Pocket hole joinery

I guess I've always been the antithesis of the typical "early adopter." I always wait until the new computer operating system has been out there for a year before I decide to upgrade (or not ... passed on Vista). I never liked being the guinea pig, at least not on my own nickel. I waited several years before buying my first random orbit sander. I still have not swapped out my jointer and planer heads for the "new" spiral insert cutter heads. Most of my saw blades are not of the "anti-kickback" design. I do have some insert cutters for my shapers, but I still do my shop drawings and cut lists by hand.

With all of that in mind it should be no surprise that until a little over a year ago, I never used pocket screws to put anything together in my shop. But my son worked in a shop in L.A. for a while and he came back with a pocket hole jig in his toolbox. Evidently, they were used extensively in his previous work environment and he had become a big fan.

The first time he saw me getting ready to mortise a face frame, he said, "Why not just pocket screw it?" Of course, I was not interested is such shortcutting and proceeded to do it my way. But a few months later, we had a pretty good sized face frame job and it was on a shoestring budget. So when he again suggested using pocket screws, I figured it would not hurt "just this once." I told him that he would have to make the frames because I was not familiar enough with the jig or the technique. But when I saw how many frames he had ready to go by lunch time and how tight the joints were and how strong the whole thing seemed, I was suddenly taking this a bit more seriously.

Since that day, I have also become a big fan of pocket screw joinery. Maybe not for my best work but I have found a million applications for pocket screws that I would have previously spent hours on, milling joinery, gluing, clamping and ending up with a result no better, really, than what I was able to achieve in a few minutes using pocket screws. So I guess I must not be that old of a dog that I still can't learn a new trick, even if I am still ten years behind the times.


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