Pocket hole jigs buying guide: 5 best, 25 safety tips, setup & more

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  July 6, 2020
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The best pocket hole jig can make the most precise pocket holes. It also ensures you get firm and neat woodwork joints that will stand the test of time.

If you ever need to assemble cabinetry, a shelve, table, or any other furniture in your house, that is held together using joints; chances are you’ll need a kreg pocket hole jig to get the job done properly.

Best-pocket-hole-jig

Let’s look at the different Kreg models that are available:

Pocket hole jigsImages
Best value for money: Kreg K5 Pocket Hole Jig master system for Easy ClampingBest value for money: Kreg K5 Pocket Hole Jig master system for Easy Clamping

 

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Kreg Combo K4ms Heavy Hole JigKreg Combo K4ms Heavy Hole Jig

 

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Kreg Jig R3 Pocket Hole JigKreg Jig R3 Pocket Hole Jig

 

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Kreg K4 Pocket Hole JigKreg K4 Pocket Hole Jig

 

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Kreg Pocket Hole Jig HDKreg Pocket Hole Jig HD

 

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General Tools 850 Heavy Duty Pocket Hole Jig KitGeneral Tools 850 Heavy Duty Pocket Hole Jig Kit
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Milescraft 13230003 PocketJig200 KitMilescraft 13230003 PocketJig200 Kit
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Wolfcraft Pocket Hole Wood Joining Jig KitWolfcraft Pocket Hole Wood Joining Jig Kit
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Pocket Hole Jig Buying Guide

Although different pocket hole jigs come with different features, there are some standard features that must be considered for you to get the pocket hole jig for your application.

These features include;

Drill bit

You can get an old drill bit easily; however, it must be long enough to get the job done. This highlights the importance of choosing a pocket hole jig that comes with a drill bit/s.

Most jigs will need longer bits than the ones that come with a typical drill. The size of typical bits may also be a mismatch.

Getting drill bits from a manufacturer ensures the bits fit perfectly through guide holes and reach the desired depth.

Clamps

You should also check if the pocket hole jig you want comes with a clamp.

Although some jigs can be secured in place using regular clamps, you’ll almost always need a special clamp designed for the jig to be able to hold it firmly in place.

If the jig system is unique, it should come with a clamp otherwise it won’t be held firm enough by a regular clamp.

Screws

The essence of making pocket holes is to secure wooden joints together. To do this effectively, you need screws. Although screws are easy to source, they come at a price.

Furthermore, the size of readily available screws may not match the size of the pocket holes made by a jig.

Buying a jig that comes with screws ensures you use accessories that meet the manufacturer’s guidelines for specific joinery.

Nuts, bolts, and washers

Different pocket hole jigs are designed differently although almost all jig systems will need to be secured on a counter top or working space using nuts, bolts, and washers.

You should buy jigs with these accessories or go through the trouble of securing your jig in place using other means. Some accessories may also be important for joinery applications.

Adjustable features

A pocket hole jig should allow you to drill holes at different angles. Most are set to about 18 degrees, but you should be able to adjust the drilling angle accordingly to match your project requirement.

You should be able to adjust the jig as well to match the size of workpiece you are drilling.

The pocket hole jigs have many other adjustable features i.e., depth position sliders, workpiece support, and dust collection ports.

All these features increase a jig’s usability from drilling thicker wood to eliminating irregularities like misalignment common in woodworking.

Durability Features

An ideal pocket hole screw jig should also be durable.

Kreg pocket hole jigs come with lifetime guarantees because they are made using the toughest materials i.e., drill guides reinforced with steel.

Such guides can withstand drilling precise pocket holes for a lifetime without fail.

The jig frame and accessories should also be made using high-quality materials that are known for their durability.

In a nutshell, if a pocket hole jig has the above features, it is probably among the best.

It’s worth noting that the above features may come at a price; however, there are many reasonably priced pocket hole jigs on sale today with most if not all above features.

Furthermore, it’s recommendable to spend on a tool that will last a lifetime.

What joints can you make with a pocket hole jig?

These are the different joints you can easily make with a pocket hole jig, and the whole reason you would want to buy one:

Kreg Jig Comparison: k4 vs. k5 jig

What is a Kreg jig? A Kreg jig can be defined as a wood joinery tool. Kreg jigs are made by the Kreg Tool Company, a US company that has been making woodworking tools since 1986.

