A pocket hole joint is a type of tongue and groove woodworking joint, where one board has holes bored into it so that screws can be driven from the side. A special pocket hole drill bit is used to bore the holes, which are slightly undersized so that they do not go all the way through. This is the perfect joint for beginners because it is easy to create, strong, and can be hidden with pocket hole plugs.
Pocket holes are used most often along the sides of a drawer or box to attach the sides together. They are very visible when using standard 1/2 inch stock so are best suited for plywood or other thin materials where you want to show off the layers. Pocket holes are also good for attaching tabletops to the base of a tabletop tool like a drill press or band saw.
A pocket hole is a hole created for joining two pieces of wood together through the face of one piece. The pocket hole provides a strong joint making it easier to create projects with less visible hardware. Pocket holes are drilled at an angle in one board which allows another piece to be fitted over the drill bit creating the right angle needed for joinery.
Pocket holes are helpful for furniture projects like the side table I made. The pocket hole allows the tabletop to be held securely yet still adjustable. I could have used dowels or biscuits which would require more skill and precision, but it wouldn’t allow me to easily disassemble my project for moving as a pocket hole does.
- 1 How Do Pocket Holes Work?
- 2 When To Use Pocket Holes
- 3 How To Drill Picket Holes – No Jig
- 4 How To Create Pocket Holes – Next Steps
- 5 What Are Pocket Hole Plugs And How To Use Pocket Hole Plugs
- 6 How To Install Pocket Hole Plugs
- 7 What Is The Purpose Of A Pocket Hole Jig
- 8 What Size Pocket Holes Should I Use
- 9 Can I Use Pocket Holes For Thicker Boards
- 10 Are Pocket Holes Better Than Biscuits
- 11 What is a Kreg Jig®?
How Do Pocket Holes Work?
Pocket holes work best with thinner boards (1-3/4″ and under). The pocket hole screws are designed to screw into the end grain of the wood. End grain is located at the end of a board which you can identify by looking for the growth rings running perpendicular to the board’s width. This shows where the tree originally grew out of the ground.
When To Use Pocket Holes
A pocket hole joint is good for quick, hidden, strong joints in thin stock. It is not suitable for large surfaces because it will show when using standard 1/2″ thick wood (unless you use plugs ). You should also choose your screws carefully to make sure they are short enough to leave no exposed thread outside the workpiece.
Pocket holes are most common in making drawers, boxes, or anywhere else you want to hide the joint. If you are joining two pieces of 1/2″ plywood together invisibly on edge, this is possibly the strongest joint possible with just glue – no mechanical fasteners needed.
How To Drill Picket Holes – No Jig
Pocket hole joints are made by boring a hole into the edge of one board. The pocket hole drill bit is sized to make these holes slightly smaller than 1/2″. This means the screw will fit tightly and not go all the way through (unless you drive it really hard).
If you don’t have a special jig, you can use clamps to hold the workpiece perpendicular to the edge of a countertop or other sturdy flat surface. You can also use this method for making regular butt joints, but you should drill your holes first so that the bit doesn’t wander.
How To Create Pocket Holes – Next Steps
To make pocket hole joints using just clamps, start by marking where you want to drill your hole with a center punch or nail, and clamp the center point in place. Then clamp the workpiece so that it is perpendicular to your countertop edge, and slide it into position for drilling. Tighten just enough so that you can slide it back into position without coming loose, then mark where the holes should go on the other piece. Unclamp one side and drill the holes to just under 1/2″, then screw them together. It is a good idea to clamp both sides this time around because you will probably move one of them at least a little
What Are Pocket Hole Plugs And How To Use Pocket Hole Plugs
Pocket hole plugs are round wood inserts that fit into your pocket hole and look just like a regular screw. They come in different sizes to fit the pocket holes you have created, and are wood so that they will match your workpieces as closely as possible.
The main advantage of using plugs is concealment. If you want to cover up all evidence of a pocket hole joinery, this is the way to go. Pocket holes are best hidden in edges or panels that will be covered by another piece of wood, especially when you use plywood. You can also cut plugs off flush with a saw and fill the rest of the hole with matching putty (best used for small leftover pieces).
How To Install Pocket Hole Plugs
Pocket hole plugs are easy to install. All you need is a bit of glue, some clamps, and your pocket hole plugs!
Start by applying the glue to the top of the plug (the side with beveled edges). Then press it into the holes in your workpiece until it is seated all the way down. Wipe off any excess glue, then clamp the pieces together until the glue dries.
The first time you install plugs on your project is probably the easiest because you can just screw them right in without having to line up any holes. After that, it gets harder because your screws will be more likely to try and split the plug if they are too long or bottom out before being seated. To avoid this, install your screws from the bottom of the workpiece with a countersink bit, which will allow them to seat all the way down.
