Whether to Glue Pocket-Screwed Face Frame Joints

Most cabinetmakers use glue for joint stability even when the joint is secured with pocket screws. October 15, 2012

In our shop there is a debate about gluing or not gluing the stile and rail joint of our face frames. When building face frames using a pocket screw machine and frame table, is it necessary to glue the stile and rail joints?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor B:
I do.

From contributor J:
I do as well.

From contributor U:
Why wouldn't you?

From contributor L:
One of the advantages to using glue is to seal the end grain so it doesn't absorb stain and cause a dark line at the joint.

From contributor G:
If you pocket screw the cabinet box to the face frame, the joint can move and all the sanding you do to make the stile and rail even is all for naught. (That is if you pre-finish your face frame.)

From contributor K:
Can you? Yes. Should you? No, in my opinion. Glue is your friend.

From contributor N:
Yes, always. If the joint moves, the finish cracks.

From contributor E:

From contributor C:

From contributor R:
Over time the wood will expand and contract enough times that the screws will loosen. I think of the face frame screws like clamps until the glue dries.

From contributor Z:
I do also.

From contributor M:
For several years I didn't, and then started doing painted cabinets and had paint cracks at the joint, and unevenness. I started gluing them and haven't had it happen anymore. If you really want to see if it makes a difference, do what I did. Cut a couple pieces of face frame stock about 12'' long, pocket hole it, glue it and screw it together. Come back the next day and take the screws out and see how hard it is to break apart... Bet it doesn't break without taking some wood with it.

From contributor U:
If you don't believe contributor M's test, then do it the other way around. Pocket screw two pieces together, then take the screws out and see how well it holds.

From contributor P:
Glue is a good idea, however hairline cracking of a painted frame is not always joint movement. You have two pieces of wood with grain expansion in different directions of each other. Normal movement with humidity changes causes the tiny crack, not the lack of glue. That's why doors will show small hairline cracks on a paint finish.