Introducing The Pocket Hole Jig
The saying goes that a workman is only as good as his tools, and in many ways, it’s true. Whether you’re a professional or are into DIY, you’ll certainly have invested in the best tools your budget allows, and rightly so. Things do get easier if the equipment is up to scratch. When it comes to joinery – in which a great deal of precision is needed for many areas of the process – having the right tools is absolutely essential, and the one we are looking at in this review can make life a lot less stressful!
We are looking at pocket hole jigs. Now, the layman may not know straight way what we mean here. We’re not talking about a jig that fits in the pocket, but a jig that is used to make pocket holes! Confused? Unless you’re already up to scratch with joinery terms, you most likely will be, so let’s have an explanation!
What is a Pocket Hole Jig?
A pocket hole is a hole that is drilled into a piece of wood at an angle. You will have seen them, perhaps, when putting together self-assembly furniture. These are the holes that form an increasingly deep hole, and into which the screw is placed at an angle.
This sort of hole is used with self-tapping screws to hold two pieces of wood together, and can be used for joins of many different angles. The advantages of this sort of join include the lack of a need for glue, only a single hole is required, and a strong and precise join.
So, how do you make a pocket hole? One method is to drill a series of holes, each increasingly deep, until you have the angle you want. The other is to use a pocket hole jig! The pocket hole jig eliminates the need for drilling several times and results in a very precise and effective join.
So, do you need a pocket hole jig? Professional joiners certainly do, and if you are such you are most likely looking for a new one. For the DIY enthusiast, if you are working with wood, you will find it a very useful tool indeed, and there are examples on our list to suit every budget.
Let’s have a look at the top 10 pocket hole jigs!
The Top 10
1. Trend PH/JIG
We start our reviews with this model from Trend, a brand that offers a variety of joinery and other equipment, as it is one of the best-selling of all the jigs we have looked at. One of the reasons for this is its obvious quality – it’s an all-metal model while some are plastic. One of the benefits of these jigs is that you don’t have to deal with complex maths; it’s an easy to set up tool once you get the hang of it, and designed to provide very accurate pocket holes.
The device is fully adjustable, allowing centres between 29mm and 63mm to be drilled, and is able to handle multiple holes where required. It can be used on wood as narrow as 38mm, which adds to the versatility. Notably, customer reviews are largely in praise of the device, although there are a couple of complaints about limited adjustability and breakages. We like it, and recommend you give it a closer look.
2. Triton TWDMPJ Pocket Hole Jig
This device, from Triton, is on a different level in terms of quality to the above. It is a largely plastic jig – that’s not necessarily a bad thing as it does cut down on price – and it is not as adjustable as the previous model. In fact, it is set at one angle, but it is the angle the makers claim to be the optimum for pocket holes. They may be right, but we suspect a professional would appreciate being able to decide.
Nevertheless, for the DIY enthusiast, this is an interesting device that will certainly help with joinery projects. It is very compact – just 16x6x3cm – so will not take up much room in a toolbox, and is half the price at least of the one above. It comes with a drill bit and a few screws, too. It’s worth noting that only half of customer reviews, from a total of 24, give this tool a 5-star rating, and 20% of buyers gave it one star with comments about poor quality.
3. Kreg 256272 K4 Jig
While researching this review, one brand kept appearing in customer comments such as ‘I should have bought the Kreg’. This is a Kreg model, and it is most certainly a top quality item, albeit at a top quality price. It comes with hardened steel guides, is fully adjustable and comes with a 3-drill spacing that is patented to the brand, and it is a nice solid construction.
The guide itself is removable, so can be used on your benchtop – to which the base can be screwed – or you can use it elsewhere, and it’s easy to set up and use. It can be used with materials from 12.7-38.1mm thick – or ½ an inch to 1 ½ inches, and ranks at 5 stars from 140 reviews. Indeed, 90% of customers give it a top rating, and the lowest is a 3-star, with the complaint being suitable screws are expensive.
4. Lupa 4pc Dowel Jig
Back to basics with this device from the Lupa brand. It’s a pocket hole jig in a sense – or a dowel jig as the makers call it – and it’s a very simple item with none of the complexities of some of those reviewed above. It could be, however, a handy little tool to have in your toolkit if you are into DIY, and as it costs not much more than a tenner you can’t go wrong.
It is designed for drilling holes at a 15-degree angle, which is pretty much fine for pocket holes, has depth collars so you can choose 6mm, 8mm or 10mm holes and comes with drill bits for each. It’s also machined from a solid aluminium block, so it’s not going to fall apart. If you don’t need the full-on models, and want to be able to drill accurate holes at an angle, it could be a useful piece of kit at the price.
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5. Trend PH M
We’ve reviewed one item from Trend at the beginning, and with quite favourable results. That one was a complex machine that we believe is aimed at professional users. We may be right in saying that this one is ripe for the DIY user, as it is suitable compact to be used on furniture in-situ when making repairs. That alone goes in its favour.
