Biscuits or Pocket Screws

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Forum topic by hjt posted 11-15-2013 02:45 AM 2773 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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903 posts in 3372 days

11-15-2013 02:45 AM

Topic tags/keywords: biscuit joinery pocket screws jointing

While I’m sure both have advantages. Tell me which you prefer – use most often and why one over the other?

-- Harold

16 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3881 days

#1 posted 11-15-2013 03:04 AM

Biscuit joiners have that moveable fence on the better ones
that can be used for angle joinery in furniture. If all you’re
doing is making square cabinets and book cases, it doesn’t
matter – I use confirmat screws.

I’m making chairs now and some of the joints are most
practical to cut as butt joints and use dowels or splines.
I can use dowels because I have a Hoffman dowel
joiner which is like a plate joiner but it drills a pair of
holes on 32mm centers. It works just like a biscuit
joiner in terms of angle joinery setups however.

Pocket screw holes are ugly in my opinion. I use them
for dirty work and in concealed locations but that’s it.
Aesthetically they are just as ugly as Confirmats but they
show in a different position and are more versatile
but less accurate in terms of alignment tolerances.

I think in the end a biscuit joiner with a good fence will
allow you to grow more in terms of doing polished
curved designs. A lot of people just want to make
boxes and that’s ok. Virtually all of the joinery
techniques advertised and taught are oriented towards
making square things. The plate joiner is an inexpensive
tool (now that the Lamello patents have expired)
that allows one to branch into complex geometric
forms without mastering the complexities of cutting
and fitting angled tenon shoulders.

View Tedstor's profile


1678 posts in 2866 days

#2 posted 11-15-2013 03:21 AM

Loren pretty much said it all.
I have a Craftsman Biscuit Joiner that works well. When alignment is paramount or tricky, the biscuit joiner is better.
My Kreg Jig is easier/quicker to use. Its especically good if I just need to slap together a shop fixture or bookcase. I wouldn’t use it for anyting that needed to look especially nice. Not unless the joint would be concealed.

View pmayer's profile


1032 posts in 3299 days

#3 posted 11-15-2013 03:49 AM

+1 what Lauren said. I used to do most of this stuff with biscuits, but I am a recent convert to pocket screws for face frames. Simple, fast, strong. I hate the look of them however, even when plugged, so if there would be any visibility to the pocket in the finished project, I will pass and go with a biscuit or some other approach.

-- PaulMayer,

View pintodeluxe's profile


5815 posts in 3047 days

#4 posted 11-15-2013 04:20 AM

I use mostly mortise and tenon construction, but every project has a few biscuits and a well placed pocket screw or two.
I like biscuits to make web frames for dressers and sideboards. Biscuits also are a great way to align drawer dividers on dressers with two rows of drawers.

A pocket screw is a great way to attach a thin top rail to a leg (for instance the rail above a drawer on a library table). The pocket hole is concealed with the tabletop.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View exelectrician's profile


2328 posts in 2661 days

#5 posted 11-15-2013 06:03 AM

use both at the same time. alternate P/Screw , biscuit. etc,. The P/Screws save the bother of clamps.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View richardwootton's profile


1701 posts in 2189 days

#6 posted 11-15-2013 07:10 AM

I haven’t used either, outside of a couple “pocket” screws for things in the shop, but I’ve enjoyed reading these responses. Being an almost exclusively hand tool user it’s good to know these things for future references.

-- Richard, Hot Springs, Ar -- Galoot In Training

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30126 posts in 2572 days

#7 posted 11-15-2013 07:42 AM

For me, it’s 2 different things for 2 different things. I use both depending on the need.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View NeverWas's profile


2 posts in 2127 days

#8 posted 11-15-2013 08:20 AM

I use both for but for different things as does Monte.

-- Dick, Nebraska

View emart's profile


445 posts in 2861 days

#9 posted 11-15-2013 08:27 AM

I typically use biscuits or dowel joints. As others have said pocket hole screws are useful but are pretty ugly and not very strong compared to any type of splined glue joint.

-- tools are only as good as the hands that hold them

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3308 days

#10 posted 11-15-2013 02:59 PM

I’m a pocket joint fan buy ONLY when the pockets are out of view (e.g. back of picture frame).

IMO, biscuits primary benefit is to help with alignment (especially when the joint has an odd angle). If I am just butting two boards together for a table top, I don’t bother with biscuits or anything else. Glue is all you need. Biscuits do not offer much, if any, additional strength.

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

View ~Julie~'s profile


611 posts in 3268 days

#11 posted 11-15-2013 07:46 PM

Tenons or dowels.

-- ~Julie~

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 2306 days

#12 posted 11-15-2013 09:56 PM

I’m in the both, and sometimes both at the same time category.

-- Who is John Galt?

View David Dean's profile

David Dean

608 posts in 3133 days

#13 posted 11-16-2013 02:58 AM

pocket hole joinery easy glue and scerw up and just as strong as any biscuit orTenons,dowels.Everything I buildt is 100% pocket hole joinery and I have poven it on here.But I have never had any one call it ugly?

View CharlesA's profile


3355 posts in 2031 days

#14 posted 11-16-2013 03:15 AM

I’ve never found a need to use biscuits, although I bought a biscuit joiner. I can see a couple of isolated cases where they could be helpful, but they don’t seem to bring strength, so they seem more trouble than worth as alignment tools.

As for pocket holes, I used to use them all the time, but use them much less now that I have learned M-T well. But I am always amused when I hear they are not strong. If you’re joining two 1” pieces of wood at a right angle, they’re not very strong, but when used with cabinet construction for the box or face frame, I cannot imagine any traditional joint that could be any stronger (and they’re very quick for in that use).

-- "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 hjt's profile


903 posts in 3372 days

#15 posted 11-16-2013 04:00 AM

Great discussion folks. Hope more join with their thoughts. David – beautiful work. I’m with you, I do not think of pocket holes as ugly at all. I admire the look.

-- Harold

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