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Best Kreg Jig Systems

Updated November 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 12 Models Considered
  • 68 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 125 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best Kreg Jig systems

    Last Updated November 2018

    A well-made mortise and tenon joint is a pleasure to see, but most of us lack the skill – or the time – to produce them accurately. The fast and simple alternative is the pocket hole, and a good pocket-hole jig makes the job even quicker and easier.

    Kreg Jig systems are, without doubt, the market leaders. They produce everything from a mini jig that will literally fit in your pocket to a comprehensive kit that solves just about every jointing challenge.

    If you're ready to buy, check out our top picks for every demand and budget. The following shopping guide gives more detailed information about what all the Kreg Jig systems offer.

    What is a pocket hole?

    There are all kinds of ways of joining two pieces of wood at right angles to each other.

    Traditional

    Dovetails and other traditional joints have been used by generations of craftspeople. Done well, they're not only incredibly secure but also beautiful. The problem is that they take years to master. Done badly, your furniture will soon fall apart.

    Screws

    A screw, on the other hand, can be put in by just about anybody – and it's also very strong. Unlike a nail, you can't easily pull a screwed joint apart. Unfortunately, a screw head isn't very attractive.

    • Pocket holes: The answer is to drill a hole in which to hide the screw – a pocket hole. Not surprisingly, many manufacturers offer jigs that remove all the guesswork, enabling even a novice to work quickly and accurately.

    The ultimate tool for precision joints

    You simply won't find a more comprehensive, better thought out system than the K5. From the adjustable ratchet clamp to the side wings that support larger workpieces (and double as storage), it's a tool focused on doing its job better than anything else available. It's compact enough to be portable, robust enough to last a lifetime, and provides unbeatable accuracy again and again.

    Pocket hole basics

    Where possible, pocket holes are placed on the inside of the joint so they can’t be seen. Fit a wooden plug over the top, and the hole is almost invisible. The threads of the screw bite into the second of the two pieces to be joined, so the join stays tight. You can use a pocket hole to join the pieces of a picture frame or the legs to a tabletop – in fact, just about anything that meets at a 90° angle. Plywood, softwoods, and hardwoods can all be joined with pocket-hole jigs.

    • Width: Most jigs work with a minimum width of about one inch. There is no practical maximum on width. Standard guides work for anything up to four inches wide. After that, you just keep adding holes six inches apart until you're done.

    • Thickness: Most jigs work with a minimum thickness of one-half inch. Maximum thickness is approximately one and one-half inches, which is the actual size of all 2x posts and boards (such as 2 x 4s and 2 x 6s).
       

    Pocket-hole jigs have three basic components:

    • Drill guide (one to four holes; most have two or three)

    • Clamp (holds wood to drill guide)

    • Drill bit with adjustable collar to set correct depth; (Too shallow and the joint won't be strong. Too deep and the point of the screw might go through the joint, marring the outer surface.)

    DID YOU KNOW?

    The Kreg Deck Jig is a fast and accurate way to fix your decking (and fence panels, too, depending on design). Check your stock size carefully, though, so you use the correct screws.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    For a nice, clean hole, you need a sharp drill. If the edges of the hole splinter, the drill needs to be resharpened. Your local hardware store may do it, or you can send the drill back to Kreg.

    Special Kreg Jig features

    The Kreg Tool Company doesn't just make pocket-hole jigs. There is also a handy decking jig (so you can fix your boards without ugly nail heads showing), a specialist drawer-side jig (of particular interest to cabinetmakers), and several other additions. However, they are all variations of the pocket-hole idea, so that's what we're focusing on here.

    • The accuracy of the drill guide is vital. Some manufacturers use aluminum. It's light, so it's easy to move around, but it's prone to wear, particularly from a high-speed steel drill bit. Kreg Jigs are made from a nylon material reinforced with fiberglass. The tough composite then has hardened steel drill guides inserted, which come with a lifetime warranty. This ensures precision and repeatability.

    • Clamping the workpiece firmly in the jig is another important aspect. Wood is soft, so the clamp can't be too aggressive or it will mark the surface. Some makers use a threaded version. Kreg favors a toggle clamp (which has more positive closure) or, on the top-end K5, an adjustable ratchet.
      If the material is too large to move to the jig, Kreg drill guides are all demountable, and each has its own specific clamping point. This gives unrestricted mobility, and it means you can often carry out furniture repairs in situ. If you buy a full Kreg Jig system, you'll find a clamp included (the K5 model is even self-adjusting). Many DIY woodworkers, as well as professionals, already own C-clamps that will do the job.