At the top of Kreg Tool Company, tools are the Kreg K4 and Kreg K5 jigs. These two jigs are both popular yet distinctly different.

Advantages of Using a Pocket Hole Jig

Top 5 Pocket Hole Jigs reviewed

Best value for money: Kreg K5 Pocket Hole Jig master system for Easy Clamping

Best value for money: Kreg K5 Pocket Hole Jig master system for Easy Clamping

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Main Features:

The Kreg K5 jig is a magnificent improvement of the K4. It features many design upgrades suitable for seasoned DIY woodworking enthusiasts as well as beginners.

For instance, the jig also has two extended detachable support wings on both sides of the base that support long work pieces without tipping.

What’s more, the wings have storage compartments beneath for storing screws, drill bits, and other accessories.

Other upgrades included a dust collector that can be removed with ease or moved side to side to allow attachment to a vacuum hose.

Here is Forest to Farm in how to set up the master system:

This feature allows you to work in a clean environment and prolongs the life of your drill bits by reducing heat during drilling.

The K5 also has a ratcheting clamp that slides into place before holding work pieces firmly. The clamp also releases work pieces with ease.

The K5 also qualifies as one of the best Kreg jigs available today for featuring one of the simplest setups.

Using the jig is as simple as selecting a screw base, setting the stop collar, adjusting the drill-guide block and setting the clamp, processes that take minutes.

Pros:

Cons:

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Kreg Combo K4ms Heavy Hole Jig

Kreg Combo K4ms Heavy Hole Jig

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Main Features:

The Kreg Combo K4ms jig set comes with everything you need in DIY pocket hole jig system including an assortment of all the screws, bolts, nuts, and washers you would ever need in the most complex DIY woodworking applications.

Besides offering bonus Kreg accessories, the Kreg K4ms master system has a Kreg K4 jig with notable features like a large clamping recess, material support stop, dust collection attachment, 3-hole drill guide, and material support stop.

The Kreg K4 clamp offers incredible rigidity and work piece hold strength, yet adjustments are fast and easy.

The clamping recess secures the jig on the workbench while the 3-hole drill guide allows pocket hole drilling on work pieces of varying thickness and width.

The 3-hole drill guide has been designed to ensure minimal bit deflection and tear-out to allow clean and plugged pocket holes.

With features like material support stop set at any distance, pocket holes can be repeated.

This pocket hole jig system will definitely work for anyone regardless of the skill level.

You have everything you need in a pocket hole jig plus accessories that save you from incurring additional costs.

Pros:

Cons:

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Kreg Jig R3 Pocket Hole Jig

Kreg Jig R3 Pocket Hole Jig
Kreg Jig

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Main Features:

If you are searching for a cheap pocket hole jig perfect for home repairs and typical DIY woodworking tasks, look no further! The R3 can also qualify as the top quality Kreg Micro jig.

Besides cost, the R3 is very handy as a repair jig making it a great addition to your DIY home tool collection.

The jig is easy to install and use regardless of your woodworking skills though it is more suited for people who are new with joinery.

Nevertheless, it’s a great pocket jig for unmatched drilling power coupled with strong and firm project finishes.

You can make fast holes and join work pieces together ranging from a half-inch to one and a half inches in thickness.

The jig’s positioning sliders allow you to choose any one of the nine different depths. Although the jig doesn’t come with a clamp, it can attach to most clamps.

What’s more – you don’t have to worry about durability given the drill guides are made of hardened steel.

Pros:

Cons:

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Kreg K4 Pocket Hole Jig

Kreg K4 Pocket Hole Jig

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Main Features:

The Kreg Jig K4 offers three drill hole guides, a clamp, and a dust collector. Apart from that, the jig isn’t that different from the R3.

If you care about a quick Kreg jig comparison, this rig is perfect for a DIY enthusiast looking for a better R3 variation.

The K4 is great for anyone looking for a more functional Kreg jig. The R3 may be the best pocket hole jig machine; however, there are applications where the small size is a disadvantage.

The K4 is a perfect alternative. It’s great for most, if not all DIY tasks by beginners and seasoned individuals. The jig is very easy to use given its two-step operation and easy adjustments.

