Pocket Screws and the Kreg Jig



To assemble the face frame on the Fish Tank Stand, I used pocket screws. A lot of people like pocket screws, and use them all the time with lots of success, so I thought I’d give them a try. I ordered the Kreg Jig Master Kit from Eagle America and when it arrived I was excited to put it to use. Here’s my review.

What’s Included

The packaging was good, and it’s nice that it came in a plastic carrying case. The kit includes the drill bit, the drilling block, a clamp, two square-drive bits, some screws, plugs, a bench top base with camp, dust collection (vacuum) shroud, material stop, and a DVD that shows you how to use the system. Some screws are included, but I would expect more screws for an expensive “Master System.” Plugs for the pocket holes are included, but I think they are useless and ugly, and I’d never want a customer to see a pocket hole (plugged or not), so I tossed these in the trash. Many of the parts had oil on them, so they were wiped clean or covered with blue tape before making contact with the wood.

What’s Not Included

No manual is included, I guess Kreg assumes that every shop has access to a DVD player and that no permanent written material is needed. There aren’t enough screws included for the price.

Assembly

I was surprised at the amount of assembly and quantity of small parts. The arm on the clamp that holds material against the drilling block needs to be installed. The dust shroud (vacuum connector) needs to be installed if you intend to collect the sawdust. The brass knob on the drilling block needs to be installed with the block at the right height. And the entire material stop needs to be assembled from a bag of small parts. I would expect this to be assembled at the factory. Installing the jig and the stop on a board is up to the buyer. The stop has a slot underneath it like it would fit on an aligning bar, but the jig base station doesn’t. Perhaps if the jig base station had a slot that matched with the material stop, and the bar was included, it would be easier to install the base and the material support in a perfect line. Instead I think I’ll probably throw away the material support stop. It’s pretty flimsy and useless.

Using the Kreg Jig

I’ve only used the Kreg Jig and pocket screws one time, so these are my initial impressions. It was easy enough to use. I’ve seen enough people use the jig and the screws on the Internet that I haven’t even cracked open the DVD shrink-wrap yet. I assembled a maple face frame, and the holes weren’t as clean as I had expected. The included clamp held pieces in basic alignment, but I found myself using my bench to get things held in the correct position. When assembled the frame was pulled tight and roughly square. The squareness depends on how square you cut your wood (obviously).

Verdict

Overall the pocket jig worked fine and the screws hold the face frame together well. I was a surprised at the number of plastic parts, amount of user assembly required, low number of included screws, and uselessness of the material stop. I find it odd that Kreg is pushing the pocket hole plugs, and would be surprised if they are used. I have no data on the quality of DVD or dust collection.

There are a lot of pocket hole fans on the Internet, but unfortunately my reaction was along the lines of “really, that’s it?” I will probably use pocket hole screws for some future projects, but will lean towards mortise-and-tenon for face frames on my furniture because I am trying to reduce the amount of metal in my woodwork.

11 thoughts on “Pocket Screws and the Kreg Jig

  1. Teri Sutton

    Are you crazy! I LOVE my Kreg Jig … you should have let a woman put it together for you. Piece of cake.

    Mine came with instructions, perhaps you discarded yours in the excitement of opening the package. But you really don’t need the instructions, so easy to use. If you are a woodworker, you have to have this tool. I use mine so much that it has its own worktable.

  2. steve mc cullough

    I love my Kreg Jig and have built numberous items that I would not have attempted before purchasing it. Do you think maybe there’s a reason for the DVD…..Maybe its just me, but I learned a long time ago that it usually goes better if you read the instructions first, even if its on a monitor or a tv screen. As for the number of screws…I’m not sure what the problem is. If you buy a set of screw drivers, do they give you screws to go with it, or nuts and bolts for a socket set.
    Also, the Kreg site and the Kreg Community have tons of info and plans and ideas and experienced people to help those of us just entering the world of the pocket hole screw.

  3. Kreg

    Thanks for the review, guys. Sorry the Kreg Jig didn’t live up to your expectations… needless to say, that doesn’t happen very often! Just so you know, the instructions are in the DVD case, along with a code to receive a free Cabinetmaking Booklet! Also, the Material Support Stop is the exact height of your jig, making it perfect for supporting large panels while drilling. It can be screwed down to any wood work surface.

    Enjoy.

    P.S. Check out http://kregjig.ning.com to see why thousands of people love their Kreg Jigs. While you’re there, you can download free project plans, see thousands of project photos, watch educational videos, and more!

  4. Ken

    I find it hard to believe for a website reviewer not to have used the dvd. Most of the woodworker I know live the 21st century and have access to a modern computer, we everything from plans to supplies from the web. Maybe if could let KREG know how many screws and what size everyone who buys the master kit needs for their first project they would include them. I have used my KREG for countless projects from railroad track base to furniture, never had any plastic part break.

    Ken

  5. Alan

    Too bad you didn’t do your homework. The Kreg jig is my favorite woodworking tool of all time. I remain in awe of the design, quality, and functionality of their products. The last saw and measuring tape I purchased also did not include written instructions or expendable supplies. I’ve never purchased a hammer that included nails.

  6. Kreg fan

    The DVD IS, for all intents and purposes, the manual. Personally I think you were overly critical of the product. It works well, is reasonably priced, and is better designed than any competitive product. I respect your choice to use mortise and tenon joinery, but you seem to be missing the point. This product is intended for those of us who either don’t want to or can’t do m&t joints yet still want to make a quality finished product. Next time do yourself and your audience a favor and use the included DVD so that you can speak from a position of knowledge and not criticize what you may not fully understand.

  7. Elmer

    First open the dvd, the manual is right there, no dvd player needed. Dust collection could not be easier, just snaps right on the front; my router requires removing two screws installing the dust collector and reinstalling the screws.

  8. Matt Post author

    Thanks for the comments everyone, and to answer your questions: I was always late on my homework, and yes I am crazy.

    I do like the Kreg Jig, and it did solve my problem. The point I was trying to make is that there seems to be a huge amount of love for the product and I don’t understand it. I was almost expecting the Apple iPad or iPhone of woodworking tools.

    Some commenters think I should have opened the DVD to watch it or find and read the manual, and others say I don’t need the manual cause it is so easy to use. I agree and as I said in my review I had seen enough use of the Kreg Jig across Internet sites to use it correctly without the manual. This is a good thing.

    There were lots of comments about the amount of screws. You’re right, when you buy a hammer it doesn’t come with nails, and when you buy a screwdriver set it doesn’t come with screws. However if you buy the $130 Master System that includes screws, well, I’d expect more screws. I would also expect to have more of the pieces assembled, especially for small parts that could easily get lost on a job site or in a shop.

    My question for you is, do you use (or intend to use) the plugs?

    -Matt

  9. PickeringMike

    I’ve not used pocket screws that often, but even if I was, I couldn’t justify the price of a Kreg kit. I picked up a generic from home depot for $20 and it works fine for what I’ve used it for.

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