Introduction: DIY Pocket Hole Jig

Picture of DIY Pocket Hole Jig

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Kreg Pocket Hole Jigs have become synonymous with DIYers over years. In truth, these things have been around forever, and even before Kreg came on the scene for consumers, pocket hole joinery was alive and well. So why even use pocket hole joinery? Well, it's fast. I mean speedy gonzalez meets the road runner fast, and it's so easy even...even I can do it! So how 'bout I teach you how to make this handy jig, so you can save a few bucks?

Step 1: Plans

Picture of Plans

I hope you weren't wanting a difficult project... Yes, I made a nice CAD drawing just for you.

If you need, follow the link for a pdf of this plan.

Step 2: Construction

I made my pocket hole jig out of IPE. Why? Because I had it on hand, it's hard as nails, and did I mention I already had it? Since IPE is so hard, I did not bother with using a steel sleeve inside the pilot hole. If you wanted to use a steel sleeve, go for it! Just make the necessary adjustments and you're good to go.

Works like a champ! You can use a cam clamp (DIY Cam Clamps!), quick grip, C-clamp as shown here, or get a friend to hold the jig real tight while... No, actually don't do that. That would be dumb. Funny to watch, but totally not safe.

Alright, that about does it.

Step 3: Use

Picture of Use

Oh, you might want to know how to use this thing! First, you'll need a 3/8" pocket hole drill. If I recall correctly, I didn't buy the Kreg brand drill. I think Home Depot carries a less expensive option. If not, you can always check eBay.

Anyways, back to the madness. This drill comes with a lock collar, which is used to set the depth of hole you make. When you make a pocket hole, you want the smaller diameter to just poke through the end of the piece you're drilling. If you get to the bigger diameter of the drill, you'll either be looking for larger screws or tossing the piece out because you just messed up. So before you start foolin' around with the lumber you're making your project out of, test out your setup and make sure the lock collar is at the right spot so you're drilling to the correct depth. Do this on scrap wood of the same thickness as your project material. This hole needs to be centered in the thickness of the board. So, lets say your board is 1" thick, the lil' skinny section of the drill needs to poke out at about 1/2" from either side.

So in review:

  • lil' section of drill should poke out centered on the thickness of the piece you're drilling
  • lock collar sets the depth of pocket, if you go too deep you have to start over
  • test on scrap wood

Now that you're all set up and ready to go, use the center line on your jig to place it where you want your pocket holes and let er rip!

Once all of your pocket holes are drilled, you're ready for assembly. I use the kreg pocket hole screws because they're cheap enough and easy to come by.

Got questions? Leave a comment below or shoot me an email and I'll clear things up. Thanks for reading and have a great day!


BeachsideHank (author)2015-07-16

Just a historical note on pocket screws and their popularity.

In the '80's, when "This Old House" had Bob Villa as host, he'd oftentimes do a segment with Norm Abrams in the workshop, and much credit should go to Norm for introducing both biscuit joinery and pocket hole methodology to the general public. We, the unwashed masses, both pro and homeowner alike, would get to see it put to use in practical applications long before YouTube videos were ever envisioned. Norm had a machinist buddy make an aluminum version just like your sketch, and that was all he ever used for a long time. I made my first one out of hard maple, and it held up for hundreds of holes. Finally convinced I went through several variations, all with acceptable results and still will use them occasionally when the circumstances call for it. Like you say, it is but one trick of many that reliably produces acceptable results.

Nice Instructable too, BTW.

AryH2 (author)BeachsideHank2017-05-21

Here in Indonesia, I've seen furniture (chairs, cupboard, table) from early 1900 has pocket screws. I guess the pocket hole system is nothing new.

BeachsideHank (author)AryH22017-05-22

You are correct, it is quite old. I saw a pocket screw joint cut with but three chops of a chisel to form an upside down "V" (^) in an 1800's buffet piece too. ☺

WoodShopMike (author)AryH22017-05-22

You're absolutely correct! Pocket hole jointery was first seen in Egyptian times so this is a very old form of joining pieces together.

Thanks, glad you like the Instructable. I'm not surprised that Norm Abrams would have introduced these fastening techniques to the masses.

I was very surprised to learn just how far back the pocket hole joints goes. It's earliest form was used by the ancient Egyptians from what I understand. They used pegs where we now use screws, but still rather neat.

Yes the Egyptians gave us a lot of woodworking methods. Veneering was another, they devised methods of slicing rare woods very thin, and used animal protein glues to adorn caskets, tomb walls, furniture, etc. But then that was with a purpose; being very resource poor and having to import many raw materials, getting the most out of what they had drove the creative mind.

bianchina3 (author)2017-05-05

How do you get the angle correct? Is it critical and is this only for 1 inch boards (i.e. 3/4 inch thick)?

WoodShopMike (author)bianchina32017-05-08

First off, no the angle is not super critical. You want to be close but it doesn't have to be dead on.

The way the angle is established is based on the 15° cut off the bottom of the block (after having drilled the hole). I've used this block for 5/8" - 1" regularly. Just move the block a little closer or farther from the edge to adjust how deep into the piece you drill.

