Joinery

My Opinion of Pocket Screws

Added on December 11, 2007

This question comes from Chris. He writes:

Pocket Screw TableHey Marc, I love your show. I watch it religiously and have learned so many good techniques. I wanted to know, what is your position on pocket hole joinery in relation to coffee table assembly. I built my first coffee table using a Kreg pocket hole jig to join the apron and legs together. Kreg states in their owner’s manual that a pocket hole is mechanically stronger than a mortise and tenon joint. Do you think pocket hole joinery is cheap sign of craftsmanship? I would like your feedback on what you think of my coffee table design? I have attached a picture of my coffee table.

And here was my reply:
Hi Chris. First off, let me compliment you on your design and craftsmanship. What a beautiful piece. No matter what the underlying joinery is, that is a fantastic design with great execution. Now, concerning pocket hole screws. Remember, joinery can be just as much about taste and opinion as it is about strength and utility. If you are happy with the final product and you enjoy using pocket screws, all the power to you! Screw away my friend!

Now for my opinion. I have used pocket screws in the past when I could get away with it. The only time I really use them is if they will never be seen. And even then, they are usually the last option I think of. Perhaps its a bit elitist, but I do feel that pocket screws “cheapen” a piece. I would certainly expect Kreg to defend its product and their strength claim may be valid (Im not convinced). But is strength really the only concern to us as woodworkers? If that’s the case, we might want to start using metal to build furniture instead of wood. :) Cant get much stronger than that!

Seriously though, I take pride in the fact that my best work contains little to no metal. But that’s just me. We all have to decide for ourselves where to draw the line. Some folks cant imagine using power tools on their projects. They take pride in the fact that their work is crafted the old-fashioned way. Some folks just want to get ‘er done!

Just remember that we all woodwork for different reasons Heck, some of us do it just so we can collect tools. And still others do it simply because its such a sharp contrast to what we do at the office all day behind our computer screens in the confines of our cubicles. Whatever your reason is, keep it fun. If pocket screws make it fun for you, then keep using them. Your work certainly is not suffering for it. Good luck.

Want to learn a little more about pocket screw joinery? Check out the Pocket Screw Primer!

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