Pocket-hole joinery, or pocket-screw joinery, involves drilling a hole at an angle — usually 15 degrees — into one work-piece, and then joining it to a second work-piece with a self-tapping screw.
The technique, in addition to doweling, is said to have its roots in ancient Egypt, although much doubt is thrown on this theory. Older woodworking reference books never mention the technique of pocket-hole joinery and contemporary woodworking references describe it as new and nontraditional.
- Because the screws act as internal clamps holding the joint together, glue is unnecessary (but usually recommended) for most common joints. If glue is used, clamping is not required because of the ‘internal clamps’ holding the joint together while the glue dries.
- Requires only one hole to be drilled, eliminating the need to precisely line up mating workpieces, as is required with dowel and mortise and tenon joints.
- Does not require any complex mathematics or measurements, such as those used in mortise and tenon joints.
- Because pocket-hole joinery doesn’t require access to the inside of the joint, quick repairs are possible without completely disassembling the joint. Fixing a squeaky chair or strengthening furniture requires only the drilling of additional pocket holes, and the use of screws to pull the two pieces together.
Is there a catch?
Yes. The angled holes that are an unavoidable part of pocket screw joinery are pretty ugly. You can buy angled dowels made especially to plug these holes, but the results still don’t look as clean and classic as completely hidden biscuits or dowel joints.
This is why pocket hole joints are usually restricted to areas that won’t be seen after assembly. It’s easy to do as long as you keep it in mind as you work.
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