Dowels Vs Pocket Screws: Which Is Perfect For You?

In a woodworking project, a DIYer knows the range of capacity of every tool. Dowels and pocket screws are two types of tools for woodworking jobs that require special learning to make them function properly. They are definitely not the same thing.

And that’s why the comparison between dowels vs pocket screws is intense to some extent. But also, you need to keep in mind that these tools are for woodworking jobs and similarities between them are also some common things. 

Primal Differences

Many people consider dowels stronger than pocket screws because the former comes with glue. The latter does not carry any glue and that’s why most people prefer dowels. Then again, pocket screws happen to warp wood easily as they require more hammering or pressing. But dowels tend to save your wood to a great extent. However, to use dowels, you need to make holes in all the wooden boards to join them together. Pocket screws spare you from this heavy work.

There are a lot of other significant differences between these two tools which we will discuss gradually later on. For now, check this compact comparison table for a better understanding.

Dowels Vs Pocket Screws : A Comparison Table

FeaturesDowelsPocket Screws
ShapeCylindricalComplicated and Pointy tip
GlueHaveDon’t have
AffectsPositivelyBoth positively and negatively
Types of woodSoft and hardwoodHardwood
Joinery holesTwo holesSingle hole

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About Dowels

Dowels Screws

Dowels are basically, cylindrical-shaped rods and they can be made of many materials. Mostly, there are wooden dowels available, but you can also get dowels made of plastic and metals. However, wooden dowel joinery has much popularity.

Because of their incredible strength, dowels are now a much-wanted tool for wood projects. Besides, their sturdy and simplistic characteristics are enough to hold wooden pieces together. For the convenience of work, dowels come in different lengths and sizes.

You can even cut them to your convenient size as they are made of wood and it is possible. Things get easier when you think screws do not provide you with this advantage but wooden dowels can. Besides that, the glue that the dowels take along with them works very promisingly.

Many people want to compare dowels with biscuits. But biscuits are simply not as capable as dowels are. They cannot stand a standard and heavy piece of wood with the other piece of wood the way dowels hold.

Things We Liked about / Pros

  • Comes with a cylindrical shape which is reliable
  • You can cut into their sizes at your convenience
  • The glue that comes along with dowels works amazingly
  • The application of them is easy with the use of a dowel jig

Things We Didn’t Like about / Cons

  • Without a dowel jig,one cannot work with dowels properly

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About Pocket Screws

pocket screws

For pocket hole joints, the use of pocket screws is great to a great extent. Basically, there is no difference between pocket holes and pocket screws. They have a definite work process. You need to drill a hole in the wooden piece and the drill should be done by measuring an angle.

To join one piece of a wooden board with another, you need to have self-tapping screws too. Otherwise, the pocket screws will not work properly and cannot hold the joints properly and tightly. From the structure, it is evident that pocket screws look more complex.

Also, its use is a little bit rigid-bound. But wood has a very sensitive texture. It often occurs that the pressure a pocket screw gives goes beyond the tolerance of some types of wood. And as a result the pointed tip of pocket screws often becomes the criminal for warping a piece of wood. Besides, they are very expensive for their complicated structure.

Things We Liked about / Pros

  • Works with a promising vibe
  • Other than wood, pocket holes work on other tough materials too
  • With the proper pocket hole jig you can get the best out of it
  • The shape and appearance are very appealing and work quickly 

Things We Did Not Like about / Cons

  • Expensive and warps wood 
  • Does not come with glue

Difference between Dowels and Pocket Screws

It has got the sheer attention of people that which one between dowels and pocket holes is better. These two tools have their own context and from those contexts they both are eligible. But in the case of application on a wooden piece, the differences between these two tools become evident.

Working Technique

The first thing that you will notice is that these two tools have two working techniques. While dowels require two holes in the two separate wooden boards, pocket holes require only one. It might not seem the biggest difference between these two. But many people judge the working process and select one as per their convenience.


Measuring the strength between dowels and pocket screws is another major fact. The former is stronger than the latter because it comes with glue. This glue is missing in pocket screws. Because of this glue dowels get most of their strength and work better than pocket screws.


The effects of using dowels and pocket screws are different to some extent. Even though people tend to use them for the same purpose, the effects of the work are different. Dowels almost have a positive impression on users. But pocket holes tend to warp the pieces of wood if it is not denser and more porous.


