Whats with the hatred on pocket holes? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 05-23-2014, 10:48 PM Thread Starter
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Whats with the hatred on pocket holes?

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!
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post #2 of 25 Old 05-23-2014, 11:03 PM
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It is what it is. I like them. I won't make traditional furniture with them, but anything I'm trying to product pretty quick I'll use them. Mostly they are just clamps until the glue dries anyway.

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post #3 of 25 Old 05-23-2014, 11:08 PM
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There are 2 schools of thought about 2 different methods of joinery

The pocket hole screws AND biscuit joiner plates.

Each has it's place and application.
For Fine Furniture they have no place in the traditional methods of joinery. For all other applications it's a toss up. As far a biscuits go, there are slight variations in the slots, thickness of the plates, and there is the possibility they may swell and create bumps in the top surface. A properly jointed board mated to another properly jointed board does not benefit from biscuit joinery since the glue is stronger than the surrounding wood.
For the record, I have used biscuits minimally, and with limited success. I have never used pocket screws, BUT I have serious woodworker friends who have used them mainly for face frames.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 05-24-2014 at 12:31 AM.
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post #4 of 25 Old 05-23-2014, 11:19 PM
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I like pocket holes and use them whenever feasible. They're fast strong and easy to use.
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post #5 of 25 Old 05-23-2014, 11:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
The pocket hole screws AND biscuit joiner plates.

Each has it's place and application.
For Fine Furniture they have no place in the traditional methods of joinery. For all other applications it's a toss up. As far a biscuits go, there are slight variations in the slots, thickness of the plates, and there is the possibility they may swell and create bumps in the top surface. A properly jointed board mated to another properly jointed board does not benefit from biscuit joinery since the glue is stronger than the surrounding wood.
For the record, I have used biscuits minimally, and with limited success. I have never used pocket screws, BUT I have serious woodworker friends who have used them mainly for face frames.
Mostly use biscuits for miters. They work fantastic for aligning the points. I don't put glue in the slots, takes to much time, even with an applicator. Strictly for alignment.

Whenever you use a water based glue you need to let the glue dry for 3 days so the water comes out of the wood. Then you can sand and not worry about movement, bumps or creep. Works well on long builds, sucks on short or small builds.

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post #6 of 25 Old 05-23-2014, 11:48 PM
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It's not so much the pocket screws but the fact that a lot of folks use them where they shouldn't. You see those that glue up wood for a table top with the screws as well as put together cabinet doors with them. To me the pocket screws should only be used somewhere that don't show like the faceframe on a cabinet.
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post #7 of 25 Old 05-24-2014, 02:41 AM Thread Starter
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I agree with most of these points. On one hand, the do seem convenient, but on the other, i dont think ANY method of joinery should really be showed when avoidable. 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 bood 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?
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post #8 of 25 Old 05-24-2014, 08:12 AM
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For the few months you've been a member, you no doubt have read many posts about pocket screws. So your words to "flame on" seem intended to just stir the pot. There's also the difference pointed out to "traditional joinery".

You may take exception to doing the "traditional joints" as they may be difficult and seem time consuming for you. There are many different ways to fabricate with wood. To some it's the skill and craftsmanship in doing the work.

My opinions have been stated several times in different posts. I will qualify my opinion by saying I have used pocket screws and biscuits probably as much as any member voicing their opinion. I call them "junk joinery", which seems to irritate those that like them. When starting in the trade, all my work was "traditional" in nature. Pocket screws and biscuits weren't used professionally as far as I knew. Of course, when the word got out there's a fast easy method, they had to be tried.

What I don't like about their use is the same as all the complaints from those that use them and wind up posting a thread asking for help on what to do, or how to fix the problem.






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post #9 of 25 Old 05-24-2014, 08:55 AM
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Since you asked....

Quote:
Originally Posted by epicfail48 View Post
I agree with most of these points. On one hand, the do seem convenient, but on the other, i dont think ANY method of joinery should really be showed when avoidable. 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 bood 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?

