Kit comes with numerous items needed to accomplish almost any task. Includes large clamp, dust collection system, and sturdy jig for portable or benchtop use.
It's the most expensive kit we considered, but you get a lot of tools for the price. Instructions lack detail. Case is somewhat flimsy and doesn't hold all of the components. Some drill bit breakage reported.
Includes a handy case and ample tools like a sturdy jig with 4 board thickness settings. Pieces are durable. Tool fanatics rave about the quality and the budget-friendly price.
Doesn't come with instructions but owners brag about an online instructional video that is very helpful. Doesn't come with a clamp.
A durable, portable jig that's easy to adjust to measure different materials and has 4 different thickness levels. Also includes numerous accessories. Mid-range price.
Though it comes with a case, it's flimsy and may not hold up to extended use. Drill bits have been known to break and not produce "clean" holes. No clamp included.
Quality of the kit matches others that are more expensive. Easy to set up and use. The bit is sharp and users enjoy the large number of screws included. Ideal for DIY home projects.
Although it includes instructions, beginners would benefit more from watching videos online. Doesn't include clamp.
Easy to learn and use. It's an effective kit that is worth the price. Overall a sturdy and reliable kit; the quality is above average. Also comes with a convenient case.
Clamp not included. Doesn't come with enough screws; users prefer to order additional screws in bulk.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
With a good pocket hole jig, even people with average skills can produce accurate, solid joints. The wide variety of kits available offers solutions for everyone from the home woodworking enthusiast to the professional.
The sheer number of jig kits on the market can make choosing difficult, so we've been making some comparisons. We're confident our recommendations will suit everyone from the demanding user looking for high quality to the DIYer looking for a bargain.
We've also put together the following pocket hole jig kit buying guide. It provides further information, price guidance, and answers to many of the questions that crop up.
Why buy a pocket hole jig kit?
Whether you want to make a box, drawer, cupboard, or any other kind of rectangular frame, you need to join pieces of wood to each other at right angles. There are numerous ways of doing it, but traditional joinery is time consuming and requires a high degree of skill. And if the joints aren't right, you either have a crooked box or it falls apart!
A pocket hole jig makes the whole process much faster and easier. The jig allows you to drill accurate holes into your timber. You then screw through these to join two pieces together. The angle of the holes (15°) gives maximum strength to the joint. These kits are effective with all timber thicknesses from 1/2 inch and up. For a professional touch, you can then glue wooden plugs into the holes to hide the screw heads.
At a minimum, a pocket hole jig kit should provide the drill guide itself, a suitable drill bit (usually 3/8 inch), a depth collar that fits over the drill, and a hex key to tighten it.
Pocket hole jigs have minimum and maximum capacities in terms of the thickness of board they can successfully join. Normally, this is from 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches. However, jigs for larger material (two-by-fours, for example) are available.
Thickness increments also vary. With budget pocket hole jigs, you'll probably only be able to work in 1/4-inch steps. Better-quality jigs allow 1/8-inch steps.
Drill guides must be hardened steel. If not, your high-speed steel (HSS) drill bit will quickly wear them out, and your joints will no longer be accurate. Top manufacturers offer a lifetime guarantee on their drill guides, which indicates how tough they are.
One hole: The smallest drill guides have just a single hole, which is ideal when you're joining boards around 1/2 inch thick.
Two holes: Two-hole jigs are the most common. If you need to join wide boards, you just need to reposition them.
Three holes: Three-hole jigs offer greater flexibility. The spacing between the holes varies, allowing you to choose two close together or two farther apart, depending on the task.
A basic drill jig is designed to be portable. You use a clamp to fix it to the workpiece (sometimes included, often not). More advanced models can be portable or bench-mounted. The latter usually features a toggle clamp, which quickly and securely holds your board while you drill. A face clamp is the quickest way to fix a portable jig to your workpiece. It's nice to find a kit that includes one.
The most comprehensive pocket hole jig kits also provide special pocket hole screws and wooden plugs to start you off, but it's seldom very many. Some offer a screw set as an option, which can be a convenient way to buy an initial supply. A few also provide a screwdriver attachment.
It's nice to have a case to keep your jig and accessories neat and organized. Some low-cost kits provide one, but often a case only comes with larger sets.
Particle board, plywood, and fiberboard can produce lots of chips and dust, which is not only unpleasant but can also make your drill bit overheat. The best pocket hole jigs have clearance channels and a dust collection hood so you can attach a shop vac or other extraction system.
There are some very cheap pocket hole jig kits around, but cutting corners on materials usually leads to questionable accuracy and durability.
Inexpensive: We would expect to pay around $25 to $30 for an entry-level twin-hole kit of reasonable quality, which will give you the basics of drill, depth collar, hex key, and the jig itself.
Mid-range: With hundreds of kits to choose from, what you pay largely depends on the number of components in the kit. You'll pay a premium for top brand names, but it does buy you excellent quality. A twin-hole kit similar to the one we just mentioned but with the addition of a supply of screws and dowels comes in at around $40.
Expensive: Our top choice, a precision three-hole kit that includes every conceivable extra, is around $150, but the price can reach $180 depending on your choice of fixings and case. Complete pocket hole systems that include automatic depth setting, clamps – and in some cases, even their own motor for drilling the holes – can be as much as $400. If you're doing this kind of work all day, every day, the fast, accurate production these jig kits allow could well make one worth the investment.
Q. Pocket holes are fast, but isn't traditional joinery still stronger?
A. There are lots of factors to consider here – materials, thickness, type of joint, number of screws used – so it's impossible to give a yes or no answer. However, one well-known tool supplier ran a series of tests and the results showed that a properly constructed pocket hole joint could be up to 35% stronger than a comparable mortise and tenon.
Q. Do I need to use special pocket hole screws?
A. You don't have to. Standard wood screws will work. However, ordinary screws are a “one type fits all” solution, whereas pocket hole screws come in two types – one for hardwoods and one for softwoods and composites (plywood, for example). The difference in thread design gives a stronger fixing. The cost difference is negligible, so trying to save a few cents on cheap screws really isn't worth the hassle.
Q. Should I use glue as well as pocket hole screws?
A. It's very much a matter of personal choice – and sometimes pocket holes are used on knock-down joinery that might be put together and taken apart again. If you're intending to make a permanent joint, a good-quality glue can only make it stronger. White wood glue has always been popular (and is very cheap), but some modern polyurethanes are stronger and easier to clean up, and they can be painted or stained so they're practically invisible on the finished job.