You can cut short the dowels which you cannot do with pocket screws. The wooden dowels come with this advantage but the others that are of metal do not come with this. Conversely, pocket screws come with a fixed shape, though you can get different sizes of both these tools.

Promising Joiner

Dowels, in this case, act like the promising joiner. With its clamping process and gluing agent, the wooden furniture can sit for a rest and by the time the joineries become strong. But with the pocket screws, this meticulous process is interrupted by the hammering process. That’s why it would be a little bit unjust to call pocket screws promising joiners.

Types of Wood

The great fact about dowels is that they can stand both hardwood and softwood. For plywood, you can depend on dowels without any second thought. For proper use of a sensitive piece of plywood, using dowels is the wisest decision.

But pocket screws, with their hard and complex structure, cannot cope with plywood-like softwood. They rather wrapthis kind of softwood and work like a rookie on them.Use them for hardwoods and you will not be disappointed.


Dowels are less expensive according to their high range of performance. But pocket screws are literally expensive and don’t work dowels.

So, which one is better?

As we have already mentioned all the good attributes of dowels, you can easily adopt them. They are actually good and fit for your DIY woodworking projects. But if you want to play with hardwoods and want to take some serious action, you can also adopt pocket screws.

So, we would not demean any of the dowels and pocket screws because each works better in some given contexts.

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Are pocket screws stronger than dowels?

Pocket screws are not stronger than dowels and it is the saying of many experts. Because the latter comes with glue, it can easily beat pocket screws. Glue is legit beneficial for dowels for making them stronger.

Are dowel joints stronger than screws?

Dowel joints are pretty much stronger than screws. Because these dowels are cylindrical in shape, they don’t affect badly on joints. But pocket screws, with their pointy tip, tend to crack a wood piece.

What is the difference between dowel and screw?

The primal difference between dowel and screw is the former comes with glue but the latter does not. Also, the former puts a stronger effect on the joints but the latter cannot.

How much weight can a dowel joint hold?

Dowel joint puts an impressive remark on strength. But in the case of weight, you need to deal with them carefully. A dowel joint can hold 600pound pressure at best. More than this amount will bring failure to dowel joints.

Why are pocket holes bad?

Pocket holes are almost worse because they are not considerate of softwood. They tend to crack or warp plywood-like softwoods and create damage.

When not to use pocket holes?

If you do care about the appearance of your wooden furniture, then don’t apply pocket holes in visible areas. It helps to lose the beauty of the wood and its grain pattern.

What are Dowels and Pocket Screws?

Dowels are cylindrical wooden pins used to join wood pieces, while Pocket Screws are screws with specially designed pockets used for wood joinery.

How do Dowels and Pocket Screws differ in terms of joinery method?

Dowels involve drilling holes in wood pieces and inserting dowels, while Pocket Screws involve drilling holes with a jig and screwing in screws at an angle.

Which is stronger, Dowels or Pocket Screws?

Both Dowels and Pocket Screws can provide strong joints when used correctly, but the strength depends on factors like wood type, size, and application.

Which is easier to use, Dowels or Pocket Screws?

Ease of use depends on woodworking skills and preferences. Dowels may require more precision in drilling, while Pocket Screws may be simpler with the use of a jig.

What are the advantages of using Dowels for woodworking projects?

Advantages of Dowels include traditional aesthetics, suitability for certain wood types, and potential for longer-term wood movement.

What are the advantages of using Pocket Screws for woodworking projects?

Advantages of Pocket Screws include ease of use, faster assembly, and potential for hidden joints.

Can Dowels or Pocket Screws be used for different types of wood?

Dowels can be used with various wood types, while Pocket Screws are typically used with softer woods.

Are Dowels or Pocket Screws more suitable for furniture making?

Both Dowels and Pocket Screws can be used for furniture making, with considerations for wood type, joint strength, and aesthetics.

What are the limitations or disadvantages of using Dowels or Pocket Screws?

Limitations of Dowels include potential for misalignment, difficulty in disassembly, and visible dowel ends. Limitations of Pocket Screws include potential for wood splitting, limited use with harder woods, and visible screw heads.

Which joinery method, Dowels or Pocket Screws, is better for my woodworking project?

The choice between Dowels and Pocket Screws depends on factors like woodworking skills, wood type, joint strength requirements, aesthetics, and project specifics. Consulting with an expert may help in making the right choice for your woodworking project.