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How to Use a Pocket Hole Jig (Kreg Jig)

Learn all about how to use the pocket hole jig – otherwise known as a Kreg Jig! Use this tool to make your woodworking strong and tight with (almost) invisible screws. Perfect for DIY furniture and home improvement applications.

How to use a pocket hole jig - Kreg Jig

Have you ever heard of a pocket hole jig? One of the most popular brands is Kreg Jig, and it’s a super cool tool that you’re going to want to use if you are a woodworker – even if you are a novice woodworker.

You’ll use this tool to hide screws/screw heads and make strong, tight joints. This type of jig makes a woodworking project look professional. And you don’t need any experience to use one!

Kreg Jig system
What is a Pocket Hole Jig?

Before I explain what it does, I want to show you what the tool looks like. If you purchase a Kreg Jig pocket hole system, you’re typically going to get a set pictured above. There are other (more advanced) sets available, but this is the one we have and use on our projects. It includes:

  1. Drill and drive bits
  2. Depth collar with a hex key
  3. Screws in various sizes
  4. Clamp pad adapter
  5. Case

So why should you use one? Here’s what we love about our jig.  If you need a project to be super-duper strong AND attractive, ditch the wood glue or a standard L-joint and use a pocket hold jig!

Benefits of a Pocket Hole Jig

  1. You can accomplish joins in a matter of minutes
  2. No alignment issues when joining two pieces of wood – it’s one hole
  3. No gluing required (though you can if you’d like to make the joint extra strong)
  4. No leaving your project clamped together for hours even if you glue

What Does the Joint Look Like?

If you’re like me, you probably need it spelled out, so I’m going to start with a visual of a finished join we did using this tool. It’s probably going to look familiar to you:

What a finished pocket hole looks like

The hole above is at a 15 degree angle, and the two pieces of wood were joined in just a few minutes. This join was created with one pocket hole, but we also use a two hole jig regularly.

To give you an overview of the process, you’ll create the pocket hole with your tool and a specialized drill bit that features a stepped pilot tip (included in your kit).

More on the Bits

Kreg Jig Junior with bit and manual

The Kreg Jig Junior comes with two bits, a drill and a driver, shown above to the right of the tool itself. The bit on the right drills a hole made so that both the tip AND the head of the screw will fit securely. This means the head will go down in the hole and be hidden.

The bit on the left is a square tipped driver that you can use in a standard drill, because Kreg Jig brand screws have a special head on them. Whether you use Kreg Jig screws is all about personal preference.

How to Use a Kreg Jig

I’m going to assume that (to start), you’re joining two pieces of wood at a right angle (90 degrees). Make sure that your wood is cut with a miter or table saw set to 90 degrees so that you can have an absolutely smooth join. You don’t want any gaps in the wood.

Set the Depth on Your Jig

Set the Kreg Jig depth

There is a numbered slide on the back of your jig which can be adjusted based on the thickness of your wood.

The Kreg Jig comes with a quick guide that provides the slider setting and screw length you’ll need based on how thick your wood is (I also have a chart at the bottom of this post if you scroll down).

If your wood is two different thicknesses, set the depth for the thinner board.

Clamp the Jig

Pocket hole jig - clamp portion

Flip the Kreg jig over after you’ve set it, and place it down where you want to join to be. The round, gray plastic piece above is where you will clamp the jig down.

I highly recommend a clamp as it frees up one of your hands. Also, clamps prevent “whoopsies.” You don’t want your pocket hole jig slipping out from under you as you’re drilling!

Insert the Drill Bit – and Screw!

You’ll start with one piece of wood – the wood that you want the holes to go into. Make sure the correct drill bit is in your drill, and simply guide the bit through the holes in the Kreg Jig.

The jig will guide the bit and do all of the work; it’s easy to make straight holes without any issues missing the mark.

Drilling into a Kreg Jig

Basically, the only work you need to do is make sure your holes are lined up and then push the drill quickly and firmly through the hole. Repeat with the second hole if it’s a double pocket hole.

Inserting the screws into the pocket hole

Then you’ll clamp the two pieces of wood you want to attach together and insert your screw(s). They need to be self-tapping screws so that they drill into the pocket hole and second piece of wood easily.

Before you do this on a piece of furniture or other project you are building, I highly recommend trying it with two pieces of scrap wood. That way you can get a feel for the device and experience how easy it is to use.

Choose the Correct Screw Length

If a Kreg Jig guide is not available to you, use this chart to choose the correct screw length for your material thickness.

Pocket Jig Screw Length

Are you ready to get started with a pocket hole jig? Check out this video below that shows you the basic concept:

If you are interested in seeing our projects that use a Kreg Jig, here are two of them!

Farmhouse DIY Mirror Frame for $25

Make a farmhouse style DIY mirror frame for your plain clip bathroom mirror. This is so easy - you only need basic woodworking skills to accomplish it.

DIY Pallet Hose Holder with Planter

Build a unique hose holder using recycled pallet wood! This holder has a special feature; you can plant your favorite flowers on top. I love it!

One last thing! Don’t forget to visit our other tool guides: reciprocating saw, electric sander, router, and jig saw.

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Crystal

Saturday 27th of August 2016

Just a little helpful advice, I apologize if it comes across as otherwise, you don't have to use the Kreg brand screws BUT you'll get better results if you use self drilling/tapping screws because the tips are sharper :) Great post! A++

Amy

Sunday 28th of August 2016

Thank you! That is great advice!