Capabilities of a Pocket Hole Machine

      When drilling a screw hole in a stile, how close to the edge can you get? May 10, 2005

Question
I am thinking of buying a pocket hole machine. If I drill a screw hole close to the edge of a stile, how close can I go, and will it split the stile? When screwing them together, do they screw flush or slip to make the two surfaces uneven so they need to be sanded flush?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
I've gone as narrow as 1 1/4" rail/stiles and drilled two pocket holes in the ends. This puts the holes about 1/4" from the edge. The splitting issue only comes up if your machine setup is incorrect. The pocket hole should drill right to the end of the piece without protruding through the end. This leaves a pilot hole to within 1/16" from the end which will eliminate the split.

As far as the pieces being flush... you will need to clamp them somehow while screwing them together, either with a face clamp (which is just an adjustable vise grip type with a large pad on one end) or with a clamping table, which I highly recommend if you are doing many face frames.



Cut the pocket holes in the rails, running with the grain. They will screw into the stiles. The screw that is closest to the end of the stile will sometimes split it. You can pre-drill that stile, or just drop back to a little shorter, fine thread pocket screw for places prone to split.


Make sure you clamp facing prior to fastening with pocket screws. This assures a flush fit.


Set the driver torque properly and use good screws to minimize splitting. Over torque can cause the rails to split.


We have had a Porter Cable Pocket Borer for six years in a six man cabinet shop. I changed the pocket bit to 1/4 inch. It allows us to get more pocket screws in a confined space, the bits and routers last longer, and there is more wood remaining. The only drawback is you have to use a pocket screw with a 1/4" head. To prevent splitting and misalignment, we clamp the two components to a flat surface with welding clamps. If the clamp is placed where the screw will enter, there is no way it can split.

Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?


Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Cabinetmaking

  • KnowledgeBase: Cabinetmaking: Custom Cabinet Construction

  • KnowledgeBase: Cabinetmaking: Cabinet Door Construction

  • KnowledgeBase: Cabinetmaking: General

  • KnowledgeBase: Woodworking Miscellaneous

  • KnowledgeBase: Woodworking Miscellaneous: Woodworking


    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.



    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2014 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB











  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers


      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article