:13 PM

I tried using pocket screws on a table top once. ONCE!

Anyway, it didn’t work out too well. Unless you have things clamped REALLY well, the pocket screws will move the work around on you. It works very well on face frames because you can easily throw many clamps onto a joint to make sure everything stays aligned as you drive in the screw.

In the middle of a table it gets hard because, depending on the size of the boards you’re using, you might not be able to get a clamp to keep the board flush with the one next to it. I ended up using a belt sander to flatten the top of that table.

Cauls might work. But with all of the clamps and cauls you’d need, you might as well just glue it up.

I don’t make face frames very often, but I use my pocket screws for making plywood drawers. I put the pockets in the front and back facing out (so you can’t see them when you look into the drawer) and screw them into the sides. The front pocket screws are covered by the drawer face and no one will ever see the back pockets. And since the force of opening the drawer is perpendicular to the screws, they tend to hold pretty well.

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

View wholesalestunna's profile

wholesalestunna

3 posts in 11 days


#11 posted 11-06-2018 03:51 PM

Hey guys, thanks for the advice. Sorry my original post wasn’t very clear… I don’t know why I typed vertical slats. I meant the boards on the table top between the breadboard ends… Vertical definitely isn’t the word to describe that! I picked up some clamps this morning so I am going to try to start gluing my table tops for future builds. I didn’t realize the glue was as strong as it was. Thanks for the great info!

View aravenel's profile

aravenel

20 posts in 356 days


#12 posted 11-06-2018 04:21 PM

Cabinetry. Face frames, the boxes themselves, even drawers as noted. Pocket screws makes it quick, easy, and plenty strong. And unless you are a glutton for punishment who really gets a kick out of making big plywood boxes, most time I’m doing a cabinet I just want it done—I don’t want to spend all day fine tuning rabbets and messing with getting a bunch of heavy clamps just right while waiting for the glue to dry.

Many ways to build cabinets, but for my time, pocket screws are the way I go most of the time.

The other place I use them a fair amount is in knocking together mockups. If I’m trying to test designs for a project, can’t beat the speed of pocket screws, and I’m not worried about long term durability anyways.

View moke's profile

moke

1257 posts in 2950 days


#13 posted 11-07-2018 06:04 PM

+1 with Aravenel…


Cabinetry. Face frames, the boxes themselves, even drawers as noted. Pocket screws makes it quick, easy, and plenty strong. And unless you are a glutton for punishment who really gets a kick out of making big plywood boxes, most time I m doing a cabinet I just want it done—I don t want to spend all day fine tuning rabbets and messing with getting a bunch of heavy clamps just right while waiting for the glue to dry.

quick, easy and strong…....just be careful to hide the “pockets” underneath or in the back!

-- Mike

View wholesalestunna's profile

wholesalestunna

3 posts in 11 days


#14 posted 11-08-2018 05:44 PM

So another question for table top. Is biscuits an effective means of joinery for table tops to allow the wood to move properly if the top is then attached to the table frame by using figure 8 fasteners?

View WoodenDreams's profile

WoodenDreams

209 posts in 84 days


#15 posted 11-08-2018 06:47 PM

I see where using pocket holes for joints has a place, especially for production shops. I have the Kreg K4 jig and a assortment of Kreg screws, if I do decide to use pocket holes. I’ve only used it once in the last year, and that was to test it out on some scrap pieces. I still use the other methods instead (tenons, biscuits, locking miter and dowels).

showing 1 through 15 of 24 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com