What is a pocket hole joint: Benefits, Drawbacks, and How to

What is a pocket-hole joint?

A pocket-hole joint is an easy and efficient form of joinery that is commonly used in woodworking. This joinery requires special equipment to create, however, it is very easy for beginners to create and can be a very sturdy joint.

Below, I will explain what a pocket-hole joint is, the benefits and drawbacks of pocket-hole joints, how to create a pocket-hole joint, and tricks to make your joint stronger.


  1. Pocket-hole joint uses
  2. How good are pocket-hole joints?
  3. Pocket-hole joint benefits
  4. Pocket-hole joint drawbacks
  5. How-to create a pocket-hole joints?
  6. Pocket-hole joint tips and tricks

The pocket-hole joint

First, we will talk about what exactly is a pocket-hole joint. In woodworking, you have many joints and you may have an idea of what a typical joint is. However, if you are not familiar with the pocket-hole joint, then it may look slightly different from its counterparts.

The pocket-hole joint consists of a pocket hole screw securing the joint at an angle. These joints are typically better than butt joints because it held together by screws and not just wood glue.

These joints are also typically better than regular nail or screw joints because the screws are at an angle with pocket-hold joints. I am not an engineer and do not know all of the technical terminology, but the angled screws allow for a stronger hold in comparison to perpendicular screws.

How is a pocket-hole joint made

Pocket-hole screws are screwed into the wood at an angle with the help of a pocket-hole jig. The most popular jig is the Kreg jig set. You will use a pocket-hole drill bit and jig to create the hole. You will the use a pocket hole screw and screw bit to join the wood.

Purchase the Kreg Pockethole Jig: Amazon link

Pocket-hole joint uses

As you already know, the pocket-hole joint is a common form of joinery. It is common due to its versatility, ease of use, and efficiency.

The pocket-hole joint can be used in almost any type of wood. Pocket-hole joints can be used in hardwood, softwood, mdf board, and plywood. Pocket-hole joints are especially efficient with plywood because it is much more difficult to use traditional joinery methods.

Pocket-holes and plywood

Plywood is not solid wood like hardwood and softwood. The inside of plywood contains layers of solid wood and wood particulates. These particulates are not ideal to work with when creating traditional joinery because it will easily chip off.

Plywood is popular due to common size of 4x8ft, its cheapness, and the ease of working with plywood. Pocket-hole joinery now allows for plywood to create very sturdy joints to be used on a variety of projects.

Pocket-holes and hardwood

Pocket-hole joints can be slightly more difficult to create in hardwood. This is because of the nature of hardwood. Certain forms of hardwood are very prone to splitting, thus causing drilling a screw at an angle to be more difficult.

However, it can be done. To prevent your pocket hole joints from splitting the wood you should drill a smaller pilot hole first and drill at a lower speed. Drilling at a lower speed is normally enough to prevent splitting of most wood types. You may, however, need to drill a smaller pilot hole and it at a lower speed for those hardwood types that are prone to splitting.

Hardwood types that are extremely prone to splitting may have to be used with other joinery types.

Read On

Below, I will explain how good are pocket-hole joints and how they compare to other joinery methods. Then I will discuss the benefits and drawbacks with pocket-hole joints and how to create one. At the end I will go show you a secret on how to create extremally strong pocket hole joinery.

How good are pocket-hole joints?

Pocket hole joints can be a very sturdy joint. However, the strength of the pocket-hole joint largely depends on the woodworker skills, the wood grain, screw location, wood type, and if glue was used.

The woodworkers skills affect the strength of pocket-hole joints because they are so beginner friendly. Amateur woodworkers may not create the best joints due to their inexperience.

You will also want to have adequate spacing, not too close or to far apart, between your screws. You will also not want to have screws to close or far away from the edges of the wood. The key is within half an inch from the edge.

Wood glue is not necessary for pocket-hole joints, but it will make your joint much stronger.

The Test Results

There are many tests that prove different results on how pocket-hole joints compare to other joinery methods. The main thing that you need to consider is that a pocket-hole joint can be a very strong joint. To learn more on how to create very strong pocket-hole joints, then you should check out my article here.

My opinion

I know those test results may not have been the most helpful. This is the result that I came up with based on my own experience and research.

Pocket-hole joints will support most woodworking projects including bed frames, lemonade stands, and dog houses. Pocket-hole joints have supported every project that I have used it on. I created bed frames, dressers, and a lemonade stand.

I have found that pocket-holes do not do well with rotational force. A dresser drawer that is being opened and closed may have more force applied to one side of the dresser compared to the other. This uneven force is not strongly upheld by pocket hole joints. There are ways to limit rotational force like by securing a back plate.

Two well joined pocket hole screws can hold a minimum average of 300 lbs. I consider a well joined pocket-hole joint as one is created by a screw that is not too long or short, uses wood glue, and creates a tight joint.

I gathered this information through research of strength tests on YouTube. This minimum weight will be affected by the factors I mentioned above. The type of wood and screw location.

