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Advice on pocket hole jig versus biscuit jointing

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Anonymous

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Hi this is my first post and i am a bit of a beginner. I am building a large bank of fitted shelves/cupboard probably out of MDF/Plywood depending on what i get the best deal on. I would like to try out joining with them with either a pocket hole jig or a biscuit jointer. I have a budget of £60 odd pounds but i don't know which way to go. Any advice appreciated
 

CYC

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The pocket holes jig from Trend is the one I have. It is really good and fast for assembling carcasses. It is more versatile than I first though. I really love it.
I think it will depend on how apparent the joints would be in your projects. Pocket holes are apparent where the biscuits aren't.
I also have the biscuit jointer and it's a very useful tool, although sometimes it can be frustrated because the fence can move a little on the cheaper tools (which would be your budget).

SO, it's all down to your project, as always.

I think the pocket jig is possibly a favourite for it's ease and speed of use :wink:
 
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Anonymous

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I thought that might be the case with cheaper biscuit jointer but i thought i might risk the lottery of ebay. The only thing that concerns me with pocket hole jigs is that you seem to use special screws.
 

CYC

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Indeed you DO need the special screws or it will not work. It's no more expensive or marginaly then the biscuits.
 

johnelliott

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Pocket screws are great in plywood, I use them all the time. Not so good for MDF, probably better to use biscuits. I presume that your budget doesn't include materials etc or you are going to have a problem
John
 
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Anonymous

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Hi Corset

Welcome to the forum

My only advice is don't buy a cheap biscuit jointer. I am no fan of expensive power tools (as many will testify :lol: ), but cheap biscuit jointers are usually awful in the extreme with terribly inaccurate fences.
I would say that if you have less than £100 to spend, then a pocket hole jig is the better bet.


However, I have never used pocket screws but know many members get on well with them and John Elliot makes a living constructing kitchens using them.
 

tx2man

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Hi Corset,

Welcome to the forum.

I...........have a cheap BJ ( Ferm £15.00 off ebay)
No it's not the best made tool in the world, but i've had it about
2 years and it's performed general duties very well, thus far.

I have the Trend PH Jig also, which is good, but i would say takes a
little longer to set up. I use both systems just as often.

I bought the BJ to try out the whole biscuit thing, without a large initial
outlay. If it goes up the spout ,or it can't do as i wish, then i
will buy a good quality one , but as of now, for 15 notes, it's fine.

TX
 

woodshavings

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Hi Corset,

I agree with TX - I also have a Ferm BJ, for about 3 years now, - as he says, its not the best built bj in the world but it does the business. I have had no problems with it but you must make sure the guide etc is set up correctly and tightened.

John
 
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Anonymous

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Thanks everybody.
i have all the MDF now so i think i might go for the jointer. You can never have too many toys. Might expand my budget to around £100 as i have just old some stuff on ebay.
 
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Anonymous

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If money is real tight you could go for a slotting router cutter designed for biscuits, I used this system until santa brought me a BJ a couple of years back. It's not as quick as the real thing and you do tend to get a faceful of dust if you're not careful but it's a cheap intro to using biscuits.

I have the trend pocket hole jig and yep they are brill joints for all sorts of projects.

cheers
Mitch
 

Shady

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2 aspects to this post:

1) Humour:
I...........have a cheap BJ
:lol: ROTFLMAO

2) Helpful comment: I too bought the ferm jointer (I refuse to use the phrase BJ in my comments....) because it was so cheap that I figured it was a pain free test case... I also bought the axminster pocket hole jig for a subsequent project.

If I were in your shoes, now I have played with both, I'd buy the biscuit jointer. Why?

Firstly, as you've noted, it leaves, if properly planned, 'invisible' joints. Pocket holes can be arranged to be hidden, but unless you plan to apply a sheet over them, will be visible somewhere.

Secondly, the comments about cheapo jointers' cheap fences are correct, but, IMHO, irrelevant for a hobby woodworker. If I had a production run, it would bug the hell out of me, but for the sort of volumes I do, I will set up the cut with test pieces first, and monitor each cut: the Ferm's fence has not been a limiting factor for me.

Thirdly, pocket hole jigs at this sort of price range seem to have 2 intrinsic problems: Firstly, there is 'creep' as you drive the screw. By this I mean that as a result of the angle at which you drive, there is an almost unavoidable tendency for the 2 workpieces to move slightly out of initial alignment as you drive the screw. I don't know if this occurs with the better jigs, but it has been a factor in all my playing with the axminster set up. Secondly, and something that I was not expecting at all, the jig is essentially aimed at stock that is 3/4" thick or greater - any less, and the geometry means that your screw breaks out the far side of the stock before it reaches the other piece it's 'aimed' at. I keep thinking there must be a simple 'spacer' type arrangement that will solve this, but I've not yet thought out one that'll work.