The jig also offers variety in stability given its toggle clamp and portable applications can allow the use of a face clamp to hold the portable base in place.

The K4 offers better control of hole depth than smaller Kreg jigs, and you can work with materials of varying thickness up to 1.5 inches.

The K4 works for portable and bench top applications and comes highly recommended for typical DIY home repairs and applications like building cabinetry.

What’s more – you are assured of a clean working environment thanks to the dust collection shroud, and you can learn how to set up everything via a quick-start guide DVD.

Pros:

Cons:

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Kreg Pocket Hole Jig HD

Kreg Pocket Hole Jig HD

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Main Features:

As the name suggests, the kreg jig HD is designed for heavy-duty solutions. If you want a small and portable Kreg Jig like the R3 but need to use a bigger bit or screws.

The Kreg HD can qualify as the large pocket hole jig available today. The jig has been designed for thicker and larger stock offering 50% stronger joints than typical Kreg jigs. The jig uses #14 HD hardened steel screws that are popular in applications demanding unmatched joint strength.

HD features aside, the jig works well as a standalone pocket hole jig. The Kreg Jig HD can be transported anywhere with ease, clamped, and locked into place. It can also be connected directly to other Kreg jigs bench top bases for upright drilling.

The Jig is ideal for large multipurpose applications ranging from building deck railing and outdoor furniture to framing walls among other large projects.

Pros:

Cons:

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General Tools 850 Heavy Duty Pocket Hole Jig Kit

General Tools 850 Heavy Duty Pocket Hole Jig Kit

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If you are a fan of carpentry and enjoy making DIY furniture in your home, then you need a proper tool to accomplish your projects. A professional-looking gadget made with precision and the excellent tool can last you a lifetime.

The General Tools 850 jig kit is one of the best-rated equipment. Additionally, the kit contains all kinds of amazing tools such as a 3/8-inch step tool replaceable bit, 6-inch square drive bit, a system with clamps, 3/8-inch stop collars of steel, as well as 24 square drive self-tapping screws.

You will also get a robust plastic carry box, and 24 wood-made plugs for different pocket holes. The aluminum design makes it quite lightweight, but the entire tool system is sturdy and durable enough to handle an extensive range of objects.

This jig kit can accurately create a corner, flush, build cabinets with the face frame, drill screws into cramped spots, and clasping face frames with several methods.

It is seamless to operate, for beginners and professionals alike. You can use this tool to become an expert in wood-crafting projects, but there are a few steps you need to be familiar with.

At first, drill deeply pitched counter holes by using the jig in a joint member, and then hammer the screws into another member. The jig is designed explicitly for use with a portable base or a benchtop where its in-built clamping mechanism can truly shine. It is quite affordable and very reliable.

Pros

Cons

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Milescraft 13230003 PocketJig200 Kit

Milescraft 13230003 PocketJig200 Kit

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The outcome of wood joinery results in unyielding and long-lasting furniture, and the process is quick and straightforward if you use a quality pocket hole jig. An effective pocket hole jig like the Milescraft 13230003 PocketJig200 will make the whole process easier for you.

This device lets you connect to your workplaces briskly and conveniently. From building cabinets, bookshelves, storage units, or any other kind of project, this kit can do it all with absolute ease. You can take precise measurements in a matter of seconds due to its flip fence and thickness markings.

From building T-joints, corner joints, Miter, and Framing joints, this jig lets you do it all. Just set the equipment to the setting that you prefer, fix the depth of your bit, and begin drilling. The four standard board thickness options set into the pocket jig are 12, 19, 27, 38 mm.

It also comes with a magnet which will facilitate you to effortlessly lock the jig to the workpiece by using any regular clamp. The Miles craft 3” face clamp ensures efficiency and speed. The sturdy and robust bushings made of steel will ensure precise pocket holes each time you operate the pocket bit.

The stability between the drill bit and steel bushings significantly reduces any damage and creates a neat pocket hole on the first attempt. It’s also highly compatible, and you can quickly switch from drilling to driving.

With separate places for every component in the reusable plastic case, you will never have to spend time looking through your kit.

