Pocket hole joinery

I guess I’ve always been the antithesis of the typical “early adopter.” I always wait until the new computer operating system has been out there for a year before I decide to upgrade (or not … passed on Vista). I never liked being the guinea pig, at least not on my own nickel. I waited several years before buying my first random orbit sander. I still have not swapped out my jointer and planer heads for the “new” spiral insert cutter heads. Most of my saw blades are not of the “anti-kickback” design. I do have some insert cutters for my shapers, but I still do my shop drawings and cut lists by hand.

With all of that in mind it should be no surprise that until a little over a year ago, I never used pocket screws to put anything together in my shop. But my son worked in a shop in L.A. for a while and he came back with a pocket hole jig in his toolbox. Evidently, they were used extensively in his previous work environment and he had become a big fan.

The first time he saw me getting ready to mortise a face frame, he said, “Why not just pocket screw it?” Of course, I was not interested is such shortcutting and proceeded to do it my way. But a few months later, we had a pretty good sized face frame job and it was on a shoestring budget. So when he again suggested using pocket screws, I figured it would not hurt “just this once.” I told him that he would have to make the frames because I was not familiar enough with the jig or the technique. But when I saw how many frames he had ready to go by lunch time and how tight the joints were and how strong the whole thing seemed, I was suddenly taking this a bit more seriously.

Since that day, I have also become a big fan of pocket screw joinery. Maybe not for my best work but I have found a million applications for pocket screws that I would have previously spent hours on, milling joinery, gluing, clamping and ending up with a result no better, really, than what I was able to achieve in a few minutes using pocket screws. So I guess I must not be that old of a dog that I still can’t learn a new trick, even if I am still ten years behind the times.



  • Dan Cada says:

    Have used pocket screws lot but still not certain of their ability to keep pieces aligned under normal stress. For face frames without any structural loading, they can’t be beat.

  • We have a diverse company that started with me being a General Contractor which evolved into a million different projects and later focused largely on installation of other peoples product until we opened our shop. We found that a pocket screw jig is unbeatable and a must on every job site. They are guaranteed to save you time and money. Especially when the un for seen shows its ugly face in the field and you are forced to modify something on site.
    Brian Wheeler
    (919) 812-1916

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