Text Resize

  • -A
  • +A
  • Your rating: None (23 votes)

    Pocket-Hole Joinery Basics

    Some woodworkers turn up their noses at pocket-hole joints, seeing the ugly holes and also doubting the holding power of the screws. And it is true that pocket screws are used mostly by carpenters and kitchen-cabinet makers. But pocket-hole joinery has its place in the woodshop too. For one thing, we woodworkers make plenty of built-in cabinets, where the rough oval holes can be hidden. And pocket holes are a good way to attach tabletops and build quick jigs around the shop. The jig you need to drill them is inexpensive, so why not get one? You’ll definitely use it.

    By the way, pocket screws are remarkably strong. In fact, some cabinetmakers don’t even bother using glue on the pieces.

    A pocket hole goes into one piece at an angle, allowing a screw to go in and be driven through to an adjoining piece. The head of the screw sits in a “pocket” so it doesn’t sit above the surface. Simple clamp-on jigs make drilling pocket holes a snap, and screwing the pieces together is even faster.

    A pocket screw in action. In this illustration, a pocket screw is being used to join two pieces of wood together. Notice how the specialized drill bit used for these screw bores two distinctly sized holes to accommodate both the screw shank and head.


    Pocket screws are the quickest way to join workpieces of all sizes, and they are remarkably strong, but they do leave an ugly hole behind. That’s fine if you can hide those holes on parts of the project that won’t get seen, like the top of this kitchen cabinet, where the countertop will sit. By the way, the woodworker will add a decorative panel to hide the pocket holes on the side.

    How Pocket Screws Work

    The process begins with the specialized jig. Pocket-hole jigs are simple to use. The jig holds the workpiece in place and guides a specialized bit as you drill the holes.






    Important tip: Use a clamp (in this case a specialized "face clamp") to bring the two pieces of wood into alignment as you drive the screws. Without the clamp, the screws will pull the workpieces out of alignment.






    Pocket screws can do it all. This carpenter used them to build face frames, and now he's using them to attach the frames to these cabinet boxes.