Pros

Cons

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Wolfcraft Pocket Hole Wood Joining Jig Kit

Wolfcraft Pocket Hole Wood Joining Jig Kit

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Similar to doing some heavy and messy work before building a house, drilling proper pocket holes before connecting the pieces is an important step. If you happen to skip this step, you might as well have skipped the whole thing.

Woodworking and carpentry require proper devices like the Wolfcraft Pocket Hole Woodjoining Jig Kit that will help you create a quality end product. The small and compact size of this kit is incredibly useful since it allows you to drill in the cramped, hard to reach spots.

It also comes with a sturdy design and an easy to use instruction. Its single-piece structure is made of nylon mixed with glass which means the device is entirely unbreakable.

You can also fit this jig in small pouches and cases which ensures durability and portability. The jig includes a measurement guide, so you can easily measure the thickness of the material. It contains four adjustable thicknesses: ½”, ¾”, 1”, and 1-1/2” which are marked on the body of the jig.

Through the ribbed clamped pad, you can quickly measure the thickness and drill without any problems. All the screws in this jig are self-tapping and are a combination of Phillips/Square Drive.

The item weighs merely 1.6 pounds, ensuring long-lasting durability. It also includes all the standard drill bits and starting materials for pocket hole making.

Pros

Cons

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How do you use a pocket hole jig?

In case you are wondering how a pocket hole jig works, here’s what you need to know.

First and foremost, pocket holes have been in existence long before the first pocket hole jig was ever made.

For the longest time, carpenters had been driving nails and screws in an angled position, a process that was tedious and inaccurate.

The principle behind pocket hole jigs is to make it easy to make pocket holes. Jigs have also made pocket holes neat and precise.

By holding a workpiece in place during drilling and angling screws precisely, making pocket holes and firm joinery is no longer a problem.

The jigs on the market today have guide holes that can be angled to specification allowing joinery applications that vary greatly.

Jigs also save time without compromising on anything including aesthetics. A jig is an essential tool for making a DIY joinery project look professional.

Jigs also result in firmer and stronger joints. When joining workpieces at the right angle, the importance of making precise joints can’t be overlooked.

Any un-perpendicular joints or gaps result in weak joints.

Jigs are designed to allow perfect joint and screw angling, an important prerequisite for perfect joinery.

They also solve a long-standing problem of screws or nails being driven too far into joints resulting in cracking.

Pocket holes have a precise depth while pocket screws have wide washer heads that prevent over-screwing.

Jig Setup and Usage

Step #1: Work Place

Your Pocket Hole jig is meant to be used portably. You must make sure that the workpiece will be secure before clamping the jig to the workpiece.

Step #2: Material thickness

This will determine your settings for your Pocket-Hole jig in Step #3 and #4. The Pocket-Hole jig can drill 1/2 to 1-1/2-inch material.

Step #3: Set the Depth Collar

Using the included Depth Collar Gage you will be able to set the depth collar for a wide range of material thicknesses. • Slide the depth collar onto the shank of the drill bit. • Lay the drill bit and depth collar into the Depth Collar Gage • Slide the shoulder of the drill bit to the line that matches the material thickness you are using. • Tighten the depth collar with the supplied 1/8” hex key.

Step #4: Setting the Drill Guide

Step #5: Using the Edge Stops

You will then need to adjust the Drill Guides by one notch. This is because you are now stopping on the bottom edge of the jig instead of the Edge Stops. For extra tight places, you can remove the housing and use only a single Drill Guide.

Step #6: Clamping and drilling

Safety Tips while Using Pocket Hole Jigs

You can make joins in a matter of minutes. Since its one hole, there are no alignment challenges when joining wood.

Gluing is not required unless you would like to make the joints extra strong. Short clamping time.

Your project does not need to be clamped together for long even after using glue. You should observe the following safety precautions for safer operations.

