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.
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.
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).
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.