Saturday, October 24, 2015

What’s in Your Pocket? A Mini Kreg Pocket Screw Jig

Kreg MKJKIT Mini Jig Kit

There are many ways to create strong, secure joint in wood; but only the more difficult methods leave a finished surface unscathed. A glued joints doesn’t hold up with constant stress, doweled or biscuit joints take time and patience, and so do countersunk screws with wood plugs. Is there another solution?

Yep, there’s the pocket screw. To use pocket screws, you come in from the back side of the finished board at a shallow angle (about 15°) so that the screw exits near the center of the edge. Screws naturally draw two pieces together without additional clamping, and they hold better than nails or glue. You'll find pocket screws used to build high-end furniture as well as DIY projects.

The hardest part of using pocket screws, however, is getting the holes located at the right entry point and set at the correct angle. Good carpenters use jigs when they’re repeating a task; and if that is drilling pocket screw holes, they probably use pocket screw jigs. Mine’s a Mini Kreg Jig Kit MKJKIT, a simple tool that, when used correctly, lets me todrill holes for pocket screws in ½”, ¾”, or 1½” stock. The jig kit includes 3 pieces:

• the jig, a block of blue plastic that clamps to the workpiece. It guides the bit at the correct angle, starting at the correct point
• a 3/8-inch step bit to drill the pocket holes. The last half inch of the bit is a 3/16" twist bit that drills the shank hole.
• a collar to stop the bit after it has penetrated to the proper depth, allowing the screw head to get good purchase and the threads to lag into the other workpiece

By default, the Mini Kreg Jig is set up to use on ¾“ (nominal 1”) stock. The instructions include directions for setting it to use in ½" and 1½" stock. You need to clamp the jig block at a different distances from the board’s edge and adjust the position of the bit collar. Both adjustments are fairly simple, though Kreg could make them easier. It would have been helpful if the bit were marked at the three correct depth, but you have to measure. A set of shims would have been helpful when it comes to positioning the jig block. Both are available in other jig sets.

When drilling my first couple of holes with my Kreg Jig, I clamped the block with a QuikClamp.  This allowed more play in the jig than I liked, especially with the no-mar clamps in place. A little testing showed that an ordinary C-Clamp held the jig more securely.

The bottom surface of the jig is notched to allow placement of Kreg’s plugs, but I’ve never used it.  The dowels, which are angled to match the insertion angle of the hole, are available where Kreg tools are sold. You can also buy self-tapping Kreg screws in sizes 7 (for hardwoods) and 8 (for softwoods). They’re square drive screws with a sort of pan-head design, and can be bought in lengths from 1¼” to 2½” in "Blue-Kote," zinc-coated and stainless steel. They're a little pricey, but the screws are excellent quality. For driving your screws, you’ll have to pick up an extra-long square-head drive, which Kreg sells in 3- and 6-inch lengths. Nickeling and diming like that gets a little expensive, but it’s worth it to build with hidden screws that are faster than dowels or biscuits and more secure than glue.

Kreg Tool K4 Pocket Hole Jig System

from: Hardware World

When push comes to shove, I’ve found my Mini Kreg Jig Kit simple to use and it functioned as advertised. I suspect that a couple of small design changes could make it easier to use without a major increase in price, though, so I can't give it a full five stars. 


Plus: Fairly easy to use, does what it says it does.
Minus: For maybe $2 more it could've been made lots easier to use
What They’re Saying: A Mini Kreg Jig Kit (MKJKIT) will introduce you to using pocket screws, but if you’re like me, you may want more than it gives you.

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