Read this post a few days ago (http://groups.google.com/group /
q=kreg+pocket+screws&lnk=ol&), now I'm putting together face frames
and want to give feedback and ask for tips.
I'm using 3/4" cherry on rails and stiles. Drilling the pockets in
the rails. The torque on my drill is very low (at 4 of 20 setting.)
I'm using Kreg 1 1/4" fine tooth screws. I'm having two issues:
1: If I don't pre-drill 1/8" holes in my stiles to accept the pocket
screw, the stiles will split almost everytime at the ends.
2: When I pre-drill, I think my angle has been a lilttle off which
results in the faces mis-aligning. This will lead to much more
planing/sanding to even them up. Should I clamp both pieces down
I always clamp the two pieces together when installing pocket
screws. I have never found a system that will keep them flush
if I don't. And sometimes they will still move a little,
especially with predrilled holes.
Are you using the face clamp and the 90 degree clamp? I've used mine
to put together dozens of face frames, most of them cherry and have
never had a stile split, with a torque setting of 8 on a 19.2V driver.
And never had any misalignment, without any predrilling. Predrilling
the holes, not only not necessary, can cause problems.
I'm truly surprised, with a .125" pilot hole that you are getting
enough bite on the screw to slip the torque clutch much less to cause
a split. Major diameter on the thread is only .156"
Make sure that the drill collar is set to the correct depth. The pilot hole
should be just shy of fully penetrating the end of the rail. Pilot holes
are not necessary in the mating piece.
CLAMP the two pieces together with the Kreg clamp. Center the wide side of
the clamp over the pocket hole side joint line.
I cannot say that I have ever had a splitting problem unless the screw was
less than 1/8" from the end of the wood. If your rails and stiles are 3/4"
wide, this may be a problem with the larger screws. You may want to make
certain that you are using a #7 or smaller diameter screw.
Can you post a picture of the problem?
My stiles and rails are 1.5" wide (and 3/4" thick)
I initially put the stile and rail in a 90" clamp, but got the split
issue. Now I'm face clamping the stile to the table and another face
clamp on the rail. The two pieces separate while driving the screw
before they pull together. Maybe I'm driving them too slowly? I
might be a bit gun shy now that I split 3 stiles.
I was using some of the Irwin quick clamps - but have a Kreg Bench
Clamp that might have more holding power. Funny - the picture in this
link shows what I could do -- is this a hint!! (http://
Is this the Kreg clamp that you use? Kreg Face Clamp (http://
Tonight I'll double check my drill bit stop to insure correct depth.
Snap a few pics of what I am trying. I'll also try a few different
techniques of driving speed, drill torque and clamping techniques.
Thanks for the tips - I'll work on my technique now that I hear that
others do not need pilot holes. I agree that pilot holes are not the
best scenario. I worried about holding power too, so I also glued the
rail and style together.
That's the one I use. With that and the 90 degree clamp I've never
had a split or a misalignment. See the link.
Although I like irwin quick clamps for a lot of things, they are prone
to slip and it is hard to get them perfectly aligned for something
like pocket hole work. The clamps you've shown and the 90 degree will
do the job. It will make a world of difference.
That should not be a problem unless the screw is too close to the end of the
stile. If the screw is a good 1/4" from the end you should have no
The 90 degree clamp may be the problem. It is not unusual for the pieces to
slightly seperate when driving the screw and using the Kreg clamp. If your
clamps do not clamp the pieces tightly together and there is by chance a gap
at the joint that cannot be easily pulled shut by the screw you may split
the mating piece. It is important that the joint can be pulled closed by
the screw. The common Kreg clamp typically will allow some slight slippage
and it's function is more to keep the bottom faces of the rails and stiles
on the same plane. Let the screws pull the joint tight. Do not clamp so
tight that the screws cannot pull the joint closed if there is a gap.
