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Pocket Hole Jigs?

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diytoolbox

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Are pocket hole jigs any good? I was looking at it, but thought well why not use dowels?
But it seems popular in some wood workers and hobbyists furniture makers, and there must be reasons for it?
Do you use it? What is the advantage of using pocket hole jigs? Or is it just a gimmick gadget?
 

recipio

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Ha Ha...I think you will get lots of replies on here. They are an extremely useful tool as long as they are used properly. They are fine for faceframes, basic boxes and shelving etc. However they don't look very nice and are hopeless in any joint that is stressed.
On balance, if you get one you will use it ! :rolleyes:
 

Sporky McGuffin

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I like mine (the Axi one). It's a quick and easy way to knock up joints in boards. I don't make furniture much, and what I do is utilitarian (mostly for the workshop) so fast beats pretty for me.

I've not used a dowel jig so am not speaking from experience, but they look slower and fiddler, but with better looking results?
 

AES

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Agreed. I'm definitely NOT a furniture maker, but used in the right place (IMO that = utilitarian), in the right way (placing of the joints, as per "the book"), and using the right screws (that'll start some howls I think!) then I find my Kreg K5 brilliant.
 

robgul

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As suggested - in the right sort of job they're brilliant - I've been using them for quite a while with a Trend jig that clamps the wood and also a Kreg Jig Heavy Duty Pocket Hole Set Kit KJHD which has settings for different thicknesses of timber.
 

Droogs

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I have used both dowels and pockethole screws to assemble the various cabinets and trolleys I use in my workshop. Currently I am remaking all my storage in a much more customized way for the tools I have to maximize the space in my little spot. All the cabinets are being put together using poketholes to save time and i know I will probably want to take it all apart again in the future and reuse the MDF. Where I know the cabinet or trolley will hold a lot of weight or have large stressess, I am reinforcing the joint with dowels, so a side to top/bottom butt joint will have at least 3 pocket screws with dowels fitted inbetween. so far so good and i have made my saw till, large corner cabinet for all my routers and my tracksaw and biscuit joiner stuff and have just finished my new plane till for all my planes, scrapers and spokeshaves (~150kg all in). they are sitting on French cleats and doing fine.

I bought the pockethole jig that Dennis of Hooked on Wood has when they first came out and copied his holding jig. Once done it is a quick and efficient way to get boards stuck together.
 

diytoolbox

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Sure, interesting stuff. I had a suspicion that pocket hole jigs are very popular.

One of my upcoming projects is making bookshelves and storage boxes with MDF or plywood. I will get a pocket hole jig for the project, and see how I get on. Initially I was intending to use dowels, but pocket hole jig could speed up the work, and sounds suitable for the practical uses.

Another point caught my attention was the price of pocket hole screws - not cheap £15 for 500 pack in smallest size? I just bought a pack of 1400x normal screws in mixed size for £12.

But then I guess that pocket hole screws are meant to be used for joining boards for some type of furniture type objects (number of the screws being used is usually limited compared to, or ), rather than building shed or covering floors or walls with sheets and the standard PH or PZ screws.
 
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Just4Fun

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I don't have a pocket hole jig but I have used the basic idea, just drilling angled holes freehand. Only on rough & ready DIY projects but in that context it works well enough. I think one advantage over dowels is that tightening the screws can pull the joint together but with dowels you may need a clamp or a persuader.
 

Droogs

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With pocket holes there is a tendency for the board with the hole to shift slightly as it finally tightens up to the opposite board. Using a clamp or a dowel helps prevent any misalignment that can occur.
 

D_W

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Another point I was a bit cautious about was the price of pocket hole screws - not cheap £15 for 500 pack in smallest size? I just bought a pack of 1400x normal screws in mixed size for £12.
There's some element of printer and ink model here. As in, if you use dowels, you probably have to buy dowels. But if you use screws, you're more likely to buy them from the company that makes the jig.

Same with drill bits.

Naturally, they're going to be marked up beyond market cost for screws and drill bits.
 

Peter Sefton

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Not something I have used myself but Armor Tool have taken the old design and improved it, it's been a popular product with our customers.


 

recipio

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Another point I was a bit cautious about was the price of pocket hole screws - not cheap £15 for 500 pack in smallest size? I just bought a pack of 1400x normal screws in mixed size for £12.
I was an early adapter of the Kreg system having seen one at a show in the 1980's Having dismantled some of the early stuff I made I noted that the screws had rusted badly, especially in MDF. Kreg have moved on from steel screws and all their range are now coated in some form of zinc or tin coating. Well worth the money IMO if it prevents rusting.
 

AES

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But the main point about using the special screws - and YES, they are expensive - is the fact that the head on every screw is a special, with a built-in "washer" as an integral part of the head. That may make them more expensive to manufacture - I'm sure it does actually - but as D-W has suggested above, the idea of the manufacturer is also, of course, to tie you to his screws.

However, there have been arguments on here in the past, about using ordinary round head screws - or even countersunk head screws (!!!) - with a normal washer under the head to spread the load where the bottom of the head sits against the top of the large diameter hole. Some say this works just as well as using the proper special screw, but without being able to really prove it, I say "nonsense". So I stick to the special screws. Just my opinion.
 

D_W

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It's hard to believe that kreg/etc, wouldn't develop the jig and its use along with the screw design. Suggesting trying to come up with substitutes could fare better in some situations, but more likely fare worse.

Designing the jig and its use so that it wouldn't work well with any standard setup would be smart engineering, though, too. Designing a jig that would work well with a standard industrial offering is a good way to go broke because the jig would sell immediately in great numbers and then the bottom would fall out when the market was saturated.
 
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TRITON

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It's hard to believe that kreg/etc, wouldn't develop the jig and its use along with the screw design. Suggesting trying to come up with substitutes could fare better in some situations, but more likely fare worse.

Designing the jig and its use so that it wouldn't work well with any standard setup would be smart engineering, though, too. Designing a jig that would work well with a standard industrial offering is a good way to go broke because the jig would sell immediately in great numbers and then the bottom would fall out when the market was saturated.
Sorry, but do you mean to be used with countersunk screws rather than what they use(flat/washered type)
 

Insanity

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Pocket holes are excellent, quick and simple. They're quite popular for drawer construction, as it's easy to hide the joinery. However, they're not so good with MDF as it's too soft and the joints are weak. You can glue the joints prior to screwing together to give it some extra strength.
You do need to use some of clamping as Droogs said, they will walk. Kreg sell a special clamp for pocket holes to stop this, but it's not really necessary.
I have a trend plug cutter which I use to plug the holes if I need to, using offcuts of the same wood. You can use filler as well, but only if you're painting it. Finally I wouldn't get a cheap pocket hole jig, they're awful next to a kreg, etc. Well worth spending the extra money if you're going to use it frequently.

Dowels can go wrong unless you have an accurate dowelling jig, but even then, you can be a millimetre out and it ruins the job. There's some really fancy dowelling jig being sold, they look decent, but I haven't tried them.
 

D_W

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I'm not that familiar with what Kreg does, but what I mean is that if you use anything mechanically different than their screws and bits, it may not work as well in some situations.

My point was that if I were designing and testing a jig (this is hypothetical, because I personally wouldn't operate like this, but if I had 100 employees and needed to pay for health care and salary, I would), I would make the hardware something proprietary and then even intentionally make the jig so that it would work better with the hardware than anything else that didn't get intellectual protections.
 

Daniel2

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I use mine a lot.
Usually I team them up with biscuits and glue, though.
Fabulous for carcass work or drawers.
 
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