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Thread: Pocket Hole Joinery vs Dados

  1. #1

    Pocket Hole Joinery vs Dados

    So, I am designing away on a router stand (see in progress attachment), and I have planned to use pocket hole joinery....but I thought I would ask some opinions here about this vs dado joints.

    Do any of you use PHJ and would you use it in an application like this? Why or why not? What about the advantages of dados over the PHJ? Or is just a matter of preference?

    Thanks,
    Ken
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  2. #2
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    I've switched over to pocket screws and wouldn't go back to dados/grooves at this point unless there was an unusual situation that warranted the extra work. Pocket screws and glue are quite strong and simple butt joints are far easier to size and cut than figuring the extra material to fit into the dados/grooves, etc. Pocket screws are essentially self-clamping after glue-up, too. (with care taken to avoiding racking while the glue fully cures)
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  3. #3
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    To be honest, I've used both methods on the same projects.
    Gary K.

  4. #4
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    I agree pocket screws is the easier way to go and will be strong enough.
    If you want the practice/experience then go for the Dado's. My last shop project, a planer stand with drawers, I used pre-finished baltic birch and pocket screws (no glue). Went together quick and I had no finishing to do. It seems plenty sturdy.

    For me shop time is hard is hard to come by so this method worked out great. The only downside is the rounded over edges are not finished. I may eventually slap on some poly on the edges when I break it our for something else. Then again, maybe not!
    Last edited by Dan Lyman; 09-07-2007 at 11:21 PM. Reason: Fat Fingers (10 of em)

  5. #5
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    The pocket holes would be OK for the router stand as it doesn't have to support much weight. But... on a book-shelf or similar where there are multiple shelves that will be burdened with weight, I prefer dadoes as you get a ton of glue area to secure the shelf to the carcass.

    If I used pocket holes on a project as that.. it takes too much time personally for me to cut a pocket.. reset the jig and cut another, etc. etc. If I had say 6 shelves I can cut the 12 dadoes grooves in under 6 minutes once a cut line tick has been laid on the stock. I have sort of a "rapid fire" method to cut dadess with a TS and it is just better and much quicker for "me".

    And.. I have a feeling someone is going to question how I can set up and cut 12 dado grooves in under 6 minutes on a TS. If so.. go ahead and ask as the answer is simple.

    Sarge..

  6. #6
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    Like Jim, I have just about stopped cutting dados for simple cabinet construction. Pocket hole screws are easy to do and they are plenty strong enough. Why do more work for no additional benefit?

  7. #7
    And.. I have a feeling someone is going to question how I can set up and cut 12 dado grooves in under 6 minutes on a TS. If so.. go ahead and ask as the answer is simple.

    Sarge..
    if the answer is so simple why dont you just say it? na! forget it i dont care!
    Last edited by Jim Becker; 09-08-2007 at 10:33 AM. Reason: Fixed quote tagging

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by John Thompson View Post
    The pocket holes would be OK for the router stand as it doesn't have to support much weight. But... on a book-shelf or similar where there are multiple shelves that will be burdened with weight, I prefer dadoes as you get a ton of glue area to secure the shelf to the carcass.

    If I used pocket holes on a project as that.. it takes too much time personally for me to cut a pocket.. reset the jig and cut another, etc. etc. If I had say 6 shelves I can cut the 12 dadoes grooves in under 6 minutes once a cut line tick has been laid on the stock. I have sort of a "rapid fire" method to cut dadess with a TS and it is just better and much quicker for "me".

    And.. I have a feeling someone is going to question how I can set up and cut 12 dado grooves in under 6 minutes on a TS. If so.. go ahead and ask as the answer is simple.

    Sarge..
    I won't question your ability to set up the dados in that time because, well, whatever. But even if you can do it in half that time you aren't taking into account the glue drying time that requires clamps. Pocket holes may or may not be slower but they save so much time overall because they require little or no clamping. How long do you have to keep your project clamped up before you can move onto the next step? I'll bet it's not faster than a pocket screw and glue joint.

