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What am I doing wrong with pocket holes?

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Forum topic by sansoo22 posted 06-16-2020 04:23 AM 1543 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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sansoo22

1879 posts in 940 days


06-16-2020 04:23 AM

I don’t want to turn this into a pocket hole vs some other kind of jointery debate. That being said I was just trying to figure out what they are good for besides face frames.

If I try to use pocket holes to build a simple cabinet carcass I inevitably have something that looks like a box but has 2 or 3 square corners on it. Am I expecting to much from a pocket hole screw? No matter how many clamps I throw at the thing I still get pieces moving on me when I drive a screw in.

It seems odd to use a pocket hole when I could just pull out my doweling jig, take a little bit more time drilling holes, and when I’m done I don’t have alignment issues.

I don’t need to use them I just see them used in other projects and figured it was a quick way to throw shop furniture together. But I also like to use shop furniture as practice and so far I can’t say I would use pocket holes for anything ever except face frames because I can’t accurately join two panels on a 90.

It could just be me though so figured I’d see if im a complete nut case or others think these things are more trouble than they are worth at times.


24 replies so far

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SMP

4962 posts in 1191 days


#1 posted 06-16-2020 05:10 AM

I use mine very situationally. The problems you mention I find to have on hard woods. They work great on soft wood. But even a hard piece of poplar can make it pop the clamps and gets off a smidge. I use it for face frames, cabinets, various construction/remodel types of things where they are hidden and don’t have to account for movement etc. And they work great in construction lumber like doug fir.

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BurlyBob

9404 posts in 3551 days


#2 posted 06-16-2020 05:30 AM

I hate pocket hole joinery. But I have used it for a few projects. Like you mentioned face joinery. I’ve found it useful for putting tops on free standing book cases. Nonetheless, I avoid pocket hole joinery as much as I can. It is the last resort I opt for.

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sansoo22

1879 posts in 940 days


#3 posted 06-16-2020 05:39 AM

Thanks SMP and Bob. I will admit I’m still new to woodworking and attempted to use them because of YouTube. I should stop assuming that just because a build “looks” good on YouTube doesnt mean its up to the standards I want for my own work.

Good thing that cabinet only used a 1/2 sheet of birch ply. I can remake it and break down the other one for a jig or something.

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Underdog

1779 posts in 3321 days


#4 posted 06-16-2020 11:10 AM

Seems like I read something or watched a video on pocket hole geometry. Some angles and setups are better than others at not pulling the joint out of alignment. If memory serves, a lower angle helps.

That said, I’ve not used them much outside of face frames.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

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CWWoodworking

2295 posts in 1464 days


#5 posted 06-16-2020 11:44 AM

1. Use a drill instead of an impact.
2. Be mindful of the angle.
3. Get your drill as close to wood as possible.
4. Slow Down feed rate.

If it has to be perfect, your gonna have to clamp.

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Redoak49

5418 posts in 3274 days


#6 posted 06-16-2020 12:51 PM

Good advice on not using impact driver and going slow.

You must always clamp things securely to avoid alignment issues. I built my shop cabinets and drawers with pocket screws. I made simple jigs to clamp things and worked great.

Like other tools, you have to learn how to use it and when to use it.

All of these were built with pocket screws and I have had no failures.of joints.

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sansoo22

1879 posts in 940 days


#7 posted 06-16-2020 01:01 PM

I’ve done several drawer boxes without issue using corner clamps. However cabinets are what seem to cause me trouble no matter how I clamp. I think a corner jig I can clamp to might come in handy for more than just pocket holes.

I use an impact for everything. Didn’t know it made much of a difference if I keep it torqued down. I will give the drill a shot. I assume it gets the clutch set as well.

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JackDuren

1746 posts in 2245 days


#8 posted 06-16-2020 01:12 PM

If your going to pocket hole for shop cabinets,etc. You might try making a pocket hole jig. I’ve been trying to decide whether to make that a drop in at my tablesaw extension or a full size floor box….

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Robert

4786 posts in 2766 days


#9 posted 06-16-2020 02:26 PM

The key is to clamp it TIGHT as heck. Corner clamps can help, too.

Next, when you run the screw in, that last bit to seat the screw is critical.

@CWW good tip on using a drill. You loose the feel for when the screw is seated with an impact.

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

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SMP

4962 posts in 1191 days


#10 posted 06-16-2020 03:36 PM

For corners I have one of these
https://www.kregtool.com/store/c46/corner-clamps/p461/90-corner-clamp/

And one of these I use in various situations , pockethole or not:

https://www.rockler.com/rockler-clamp-it-corner-clamping-jig

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CWWoodworking

2295 posts in 1464 days


#11 posted 06-16-2020 11:37 PM

Impacts are just not that precise. Lots of wobble in the bit.

Pocket holes, 5/8 pine ply and prefinished ply bottoms make a great drawer box.

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

13585 posts in 3665 days


#12 posted 06-17-2020 01:15 AM

Pocket holes are screw joinery, nothing else and nothing new. It’s just a way to orient a screw so that it is can be hidden or to avoid screwing into end grain. That’s it and that’s how you use them. Hope that answers the OP. People who “hate” pocket holes are reacting emotionally to a technique.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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sansoo22

1879 posts in 940 days


#13 posted 06-17-2020 02:24 AM



Impacts are just not that precise. Lots of wobble in the bit.

Pocket holes, 5/8 pine ply and prefinished ply bottoms make a great drawer box.

- CWWoodworking

I’m putting the impact away for my next attempt. Its one of my favorite tools but if it’s an issue I can do without.

SMP – I ordered a couple of those clamps to give them a try.

From the replies I’ve deduced my issue down to improper clamping and using the impact. I agree with Woodknack that it should be simple but obviously it’s not working like a normal screw joint for me.

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Redoak49

5418 posts in 3274 days


#14 posted 06-17-2020 10:54 AM

The other thing is practice and learn to use the jig.

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Broglea

695 posts in 4376 days


#15 posted 06-17-2020 11:38 AM

I’ve experienced the same thing from time to time. If I can, I will shoot a pin or brad into the piece to hold it in place before I drive the pocket screw in.

showing 1 through 15 of 24 replies

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