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Pocket Holes - What am I doing wrong?

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Forum topic by Nicky posted 03-13-2014 12:06 AM 1785 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Nicky

695 posts in 3551 days


03-13-2014 12:06 AM

Topic tags/keywords: jig drill-driver joining question

I do not use pocket hole joinery very often. Most of the experience I have is using it in plywood box construction.

I’m re-doing a kitchen for a condo. I thought that I’d give it a try on the face frames to save some time. I can’t seem to get any of the butt joints to come together in the same plane. I’ve tried various clamping methods to no avail. Joints off by 1/32 to 1/16. I’m using a hand plane to level the joint, but just seems to me that I’m doing something wrong.

I’m using a kreg jig.
I’m drilling using the stepped drill bit(came with jig)
I’m drilling through long grain (with grain)
I’ve tried clamping using the face frame clamp.
I’ve tried clamping to my bench using a heavy duty f type clamp.

I’m trying to joint hard maple, 2” wide, 3/4 thick. I’m using 1 1/4” screws with fine threads.

Any suggestions or tips would be appreciated.

-- Nicky


25 replies so far

View cutworm's profile

cutworm

1075 posts in 2253 days


#1 posted 03-13-2014 12:30 AM

I see the same thing. I get out the sander.

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

View CharlesA's profile

CharlesA

3018 posts in 1257 days


#2 posted 03-13-2014 12:44 AM

Not sure what to tell you. When I have the two pieces clamped securely, I don’t have that problem. See if you can reverse the screw slightly so that it is still secure. You may be driving the screw in a little too far.

-- "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

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Craftsman on the lake

2520 posts in 2897 days


#3 posted 03-13-2014 12:47 AM

I use my kreg jig a fair amount. I always sand my stuff afterwards using a coarser grit and finally working down to fine grit. I’ve not really noticed much of a misalignment. a 32nd would be tiny and with my ROS sander leveled down in a few seconds. my joints seem to be aligned. They might not be but I do know that they are at least aligned enough so that I don’t think they are going to be an issue. I’ll pay closer attention next time.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

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ShaneA

6471 posts in 2058 days


#4 posted 03-13-2014 01:07 AM

They really need to be clamped tight in multiple directions. I typically use the kreg clamp to keep the mating pieces in plane and then a regular clamp to bring the joint tight before screwing. If they are not secured. One piece will tend to climb, yielding an unlevel surface.

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NiteWalker

2735 posts in 2036 days


#5 posted 03-13-2014 01:23 AM

Clamps need to be really tight.
Also, a bit counter productive considering what the kreg jig advertises, but running an 1/8” bit in the pocket hole once clamped together seems to make things go smoother in harder woods.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

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Loren

8294 posts in 3107 days


#6 posted 03-13-2014 01:29 AM

Some people glue butt joints the put in the screws after the
glue dries.

The Castle pocket hole format addresses this issue by using
a different hole angle, but the equipment is nowhere close
to as affordable as the Kreg format jigs.

...explained here: http://www.castleusa.com/products/pocket-joinery/

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Skippy906

116 posts in 1446 days


#7 posted 03-13-2014 02:27 AM

I use the face frame clamp that came with the kreg jig and I also use the right angle clamp along with it, that really helped holding it in place. There are still times it does not come out perfect and have to sand it flush.

-- Making progress

View Nicky's profile

Nicky

695 posts in 3551 days


#8 posted 03-13-2014 02:50 AM

Thanks all for your replies.

Looks like its the nature of the beast.

I have tried applying lots of pressure, and now clamping the joint in two directions, no help. I just experimented with poplar and pine and plywood; joints are much better. I using hard maple for my face frames.

Hand plane and sandpaper fixed the issue. I normally would use half-laps with a few brads on the back side. I was just looking for a faster method.

-- Nicky

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CharlesA

3018 posts in 1257 days


#9 posted 03-13-2014 02:53 AM

Although I don’t use it nearly as often as I used to, I’ve built a lot of things with a pocket jig. If I had to plane or sand to correct every joint, I’d have given up on it a long time ago. i’d keep working at a solution.

Have you tried correcting for the movement as you clamp it up, so that it moves into alignment instead of out of alignment?

-- "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

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Nicky

695 posts in 3551 days


#10 posted 03-13-2014 02:56 AM

Loren, I looked at the Castle pocket hole format, and it seems to me that the screw angle is the culprit. I’m screwing down just enough get some glue squeeze-out.

If I over tighten the screws I can exaggerate the problem.

-- Nicky

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Nicky

695 posts in 3551 days


#11 posted 03-13-2014 02:59 AM

Charles, pocket hole joinery has its place. I’ve used it for shop cabinets. Don’t think I’ll use this method for kitchen cabinets again. The error varies between joints, don’t want to spend time placing shims in place to correct joint. Good suggestion.

-- Nicky

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CharlesA

3018 posts in 1257 days


#12 posted 03-13-2014 03:01 AM

That’s just it, Nicky. I’ve built a kitchen island and two (not-shop) cabinets with it and never had this kind of problem with it. It’s not just for shop cabinets.

-- "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 Loren's profile

Loren

8294 posts in 3107 days


#13 posted 03-13-2014 03:07 AM

You might try the pre-gluing approach. A single dowel
can assure alignment, or a pair of wire nails with the heads
clipped off. As the clamps close, the wire nails press into
the other part and prevent shifting. I’ll admit planing
and sanding may seem like less of a hassle. I have a Kreg
jig but I’ve moved over to doweling when I want a flush
frame.

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firefighterontheside

13433 posts in 1316 days


#14 posted 03-13-2014 03:19 AM

When you drill, does the pilot part of the step drill come through. I have mine set so that the pilot just barely does not come through. I use a plane Irwin squeeze clamp across the joint while putting in the screws. Occasionally it will misalign, but usually it comes out even. You can try, when it does not come even, use a piece of scrap and a hammer and drive it back flush.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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The Box Whisperer

678 posts in 1529 days


#15 posted 03-13-2014 03:21 AM

Theres some great advice on here already. Ive had great luck with mine using the exact same tools you have.

What I have found works well for me is always use 2 clamps, just find a way, even if one of them is 3 ft long. Also, clamp those mating pieces to a nice flat surface like your bench. I drive the screw in on low speed, fairly low torque. I use 12v drills, set at 8-10. I also use dust collection in the jig, and make sure to tap out any additional dust from the pocket hole. Youre already using the right screws. I will also say the only time I ever felt I needed to do any additional 1/8th predrilling as mentioned above was on hard maple.

-- "despite you best efforts and your confidence that your smarter and faster than a saw blade at 10k rpm…. your not …." - Charles Neil

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