It comes with two separate bases – one is for new work, and one is for repairs – and it is able to handle holes between 18mm and 54mm, plus it is an all-metal design so is sturdy and reliable. It comes with drill bit and screws too. Customer reviews are very favourable – the lowest it gets is four stars – and at the price it’s certainly worth looking at if you think you are on a budget.
6. Starall Mini Pocket Hole Jig
This is another portable device that would be best thought of as useful for occasional use by the DIY enthusiast. It is an aluminium model so is suitable durable, and is designed to clamp into place – no clamp is provided. It’s very small and will not take up much room, and is a handy little tool to have around. It comes with a decent case, too, which at the price was not something we expected.
This one comes with a few accessories – you get a suitable drill bit, an Allen key for making your adjustments and a Phillips screwdriver – and while customer reviews are good, there is mention of the instructions being difficult to read and it not being up to professional standards. Nevertheless, for around £25 this makes a lot of sense if you are likely to have furniture that needs repairing this way.
7. Triton TW7PHJ
This cast-iron, heavy and very strong jig from Triton is one to consider if you need a permanent pocket hole jig for regular jobs. In essence, it is very similar to the Kreg – which we reviewed above and which is considered the originator of these devices – and follows the design of that model in many ways. That’s not a bad thing, as the Kreg is considered one of the best of the genre.
It has a built-in clamp and removeable drill guide, it can be bolted to your work surface, and it adjusts between half an inch and 1.5 inches. You get all the accessories you would expect including drill bits and keys for adjusting. The three customer reviews so far rate this as ‘fantastic’ with five stars each, and although it is at the costlier end of the market, we reckon it’s worth a look.
8. Wisamic Pocket Hole Jig
This is a three-hole version of the model branded Starall that we have already reviewed. It is an aluminium model so is suitable durable, and is designed to clamp into place – no clamp is provided. It’s very small and will not take up much room, and is a handy little tool to have around. It comes with a decent case, too, which at the price was not something we expected.
This one comes with a few accessories – you get a suitable drill bit, an Allen key for making your adjustments and a Phillips screwdriver and while there are no customer reviews just yet, it does seem like a decent model for a hobbyist. At around £30 this makes a lot of sense if you are into DIY and want one of these for occasional use.
9. Milescraft 1323 PocketJig 200 Kit
This is another portable model that would perhaps be sufficient for the DIY enthusiast tackling smaller jobs. If you are a joiner building new furniture, we wouldn’t recommend it. It uses four common board thicknesses – half inch, three quarter inch, one inch and 1.5 inch – and it has a built-in magnet to make clamping more reliable.
It is compact and clearly designed for light use, although it’s well-made and durable in build, plus it comes with two-holes and the appropriate drill bits and other necessary accessories. This is a popular choice – it will cost you a little more than £30 – and almost 250 people have reviewed it. Reviews range from 3-star ‘gets the job done’ to 5 star ‘brilliant at the price’, although there are some that say the plastic parts fail easily.
That’s our selection of the top 10 pocket hole jigs for you to choose from, but which is for you? It’s not an easy decision and depends not only on the level and type of work you will be using it for, but also a few other factors, so let’s check them out before we conclude.
Buyers Guide – What to Look For
If you are in the market for a pocket hole jig you will be in one of two groups: you’re either a professional who deals in joinery, or a DIY enthusiast who likes to build the occasional item and repair furniture around the home. In either case, these are a few factors we think you should consider when choosing your item:
Permanent or Portable – some of these are more complex machines that are designed to be bolted to your work surface, while other are intended to be clamped in place when in use, then put away once they have served the purpose. Some of the permanent models have removable guides so they can be used for a quick fix in situ.
Metal or Plastic – one of the complaints that regularly crops up with cheaper items on this list is that plastic parts break easily. This is understandable as these devices can be put through quite a lot of stress and strain. We recommend you check out the construction before you buy.
Adjustable – the more high-end models listed here come with adjustability that is relevant to the professional. In general, the portable ones are set at a certain angle, yet it will be one that does a decent job.
Accessories – what do you get with the jog? Some come with everything you need, others are simply the jig itself, so check the details before you buy.
Value for Money – if you are looking for a permanent, professional-standard jig you will expect to pay more, but there is still quite a discrepancy between the choices in both classes of device. The one we recommend may not be – to you – the best value for money, so the choice is yours.
That’s just about it for our recommendations, so let’s see if we can wrap this up!
We are going to make two recommendations here: one for an occasional use, DIY pocket hole jig, and another for a professional or permanent, serious use model.
First, for the DIY user, we recommend you check out the Starall Mini Pocket Hole Jig as it is a perfectly decent portable model that does a good job at a very sensible price, and comes with a good set of accessories.
If you want a permanent jig that you can rely on time and time again, we can’t get away from the original, the Kreg 613663 Master System. You could buy the jig itself for a few quid less, but with this purchase you get a full set-up that will see you right for a long time.
We hope that our review has helped you find the right pocket hole jig for your requirements.