Hope that helps!

ShonaO1 (author)2017-02-10

You are a legend! Thanks for sharing this :-)

WoodShopMike (author)ShonaO12017-02-14

Glad you liked it!

mcenerny (author)2017-01-12

Sorry! This just does not work for anyone who doesn't already know all about it.

Had to go to several other sites to figure out what and how.

GQuintero (author)2015-07-19

I like the CAD drawing more. I used to have Autocad but it became too expensive. What program did you use to make the drawing? Is it affordable?

jimvandamme (author)GQuintero2015-07-29

I haven't used an of the free ones except SweetHome3D, with which I just designed my kitchen, but go here and have a look:

jimvandamme (author)jimvandamme2015-07-29

....or FreeCAD?

WoodShopMike (author)GQuintero2015-07-20


I'm a mechanical designer by trade and use SolidWorks. It's by no means affordable but I have access to it so that's what I use.

kjlpdx (author)GQuintero2015-07-19

draftsight is autocad, but free because they stole autocad and got caught. the courts made them offer the basic version for free.

Tom Howbridge (author)2015-07-16

I have found that ordinary screws work perfectly fine, yes they may pull out but pocket holes with the branded screws will pull out at some point anyway, Neat build im subbed to your channel on youtube now !

LarryW3 (author)Tom Howbridge2015-07-19

Good point, Tom. I love pocket hole joinery but prefer a more erm. outcome, so I use a thin film of wood glue as a compliment to my washer-headed screws. I prefer Kregg brand but use whatever comparable brand is on sale, also. Great 'able Mike.

WoodShopMike (author)LarryW32015-07-20

Thanks LarryW3!

I too like using the washer and screw approach with some glue for extra insurance. I generally use the pocket hole joint when working with sheet goods where my only other "quick" option is a butt or T joint.

Tom Howbridge (author)LarryW32015-07-19

Thanks Larry !

Hey Tom,

Thanks for subscribing to my YouTube channel!

By ordinary screws, do you mean drywall screws? The only reason I use the kreg style screws is that they are flat on the underside of the head as opposed to being tapered like drywall screws. That way it's much less likely to split boards. Just curious what you are referring to, maybe I'll give em a shot.

No problem Mike !,
I meant more like stainless steel screws but drywall are a similar design if you set the torque just right on your drill it wont spilt they wont be as strong as the flat headed screws but with an extra screw or so its would hold of fine, the stress is normally distributed out across them, in this jig is there a bit of wood not drilled in the piece of wood not drilled ? like on this image where it states 1/8th

Try some tests and see how they work might be alright !

Yeah +1 on setting the torque just right :) My brother in law was helping me lay up some luna a few weeks back and drove a screw all the way through the piece before he got the hang of my drill :D We both had a good laugh.

Yes, if the lock collar on the drill bit is set correctly the drilled pocket (in the work piece) will resemble the one in your link.

dockazoo (author)2015-07-19

Great diy! I bought one of their singe hole jigs that is almost identical in design with your's. I can remember what I paid but if I had seen this DIY first I would certainly have saved a few bucks. I was wondering about having to use the kregg screws, thanks for the info. I also used these for anchoring workbench legs to the wooden floor in my workshop. Works great for such stuff too. Thanks again.

pfred2 (author)2015-07-16

I have a Kreg R3 kit. Once I took the adapter for their vise grips with proprietary pads off, it is OK. I have enough genuine Vise Grip swivel pads. I also mounted mine on a jig too, which I modeled after Kreg's jig. It is just a corner of two scraps of plywood really. But the Kreg kit comes with some nice stuff, the hole guide, of course, but it also has the stepped bit, with a stop collar, and a long square drive bit, to put the screws in with. The box has an alignment guide on it so you can set up for depth of materials easily too. All in all I'd say it is a fair deal. They even throw in an assortment of their screws too, so you can figure out which ones you like the best.

Personally I think pocket hole joinery is only about a half a rung above plain butt joints, but I still use it occasionally for some projects that I don't care very much about. Which is to say it has its place.

I bought the kit I have now to simplify the construction of a particular project, and I have used it sparingly since then. I could have made this a different way, but pocket holes seemed to me to be the easiest way I could go

It's a bar gadget apothecary cabinet sort of. I only made the carcass, the drawers are vintage sewing machine drawers.

WoodShopMike (author)pfred22015-07-16

I'm right there with ya about pocket hole joints, but so times there's just no need to go through the hassle of pretty joinery. Pocket hole joints are pretty strong and certainly have there place in the lineup of options.

Are the panels in the cabinet you made from wine cases? That's pretty neat.

tomatoskins (author)2015-07-16

So simple! I love it!

WoodShopMike (author)tomatoskins2015-07-16

glad you like it! I've been using this one for a couple years and it's still going strong!

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Bio: Husband to a great wife, father to my baby girl, and child of the one true king. 9-5er during the day and woodworker the rest ... More »
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