Second Clamp for Pocket Screw Joints

Second Clamp for Pocket Screw Joints

I’ve found that the round-pad quick clamps for holding pocket screw joints together don’t always keep the workpieces flush during assembly — and that can mean a lot of sanding to flatten them after you draw them tight. Here’s a simple fix: Install a second bar clamp laterally across the joint. With both a quick clamp and bar clamp in place, the parts won’t shift when you drive the pocket screws.

– Dan Martin
Galena, Ohio

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  • Dale Boyer

    I’ve found myself with a different problem: I’m making picture frames using pocket holes (plug them with a contrasting color for a decorative style), but have a lot of problems with the hardwood (walnut or purple heart) splitting. Everything I’ve ever been taught says to pre-drill hardwoods, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how because of the angle and limited space. Anyone have any recommendations?

    • Dennis McFarland

      when i have to drill pilot holes for pocket screws,i use a 6″ long 3/32 drill. even in some softwoods and mdf,pilotholes seem to give a better purchase.

    • gebo21

      I use the kreg jig and it’s respective bit with no troubles, however if you wanted the pilot portion of the bit deeper you could use a very long brad point bit after using the pilot as a guide

    • DAH20

      Yes Dale I too have on occasion had splitting occur on harder woods using the pocket holes, and have had good results using a longer drill bit to predrill the entry into the joining piece after drilling the pocket hole.I’ve never used the pocket holes as a decorative element , but I like it !

  • the krane

    Dale Boyer, you can purchase a long 1/8″ bit to drill a bit further, but be careful you don’t go too far as you may come out the other side. You have to clamp the pieces together when you pre-drill

  • OFBG

    Interesting…I would use the bar clamps first.

  • woscar

    I haven’t had trouble with splitting the wood when driving a screw into a pocket hole, but just had one joint shift tonight and will try Dan’s solution tomorrow. I have had a Kreg jig for so long I’ve forgotten the model number, but it was the 2nd or 3rd generation. I’ve always wondered why the bits never penetrate the bottom of the material. When a screw is driven through the wood where there’s no pilot hole, it raises a burr that prevents the joint from tightening completely. I’ve set the stop collar a bit deeper than shown, but then the point of the screw sometimes penetrates the 2nd piece. I’ve used an aviation (long) bit to bore through the pocketed piece, but I keep wondering if I’m doing something wrong, or is this just a shortcoming. Do they make a bit with a slightly longer pilot hole?

  • AlanS

    It is hard to get a perfectly flush face if the thickness of the rail and stile are slightly different- the pad clamp may not hold the thinner piece down firmly. Faceframe holddown clamps should use a “U” shaped pivoting head which can apply equal pressure to each side of the joint, not across it.

    • Roger Shafer

      Do you know of a clamp with a “U” shaped pivoting head ?

  • 1harpazo

    I used to clamp the wood to a flat surface using the Kreg clamp putting the larger circle pad on top. Almost always the joint would be uneven. Now I only clamp the two pieces of wood using the Kreg clamp with the smaller circle pad on top and making sure that both pads cover the joint. I’ve had much better success.

  • DAH20

    The secret for flat face frame joints for me has been to be sure the joining pieces are milled to exactly the same thickness and then to be sure I crank down a lot of pressure on those Kreg clamps ! I tried using cheaper clamps only to have them break on me when I cranked them down hard.