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Pocket Hole, Buscuit or Dowel Joint

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fiveforty

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Hi all

I'm new to the forum and relatively new to woodworking
I’ve done a few small projects but am looking to try building something a bit bigger this time

I want to tackle a tv bench but have a worry about the jointing method
Am planning on making the bench roughly 1.4 – 1.8m and preferably out of pine

Ideally I’d like to go with pocket holes as they seem to be one of the easier ways (me being a noob and all), but I have a worry about if they will be strong enough to cope with the weight of the tv and all the other av stuff??

Would it be better to go for biscuit or dowel joints, or are all of them roughly the same strength??

I would love to go with M&T but I think that they are a bit above my skill level at the minute, altho I might be able to do a floating M&T

One of my biggest problems is that I don’t have a work space, so I have to build outside. Which is fine if its nice weather but bad weather could delay me working from days/weeks/months – hence my reasoning for wanting to go with pocket holes as I could build it over a weekend

Thanks in advance for any help or advice
 

yetloh

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Welcome to the forum.

A lot depends on your ambition. The fact that you have joined the forum and the tone of your post suggests you do have some. If that is the case, you need to use every project as a way to expand your woodworking skills, the very essence of which is joints. For me, pocket hole joints really aren't joints at all, although they may be strong enough for what you want. Dowel joints look simple but are in fact quite difficult to align properly. I think I would start with biscuits, which can be very strong if doubled up, but would try to incorporate a small amount of proper m&T jointing into the project to get you started and boost your confidence.

A lot can be achieved on a Workmate. I built my first workbench out of 3" square pine, all M&T'd with a small router and a Workmate. It's still going strong.

Good luck.

Jim
 

wcndave

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On the other hand, pocket holes are easy and strong, can be totally hidden if done in right place.

Lining up and creating joinery can be difficult and frustrating without practise and tools and time and space.

eliminating that element can let one focus on design, layout, aesthetics, wood type, organizing grain direction and a hundred other things that are not all critical but you learn from, and enjoy as part of a creative process. The technical parts can all come later and this means you stick with the hobby.

Sometimes its better to enjoy it than worry about it at first.

Having said that, you have to make sure it will stand up, but a couple of YouTube videos will sort that out.

Just my experience from when i started out... Not disagreeing with the previous reply.
 

yetloh

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Yes, Dave is also right. I had intended to add that there is no one right answer and I wholeheartedly agree that design is a vitally important skill to acquire alongside the practical making skills. You will make plenty of mistakes along the way and also learn how to get round them. Just don't let the setbacks and problems discourage you.

Jim
 

Jamesc

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+1 For pocket holes. They are not the answer for everything but you can get good strong results quickly and if you do make a mistake or change your mind they are easy to pull apart again. If your budget will run to it I would recomend the special clamps as they have mostly eleimated the one frustration with pocket holes of the pieces moving as the screws are tightend.

Regards

James
 

Carlow52

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Just to add to the above:
it depends on
what tools u have
if the project is because swmbo or similar has u under the kosh or if it is about skill learning
it depends on whether the shelves are fixed or movable and what span.
it depends on the thickness of materials.

The projects that I have the most satisfaction from are ones where u can experiment with different joints and stuff.

The worst are rushed one.
ps
welcome to the forum
 

custard

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The day job means I spend a lot of time working in the US. It's interesting to see just how established pocket hole joinery has become there, even in pretty high end work like expensive fitted kitchens and expensive built in office furniture. I know many people turn their noses up at pocket hole jigs, but when well done it can be a neat and strong installation.

Personally I spent a long time using biscuits but then got a Domino (and now also a Domino XL). IMO Dominos are more accurate, more versatile, and stronger than biscuits, and a standard Domino can cover 95% of all your non-dovetail jointing requirements. The major issue to realise with pocket hole, Domino and biscuit joinery however is that you're referencing off the work piece. Unlike traditional joinery where the emphasis is on fitting each joint individually, in all three of these more recent systems the quality of the joint depends on straight and square cutting before jointing takes place. If you can deliver that then you'll be successful with any of them.
 

