Pocket-hole Technology has been around for many, many years and provides a good, quick form of joinery that doesn't require the user to be an experienced woodworker or carpenter, and still be able to make some good quality projects and repairs.
Watch it on Youtube: https://youtu.be/uy5UhJpKDKE
Like many things in woodworking, there are a few things that we can do that will make using pocket-hole technology even more convenient and things to help improve the quality of our joints in certain circumstances ...
I'm sure there are workshops that have pocket hole jigs permanently set up on their workbenches or assembly stand, but I have never seen one. What every woodworker does that I know of, is store their pocket-hole jig in a drawer, cupboard or shelf, then bring it out when they need it ... and I do the same. Now, most of these jigs prefer to be fastened down somehow, so what I have done with mine, is mount it on a fairly sturdy base of wood, then attach that wood to a vertical piece that allows me to quickly use my woodworking vice as the "hold down" for my pocket-hole jig.
For me ... this works great, easy to store, quick to set up and although it has a couple of drawbacks, it is the best I have found for MY set up so far ... but others have found other ideas ...
... like Gerald from Arkansas who sent me a picture of what he does with his jig, which is basically to surround it with a wooden frame like the one below which serves a couple of purposes, first of all, it gives the jig a place to sit, and secondly, it allows for support on either side of the jig for long pieces of wood. Support for longer pieces of wood with my own adaption is one of the drawbacks ... for longer wood, I need to stop and set something up, fortunately, I seldom pocket-hole longer boards so it's not something I encounter often,
I liked this setup, it's quick, easy to make and portable and it can be fastened down with screws to your workbench or in many cases, clamps would work too. Either way, it's a nice alternative ... thanks, Gerald for the pics.
Clamping Pocket-hole Joints At Assembly
It's pretty much imperative that all pocket-hole joints are clamped together during the fastening of the screws. The reason for this is that if you do not do this, you WILL, at some time, encounter screws that insert into the wood and will follow the grain of the wood they are being installed into and will give you a misaligned joint. These are very annoying because you can spend more time fixing a misaligned joint then what it takes you to fasten a whole project together. It's the old story, sometimes fixing mistakes can take as long as the whole project ... Yup, I cut corners too, and over the years have had my share of misaligned joints so now I take a couple of seconds and clamp EVERY joint during assembly.
One of the reasons that early on when I first got my pocket-hole jig ... that I did NOT clamp every joint was the clamp that I purchased, the one shown above in the picture. It works fine for what it is, but I found it near useless for most things, it was awkward, had no place to sit it down and it didn't clamp many of the joints I worked on. I know there are other alternatives now, but when I purchased my pocket-hole jig, those alternative were not available ... so I made something else that works great and cost very little ... the assemble jig shown below.
I call this my "assembly jig" because it has one perfectly square right angle and the sides are slightly elevated off the base so that any dust or small wood chips that I get on the assembly jig, slide under the edges which means my pieces for assembly are always square and even, and the bases of the wood I put together are always flat and even, no matter what I am putting together.
My assembly jig also has a couple of toggle clamps that are quickly and easily taken off with 4 screws ... I slotted the base of the toggle clamps, that way I can use them on other jigs and I don't have to invest in toggle clamps for every jig I make. This assembly jig is a must have for every shop that is making smaller, square projects, not matter how they are attached or joined.
It took me a while to understand the best ways of cutting my pocket-holes, then after a couple of failures, I realized that ... when possible, it is best to cut the holes in the long grain because it makes a stronger joint. As you can see int he picture above, when you cut the holes in the cross wood, there is very little wood that is holding the screws in, and depending on the wood and the location of the pocket holes, you can result in a weaker joint.
Like all things in woodworking ... there are exceptions and one of the exceptions for cutting cross grain pocket-holes is when you are using them instead of bar clamps for gluing boards together. But remember too, you always want to remove the screws from the boards after they are glued up ... learned this the hard way by inadvertently cutting into pocket-hole screw with my table saw blade, and yes, it chipped the blade ... which means I can never trust that blade because I don't know if any of the other teeth are cracked and will fly off during another cut ... so that blade is now trash, it's just not worth the risk of injury.
And that is just a few of the pocket-hole short cuts and tips I have learned over the years ...
Copyright - Colin Knecht