If case you haven’t been watching the calendar, we’re little more than a week away from Christmas. And if you’re working on projects that are the center of your holiday gift giving, you’ll need to step it up a bit.
This might just be the time to switch from watching glue dry to something faster. That something is pocket screws , which have no clamping time and no glue required. I know some woodworkers look down their noses at pocket screws because they think it’s not a traditional joint. But let me take a stand for this joinery method, which was often used near the end of the 18th century.
That’s right , I said 18th century. If you study furniture construction, especially Federal period work from the late 1700s to the early 1800s, you’ll find pocket screws in use. Some of the most well-known furniture makers from that period, the Seymours (a father and son team from Portland, Maine, who later moved to Boston, Mass.) used pocket screws to join aprons to legs on many card tables. You can see this in the photo at left (from “The Furniture Masterworks of John and Thomas Seymour”). I would copy this building technique if I were to reproduce this table.
Back in the day, pocket-screw holes were carved by hand using chisels. Today, the name in pocket screws is Kreg. This company, long known for its pocket-screw jigs, has just found a way to make pocket-screw construction even faster.
The company has introduced a line of quick-change oriented products with hex shanks. The Quick Change System ($29.99 list price) includes a hex-shank, a stepped drill bit, a hex-shank driver bit, an adjustable stop collar and (the heart of the system) a “Quick Change Chuck.” Now it’s just a snap-in and click-out process. (Individual pieces can be purchased separately.)
I’ve use pocket-screw construction for shop cabinets, on furniture and for a couple “I Can Do That” (ICDT) projects. This past week, Associate Editor for the Web Drew DePenning built his first ICDT project and when the time came for pocket screws, I opened the new system from Kreg for a test drive. Once the chuck is installed, the switch from drill bit to driver is complete in seconds. No more do you need two drills to get the job done , one loaded with a drill bit and a second with a driver installed. Nor do you need to constantly remove and replace tools in the drill’s jaws.
I think this Quick Change System is way overdue. This is another great upgrade from Kreg that could save you a bunch of time. And it might even keep you from spilling varnish on your fruitcake in a last-minute, stroke-of-midnight effort to complete your projects.
Additionally, if you haven’t had an opportunity to use the new version of Kreg face clamps , the ones with a rubber-coated grips , you’ll want to try these out. This design was introduced in July and may have slipped through undetected.
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