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  • Face frames and pocket screws

    Hi,

    I have made a couple of face frames to go on cabinets and screwed the joints together using pocket screws from the back. I have a problem with keeping the frame members flush & aligned when I drive the screw in. The one edge wants to offset from the other. The glue seems to act as a lubricant and the edges just slide.

    I clamp the frame down (both members) to the bench, but it still moves on me. It there something I need to be doing? Am I tighten it too tight? Maybe the screw I'm using is mismatched with the hole size?

    Sharing any ideas or experience would be appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Frank

  • #2
    Re: Face frames and pocket screws

    I had that problem at first using the kregg pocket hole jig. It has a lot to do with the drill depth. Make sure the tip of the drill exits the end of the piece you are putting the pockets in. Also use the pocket jig clamp to clamp the pieces flush when driving the screws.
    SSG, U.S. Army
    Retired
    K.I.S.S., R.T.F.M.

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    • #3
      Re: Face frames and pocket screws

      Are you using a kreg jig?

      and I use the glorified vice grips with the pad on them to hold the frame and hardly ever have a problem. and have built many many things with the pocket screws. using the kreg jig, http://www.kregtool.com/products/pht...p?PRODUCT_ID=8 I have made a few extra clamps with off brand vice grips, and welding on some pads, and they work as well as the kreg units, and saved some money doing that, I have enough clamps I can clamp assemble an entire cabinet face frame usually unless it unusually large and complicated.


      I had another one off brand piece of junk, first (jig) and it was a joke and all most avoided the system with the mess that thing made.

      my kreg jig is the older all metal unit.
      Attached Files
      Last edited by BHD; 11-06-2007, 11:32 AM.
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      • #4
        Re: Face frames and pocket screws

        I just clamp mine down to bench.Sometimes they move away a bit when its real hardwood (jatoba,oak) but the screw hits the piece where its supposed to and sucks it back in.

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        • #5
          Re: Face frames and pocket screws

          First pre-drill and pre-drive a couple of the screws (then back them out) before applying glue, because as you found, the glue is a lubricant.When you reattached the face frames post glue up the pre-drilling will help align and hold.

          You do need to clamp the heck out of the frame to keep it from moving shifting slightly when your screw contacts the second workpiece.

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          • #6
            Re: Face frames and pocket screws

            Great tip, Wood junkie, thanks!

            Good question, too!!
            I put it all back together better than before. There\'s lots of leftover parts.

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            • #7
              Re: Face frames and pocket screws

              Wood Junkie's solution certainly works, but it's just as easy to get some of those inexpensive spring clamps and clamp the piece across the joint to hold it in alignment while you drive your screws.

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              • #8
                Re: Face frames and pocket screws

                I tried a jig similar to the Kreg some years ago. I had NO luck making it work correctly. I kept breaking off the pilot bit. I then bought a high dollar bit with a replaceable/adjustable pilot bit and it broke too. I ended up buying the benchtop Porter Cable pocket hole machine. Granted it's not 40 bucks but if you do a lot of pocket holes, it's a great tool and usually under 600 bucks.

                I made a clamp for my frames using an "over center" type clamp with a few mods. I mounted it to a piece of wood and covered the base and clamping piece with 80 grit sand paper (the blue stuff on the pictures) so it would not slip. Now I can fly around a face frame in no time getting perfectly flush joints. Sand paper gets replaced occasionally too. I get some glue buildup on the paper but I clamp in a wet rag once in a while to soften the glue and then just peel it off. (i'm into cheap and functional!LOL)

                Mark





                For bigger pieces that my clamp won't span, I just come in from the INSIDE corner of the joint.

                Congratulations to Mr. "the sky is falling" Al Gore, nominated the new Village Idiot!

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                • #9
                  Re: Face frames and pocket screws

                  Thanks for the replies. It looks like the way to go is to clamp the snot out of it and pre-drill both pieces.

                  I think I have a toggle clamp to make a jig like The Wood Meister made.

