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Making a frame using 1"x4" wood. Exposed ends are not a concern. Which would be a stronger joint, a mitered corner with glue and 1" pins (2 from each side), or a butt joint with glue and pocket holes?

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  • While neither of those sound particularly strong, I think the pocket holes sounds stronger to me. (I don't really have any evidence so I'm not sure I want to make this an answer.) Why not do pocket screws in the mitered joint? The strongest way to do this would be a half-lap joint. An easy alternative that would be decently strong would be dowels in the miter joint. You could use a cheap jig or dowel locating plugs. Dec 14 '20 at 19:13
  • Can you do pocket screws into a mitered joint? Will there be enough wood left on the "other" piece for the screw to bite into?
    – FreeMan
    Dec 15 '20 at 14:55
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The second, by a substantial margin.

The claims of strength from purveyors of pocket-screw jigs have been tested by many woodworkers, including numerous pros (e.g. Bob Van Dyke of the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking), and these tests often confirm that when used for a standard 90° joint between two boards strength can rival or exceed that of mortise-and-tenon joinery. No basic mitre joint reinforced with a few brads can match that.

Now that said, the mitre joint might be strong enough. So in the right context if you want to use mitres for appearance reasons — they make for a very neat corner, and there are no pocket-screw holes to hide or try to fill/plug in a way that looks good — then you can, without having to worry the thing is going to fall apart.

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  • With what I'm doing the ends won't be seen, and I'm putting two together so the holes won't need to be plugged. So, yeah, pocket holes it is. Off to Home Depot for a jig tomorrow! :D
    – Dizzy49
    Dec 15 '20 at 2:09
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    Pocket screws don't require a jig. They're good for repeatable results, but not essential. If you're not set on getting a commercial jig you might like to take a look at this previous Q&A, Substitute for Pocket Hole Jig?
    – Graphus
    Dec 15 '20 at 4:03

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