In summary, I quite deliberately used both methods when knocking together a set of workshop cabinets out of MDF, ply and chipboard, in order to assess them. If the piece I was making required absolute confidence in alignment, the ability to work with stuff less than 3/4" thick, and/or hidden fixings from both sides, then there's no question which I'd use. The only downside to the biscuits is that it is, realistically, a little slower, and you do need to make test cuts on identical thickness scrap to work out your shim/spacing issues. That said, I'm pleased that I've now got both tools in the shop. Neither is really about high end cabinetry, but both are an aid for 'quick and dirty' stuff, like shop cabinets, MDF kids' beds, etc, etc. HTH...
 

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Shady":1m9jb3r5 said:
Thirdly, pocket hole jigs at this sort of price range seem to have 2 intrinsic problems: Firstly, there is 'creep' as you drive the screw. By this I mean that as a result of the angle at which you drive, there is an almost unavoidable tendency for the 2 workpieces to move slightly out of initial alignment as you drive the screw. I don't know if this occurs with the better jigs, but it has been a factor in all my playing with the axminster set up.
This isn't the fault of the jig, just the fact that the screw hole is angled. It happens with Kregs, which is what I have. The way to avoid it is with cramps in all 3 planes, including a block which will prevent movement in line with the angle. Doing that is tedious amnd time consuming but will produce a joint which is more accurate than can be obtained with even the best biscuit jointer
Shady":1m9jb3r5 said:
Secondly, and something that I was not expecting at all, the jig is essentially aimed at stock that is 3/4" thick or greater - any less, and the geometry means that your screw breaks out the far side of the stock before it reaches the other piece it's 'aimed' at. I keep thinking there must be a simple 'spacer' type arrangement that will solve this, but I've not yet thought out one that'll work.
I frequently make drawers from 15mm birch ply with standard length pocket screws, the way to do it is to set the collar on the drill so that there's about 3mm space between the end of the drill and the base of the jig

Having said all that, if the stock is less than 15mm or it's not as strong as ply, then the biscuit jointer is the way to go

John
 

Shady

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John: delighted if you can help, but I don't understand your response about 'setting the collar on the drill': that, in my understanding, will affect the depth of the drill's penetration through the stock, but not it's effective position with respect to the centre line of the stock: once a screw is placed in that hole, it'll simply run out in line with the hole - which is still too far to one side if the stock is less than 3/4" thick...

I suspect I'm missing some basic point, but I'm buggered if I can see it... :?
 

johnelliott

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Shady":2gclznb1 said:
John: delighted if you can help, but I don't understand your response about 'setting the collar on the drill': that, in my understanding, will affect the depth of the drill's penetration through the stock, but not it's effective position with respect to the centre line of the stock: once a screw is placed in that hole, it'll simply run out in line with the hole - which is still too far to one side if the stock is less than 3/4" thick...

I suspect I'm missing some basic point, but I'm buggered if I can see it... :?
The point is not to worry if the drill and screw isn't in the centre. As long as the joint is strong and the screw doesn't poke though anywhere then all is well.
The Kreg jig came with a booklet explaining this stuff and also explained how to work with 12mm stock. I can't put my hand on the booklet now, but I remember the solution included shorter screws

John
 

Shady

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OK: that's exactly my point: the screw does poke through, because the angle of the jig makes it come out the other side of any stock thinner than 3/4" before it even hits the mating piece - so unless I like small angled bits of metal visible in all my corners, I have to use thicker stock... We need some photos here - I'll knock some up tomorrow morning, and you can show me what I've been doing wrong...
 

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Shady
I have the Axminster Deluxe Pocket hole jig, and it has none of the problems you describe. It happily handles stock as thin as ½" up to whatever you can fit in (>2").
Presumably you don't have the deluxe version? But all the same I am surprised to hear your holes are coming out the other side of the pocket piece in normal sized stock.
Weird design! :-k
 
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Anonymous

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Well, Axminster certainly sell 2 lengths of square drive screws and I do seem to remember statements about stock thickness. I seem to remember that adjusting the collar on the stepped bit was to do with the thickness of the stock to be drilled, rather than the stock to be screwed to.

By adjusting the collar you adjust where the bit will exit the (pseudo) tenon piece i.e. in the centre or offset either way.

Off course, I might be talking total rubbish :D
 

tx2man

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Aragorn wrote
But all the same I am surprised to hear your holes are coming out the other side of the pocket
a) Is this a knitting forum?
or
b) Is this an insult ? ie talking and backside

TX
 

Aragorn

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tx2man":i596q8bu said:
a) Is this a knitting forum?
or
b) Is this an insult ? ie talking and backside
:lol:
or
c) Has Axminster designed a dodgy jig?
or
d) Is there a setup problem?
or
e) I'm spinning a yarn... :wink:
 

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