The Kreg bench clamp is very useful and IMHO is better than the single hand
clamp. If you will notice, even the bench clamp will allow some slight
movement but absolutely keeps the opposite surfaces on the same plane. When
driving the screw you may still see some slight seperation when the screw
penetrates the mating piece however the gap will close when the screw
tightens. If the pieces cannot move you stand the chance of splitting the
I use this one also but more often use the above clamp.
The screws by themselves make a strong joint and especially when joining
edge grain to edge grain however unless you plan to disassemble the joint I
would always recommend adding glue tot he mix.
Try drilling your pocket holes near the inside of the rails so they
sit further back from the end of your stiles. I pretty much use only
coarse thread screws b/c the washer head is larger and they don't pull
through the pocket as much. Also, it *seems* that I have more success
(less splitting) when I set the clutch and drive them in as fast as I
can spin them. Maybe it drills out the hole better or something. And
definitely, definitely follow the clamping tips that others have
Or you can just go buy a Domino.
Among the other responses, be aware that proper stock selection can also
play a role in mitigating splitting.
Go through your stockpile and try to pick stock that is less flat sawn for
your stile stock. IOW, pick those pieces that have more vertical grain and
you will hopefully see a reduction in splitting.
I purposely do this when buying a load of stock destined for face frames,
and still have the occasional split. ... it comes with the territory, and
how well you recover is the key, so don't necessarily give up on the ones
that are split. If you haven't already done so, you may be surprised at how
many FF's can be rescued when repaired, in situ, with yellow glue and good
Everyone - thanks for the great info. I took some pics, but can't get
them off the camera yet - forgot the wire to pull them off my memory
I've had much better luck following some of the advice. This was my
1: Glued both pieces
2: I used the Kreg Bench clamp to pretty strongly clamp down the two
pieces. I clamped the rail and stile with about half the clamp on
both pieces. I think this clamp was better than a few Irwin quick
clamps because the clamping pressure was delivered directly over the
pocket screw area. The stile was clamped several inches away from the
pocket screw area with the multiple Irwin clamp approach.
3: I set my (18 volt) drill to a torque setting of 8.
4: I drilled the screw in at full speed, stopping when the torque
clutch started clicking
Last night I had no stiles split using this process! I think the
combo of the clamping pressure not on the stile above the pocket screw
and slower driving of the screw caused the issue.
The cherry stock I'm using is a combo of some tight grain and flatter
grain. I created pocket screws on both types of grains, but agree
that a tighter grain will probably hold better because the splitting
lifted the face opposed to breaking off the end grain.
The end result was the faces aligned closer than before, but I still
have a little work to smooth out the joints.
I still think pocket screws are the best way to join these pieces. I
love the fact that the screw pulls together the joint so I don't have
to wait for the glue to dry before moving to the next joints.
Wouldn't the Domino require some drying and clamping?
I'll get those pics posted ASAP - I need to fing that dang cable.
Thanks for all the comments! A big help!
Because I do so many FF's, I use Kreg's big steel clamping plate inlaid in a
flat piece of ply. This is possibly the best investment to insure that you
don't have a lot of that kind of cleanup work to do, but most would likely
need to do enough on a regular basis to justify the expenditure, although
it's not that much considering the time it saves.
Actually, gluing the end grain of the rails to the stiles probably doesn't
give you much bang for the buck gluewise. Depending upon how you apply your
FF to the cabinet casework, you may be better off not bothering to glue.
If your FF is going to be glued to the casework, and particularly if there
are grooves involved, in most cases I wouldn't bother with glue.
I've got pocket hole joints on jigs that have have seen a lot of abuse that
were not glued and they're still strong years later.
The Domino is "loose/floating" tenon joinery and will absolutely require
high standards of glue-up to work at all.
The difference was the clamping pressure. A tight clamp has always
been best with my pocket screws. It seems like the clamping pressure
doesn't allow the rail to split. In the pics you can see that I
routed a 1/8th inch rabbit to help align the face frame to the cabinet
box. In one case I needed to have the rabbit on the inside of the
face frame which meant the clamp wasn't providing the pressure. That
Half way done with the face frames! Thanks for the help. Hope these
pics help someone else.
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