    • Setting up the jig has to be clear and simple. Measurements on Kreg Jigs are molded into the body so there's no mistake. Hole depth and screw size charts are also provided. Nothing is left to chance.

    • You have a choice of jig systems. You can buy a comprehensive system like the K5, or start smaller and add components as you need them. Kreg will even sell you a case to keep them all in!

    • Waste always presents challenges to woodworkers. The bench-mounting Kreg jigs have expanded recesses for better chip clearance. Some have dust extraction ports.

    • Project plans abound. Kreg offers a number of downloadable project plans, and the popularity of their pocket-hole jig systems is such that dozens more are available from independent designers, furniture makers, and enthusiastic amateurs.
    EXPERT TIP

    Be careful not to use pocket-hole screws that are too long. Else, you could go right through the joint and out the other side of the piece!


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    Avoid putting screws too close to the edge or into end grain. This can cause splits or even break pieces off. It doesn't provide sufficient grip anyway.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Kreg Jig prices

    We looked at a number of cheaper pocket-hole jigs that compete with Kreg. The main problems with them are excessive play in the components (which makes accuracy very hit-and-miss) and less robust construction. In general, they aren't as versatile, and most are two-hole rather than three-hole systems. Kit contents can appear impressive, but the numbers are often padded with small items like screws or dowels.

    A Kreg Jig is an investment, though it doesn't have to be a large one. You can buy a Kreg Jig system for about $40 to about $200.

    The R3, at around $40, is only $10 more than the cheaper alternatives we reviewed. That's not a great deal extra for the long-term accuracy and durability that has made Kreg the market leader.

    At the upper end of the price range, the comprehensive K5 Master System is a tool for professionals, but the precision and time savings you gain mean that even at close to $200, it's a worthwhile buy.

    Versatile, fuss-free fixing

    The K4 system is a perfect illustration of the qualities at the core of all Kreg Jigs. It's fast, accurate, and easy to use. Lever-activated clamping is more secure than threaded alternatives. The removable drill block adds versatility. It has dozens of different applications, making it an invaluable addition to the toolbox of any DIYer or professional.

    Tips

    • With any jig, setup is key. Don't rush things, particularly when you first get your jig. The old woodworker's adage of "measure twice, cut once" is true here, too. The most common mistake comes when setting the jig and drill collar to the thickness of your wood. Check twice, drill once. Although pretty straightforward, initial testing with a few pieces of scrap wood is a good idea to get used to the way the jig works.

    • You can fix errors. If you do make a mistake, you can make almost invisible repairs with a Kreg pocket-hole plug cutter. This cuts wooden plugs the same size as your hole. Glue in the plug, sand it down, and nobody will be any the wiser!

    • Use pocket-hole screws if possible. You can use ordinary wood screws, but pocket-hole screws are designed for faster, more secure fixing. There are two kinds: coarse thread for plywood and softwoods (such as pine), fine thread for hardwoods (like oak). The length also varies, to suit different thicknesses of material, so it's important to check that you have the right ones.
    Make sure the piece you're screwing into is held securely. It's tempting to try to work "freehand," but you'll get a much more accurate joint of you use clamps to properly align the two pieces you’re joining.

    FAQ

    Q. If I use pocket holes, do I still need to glue the joints?

    A. In theory, no. In practice, many professionals recommend it. Wood – even plywood – will expand and contract as humidity changes. So it's possible screwed joints can work loose over time. A little wood glue will ensure your joints remain solid.

    Q. Some of the drill guides have uneven spacing. What's that for?

    A. Kreg Jigs are designed to allow you to make strong joints, regardless of material widths. For instance, if you have boards two to three inches wide, you would use guide holes A and B. For narrower material, you would use B and C, and so on. Instructions are included with your jig, including recommendations when fixing much wider panels.

    Q. Is there anywhere online to help me get the most out of my Kreg Jig?

    A. Lots of places. Besides the Kreg website (kregtool.com), two of the most popular are YouTube and Pinterest. Both have clear tutorials, dozens of tips and tricks for using a Kreg Jig, and literally hundreds of interesting projects, too. Beware, though – Kreg joinery can get a bit addictive!

    The team that worked on this review
    • Bob
      Bob
      Writer
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Katherine
      Katherine
      Editor

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