using pocket holes with maple

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Forum topic by Tooch posted 04-27-2014 01:35 PM 1837 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Tooch's profile


1707 posts in 1838 days

04-27-2014 01:35 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question maple pocket holes pocket hole screws split face frame frame

So I was helping a student build a face frame for his gun cabinet, and we were pre-assembling the frame with picket hole screws with intent to glue on the whole thing at once. Much to our chagrin, the very first screw that we put in split the front face of the stock.

So my question is- was this a fluke? A one-time mistake that we should just chalk up to the trials and tribulations of woodworking? Or is this type of accident common when using pocket holes and maple due to the density of the wood?

Most of the stock I use is Oak (due to availability and low-cost), so anyone with experience using maple, please advise!

-- "Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too..." - Judge Smails

11 replies so far

View Nicky's profile


695 posts in 4054 days

#1 posted 04-27-2014 08:22 PM

I got a lot of good advise here

I had more alignment issues then splitting. But pre-drilling a pilot hole, after you’ve drilled the pocket hole make for easy alignment so I would think it would help reduce splitting as well.

-- Nicky

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3247 days

#2 posted 04-27-2014 08:28 PM


I’ve never had much splitting problem when using pocket screws with maple. I’ve used literally thousands of pocket screws over the years and have had very little problems. With that being said; I’m not saying I’ve never had a board split, but it usually happens to a piece that the grain is stressed and Maple seems to be one of those woods that it shows up in.

Usually doesn’t show up until you do something like run a screw in it. I’d try again and hope it’s just that one board.

Run your screws in slowly and if it happens again, try putting a little soap on the screw threads for lubrication.

Good luck.

-- John @

View woodchuckerNJ's profile


1269 posts in 1596 days

#3 posted 04-27-2014 08:41 PM

Fine threads or coarse threads?
With coarse threads yea.
With fine threads it’s still possible.
Are you using kreg screws with a drill point (slit on the side)?
If they are fine and kreg, then you probably need to still a little pilot hole, and wax the screw to lube it.

-- Jeff NJ

View hoosier0311's profile


706 posts in 1988 days

#4 posted 04-27-2014 10:33 PM

I try to remember to back off on the clutch setting on my drill. I split out a couple of pieces of Maple by forgetting to do so. My theory is once the head seats there is no good reason to crank anymore.

-- atta boy Clarence!

View rustfever's profile


751 posts in 3272 days

#5 posted 04-27-2014 11:31 PM

And Don’t Forget To Wax the Threads Before Driving the Screw!!!!!

-- Rustfever, Central California

View MT_Stringer's profile


3160 posts in 3193 days

#6 posted 04-27-2014 11:46 PM

I don’t wax or soap the screws, but I do use the fine thread screws.

You might also check the drilling depth of the jig. Maybe it was too deep, or even too shallow.

Good luck.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View HorizontalMike's profile


7749 posts in 2876 days

#7 posted 04-27-2014 11:59 PM

After pre-drilling the holes, this is where my Yankee screwdrivers come in handy. A clutched power driver can help, but only AFTER you find out the clutch is/was set to tight. With the Yankee you have that tactile feel helping you out from the beginning, thus you are less likely to over-power it and strip/split either the hole or the screw. IMO…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View firefighterontheside's profile


17926 posts in 1819 days

#8 posted 04-28-2014 12:02 AM

I have had it happen with maple more than oak. I use fine thread screws. Luckily for me I don’t use much maple. Mostly oak or poplar in my shop.

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

View hoss12992's profile


4020 posts in 1855 days

#9 posted 04-28-2014 02:43 AM

As long as I use fine thread screws, never have a problem. If you use course thread, that can happen alot. Hope this helps buddy.

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View Tooch's profile


1707 posts in 1838 days

#10 posted 04-28-2014 09:30 AM

I know for a fact they are Kreg screws, and I’m almost positive they were fine thread… that’s all I buy for my school stock for that very reason.

Nicky - I am trying out a pocket hole clamp for alignment (Rockler – $17 I think), I’ll keep you posted on how well it works.

Thanks to everyone else with the soap on the thread idea and setting the clutch lower… I try those and let yinz know how it works.

-- "Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too..." - Judge Smails

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2297 posts in 2332 days

#11 posted 04-28-2014 01:25 PM

I use both methods. I use my battery powered driver to put the screws 90% in. I then do the remaining 10% on all the screws by hand with a ratcheting screwdriver (I like my Klein). Never had one strip or split using this method, and it gives me confidence that they’re all in just right.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

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