Stormer1940

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First project in the college workshop was this.... They were printed out on an A4 sheet and you had to set about them.


Half Lap Joint


Mortise and Tenon


Dovetail Halving


Bridle Joint

Pocket hole joinery does seem to be becoming more popular over here as well and I admit its a neat tidy way of fixing but thats just it its a housed fixing and not a joint. I'm not saying don't use it on this occasion but have a go at some simple joints like above...

http://www.mr-d-n-t.co.uk/wood-joints.htm
 

custard

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fiveforty":b4zazu3m said:
One of my biggest problems is that I don’t have a work space, so I have to build outside. Which is fine if its nice weather but bad weather could delay me working from days/weeks/months – hence my reasoning for wanting to go with pocket holes as I could build it over a weekend
There are many satisfactions in woodworking. Taking pleasure from a well crafted, hand cut joint is one. Pride in the finished item is another.

But this quote from the original post seems to indicate that he's looking for pride in the finsihed item...and there are some serious constraints about how he gets there!

In this particular case, pocket hole joinery seems the best way to go.
 

Benchwayze

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Hi-Five!

Up and down the country television sets rest quite happily on IKEA TV tables/benches. These are mostly held together with mechanical fixings of one sort or another. So the Kreg pocket-hole system (if that's what you were thinking of) is better than some of those, and just the ticket. You can use wider timber for stretchers, and rails, and three screws in each joint could be used if you wished. So if your skills are limited then crack on with Kreg! Plenty of designs on their site.

All the same the Kreg relies on square cutting so you have to be able to saw straight. If your sawing isn't up to that you'd find a sliding Compound mitre-saw a boon.

Using prepared timber for your project should then be a doddle. With the offcuts you could practice hand cutting some of those joints, above.

That's what I'd do if I didn't have a shop. On occasion that's what I do in fact. There's nothing wrong with pocket holes in circumstances like yours, and you'll be surprised at the rigidity of the joints with the addition of some glue.

Best of luck.
 

AndyT

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Lots of good advice there. A TV bench can mean a lot of different things to different people - so plenty of scope for thinking about a design which will work and be within your skill range.

If you design it so that wood rests on wood then the screws are only going to need to keep all the bits stood up tidily together, and strength won't be an issue. Have a look around at ready-built ones that you like, and you will probably see that the joints (or flat-pack fixings) don't have any strain on them at all.
 

Benchwayze

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Yep... My daughter (whose middle name is 'Independence') gets on with most DIY herself. She hasn't a workshop, but she doesn't shy away because of lack of knowledge; and she doesn't come to me except to find out how. (Sometimes I can't tell her, but there you go! I usually know someone who can!) :mrgreen:

Have fun. .
 

fiveforty

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Thank you all for the great advice

this is roughly what I'm thinking of building, just in case someone looks at it as says "Jesus for that you need to use XYZ"
bench.jpg

(bench will include sides and possibly a back)

I've built quite a few fitted things in the past (such as desks, shelves etc etc), but as they have all been fitted stuff I've been able to use batons to secure it, , so I know that it wont buckle!
desk.jpg

(fitted desk image: used half lap joints on the frame and biscuits to join the top sections together)

However this will be my first major free standing piece so am just a little wary about the strength (I'm a bit of a AV geek so have a fair bit of stuff so whatever I build needs to be strong)

just wonder if I should take longer over it and try my hand at M&T, least I know it should hold then. I just not sure I have the skill yet to make the 100% tight/straight/visually appealing?
In the back of my mind I do a slight worry over the pocket holes, about whether they could take the strain, especially in a soft wood like pine??

Thanks again for all your help, has given me with a lot of useful info, and new stuff to think about!
 

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wcndave

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Problem here is that pocket holes will be visible.

You probably want dadoes for the dividers, and then M&T for the ends / rails, and then add the "tops". however if you were thinking 3 sheets for the shelves/top and 4 sticks for your legs, not sure how you could attach top/shelves to legs...

