My present question is just how the topic is phrased. Why do so many woodworkers hate pocket holes as a joinery method? Im not biased one way or the other seeing how ive never used them, but from the outside looking in i see a lot of people either love them for convenience or hate them for...
Well, i never see very many reasons for the hate. Anyway, flame war, BEGIN!
I'm pretty sure I'm going to get some nasty responses for this, but I think a little of it is an ego thing. In every hobby I've had there's disdain and dislike for people who do things "the easy way." The photographers get pissy at people who use "green box" mode (everything automatic) on their cameras. The RC folks get annoyed with those who buy ready-to-fly models instead of assembling themselves. The programmers hate people who use simple languages instead of whatever their favorite is. Partly it's that people feel offended that someone can do things faster than them, and so they call it "cheating." Pocket screws are quick and easy, so they must be a cheat of some kind.
That said, there are some legitimate concerns with pocket holes. I have some nice furniture that was made in the 1970s with pocket holes. All those joints are coming loose, and I'm probably not going to be able to fix them. I also have a low-end cabinet that was made in the early 1900s (probably pre-WW2), which was put together with glue, stopped and regular dados, and a few finishing nails. The joints are still rock solid, though it's been battered enough that the back comes loose sometimes (it's just nailed on). Short version, I'm not convinced that pocket holes will last as long as other joinery types. So part of the dislike comes from that. Maybe it's most of it... I'm not sure.
Woodnthings, you bring up an interesting point that i personally have a bit of contention with, "traditional methods". Now, i can understand that there are methods that simply work best and have stood the test of time, like a M&T joint, but to be honest i find most "traditional" things needlessly complicated for the things i usually seem done. Dovetails are a good example of this for me. Sure, the joint is strong and looks good, but a box joint takes a fraction of the time. Mind i i ask why you, personally, prefer the traditional methods?
First, about the dovetail/box joint strength issue... Dovetails are a little stronger, in one dimension. A box joint will pull apart side-to-side or front-to-back. That's fine on a box: stresses are going to be pretty even on it. On a drawer that's going to be loaded down, though, I'd be happier with a dovetail, knowing that while those drawers will fall apart with side-to-side pressure, pulling on the front just makes the joint tighter, even if the glue fails. In reality, that probably won't matter in my lifetime, but I like the little bit of overengineering there.
As to why I use them:
I prefer traditional methods because they're possible for me. Box joints are a nightmare to cut accurately without either a router table or a table saw, and I have neither. They're a traditional joint, but they seem to have gotten a lot more common as powered tools became prevalent.
I can cut dovetails easily with a handsaw and coping saw, and only have a little cleanup to do with a chisel. Box joints have to be a LOT more accurate, and perfectly vertical lines are a little harder to cut than sloped ones. I can cut a mortise with chisels, and a tenon with a hand saw.
Now... for me, that's partly choice and partly necessity. My heated shop is six feet by six. If I wanted a table saw, I wouldn't have space for anything else. My unheated shop is about 18'x10', half of an almost-two-car garage, so a table saw would use up an awful lot of it. That also doesn't have reliable electricity, so power tools are a challenge, but I have a bandsaw and drill press out there. So that's the necessity part. But I also enjoy the process of building "traditional" joints. I enjoy the process of cutting dovetails, or mortises, or whatever. I'm getting ready to start building a set of match planes so I can make my own tongue-and-groove joints for case backs, because I think it will be fun. So even if I had the space, a table saw or router table probably wouldn't get used much. That's the choice part.