Pocket-hole joint benefits

This section will largely be a summary of the benefits mentioned above sections in addition to other specific benefits that were not mentioned. The pocket-hole joint is a very strong, beginner friendly, and quick to create form of joinery.

  1. Very sturdy
    • The pocket-hole joint can be a very sturdy joint. If you use wood glue, the correct screw size, and correct spacing then the pocket-hole joint will be a very sturdy joint that can be used for most woodworking projects.
  2. Beginner friendly
    1. The pocket-hole joint is very beginner friendly. This joinery does not require much of the more advanced joinery techniques as the other traditional joinery methods
  3. Efficient
    1. The pocket-hole joint is one of the quickest joints to make
  4. Versatile
    1. The pocket-hole joint can be used on various wood types including plywood and MDF board. Plywood and MDF board is very difficult to join using traditional joinery methods due to its particulate wood.

Pocket-hole joint drawbacks

While there are many benefits to pocket-hole joints like versatility and sturdiness, there are also some drawbacks to creating pocket-hole joints

  1. The holes are visible
    • One drawback to pocket-hole joints is that the holes are visible. This may not be an issue where the joints are not visible but it will look tacky on the outside of projects.
    • You can cover the holes by using pocket-hole plugs or wood filler. However, if you do not paint or stain the wood, the pocket hole plugs and wood filler will still be visible.
  2. An amateur joint
    • Since the pocket hole joint is so easy to create, it can be seen as an amateur joint. While this normally isn’t a problem, it can decrease the value of your workpiece if you want to start your own business.
  3. Poor rotational force hold
    • The pocket-hole joint does not have a great rotational force hold. You would probably want to use another joinery method if you want to create a piece that will be susceptible to rotational force.
  4. Can split wood
    • Creating pocket-hole joints can split the wood. You can decrease your chances of this by drilling at a lower speed. However, certain forms of hardwood that are prone to splitting may not be ideal with this joinery method.

How-to create a pocket-hole joints?

To create pocket-hole joints, you will need a pencil, pocket-hole jig, drill, pocket-hole screws, and wood glue.

  1. Mark your screw locations
  2. Set up pocket-hole jig
  3. Clamp jig to wood
  4. Drill pocket-hole drill bit into jig
  5. Unclamp and check the wood
  6. Apply wood glue
  7. Clamp and screw pocket-hole screw
  1. Mark your screw locations
    • First you will want to mark your screw locations. You will want to ensure accurate spacing by following the instructions on the jig.
  2. Set up pocket-hole jig
    • Next, you will set up your pocket hole jig. On the jig, you will want to adjust the tab so that it matches the wood thickness. You will then adjust the drill bit according to the wood thickness and choose the screws of the correct length.
  3. Clamp jig to wood
    • Now since everything is set up, we can clamp the jig to the wood. You will push the jig back until the tab is touching the wood.
    • The tab location will determine how far back or close up the screw will be to the end of the wood. That is why it is important to ensure that you set up the jig according to the wood thickness.
  4. Drill pocket-hole drill bit into jig
    • Now you will attach the pocket-hole drill bit to your drill. You will then drill into the pocket hole jig until the metal plate of the drill bit touches the opening of the jig.
  5. Unclamp and check the wood
    • Now it is time to unclamp the jig and check the wood. You want there to be thin but not to thin piece of wood at the end of the wood.
    • A too thin piece of wood can result in the wood cracking and splitting over time. A too thick piece of wood can result in the screw not being long enough to penetrate the other wood piece.
  6. Apply wood glue
    • Now you will apply wood glue to the butt of the wood piece that you drilled holes into.
  7. Clamp and screw pocket-hole screw
    • Now its time to clamp the pieces together and screw the wood pieces to secure the joint.
    • Warning: many people do not use clamps when screwing pocket hole screws. I recommend against this because joint commonly shifts slightly thus throwing off your measurements.

Pocket-hole joint tips and tricks

The key to creating a very sturdy joint is to use wood glue and to consider the pocket-hole screw spacing and orientation.

  1. Use wood glue
    • Wood glue inevitably makes the joint stronger. Moreover, wood glue orientation is very important and often overlooked.
  2. Create pocket holes on both sides of the wood
    • As mentioned earlier, the angled screws are what makes the pocket-hole joint so strong. However, having angled screws in both directions will make the pocket hole joint SO MUCH STRONGER.
    • A way to do this is to drill pocket hole joints in both sides of the wood. If you have an odd number of pocket holes then you will want to alternate the screws. For example, if you have 5 pocket hole screws then you will want screw 1,3 and 5 to be on one side of the wood and screws 2 and 4 to be on the other side.

Drilling screws on both sides of the wood will provide so much more strength on both sides of the joint, downward and upward force.


In this article, we discussed what pocket hole joints are and how they work. Additionally, We went over how to create a pocket hole joint and how to make stronger pocket holes.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article and I wish you luck on your woodworking journeys!


My name is Rachel Blanding and I am a woodworker. I started woodworking at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. I mainly create and refurbish furniture and create art. In this site I will share with you the knowledge I have gained over the years, and what worked for me and what didn't.

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