The short answer, is no. I don't trust bare screws straight in to end grain.
But there is a trusted method on how to screw in to end grain.
In this blog I will show you how to screw in to end grain, and how figure 8 connectors can be used to attach a furniture top to a base.
Like this little shower stool I made, I needed to attach the top economically without spending hours making some sort of custom recessed brackets, or using ugly exposed brackets to attach the top to the base. However, economically often means 'not-as-good' in woodworking. That said, the material is quite heavy so there wasn't really any compromise to be had. The base needed to be fastened securely to the top.
If there was ever a woodworker's catch-22, this is it. How can I make this work as needed, without spending more, and without working excessively to achieve the intended result.
I think this is particularly challenging when building minimal furniture designs - there's always engineering hurdles that must be overcome to make the pieces stand the test of time.
Back to the question: Can you screw into end grain? Yes, you just need to wave your magic woodworking wand.
By strategically plugging hard wood dowels in parallel with the end grain, you effectively create face grain in your work piece so you can drive screws in to them.
I put a .5 inch diameter dowel in to the end of this bed frame so I could attach the mortise-lock hardware into the end grain with screws.
Step 1: Choose where to put your dowels
Back to the shower stool.
For the dowels, the bigger the better. Use .5 inch to .75 inch thick dowels. I made some custom oak dominos instead of using dowels - making mortises with my Festool Domino Joiner was super fast and the added width was a bonus. I used West System Epoxy for bonding - I wanted something water proof and I find epoxy is great for filling in gaps in mortises as well.
You'll want a 1/4" to .5" offset from the top of the dowel to the end grain. What's important is your screws are long enough to reach the dowels, and that they aren't so far down that it makes it difficult to get the screws in them accurately.
Always a nice feeling to trim things up and get everything perfectly smooth.
Step 2: Attaching the top | figure 8 Fasteners
Figure 8 fasteners, or "figure 8 connectors" are something every furniture maker should have available in their hardware supply. They can be used in many applications, are economical, and allow for wood movement if installed properly. I buy mine from Lee Valley, but they can be found on Amazon or at Rockler.
Mark your drill points
Place the figure 8 fastener half way from the edge of the board and us a pencil to mark out where to drill.
Use a 7/8" or 1" forstner bit for the recess.
From here, make the recesses methodically. You don't want to drill too deep. Keep checking the depth of each recess until the fastener fits in perfectly flush with the top of the base.
Use #6 screws to attach the connectors to the wood.
This is important, the connectors are sized for #6 screws. You will want to make a small pilot hole in the center of the recesses.
Presto. After centering the base on the top, fasten the top to your base through the figure 8 connectors.
If you enjoyed reading this post and want to learn more about making high end furniture, check out our woodworking plans.
Sam is a custom furniture maker. His studio is in Penticton BC and makes modern furniture designs for homes and businesses in the Okanagan Valley.
If you're looking for a custom piece of furniture, please send us an email: email@example.com
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