I would do a complete frame (including 4 rails per "level") from M&T (probably loose ones) and then apply the shelves/top on top of that....
 

No skills

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I'm making my first project with some M&T joints at the moment, a chair for my 2 year old daughter. These are the first M&T joints that I have ever cut (mostly by hand but with a drill for some waste removal in the mortice), they look a bit of a mess I think but good enough to do the job.
I would suggest for a display piece that you have limited time on you go with what method you can produce the best results with, this will give you a sense of achievement when the project is done and not put you off further more advanced projects. For joints like M&T etc get some scrap wood to practice on when your not busy/being pressed to finish a job, an early failure with a full blown project with complicated joinery might knock your confidence/enthusiasam (sorry cant spell!) and put you off doing any more.

Not sure if I've made sense there but I think the phrase I'm looking for is "baby steps" :)
 

wcndave

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If you wanted to make from sheet goods only, something like this would work.

1.jpg


I would dado the central partitions, or screw from top / bottom normally, and then for the shelves/top put pocket holes where i have indicated with arrows (i am not showing how many, just where)
they would all be pretty invisible unless you lay on the floor.

Depending on how wide your top is, you might want to have stretcher across the back, or make it of a thicker (24mm) material to prevent sagging.

2.jpg


Depending on overall size, and thickness of sheet goods, you might just want to put a piece of 6mm ply in grooves for back panel, however a solid panel pocketed in will give this huge strength.

3.jpg


what you'd end up with is similar to something from ikea, however custom made to fit all your stuff exactly.

This is where i started, as the enjoyment of actually producing stuff then outweighed the disappointment of failure when i was practising my basic joints... so i kept going.

then a few years later when i had the skills to not reduce £200 of wood to expensive potpourri , i started re-making this stuff as "fine furniture" (relatively speaking, i am no craftsman). The added benefit that SWMBO did not nag me for spending years in the shop being unproductive ;-)

EDIT: of course you'd need to cut relevant holes for plugs / wiring etc....
 

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fiveforty

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wcndave":1a3i7k7j said:
You probably want dadoes for the dividers, and then M&T for the ends / rails, and then add the "tops". however if you were thinking 3 sheets for the shelves/top and 4 sticks for your legs, not sure how you could attach top/shelves to legs...

I would do a complete frame (including 4 rails per "level") from M&T (probably loose ones) and then apply the shelves/top on top of that....
yes thats what I want to do, was only just a rough mockup to show the rough idea of what I wanted it to look at
when I originally thought of the pocket hole way it was after I saw this video... www [dot] youtube [dot] com/watch?v=QcJQ8TEYRIg
(sorry new member so can post links)

this showed my how easy and quick it was to assemble something with pocket holes

but the length of this a fair bit smaller than what I want so was worried about the strength over a longer expanse, and there will be more weight on this
 

fiveforty

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wcndave":2pvm7mvw said:
If you wanted to make from sheet goods only, something like this would work.

1.jpg
thats what I orgianlly wanted to do... have made something similar in the past
but other half wants something rasied off the floor on legs

as No skills says "baby steps"
I'll try M&T and go slow
 

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wcndave

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a solid back panel will help.
putting a divider on top shelf will help
if you use sheet goods, you will need to edge band. using solid wood edge banding that is thicker will also help provide support.

4.jpg


The issue of a wide shelf sagging is not really going to come down to joinery.

how the top is fastened to the sides only affects racking / pushing from the side.

the weight from the top is not really affected if the top sits on top of the sides.

sagging is a different issue down to design / materials more than corner joints (IMHO)
 

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wcndave

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thing with M&T is you can't really do it on panels, unless you do a greene and greene style, and i think the sagging effect would still be there, (based on final design / materials).

if you do M&T you either have to add shelves on top, or make sort of floating panels that fit in to your framework. which seems more difficult to me. If you go that route, i think someone better than me would have better ideas.

In any case why not post a sketchup drawing showing the components first?
 
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