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What is a Pocket Screw?

B. Turner
B. Turner

A pocket screw is a special type of fastener used in cabinetmaking and other woodworking projects. It allows woodworkers to join two pieces of material without using visible fasteners. Instead, the pocket screw sits at a shallow angle within a hollow cut in the face of the wood. Using this technique, the head of the screw can be hidden from view for a cleaner finish, but is still accessible for future repairs or maintenance.

A special type of jig is required to install a pocket screw. The jig sits on the face of a wooden object, and is held in place using a built-in clamp. Installers insert a drill bit into holes set into the side of the jig, which guide the bit into the wood at an angle. Because of the angle of the drill, the bits create shallow, oblong pockets in the wood.

Man with a drill
Man with a drill

Pocket screws have small, flat heads and self-tapping tips. Once the first piece of wood has been drilled using the jig, the wood is placed against the second piece of material and held in place using a clamp. As the pocket screw is drilled into the pocket, it passes into the second piece of wood, joining the two objects together.

Many pocket screw jigs come with special extra-long drill bits that can be used to drive the screws. The angle of the screw often causes the drill to rub against the length of the wood, which can cause damage. To minimize this effect, a pocket screw should be used in conjunction with a bit extension tool that keeps the chuck of the drill away from the wood.

Using a pocket screw allows woodworkers to easily create flush joints in wood without the use of complicated tools or techniques. There is none of the long drying time typically associated with glue-based wood joining, and the pocket screw provides a secure, permanent hold between the two materials. These screws allow even novice woodworkers to successfully create professional-looking furniture or cabinets.

The jig used to install these screws creates an ugly hollow in the face of the wood. Fortunately, these holes can be filled using special plugs designed for this purpose. The plug is glued in place, and is available in a number of finishes to match different wood species. Woodworkers also need to buy the special guide jig used for cutting these holes, though this tool is often more affordable than the clamps and cutting tools needed for other joining methods.

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    • Man with a drill
      Man with a drill