What Is The Purpose Of A Pocket Hole Jig
A pocket hole jig is used to drill the pocket holes in a uniform manner. It holds a special stepped drill bit at a precise angle for you. Without a jig, it would be easy to make mistakes and miss the mark creating an uneven/sloppy-looking joinery that wouldn’t last long.
It’s also more economical. The screws used to attach the joints are very short meaning you don’t need a massive piece of wood in order to make your project. You can use scraps or smaller pieces which is great for people like me who love using reclaimed pallets and other bits I find in my garage, basement, etc.
What Size Pocket Holes Should I Use
I use Kreg’s 3/4″ #7 Coarse Washer Head Pocket Screws. They are 1-1/4″ in length which makes them just long enough for the screw head to pass through the other side without sticking out too far or sinking into it. I find this size works well on most of my projects.
Can I Use Pocket Holes For Thicker Boards
I have used pocket holes to join 3″ thick planks and it worked well as long as the screws weren’t overdriven. This could cause splitting and cracking of your wood so take care when screwing in your joints. If you do not own a Kreg Jig yet, you should get one. They are easy to use and well worth it for beginners and advanced carpenters alike!
Pocket holes are a great tool for joining wood together without glue or clamps because of their strength and versatility giving you enough time to make any necessary adjustments. How would you use pocket holes in your projects?
Are Pocket Holes Better Than Biscuits
I prefer pocket holes over biscuits. Biscuits require more precise measurements otherwise they will not fit correctly. I am not very good at making precise cuts with my table saw or circular saw so this would limit the number of projects I could do without buying more expensive equipment.
Pocket holes are just as easy to use as built-in biscuits and don’t require any additional equipment. I buy the screws by the box because they are very cheap and last a long time as long as you use them carefully. Biscuits can cost 10 times as much as pocket hole screws so it’s definitely a better option to go with pocket holes if you’re on a budget or just starting out.
What is a Kreg Jig®?
The Kreg Jig® is an easy-to-use tool that will help anyone become a better woodworker by providing stronger, tighter joints when using pocket holes. This simple jig allows you to drill pocket holes for furniture building and woodworking projects in less than 20 seconds.
Kreg Pocket-Hole Jig 720 PRO, Blue
- Build pocket-hole projects faster than ever!
- Multi-featured jig for creating pocket-hole joints in materials from ½” to 1-½” thick
- Dual-action clamping with Automaxx automatically clamps and adjusts to the proper material thickness
- Kreg Docking Station material support wings add more storage and enhanced support for large pieces
- Pocket-Hole Jig Clamp secures jig to worksurface
- Dust collection to keep workspace clean
- Portable Jig for creating pocket-hole joints
- Simple to set up and easy to use with material-thickness stops for common DIY materials: 1/2″, 3/4″, 1 1/2″
- Durable construction to last for years, with lifetime drill-guide
How Do I use The Kreg Jig®
When using a Kreg Jig® ensure that the base is attached to the proper drill bit for size and securely tightened in place. Next set up your jig with the correct thickness wood in place and make sure all moving parts engage where they should.
Align your drill bit through the jig’s guide hole ensuring it sticks out past the edge of your workpiece. This is important to ensure that you drill into the second board at the proper angle and depth.
Press the trigger on your drill and slowly lower the jig onto the wood while keeping it flush with your workpiece surface. Slowly release pressure from the trigger allowing the drill bit to sink down and through your project. Be sure not to force or push on your jig or workpiece.
Which Bits Do I Need For Pocket Holes
The Kreg Jig® is the most popular way to create pocket holes, but many alternative methods exist.
Two types of drill bits are required for drilling pocket holes. A stepped drill bit creates the hole that will act as the pocket and a regular bit drills into the second board through the center of the first hole creating the pilot hole.
The stepped drill bits are available from Kreg in a range of sizes from 1/8-inch up to 1-1/2 inches so it is easy to choose one that will suit your needs.
What Size Pocket Hole Should I Use
This depends on the project and the design notes of the manufacturer of your Kreg Jig®. Most advise drilling pilot holes slightly smaller than the screw you will be using for a tighter fit and stronger joint. For example, close tolerance pocket screws are best when joining 3/4-Inch material while a 1/4 Inch or larger pocket hole offers solid joinery for plywood.
What Is The Best Drill Bit Size For A Kreg Jig®
Most models of the Kreg Jig® have an adjustable stop collar so you can choose from common sizes from 1/4-inch to 1-1/4-Inches. It’s recommended to choose the smallest size that will create a joint strong enough for your project.
What Is The Best Pocket Hole Joint
The Kreg Jig® allows you to drill pockets in any orientation, but it is important to ensure that the boards are flush with each other when joining together. This will ensure the joint has a clean line with no gaps or overlap.
Pocket joinery is most popular for face frames, but many orients their joints to have the pocket holes on the backside of a project for a hidden joint. To do this, turn your piece so that all of your pockets are facing towards the back, and then join your boards together.