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Do you like doing woodworking projects? I have really come to enjoy working with wood and have acquired a nice collection of major power tools to help make my creations. Nearly every wood project I do involves joining two pieces of wood together and I’ve found that pocket holes work exceptionally well! The easiest way to make pocket holes is with the Kreg Jig. If you aren’t familiar with it, stick around because I’m going to explain how to use a Kreg Jig.
What Is A Pocket Hole?
A pocket hole is when you drill a hole at about a 15% angle into one piece of wood and then use a screw down in that hole to attach the first piece of wood to the second piece. This is a common wood joinery technique.
So Why Use A Kreg Jig?
Accurately drilling holes at a specific angle is a bit more difficult than it sounds, especially for the amateur who just likes to do projects occasionally. If I’d have come across project plans that required pocket holes before I learned of the Kreg Jig, I would have been like, ‘Next’!
The Kreg Jig takes out all the guesswork! It comes with special drill bits and guides that help you adjust them based on the thickness of your material. Kreg even makes special screws that work wonderfully along with the jig.
Step-by-Step Instructions on How To Use a Kreg Jig
Setting Up Your Jig
First, you will want to set the Kreg Jig according to the thickness of your wood. The special drill bit that comes with the Kreg Jig kit has a depth collar on it and there is a depth collar guide on the base of your jig. The top of the bit has a smaller tip and then steps out to a wider size for the rest of the bit.
The spot where it steps out is what you want to align with the marking that matches your wood thickness. Then you can move the collar up to the stop position and tighten it with the allen wrench included with the kit.
Next, you will need to adjust the drill guide by loosening the drill guide pin and aligning the wood thickness marking with the top of the jig and then re-tightening the pin.
The third part of getting the jig ready is making any necessary adjustments to the clamp pad. When you place your piece of wood in the jig and try to clamp it, the clamp should be snug. If you need to adjust it, release the lock nut behind the clamp pad and then turn the pad in or out depending which way you want it to go. You may have to adjust it a couple times before finding the right fit.
Pocket Hole Placement
Once you have all the settings adjusted for your wood thickness, you want to make sure you are evenly spacing your pocket holes along your wood. There are 3 holes on the guide. The hole that sets over a bit by itself is hole A, followed by the two holes closer together, holes B and C. Which holes you drill in depends on the width of your wood.
If you are drilling pocket holes in a skinny piece of wood that’s 1-2” wide, use holes B and C. If it’s a bit wider at 2-3”, use holes A and B. 3-4” wide pieces, use holes A and C. If you are working with wider panels of wood, you will be doing more sets so it doesn’t matter which holes you use; just start a couple inches in from the edge and space out your sets of holes by about 6”.
Now to actually drill your pocket holes, you will clamp your wood in place on the Kreg Jig and using the special drill bit, drill down in the appropriate holes of the jig’s drill guide.
Importance of Your Screws
It’s not imperative that you use Kreg screws for your pocket holes, but you will want to use self-tapping screws and you will need an abnormally long drill bit to fit down in the pocket holes. I find it easier to just use the special long drill bit included with the Kreg Jig kit, along with the Kreg screws, which have a special square head.
The length of your screws is important with pocket holes. You want a longer screw than your material thickness. Here’s a guide…
¾” material > 1 ¼” screws
1” material > 1 ½” screws
1 ½” material > 2 ½” screws (This is what I use most since I use alot of two-bys – 2 x 4, 2 x 6)
There are fine thread screws which are used for hardwoods like oak, walnut, or cherry. The coarse thread screws are for softer materials like plywood, pine, particle board, etc.
After making your pocket holes, you will want to clamp/brace your wood pieces whenever possible before attaching them. It’s best to drive your screw half way in, back it out and then drive it all the way in.
It Really is Easy!
While all this may seem a bit complicated, once you do it the first time you will be so happy you decided to get a Kreg Jig! My dad was a custom woodworker and even though I’m sure he could expertly do pocket holes without a jig, I can only imagine he would be pretty impressed with the Kreg Jig and how simple it makes joining pieces of wood together.
Now that I have mine, I couldn’t imagine not having it! Think of all the things you could make!
Do you have a Kreg Jig? Do you love it? What have you made using yours?
Until next time,