Making Pocket Holes with a CNC Router

Depending on the job, setting up the CNC device to rout and drill pocket holes may be faster than using a dedicated pocket-hole machine or jig. July 24, 2005

I'm expanding to a new shop and will be adding a CNC router.I am wondering if anyone cuts pocket holes with CNC routers? Is this a possibility? We currently use a Kreg semi-automatic pocket hole machine for this. Any help is appreciated.

Forum Responses
(CNC Forum)
From contributor C:
We have a Kreg machine and a CNC router. We wrote a macro for the CNC that quickly and easily creates pocket holes. However, this pocket hole resembles the type seen on a Castle or PC machine, not the bored 15 degree hole on the Kreg.

From contributor M:
The objective of the CNC machine is to complete as many secondary machining operations in the one setup as it can and to eliminate secondary machines and parts movement. Changes may be needed to the edge-bander to accept the hinge pockets machined prior to banding. This can be accomplished using a shoe versus a guide wheel on the bander or by putting a slug in the pocket.

From contributor J:
To contributor C: How do you drill a pilot hole in the pocket cut?

From contributor C:
To contributor J: Our machine (a Weeke Optimat 280) has six horizontal drills, which we rarely use otherwise, so we installed several through-bore bits in the X and Y axes. Thus it is a two stage process which in and of itself is not terribly fast. However, on larger pieces it's much easier, and since the part is on the pods for other processing anyhow, it is a big time saver.

From contributor D:
We use a Biesse CNC machine (although we have a Kreg Pocketer as well) to cut pockets in panels for use in the same fashion as a Kreg Pocket. We put solid frames onto either MDF or chipboard carcasses using this system.

The program for each part is parametric and in two stages. The first stage cuts the pockets using a router bit and drills the horizontal holes to align with the pockets. The program then allows the operator to turn the panel to perform any necessary drill/routing/grooving on the face of the panel. It works very well for us, and it very accurate and fast.

From contributor C:
We also use a PTP CNC to pocket mortise, only on the big jobs where all or most bottoms get the mortise. In our case, we groove for the case back. The part has to be flipped over in the middle of the program so the mortises can be cut into the opposite side.

It is quicker if you have to do a lot of them, for sure. But we only mortise the finished sides, so the instructions either need to be generated by the software, or it takes too long to just do all of them. We use the Kreg instead. All the rails are bored and doweled offline anyway.

From contributor C:
As a footnote, we found that we can set the screw just as well without the horizontal pilot hole. Eliminating that speeded the routing time tremendously.