pocket holes in hickory

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Forum topic by Guss posted 06-11-2012 12:45 AM 4928 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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94 posts in 3411 days

06-11-2012 12:45 AM

Hi Im doing a face frame for a aquarium stand and im making it out of hickory. I wanted to do pocket holes for the joinery but im having problems with the wood splitting when i put the screw in is there a good pocket hole screw for woods that split easy? Im using the Kreg screws. If i cant get that to work ill probably use loose tenons.

17 replies so far

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#1 posted 06-11-2012 12:55 AM


-- My terrible signature...

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#2 posted 06-11-2012 12:56 AM

Try a little beeswax?

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View Bobmedic's profile


383 posts in 3771 days

#3 posted 06-11-2012 02:05 AM

Use the Kreg fine thread screws with hardwoods and the coarse screws with soft woods. The wax and a fine thread should get good results without splitting.

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Bill White

5329 posts in 4930 days

#4 posted 06-11-2012 01:53 PM

Just remember that you’re workin’ with a very hard wood, and do all the above mentioned. You ARE gonna glue as well?

-- [email protected]us

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#5 posted 06-11-2012 03:02 PM

What Bobmedic said.

View Doss's profile


779 posts in 3234 days

#6 posted 06-11-2012 03:39 PM

Are you pre-drilling properly? What screws are you using?

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

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#7 posted 06-11-2012 03:53 PM

For hickory you should be using the FINE thread screws. Rub a little wax on them (like from an old candle) and when you put the screws in run them up to speed with only very light pressure on them. As soon as they start cutting back off on the speed and just seat them in short bursts. ALSO I like to use my cordless for driving the screws and have the clutch set so you don’t overdrive the screw. If you over drive it, you’ll almost always split it out.

I just did some hard maple face frames. I used a corded drill to drill the pocket holes and a cordless to drive the screws. For face frames I also clamp the faces of the joint. The screws cut threads, so if you drive them too fast, they’ll act like a wedge instead of cutting their threads.

View Loren's profile


10930 posts in 4617 days

#8 posted 06-11-2012 07:12 PM

Sometimes it helps to leave a horn on stiles and cut it off
after assembly. In the old days this was done in mortised
parts and still is by craftspeople mortising by hand.

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#9 posted 06-11-2012 07:31 PM


-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

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6347 posts in 3279 days

#10 posted 06-11-2012 07:39 PM

I did a Hickory kitchen and had the same problems with splitting as you have. After trying a number of things I ended up pre-drilling. I had my neighbor (he has a metal lathe) make the device below.

The other thing that helps is watch is your grain orientation.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View Scot's profile


344 posts in 4366 days

#11 posted 06-11-2012 09:06 PM

Is the bottom side of your screw heads flat or beveled ? Screws with a head that have a bevel will act like a wedge and split the wood when the head seats.

-- If the old masters had power tools, they would have used them. So get off your damn High Horse.

View Guss's profile


94 posts in 3411 days

#12 posted 06-12-2012 01:35 PM

Im using the Fine Thred Kreg Screws. Its the style that is cracking. I dont think ill be able to pree drill that easy and keep everything lined up. Im going to give the wax and the drill speed a try with making sure of the grain direction. Im not even getting the screw in half way in the style before it cracks. thanks for your input ill let you know how it goes.

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779 posts in 3234 days

#13 posted 06-12-2012 02:21 PM

If that fails, either modify some clamps to hold it steady or build a clamping jig… and get a really long drill bit (it may have to be one size larger than what you’re using now.

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

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159 posts in 3644 days

#14 posted 06-12-2012 10:50 PM

I made my kitchen cabinets out of pecan and had no problems using the pocket screws to fasten the rails to the stiles on the face frames.

View Dano46's profile


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#15 posted 06-12-2012 11:00 PM

Since hickory is one of my favorite woods, I thought I might add something. Should have figured LumberJocks always have a solution to any problem.
My reply would have been: predrill, fine threads, beeswax. Same as the first three.

-- You can't trust a dog to guard your food.

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