It's about keeping the methods pure and within the tradition of the style. I have made a Mission Style headboard and quilt track and posted in my album using only Mortise and Tenons, no metallic fasteners. Fine furniture in the English styles have always used the joinery as the structure ... Chippendale, Queen Anne etc. no metallic fasteners. If you want a real eye opener look at Japanese Joinery methods.

Today's culture is all about get it done quickly by what ever means, partly some because production manufacturing methods have transferred over to home, hobby and professional woodworking, for example the Kreg jigs and Festool's Domino splines. For those who want to stay within the style and tradition, we use traditional methods of joinery.

Another example is Timber Framing, a traditional method used to build structures for hundreds of years in Europe, Japan, and in the USA, even to this day. Some of these have become "modernized" by the use of steel backing plates, long bolts through the laps and splines. You can debate whether that's acceptable, but if you want it done faster, that's what you do. It may even be stronger in some cases. It's not right or wrong, just what is preferred or most economical, the same as in cabinetry or furniture making in the shop.

I have not hand cut dovetails and have no desire to do so. I am not that much of a handtool purist and don't feel I have the skill or patience for that. Box joints are easy to make with jigs on the router table and table saw, so I have used them. The use of power tools has been a huge influence in woodworking, but I am not wedded to any one method of creating the joinery I feel is appropriate. I have a Powermatic Chisel Mortiser, and I used a router mortising jig to remove the waste in my Mission headboards and quilt racks. I also chiseled out the corners using a dedicated mortise chisel.

just my .02$

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 05-24-2014 at 09:05 AM.
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post #10 of 25 Old 05-24-2014, 09:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by epicfail48 View Post
Dovetails are a bood 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?

Box joints are traditional joinery. Not junk joinery...

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OH, wait a minute ............Yep!.............That's what he said!

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post #11 of 25 Old 05-24-2014, 11:09 AM
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HTML Code:
  I have made a Mission Style headboard
Is that for the Missionary position?
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post #12 of 25 Old 05-24-2014, 12:31 PM
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Nope

Quote:
Originally Posted by johnep34 View Post
HTML Code:
  I have made a Mission Style headboard
Is that for the Missionary position?
johnep
That position has been filled by a secret agent whose name and location is unknown.....

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #13 of 25 Old 05-24-2014, 12:56 PM
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Pocket screws are as much a part of traditional joinery as any other method, it just happened that Kreg made a jig to make them effortlessly and now they are used in place of some of the traditional methods, often not to their best advantage.

Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something -Plato

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post #14 of 25 Old 05-24-2014, 11:04 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cabinetman View Post
For the few months you've been a member, you no doubt have read many posts about pocket screws. So your words to "flame on" seem intended to just stir the pot. There's also the difference pointed out to "traditional joinery".

You may take exception to doing the "traditional joints" as they may be difficult and seem time consuming for you. There are many different ways to fabricate with wood. To some it's the skill and craftsmanship in doing the work.

My opinions have been stated several times in different posts. I will qualify my opinion by saying I have used pocket screws and biscuits probably as much as any member voicing their opinion. I call them "junk joinery", which seems to irritate those that like them. When starting in the trade, all my work was "traditional" in nature. Pocket screws and biscuits weren't used professionally as far as I knew. Of course, when the word got out there's a fast easy method, they had to be tried.

What I don't like about their use is the same as all the complaints from those that use them and wind up posting a thread asking for help on what to do, or how to fix the problem.



[FONT=&quot][CENTER]


.
Ive read many posts that mention pocket holes, though as i could find i couldnt find a previous thread that answered my question quite so succinctly: What are the arguments for and against pocket holes. The "flame on" was just a casual joke meant to make people laugh, i do apologize if i caused you any offense.

I personally have no disdain for classical joinery methods, quite the opposite. I have the utmost respect for the few craftsman that still take the time to join the corners on their projects with tight-fitting dovetails and finish it with a finely done french polish. The only thing i take offense to is what i call "elitists", people who are adamant that the ONLY way to do a project is one particular way that takes decades to master and is deemed crap if it doesnt look mount-olympus levels of perfection. This behavior, i feel, does a lot to drive casual woodworkers away from the craft and away from communities because, well, its offensive.

