My tendency is to grab a pocket hole jig for everything. But I'm sure it's not always the best choice.

What are the limitations of a pocket hole jig?

  • Is this too broad a question? Its something I really want to know, but perhaps is best suited for broader reading rather than woodworking stackexchange. – NipFu Feb 24 '16 at 7:01
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    This is almost purely subjective. Many notable woodworkers never use pocket hole joinery, other notable woodworkers seem to use them all the time. Jack Houweling showed how to do pocket hole joinery without a jig. – RedGrittyBrick Feb 24 '16 at 9:54
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    Hi NipFu, welcome to our site! This question is on hold because it's too broad. If you can update the question to be more specific---like outlining a specific scenario and asking what the benefits of a specific alternative are---then we can re-open the question. But as it stands "When should I not use a pocket hole jig?" is terribly broad. – drs Feb 24 '16 at 13:57
  • thank you. i was afraid of that. i did find Rich's answer informative as well as RedGrittyBrick's insight. I will keep working to learn the correct way to use the site. – NipFu Feb 24 '16 at 17:14
  • did this rephrasing help. It seems subtle, but rich's answer intuited what the correct question should have been. "What are the limitations of a pocket hole jig?". – NipFu Feb 27 '16 at 7:19

There are really 3 factors on whether or not to use a pocket hole jig.

  1. Aesthetics - Can you hide/fill the joint?
  2. Strength - There are a few good writeups on the relative strength of pocket holes vs every other joint - https://woodgears.ca/joint_strength/pockethole.html is a good one.
  3. The last factor is what I like to think of as wood fever. There is a certain mindset that seems to think that bringing metal to a joint which can be done purely in wood is a sin, and Saint Underhill will come and smite you for doing it.

Personally I love pocket joinery. Its tough enough for all my projects (especially if supplemented with glue) and does not consume huge amounts of time tweaking the fit. I have seen Norm Abrams use it repeatedly and as far as I am concerned if its good enough for him it works for me.

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    The bedt tool is the one that does the job and fits the way you approach the job.... and varies from job to job.I want to build my skills so I can do the traditional approaches, but sometimes getting it done sooner and easier is a major win. – keshlam Feb 24 '16 at 13:17
  • Saint Underhill - +1! – FreeMan Feb 24 '16 at 19:56
  • C/bedt/best/, in case it wasn't obvious. I need to learn to use autocomplete more on the touchscreen. – keshlam Mar 2 '16 at 15:58

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