How to screw into the edge of plywood?

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Forum topic by blackthumb posted 04-15-2008 01:31 AM 10742 views 1 time favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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32 posts in 4580 days

04-15-2008 01:31 AM

I know there must be some way to do it, what is the best?

20 replies so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4871 days

#1 posted 04-15-2008 01:44 AM

Drill a hole and glue in a dowel, then drive your screw into that.

Make the dowel as large as you can.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View DovetailNJ's profile


9 posts in 4603 days

#2 posted 04-15-2008 02:02 AM

Use confirmat screws, they’re designed for that purpose.
You’ll need to pre-drill for them, but they work well.
Hafele sells them.


View Mershon's profile


13 posts in 4587 days

#3 posted 04-15-2008 03:39 AM

the dowel works well for a tougher joint. I think the secret is to not overtighten it. Definately predrill and drive the screw by hand…..Trya screw with a big bite as well like a sheet rock screw or similar

-- Soli Deo Gloria

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32 posts in 4580 days

#4 posted 04-15-2008 03:50 AM

Yes, the dowel idea sounds good. What about screwing into composition wood or particle board?

View Don Niermann  's profile

Don Niermann

219 posts in 4855 days

#5 posted 04-15-2008 03:55 AM

Drill a pilot hole and squirt in cyanoacrylate glue. It will provide a good grip.

-- WOOD/DON ( has the right to ones opinion but not the right to ones own facts...)

View Jim Crockett (USN Retired)'s profile

Jim Crockett (USN Retired)

852 posts in 4616 days

#6 posted 04-15-2008 04:17 AM

I don’t know if GaryK was referring to drilling a hole into the edge and inserting a dowel or drilling from the side and inserting a dowel. For me, the best way, if the project allows it, is to drill through from the side insert the dowel, drill a pilot hole and screw into the side of the dowel rather than the end grain. Either way will work but you get a lot more strength inserting the dowel so that you aren’t screwing into the end grain of the dowel.


-- A veteran is someone who, at one point in his/her life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America," for an amount of "up to and including his/her life".

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 4666 days

#7 posted 04-15-2008 04:47 AM

And be sure that you’re screwing perpendicular to the grain of the dowel too.

-- Eric at

View blackthumb's profile


32 posts in 4580 days

#8 posted 04-15-2008 05:12 AM

Yes, dowel from the side, how far in from the edge should it be? I imagine a half inch or more.

View Newbie17's profile


57 posts in 1343 days

#9 posted 09-20-2020 01:00 AM

For what it’s worth I just did a test because I wanted to know the answer as well. Using a Kreg softwood/plywood coarse thread self-tapping 1 1/2 inch screw, I fastened together two pieces of 3/4” baltic birch plywood butt jointed at 90 degrees to each other. The side with the head of the screw touching it was predrilled halfway through the plywood because I was simultaneously testing a plug cutter. After inserting the Kreg screw, I checked for bulging plywood and myself and wife detected zero “hump.” Then I tried to pull the plywood pieces apart as hard as I could and it didn’t budge. Determined to make it fail, the I folded the plywood towards each other. The screw still didn’t pull out, but eventually the screw snapped in half. After the bending pressure to failure, there was a slight hump in the surface of the plywood. So my unscientific opinion is I wouldn’t hesitate to screw into the edge of 3/4 inch baltic birch plywood with coarse thread self-tapping screws. I will say that if this were a project I cared about, I’d cut dados and use the screws for increased strength. In fact I’m doing this right now!

View therealSteveN's profile (online now)


6451 posts in 1457 days

#10 posted 09-20-2020 04:10 AM

There are a lot of ways to do it, but if I want it to last I edge the entire side of the plywood, and screw through very hard Maple, or Oak. Take your pick of how to edge it, just make sure to make it thick enough to work.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Robert's profile


4048 posts in 2363 days

#11 posted 09-20-2020 12:10 PM

I’ve used various screws into ply the only issue is within a few inches of end.

Apply a clamp before drilling/screwing eliminates problem.

I commonly use Spax screws and tapered countersink. Even trim heads spyou would be surprised how well they hold. I use them for attacking bullnose trim to shelves.

Confirmat screws are excellent. I was introduced to them building melamine cabs.

If you go that route be aware the drilling ply you can’t punch in like melamine this drill can go a bit wonky if you’re not exactly in the middle.

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

View bilyo's profile


1167 posts in 1985 days

#12 posted 09-20-2020 04:35 PM

This thread was started several years ago, but the question still comes up from time to time. My first answer is to not screw or nail into plywood edges if you can avoid it. However, if you must, Robert’s comment about putting clamp pressure on the spot you are inserting the screw will work well by keeping the plies from splitting as the screw is inserted. The down side of this is that sometimes you can’t get a clamp to reach the spot. In that instance, dowels work or pocket screws may be best.

View AlaskaGuy's profile


6111 posts in 3192 days

#13 posted 09-20-2020 04:58 PM

I have screw together shit loads of cabinet boxes and so have thousand of others. Get good cabinet assembly screws and the right counter sink pilot bit.

Its a shame the bean counters on this site won’t let us post pictures big enough to see detail.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View Newbie17's profile


57 posts in 1343 days

#14 posted 09-20-2020 06:32 PM

I hadn’t realized how strong dowel joints are until I started down the rabbit hole of researching joint strengths. I have to say, I am disappointed how much weaker the domino joints are compared to a lot of other options, including dowels. Comparisons are one thing, but as long as the joint can withstand the normal forces applied to it, it’s strong enough. Have any of you ever heard of a domino joint failing in a finished project? AI’m debating on whether or not to get a dowel jig for more strength demanding joints.

Additionally, I have furniture from college held together by staples through mdf and the dressers lasted 15 years before the drawer boxes fell apart. The carcass is still solid. The drawer slides were also fixed in place with staples. I kinda laugh-cried after starting the woodworking hobby and realizing how shoddy all the furniture I owned was.

View Loren's profile


10712 posts in 4530 days

#15 posted 09-20-2020 06:50 PM

Confirmat screws are excellent. I was introduced to them building melamine cabs.

I think there’s a slightly different spec drill size for plywood and melamine, but as a practical matter, I’ve drilled both with the same size and had good results.

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