Again, i apologize if anything i have said offends anybody. Its not directed at anyone and i just wanted to bring up what i thought was an interesting topic of discussion. Personally, i see pocketholes as a cheap and effective way for an amature woodworker to get a project put together, and in doing so get a toehold into a rather nuanced craft.

My respect to all the hand-cut-dovetails-with-a-sharp-rock-and-a-pointy-stick-crowd-whose-projects-still-look-better-than-anything-i-could-dream-of-doing. You guys are fantastic and i have nothing but respect for you guys, rock on
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post #15 of 25 Old 05-24-2014, 11:58 PM
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I, like others have used every type of joinery. For furniture pieces I like to go traditional mortise and tenon. For my radiator cover business I moved to an air driven kreg pocket hole machine. Biscuits are still used in a lot of my casing corners and just a couple days ago I bought the Festool Domino system for times where a loose tenon method is needed as a cost saving alternative. It is a market driven judgement call to what I use sometimes and I have to stay competitive. Where possible I give the client a choice in joinery method but with any method, its the knowledge of the tool and the craft that makes a good joint. I wont fault anyone for the choice of joinery that they prefer as long as the product they make is done to the best level of their skill and that they have fun doing it.
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post #16 of 25 Old 05-25-2014, 11:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by epicfail48 View Post
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.

Quote:
Originally Posted by epicfail48 View Post
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.
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post #17 of 25 Old 05-28-2014, 02:59 PM
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I think sometimes its about the journey, not the destination. Sometimes its ONLY about the destination.

This is a hobby for me, My limitation is often space and money rather than time... so speeding the production process is often counterproductive. Rather I will go out of my way to make things complicated, if just for the opportunity to experience it and the challenge of doing it. It may even be to the detriment of the finished product.

Other times... such as the fence Im about to build... I will be using kreg to make pocket screws into my rails, because it makes sense, its quick, its easy, and its the cleanest way to do it.
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post #18 of 25 Old 05-28-2014, 06:20 PM
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I use them for shop projects and that's about it. They have no place in furniture in my eyes. It's just a butt joint with a couple of screws mixed in so it will never be as strong.

And amckenzie, box joints are stronger than dovetail joints. Finger joints are the strongest of all, actually due to the glue surface area. Several magazine tests have confirmed this.
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post #19 of 25 Old 05-28-2014, 08:33 PM
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Alright, I'll put my $ .02 in, why not? I do not use pocket screws because I do not need to. Nor do I want to invest in a tool to do a method of fastening that I neither need to do, nor want to do. One of the draws for my business is that I do a lot of traditional joinery. It actually did not take decades to get good at some of them. And most of my dovetails, I use a dovetail jig and I can cut the dovetails for a drawer in 10 minutes. I will cut them by hand when needed or requested, but anyone who claims they can cut them by hand faster than with a jig and router is greatly exaggerating, in my opinion. (There have been a few on this forum) I use screws in some contexts, nails in other contexts, joinery in still others. I am not a hater on pocket screws, nor would I criticize someone for using them, generally. I will admit, however, that they don't appeal to me, but I cannot give a rational explanation as to why. Go figure.
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post #20 of 25 Old 05-28-2014, 08:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMartel View Post
I use them for shop projects and that's about it. They have no place in furniture in my eyes. It's just a butt joint with a couple of screws mixed in so it will never be as strong.

And amckenzie, box joints are stronger than dovetail joints. Finger joints are the strongest of all, actually due to the glue surface area. Several magazine tests have confirmed this.
Interesting! I was thinking in the long term: sooner or later the glue will fail, and if all you have holding things together is friction, that drawer is going to disintegrate when you pull on it. It's a good point, though, that at least in the short term box joints offer more glue surface, and therefore more strength.
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