Answers to 3 common pocket-hole questions

Question 1: Can you disassemble and reassemble pocket-hole joints?

The ability to put a joint together more than once is one of the great things about pocket-hole joinery. You can assemble and reassemble a pocket-hole joint multiple times.

That’s great for test-fitting assemblies, and for times when you want to disassemble a project to simplify finishing. The ability to disassemble and reassemble pocket-hole joints is also great when you want to build a project in your workspace, and then disassemble it to make it easier to move into its final location.

Here are a few tips to make it easier.

Don’t install all the screws

If you’re planning to take your project apart later, you may be able to just use enough Pocket-Hole Screws to “hold it together.” Then, you can drive the rest of the screws in during final assembly.

Don’t overdrive

Any time you drive the screw too forcefully, you can potentially strip the hole that the screw threads into. That’s especially true when you’re installing a screw for the second or third time. Be sure you have your drill clutch set correctly. During reassembly, you can back the clutch setting down pretty low because the screw will thread in easily. You can learn more about how your drill clutch works in this short video.

Use the screw tip as a guide

Getting everything lined up correctly can be one of the hardest parts of project assembly. But when you’re reassembling with pocket-hole screws, you can make it easier. Just drive the screw into the pocket hole so that the tip sticks out of that piece a little bit. Then, when you position the project part, the screw tip will fit into the hole it already made to make realignment easy.

Question 2: Can I really assemble pocket-hole joints without glue?

The simple answer to this question is yes. You can assemble pocket-hole joints without glue. We’ve always said that a joint made with Kreg Pocket-Hole Screws is so strong that glue is optional. That means you can use glue if you want, but it’s not necessary in order to create a strong, lasting joint. There are a few types of joints that can benefit from adding of glue in order to minimize wood movement.

Solid-wood panels

One time glue can be beneficial is when you’re joining solid wood boards together edge to edge to form a large panel, such as for a table top. That’s because boards expand and contract in width, and a bit in thickness, as humidity changes from season to season. This happens even after finish and paint are applied.

As the boards expand and contract, it can cause small gaps between the boards that you may see or feel. Though the screws will still hold the boards strongly together, these changes caused by natural wood movement can hurt the appearance of your project. By adding glue to these joints, you can bond the wood fibers together where the boards meet, which will prevent those gaps from forming.

Miter joints

Mitered corners, like you’d use when building a picture frame, can also benefit from glue. We talked about that in another article. You’ll find a link at the end of this article. Once again, seasonal wood movement is the reason. It can cause the miter joint, especially at the tips, to open up. Adding glue to a mitered pocket-hole joint can help prevent this.

If you’d like to learn more about choosing and using wood glue, check out this short video.

Outdoor projects

Projects that live outdoors face much harsher conditions. Humidity and temperature vary a lot more, and many projects get rained and snowed on. This all makes seasonal wood movement more extreme. Plus, water will find its way into the joints and accelerate deterioration of the wood. Using exterior wood glue in the pocket-hole joints of your outdoor projects will help seal them up, so the joints will stay tight and strong in harsh outdoor conditions.

Question 3: What’s better for projects—pocket holes on the inside or the outside?

This is a question a lot of people ask about building bookcases, cabinets, and other “box” projects. The simple answer is that either way works. Strength is really equal in both orientations, because the screw still enters the wood the same way, and is surrounded by wood in either orientation. The biggest determiner of where the pocket-hole should be located is still where they’ll be the least visible. Here are a few guidelines.

Inside for cases

On a bookcase or a display case, for example, the outside faces of the case are much more visible. So, it makes sense to put the pocket holes on the inside. Chances are the pocket holes will be hidden even more by whatever sits on the shelves.

Outside for cabinets

On a kitchen cabinet, though, the outside is usually hidden by adjacent cabinets or by a cover panel. So it makes more sense to put the pocket-holes on the outside, so that you won’t see them when you open the cabinet doors.

Outside for low-cost plywood

If you’re building with low-cost plywood, though, you’ll probably want to have the pocket holes on the outside facing in. That’s because low-cost plywood can have voids in the plies, or plies that are brittle or soft.

When you drive pocket-hole screws from the inside, the screw tip may actually break away those soft plies and push them out the edge of the plywood. With inexpensive plywood, if the pocket holes are on the outside, the pressure pushes in the opposite direction, and there’s more material to support the inner plies as the screw drives in.

Hopefully, the answers to these questions will help you be successful as you built projects with your Pocket-Hole Jig. You can find more answers to common questions in the frequently asked questions section of our website.