Make strong joints in particle board with the Confirmat RTA Connecting Screw

I have to admit that one of my least favorite materials to work with is particle board or melamine board.  In my day job as a corporate trainer for a German hardware manufacturer I interact with melamine board every day and as much as I hate it I have to admit that there are lots of projects where it's the right choice.  The biggest issue with any particle board is that the core of the board is quite porous or as I view it, "pithy".  Imagine driving a wood screw into the edge of particle board and you can easily see the weak link. 

Following WWII Europeans learned to make the best of particle board, because that was all they had available to them, and what they learned was that they needed connectors that took advantage of particle board's strength; which is it's dense surface.  The winner in this area was the Confirmat one-piece connector.  At first glance the Confirmat appears to be a screw, but in actuality it creates a strong connection that can be loosened and re-tightened repeatedly with little loss of strength.  How does it do it?  The diameter of the connector is so large that it allows the threads to cut into the dense portion of the board.

If there is any catch it's that it requires two different diameter holes to be precisely drilled; one through the face of the cabinet side, and one horizontally into the cabinet top, bottom or shelf.  In addition, if the head of the connector is to be flush with the side of the cabinet the head will need to be countersunk.  With CNC equipment this isn't a big deal, but in the small shop this means handling the parts several times through several set-ups.  Surely there has to be a better way... and there is.

German cabinetmakers learned that if they dry assemble their boxes and clamp them in place that they can drill though the side of the cabinet and into the horizontal member with one plunge of a specialized bit.  On top of that this bit will also create a countersink for the head.

These durable connecting bolts are now available from Woodcraft, as are the required step drill bits.  Please note that the best time to purchase the replacement drill bit is before you need it!

Note that the Confirmat is available in two diameters; 5mm and 7mm.  Use the 7mm version for particle board that's 19mm (3/4") thick, and use the 5mm version for 13mm (1/2") thick board.  Also, the drive type is Pozi, which was an improvement over Phillips that was embraced everywhere else in the world but never caught on here in the USA.  You might as well pick up a #3 Pozi drive bit while you are at it to make optimal use of this connector.

Find Confirmat One-Piece Connectors for sale at Woodcraft.

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