    That being said, I don't want to use pocket screws where they are visible when it's anything other than for shop use. To me that's where the dados have a distinct advantage and worth the extra time spent.

    Bruce

  9. #9
    Stuff like this is what I bought the Festool Domino for. I'm not adverse to using pocket screws and even use them for making functional drawers sometimes since the slots for the screws get concealed by the applied drawer fronts, but I wouldn't rely on pocket screws for load bearing projects that would fail if the glue lost its bond. That's just me.

    If the casework you're building is plywood, the strength of your joinery using butt joints reinforced by pocket screws is coming mainly from the glue which can be substantial, but I like either rabbeted dado's or domino's or even biscuits or dowels to add some extra strength.

    I don't think there is much I despise more than having to remove the blade from my table saw and install a stacked dado. Before I bought the domino, I made a special sled for dado'ing parts that made it super efficient. But, with the domino, I just find the ability to dry fit parts together and sort of keep adding parts as I go to be really an enjoyable way of working for me. I was definately a doubter, but my dry fit projects are so strong that I can stand on them with confidence that they won't fall apart.

    If I was using butt joints to build that router table and didn't have the domino and also didn't want to install the stacked dado, I'd either use a router with an edge guide and cut rabbeted dados or regular dados or I'd pick up some Miller dowels. My .02

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    I did mine all with dados, and I find it somehow simple. I think (for me) it's easier to aling with dados and bla bla bla. I should use my Creig more often though.
    I slip some pictures just in case if this gives you an idea for yours; still need to make the doors and drawer pulls.
    Good luck
    Alex







  11. #11
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    Hey Ken

    I use both pocket hole joinery and dadoes as each have benefits and liabilities. For your router table i'd opt for dadoes. A router table doesn't need to support much weight but it does have the racking / twisting forces associated with routing operations and the dadoes will be stronger in that regard. With a little advanced planning you can also use the dado setup for making your face frame pieces at the same time.


    I'm assuming your using 3/4" material so all your dadoes will be 3/4 by 3/8 which makes calculating material a snap. Once the dado width is set it's just a matter of moving the fence to the correct distance from the blade and cut away. I find this method much easier to deal with at assembly time since i don't have to worry about pieces shifting around when i drive the screws.

    As to your design, may i suggest you move the bottom piece up several inches so you can add leveling feet or casters and keep them hidden from sight. It's also a good place for blocking to add some rigidity to the cabinet. Also, depending on your plans for the large cavity on the bottom, a center partition might add some flexibility with door/shelf/drawer designs down there.

    Let us know what you decide and post some pics of the progress!

    Brian
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    The significant problems we encounter cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.

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  12. #12
    For me, each has it's place. Pocket holes are very quick and easy of course, but they do depend on your pieces being well aligned and securely clamped before you drive the screws. If you use dados, they will automatically align your pieces greatly simplifying that part. If you are looking for the speed benefit of not having to clamp and wait for glue, you could cut the dados fairly shallow and then use pocket screws to to put it all together. This way you'd get the alignment benefit of the dados and the speed benefit of the pocket holes. Just be sure to adjust your screw length accordingly so you don't penetratrate the back side.

  13. #13
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    I've never gotten more involved with pocket hole joinery beyond a very basic (cheap) jig and a few projects. I just prefer the self-alignment aspect of using dados. The Insert Tab A into Slot B type assembly just seems easier to me.
    Use the fence Luke

  14. #14
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    Dados where extra strength is required and PH for all else for me.
    She said “How many woodworking tools do you need?”
    I said “Why? Do you know someone who is selling some?”


  15. #15
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    For dados, the setup takes longer. I went into my recent storage project with the idea of using all pocket screws. I ended up using both, mainly because the cabinets were narrow and the spacing between the shelves didn't allow the ability to get my cordlesss screwdriver in during assembly so I used dados.

    Mike

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