glue-up vs. pocket screws

  • Advertise with us

« back to Joinery forum

Forum topic by harum posted 179 days ago 645 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View harum's profile


79 posts in 241 days

179 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: question joining pocket screws glue tabletops

Are there sources around (books, journal articles, etc.) comparing two methods of edge joinery of boards into tabletops: gluing and using pocket screws? And when one is preferred over the other? My understanding has been that gluing is used more but can only guess why. I think gluing is a better method when tabletop is assembled using narrow strips, say 4” wide and below, because, otherwise, pocket screws would take forever. For wider boards, 6” and above, with fewer edges to glue/screw the amount of work for two methods is already comparable.

What is common is that in both methods, spread glue or evenly spaced screws, connect the edges along the entire length of contact. Both methods require jointing for seamless joining.

Some say that pocket screws prevent tops from natural seasonal movement, but I can’t see why.
Any comment will be greatly appreciated. Thanks, h.

-- Having finished many DIY projects, I still don't know how things should be done, but I surely know how they should not be done.

13 replies so far

View GT350's profile


265 posts in 579 days

#1 posted 179 days ago

I can’t see how pocket screws would stop seasonal movement any more than gluing would. With either method the wood can expand across the width of the grain unless it is attached to something that doesn’t expand also. As for glue vs screws, I wood never use screws for edge joining a large panel, I prefer glue. Glue is less expensive, looks better and I never have to worry about hitting screw when cutting a piece down to size. I do use pocket screws other things though.

View CharlesA's profile


1041 posts in 395 days

#2 posted 179 days ago

I used pocket screws on my first glue up, none on a whole number after that. Given how strong a side edge glue joint is, I can’t see the purpose of going through the extra trouble to use pocket screws.

View michelletwo's profile


2189 posts in 1613 days

#3 posted 179 days ago

gave up mechanical means to glue up large panels/table tops yrs ago. The new glues are stronger than wood IF done well.

-- We call the destruction of replaceable human made items vandalism, while the destruction of irreplaceable natural resources is called development.

View patcollins's profile


952 posts in 1463 days

#4 posted 179 days ago

I can see using pocket holes because you don’t have the clamps for a large glue up or simply because you have had trouble getting the glue up to not bow one way or another. I can also see using the pocket screws for the glueup then removing them after the glue dried.

View thesoninlaw's profile


96 posts in 383 days

#5 posted 179 days ago

I too can understand using screws for edge-joining wider panels, but would still glue them.

View bondogaposis's profile


2439 posts in 949 days

#6 posted 179 days ago

The only advantage that pocket screws would give over edge gluing is that you wouldn’t need to clamp w/ pocket screws. Personally I find clamping to be easier. The seasonal movement would be the same for either method. What is critical is how the top is attached to the the rest of the table.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View wseand's profile


2116 posts in 1639 days

#7 posted 179 days ago

IMO screws constrict the wood from moving, glue tends to move and contract with the wood better.
Gluing is a much stronger alternative to screws, no doubt about it in my mind.

Just like when you attach the top to the carcass you want to do it in a way that allows for movement.

I’ve made a lot of tables and done a lot of edge gluing, I would never consider using screws for any size of stock.
In fact it is easier to glue wider stock then thinner stock, IMO

If you are having trouble with alignment than I would suggest using domino or biscuit tenons.

-- Bill - "Freedom flies in your heart like an Eagle" Audie Murphy

View harum's profile


79 posts in 241 days

#8 posted 179 days ago

Thanks for the responses! Pocket screws joinery also seems to be a method of choice when, for design purposes, gaps between edge-joined boards are allowed, like when joining rough boards with limited contact at the edges.

Unlike glue, pocket screws may prevent wood movement along the screw lengths, which is probably at least 1” on both sides of the joining line. Glues bind only two thin layers of wood right next to the edges; pocket screws bind by going through a few inches of wood. If using 2” screws on 6” boards, then about a third of a tabletop is restricted in cross-grain seasonal movements. Would this be enough to cause strain and warping? Don’t have any experience to answer this…

-- Having finished many DIY projects, I still don't know how things should be done, but I surely know how they should not be done.

View David Dean's profile

David Dean

489 posts in 1497 days

#9 posted 179 days ago

Im a big fan of Pocket screws joinery but I glue every thing I can most of my customer’s thats the frist thing they look for is glue and screw’s. Well think it is stronger but thats me.

View Jake's profile


250 posts in 228 days

#10 posted 179 days ago

Personally I use pocket holes with glue only because i don’t yet have enough clamps for some tops. I dislike the holes even if I can’t see them.

But i always use glue with any joint I make, screws or no screws the glues I use are tougher than any screws if done correctly.

-- Measure twice, cut once, cut again for good measure.

View CharlesA's profile


1041 posts in 395 days

#11 posted 179 days ago

Does anyone use domino tenons for alignment on glue ups? That seems odd to me. Despite their obvious similarities, I thought the Domino and the biscuit joiner are very different in application. Does a domino tenon swell? I know that some folks have had problems with biscuits swelling up too much in a table top glue up and causing swelling on the top. If Domino tenons swell, and the smallest size is almost half the thickness of a 3/4” table top, I would think it would have a greater possibility to cause swelling.

View casual1carpenter's profile


353 posts in 1073 days

#12 posted 179 days ago

CharlesA, can’t really answer your question on the domino as it is out of my budget on a cost vs benefit level, but if I remember right, I believe biscuits are a dried and compacted animal specifically so they do swell and tighten in the joint. I would take a dowel or shop made loose tenon any day over the biscuit joiner.

View CharlesA's profile


1041 posts in 395 days

#13 posted 179 days ago

Turns out that folks do use a Domino for edge glue-ups and Domino tenons do not swell, see:

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

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics :: gardening showcase