How to Choose the Right Pocket Hole Screw Size: The Easy Way

Pocket hole joinery is a favored technique in furniture making, spanning from traditional to modern woodworking. The key to a successful project lies in choosing the right pocket screws.

Choosing appropriately ensures a tight, secure fit, preventing issues like stripping, loosening, or screws poking through your work.

This guide provides clear direction on picking the perfect screws for your specific project needs.

Pocket Hole Screw Length Chart

Wood ThicknessScrew Length
1/2″1 1/4″
5/8″1 1/4″ – 1 1/2″
3/4″1 1/4″ – 2″
7/8″1 1/2″ – 2 1/2″
1″1 1/2″ – 2 1/2″
1 1/8″2″ – 2 1/2″
1 1/4″2″ – 2 1/2″
1 3/8″2 1/2″ – 3″
1 1/2″2 1/2″ – 3″
1 5/8″2 1/2″ – 3″
1 3/4″2 1/2″ – 3″
1 7/8″2 1/2″ – 3″
2″2 1/2″ – 3″

How Long Should Screws Be For Pocket Holes?

The length of the screw you use for pocket holes will depend on the jig setting and the depth of the drilling, each of which will depend on the boards being joined.

As a general rule, screws should reach at least half of the thickness of the bottom board.  Kreg jigs do come with a manual filled with charts that will suggest the right depths for various joinery tasks.

There are 4 common thread lengths most commonly used, and they are 1”, 1 ¼”, 1 ½”, and 2 ½”.  Again, the length of the screws you use will be determined by the depth of the drilling, and the depth of the drilling depends on the boards being joined.

For example, when joining 2 x 4 boards, where the actual dimensions are 1 ½” and 3 ½”, you would choose the 2 ½” screw length for the strongest joinery.  

Another example is when joining 1 x 4 lumber.  Remember that the actual dimensions will be ¾” by 3 ½” for this lumber, as it affects the screw you choose.  For this joinery, you’d choose a 1 ¼” screw, according to the Kreg chart.

How Do You Size Pocket Holes in Woods?

When you’re joining workpieces of different thicknesses, the generally accepted rule is to think thin.

When you set up the drill guide and the drill depth collar and choose the right screws for the different thicknesses, you should set it up to join the thinnest piece you are working with on your project.

Pocket Screws Thread Size

Pocket Screw SizeThread SizeSuitable for Material Type
#6Fine ThreadHardwoods
#7Coarse ThreadSoftwoods
#8Fine ThreadDense Hardwoods
#9Coarse ThreadPlywood, MDF
#10Fine ThreadThick Hardwoods
#11Coarse ThreadParticle Board
#12Fine ThreadExotic Hardwoods
#13Coarse ThreadComposite Materials

For instance, Pine, cedar, fir, and spruce are softwoods, soft and not very dense.  Plywood and MDF (medium-density fiberboard) would fall into that same category when it comes to choosing pocket screws. The washer heads will help prevent overdriving the screws when you are joining particle board and plywood.   

You’ll want deep and aggressive threads on the screws to dig into those soft fibers.  Coarse-thread screws are the ones you’ll want to be using when working with softwoods.

Hardwoods like oak, maple, walnut, and cherry are too hard for coarse-thread screws.  They’ll tear the fibers and lead to splits in the wood.  Choose a fine-thread screw for joining hardwoods.

Pocket Hole Jig

The Kreg Tool Company makes screws for its jigs.  Most woodworkers will choose to use the screws Kreg makes for its own jigs and follow the charts that come in the jig manual. They have a great guide here as well.

In fact, most will recommend using Kreg’s own screws.  They are specially designed and made to work with the holes drilled using the Kreg jig.  

If you insist on using regular screws instead of Kreg’s screws, you can.  But, the Kreg screws have an especially sharpened point that makes it easier to burrow into the second piece of wood to be joined.

You must remember that the drilled hole will not extend into the second piece, so this becomes important in forming a strong joint.

Pocket Screw Coating Types

  • Indoor Projects: Use Zinc-Coated Screws.
  • Outdoor Projects: Choose Stainless Steel for strength and corrosion resistance. Alternatively, use Protec-Kote or Blue-Kote for extra corrosion protection.

Should You Glue Pocket Holes?

It’s never a bad idea to take a belt-and-suspenders approach when you can.  If you’re building a beautiful dining room table for your home and family, a bit of glue will give that little extra holding power to keep the joint from separating.  

The choice of whether to invest in a pocket hole jig depends on the types of projects you’ll be tackling.  As we always say, the right tool for the right job.  But, if your projects are going to include cabinets and tables, or even shelves, anything with multiple joints, a jig is a worthy investment.  You can’t do better than to choose from the Kreg line of jigs.

From the Kreg Mini, at $15, to the Jig XL, at $60, to the Pocket Hole Pro, at $150, many models can be budget-friendly to your needs and help you with your projects.  If you invest in a Kreg jig, you might as well use the Kreg screws designed to work best with it, too. 

Kreg KPHJ310 Pocket-Hole Jig 310 - Small, Durable Jig for Tight Spaces - Create...
  • Easy Woodworking Tools: Kreg pocket-hole joinery is the fast, strong, easy way to join wood-drill,...
  • Must-Have Pocket-Hole Jig: The Pocket-Hole Jig 310 is a simple, keep-in-your toolbox, reconfigurable...
  • Simple, Versatile Pocket-Hole Joinery: Kreg pocket-hole jig works well for material between 1/2" and...

Last update on 2024-07-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you found this interesting, please share!