                  Thanks

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                  • #10
                    Re: Face frames and pocket screws

                    W.M thanks for that money saving idea , i have a lot of those clamps. I changed to a flat sided drill bit instead of the beveled got mine from rockler but tyler,grizzly,amazon should have them . also the screws . the bugal /flat head screw made it shift.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Face frames and pocket screws

                      Nice little jig W.M. I'll have to put one together this weekend. Sanding those offset joints has always been a pain, it sounds like your solution should take care of things. Thanks!

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                      • #12
                        Re: Face frames and pocket screws

                        I don't have trouble as long as it's well clamped. I like the over center jig a lot - looks fast!

                        Keep in mind that wood glue (like Titebond) is pretty much useless on end grain. Since your face frame puts end grain against long grain, regular woodworker's glue may make you feel better but the joint strength is coming from the screws. Your joints won't miss the glue much if you skip it! Having said that, I use a bit of epoxy. I don't think it's great on end grain either, but maybe a little better. Epoxy likes a bit thicker glue line - about 0.005 inch. So I leave the screws not too tight, then drive 'em in harder the next day after the epoxy has hardened. Yup, it's a hassle and I'm far from sure that it's worth it.
                        Last edited by Andy_M; 11-27-2007, 12:01 AM.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Face frames and pocket screws

                          If you want a really strong joint, you can use a biscuit along with the pocket screws.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Face frames and pocket screws

                            A bit more on pocket screws.... I've used them a LOT in the past year or so. I also note on other forums (woodweb) that pocket screws are very popular with professional cabinet makers.

                            Mine will probably be the monority opinion, but I just don't like pocket screws all that well. The best feature of pocket screws is, they are fast. Contrary to a lot of what I've read, I don't find them to be very strong. I DO find that they are "strong enough" for a face frame once assembled to the cabinet. But if you build a large frame (say an 8 foot tall pantry cab or wall oven cab) and move it around the shop you have to be very careful or it will twist and pull the screws. Yeah, you can have trouble with M&T in this sort of case also and yes, I know that if one is careful there won't be problems, but still I feel that the pocket screws are just not nearly as strong as traditional joinery. The other problem I've had is that, especially in red oak, it is very very easy to overtighten and strip the screws (I use Kreg 1-1/4 long fine thread, which is what Kreg recommends). When this happens, I have to take the time to repair the hole and that eats into some of the time the pocket screws saved. After a couple of stripped screws I learned to set the clutch on my cordless driver drill to "3". That seems to not strip the screws but.... "3" is just not very tight. Having said all that, I have no problem using them for kitchen or bathroom cabinets but my own personal sense of "quality" has led me back to traditional methods for furniture. I fully acknowledge that pocket screws might be great and my feelings could be the result of user competence issues...

                            As a practical matter, as has been discussed earlier in this thread, keeping the joint flush is highly related to the clamping. The other thing that is very important is that your face frame stock needs to be pretty much all identical thickness. No problem if you plane your face frame stock before you start.

                            I just started looking into the "Dowelmax" jig. Lots of people don't like dowels but I think the result can be good. Check out the Dowelmax site. Their strength test results might surprise you. Only problem is that the jig is SOOOO expensive! Has anyone used this tool?

                            The other thing I've played with is cutting one dovetail for each stile-to-rail joint. I cut them so that you see the tail when looking at the face of the frame. Adds a little personal touch to the work.... not something you see everyday. I use a router table setup and it turns out that it's pretty fast, faster than you might think. In addition to a different look, the glued-up frames seem pretty strong and you can get them perfectly flush very easily. This works really well for cabinets with inset doors & drawers, because you can see the dovetail. With overlay doors, you have to be careful about the position of things because hiding some of the face frame dovetail behind the door looks funky.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Face frames and pocket screws

                              Run the screw through the pocket, clean any tear out from the drill, and total immobility of the pieces to be joined should yield success. I have also fooled with substituting Miller dowels for screws. Drill the pocket with the Kreg bit, remove the jig and follow up with the miller bit. It works, and it will never come apart. Not saying the Kreg screws will, but it is an interesting if not ugly solution, too. I just happen to think Miller dowels are totally cool.
                              Steve.

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