DIY Pocket Hole Jig

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About: 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 of the time. Follow along as I offer tips, tricks, and woodworking plans. I st...

Intro: DIY Pocket Hole Jig

This article was originally posted to my website, www.woodshopmike.com. Be sure to stop by my site for more DIYs, repairs, and projects & remember to subscribe! Now on with the Instructable!

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

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

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!

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    28 Discussions

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    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.

    5 replies
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    AryH2BeachsideHank

    Reply 1 year ago

    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.

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    BeachsideHankAryH2

    Reply 1 year ago

    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. ☺

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    Woodshop MikeAryH2

    Reply 1 year ago

    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.

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    bianchina3

    1 year ago

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

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    Woodshop Mikebianchina3

    Reply 1 year ago

    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!

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    ShonaO1

    1 year ago

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

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    mcenerny

    1 year ago

    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.

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    GQuintero

    3 years ago on Introduction

    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?

    4 replies
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    GQuintero,

    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.

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    kjlpdxGQuintero

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

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

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    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 !

    3 replies
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    LarryW3Tom Howbridge

    Reply 3 years ago

    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.

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    Woodshop MikeLarryW3

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    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.