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The Secret to Strong Joints: Choose the Right Pocket-Hole Screw

People often talk of building with the Kreg Jig®, but drilling pocket holes is only half the story. It’s the screws, after all, that hold your project together. That means choosing the right one is critical for project success. When it comes to Kreg® Screws, you have a lot of options, which we’ll go over in this edition of Kreg Plus.

Anatomy of a Pocket Screw Header
Anatomy of a Pocket Screw At first glance, a Kreg® Screw might not look much different from other wood screws. But don’t be fooled: There’s a lot of serious engineering built into them. Compare a Kreg® Screw to an ordinary wood screw or a drywall screw (which many use as a general-purpose screw for building), and you can see that the Kreg® Screw has unique features that those other screws don’t. Every one of those features is there to ensure that you get the best results possible.

Pay Attention to Head Type Header
While all Kreg® Screw heads have a flat bottom (designed to mate with the flat pocket in a Kreg® pocket hole), you do have a choice in the style of head: pan-head or Maxi-loc™. They both work fine in most applications, but the pan-head is ideal for thin stock where the screwhead might protrude from the pocket hole. For example, building a drawer box from 1/2"-thick stock would be an ideal application for pan-head screws.

Pay Attention to Head Type Header Pay Attention to Head Type Header

Screw Material Matters Header
Probably the most-commonly overlooked factor when it comes to deciding which screw is best for a specific task, is the material it’s made from. Here are some general guidelines:
For projects that will stay indoors, go with standard pocket screws. Kreg® Zinc Screws provide rust protection, and are well-suited for indoor projects of all types that won’t be exposed to excessive moisture. Zinc Screws
For outdoor projects, you’ll need a screw with an anti-corrosion coating. Kreg® Blue-Kote™ Screws provide three anti-corrosion layers, amazing rust resistance, and they work with pressure-treated material. Blue-Kote™ Screws
If you want maximum durability, choose stainless steel screws. These are great for use in pressure-treated lumber, or if your project will be exposed to harsh elements outdoors. Stainless Steel Screws
If you’re building projects using 2x and bigger stock, Kreg® HD Screws are a great choice. They’re made exclusively for use with 1-1/2"-thick and thicker stock, and are coated to be suitable for indoor and outdoor use. HD Screws

Match Screws to Material Hardness Header
Different woods have different screw-holding abilities, which is why you will find that Kreg® Screws are available in two different thread types: coarse thread and fine thread.
Coarse Thread Image Fine Thread Images
Woods like pine and spruce as known as softwoods. They are not very dense, so they need a screw with deep, aggressive threads that will bite into soft fibers. Coarse Kreg® Screws work great for these woods, and are also the preferred choice for sheet goods like plywood and MDF. Hardwoods like oak, maple, and cherry, on the other hand, are too hard and dense for coarse-thread screws. The aggressive threads tend to tear the wood fibers, which can result in splits in your wood. For these hardwoods, choose Fine Kreg® Screws. The threads are less aggressive, but there are more of them to ensure great holding power without splitting.

Select the Correct Screw Length Header
Next, there’s the length of the screw, which is critical to getting a solid connection between two boards. Determine the appropriate screw length based on the thickness of your material. The chart below will help you out with that.
Screw Chart

Test for Success Header
Screw Selector Image When it comes to joining materials of different thicknesses, it’s a good idea to test screw length. Do this by drilling in to a test piece(s). The typical rule is as follows: Set your Kreg Jig® for the thickness of material you are drilling the pocket hole in. Then, choose screw size based on thickness of the mating piece the screw will be entering in to. The Screw Selector Wheel will help you identify the correct screw length and jig setting.

Quality Wood Projects as easy as...Drill. Drive. Done.


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From Kreg and Woodsmith Magazine
2015 August Home Publishing

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