  1. Disconnect the power tool when the machine is not in use, while making adjustments, and before changing accessories and servicing. Always switch off the device before connecting it to a power supply and or plugging in any tool.
  2. You should always use present instructions while mounting the power tool, attachments, and other accessories. Ideally, you should use each device for the designed purpose.
  3. Keep visitors and children away. You should never let inexperienced visitors and children touch the tool, its accessories, and or its attachments.
  4. You should dress appropriately in no loose clothing or jewelry that can be caught up in moving parts.
  5. You should always consider working in a safer environment that meets all the necessary safety standards. For example, never use the tool in a damp or rainy environment and power tools near flammable liquids or gasoline.
  6. Always maintain a clean working area since cluttered benches and workshops are a significant cause of injuries. Ensure there is enough room to work safely.
  7. You should secure idle tools. Unused tools should be stored in a dry locked placed to hinder children from accessing them.
  8. For safety and control, you should use both hands on the attachment and on the power tool. Both your hands should be kept away from the cutting area.
  9. You should always keep guards in good working condition and in the right place to minimize injury risks.
  10. Maintain cutters and tools with care. You should always keep cutters sharp, clean, and oiled for safer and better performance.
  11. You should always inspect the extension cables, power tool, attachment, and the plug to identify any signs of damage.
  12. Never carry accessories or power tools by the cord or disconnect from the main socket by pulling.
  13. Where applicable, you should always connect the dust extraction equipment and collection facilities.
  14. Check all the power tool screws, fastening and fixing nuts, bolts, cutting tools, and attachment before to ensure they are firm and secure.
  15. Never leave running tools unattended. You should always ensure that you leave a tool after coming to a complete stop.
  16. You should always keep the accessory and its attachments firmly stable and in proper levels.
  17. Never overreach. You should always maintain proper balance and footing at all times.
  18. You should always securely clamp workpiece while working on a machine.
  19. Always monitor the vibration levels emitted by the machine.
  20. All the personal protective equipment (PPE) should meet all the set standards.
  21. Remove any metal parts, staples, and nails from the working piece.
  22. Cutting tools should be used for woodworking that meets safety standards.
  23. Always stay alert by watching all that you are doing.
  24. You should never use tools with faulty switches.
  25. Never use damaged accessories.

Frequently Asked Questions around pocket hole jigs

Does KREG Make High-quality Pocket Hole Jigs?

Their popularity as confirmed in online pocket hole jig reviews is a testament of their quality. As a brand, the Kreg Tool Company is among the most experienced pocket hole jig company having been established in 1986.

Why is buying a quality pocket hole jig important?

High-quality pocket hole jigs increase your chances of making strong and durable joinery that will last a lifetime. The bet jigs prevent over drilling, misalignment, and other problems known to compromise the quality of joinery.

Furthermore, your chances of damaging workpieces and incurring unnecessary costs are lower when you have a good pocket hole jig. Lastly, you can use a high-quality jig for a lifetime.

The cost of investing in a good jig is lower than that of buying poor quality jigs. Bad jigs aren’t durable and need replacing after a few years.

What size pocket hole screws for 2×4?

When choosing pocket hole screws, the most critical factor to consider is length. To have a “perfect” joint, the screw should penetrate at least 50%. Using this general rule, 3/4 screw should be ideal for a 2 x 4.

Q: How strong are pocket hole joints?

Ans: The strength of a pocket hole joint is stronger than you might think. Researchers have found that it can survive a load of up to 707 pounds without failing.

It is about 35 percent stronger than a mortise and tenon joint which fails at 453 pounds.

Q: Do I need to use glue to reinforce this type of joint?

Ans: Yes, the dovetail jig makes beautiful joints, Though most joints like dovetail or mortise and tenon require glue reinforcement; this is not the case with a pocket hole fitting.

You do not need it since the fastener acts like an internal clamp. However, it might strengthen the joint further if you need it.

Q: Can I use regular screws in pocket holes?

Ans: You can. However, it is recommended not to use regular wood screws for this type of work.

Q: What is the angle of a pocket hole jig?

Ans: The usual angle of the fitting is 15 degrees, but you can switch it up according to your needs.

Q: Can you make a pocket hole without a jig?

Ans: Yes. But the amount of time and effort you need to invest makes it hardly worth it.

Final Words

In conclusion, a pocket hole jig is an ideal tool for making angled holes through wood boards and joining them together with screws.

However, for the highest performance, you should always observe safety precautions and operational procedures.

If you are looking for the best pocket hole jig that comes with everything you need, the Kreg Combo K4ms comes highly recommended.

The Combo K4ms comes with an assortment of accessories including screws, nuts, and washers, everything you need for joinery woodworking applications.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new equipment, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.
Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.