If you’re into DIY projects, you probably have seen or at least heard about the Kreg Jig. They are all over the web! But what does this amazing piece of blue plastic do? In this tutorial I’ll show you how to setup and use a Kreg jig.
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What does it do?
Back in the day, before the Kreg Jig, one of the common methods of joining wood was with a mortise and tenon joint. A tenon, or tongue, would be cut in the end of a piece of wood (usually called a rail). The tenon would fit inside a mortise, a hole cut inside a piece of wood (usually called a stile) that matched the profile of the tenon. Add a little glue and mortise and tenon joint formed a very strong connection. While this joint provides for a strong joint, it does take some time to form the mortise and tenon before assembly.
Today we have the Kreg Jig and I use it for nearly all of my DIY furniture projects. The jig creates a joint that outwardly looks like a standard mortise and tenon joint, but the actual connection is a butt joint attached using screws through pocket holes. The jig allows you to drill pocket holes in the end of a rail. The rail is clamped to the stile and pocket hole screws are used to connect the two pieces together. It’s an easy joint for any DIYer!
How to Use the Jig
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of using a Kreg Jig, I have a suggestion for you. If your jig doesn’t have the numbers highlighted in white, make your life easy and do it yourself. Check out this easy tutorial by The Pursuit of Handyness featured on sawdustgirl.com for more info.
Step 1 – Set the Drill Guide
The first step to using the Kreg Jig is to adjust the drill guide to the thickness of your lumber. If your lumber is 1-1/2″, set the jig for 1-1/2″. For this example, our lumber is 3/4”, so we’ll set the drill guide to 3/4”.
Step 2 – Set the Drill
The next step is to set the drill depth. Again, you’ll want to match the drill depth to the thickness of your lumber. For this example, our lumber is 3/4”. Loosen the collar with an Allen key and move the shoulder of the drill bit to correspond with the 3/4” mark and tighten the collar.
Step 3 – Drill Pocket Holes
Next clamp the lumber in the jig to correspond with the appropriate drill holes (see hint below). Chuck the drill bit in your drill and insert the drill bit into the guide block until it hits the wood. Slightly raise the drill bit and bring the drill up to full speed. Then gently lower the bit into the wood and start drilling the pocket hole. Keep drilling until the collar on the drill bit contacts the drill guide.
Here’s a hint: For wood that is 1-1/2” wide, center the wood between holes B and C, and drill in holes B and C. For wood that is 2-1/2” wide, center the wood between holes A and B, and drill in holes A and B. For wood that is 3-1/2” wide, center the wood between holes A and C, an drill in holes A and C. For all other widths of wood, make sure your pocket holes are set in a minimum of 3/4” from the edge to avoid possibly cracking the stile to which you will be attaching the rail.
Step 4 – Join Lumber
Clamp the two pieces of wood you wish to join. I prefer a bar clamp over the Kreg face clamp or the Kreg right angle clamp, but that’s just personal preference. The screw hole can easily be stripped, so it’s a good idea to set the clutch on your drill to a low setting – mine works well on 3. Check out this post to learn how to easily fix stripped pocket holes.
Insert the screw and drive it in until it’s just snug. That’s it – your joint is complete!
Pocket Screws – Please use Kreg brand pocket screws or another authentic pocket screw by another brand. Pocket screws only have threads on the lower portion of the screw. This allows the upper portion of the screw to slide through the pocket hole in the rail and pull the joint tight to the stile. Regular screws have threads along the entire length and this may not only crack the rail, but not pull the rail tight to the stile, yielding in an ill fitting joint.
Vacuum attachment – Please use the vacuum attachment. You’ll thank me later when you’re not cleaning up dust chips off your workbench, the floor and your shirt! Plus the vacuum sucks the majority of the dust chips from the pocket hole.
Make Your Pocket Holes Virtually Disappear
The Kreg Pocket Hole Plug Cutter will take your furniture building to the next level! The plug cutter makes plugs to fill pocket holes. The plugs are cut from leftover scrap wood from your project, so the plugs will exactly match the wood color and wood grain of your project.
The plugs are glued into the pocket holes and then sanded flush. With a pocket hole plug cutter, your pocket holes virtually disappear and you’ll make your DIY projects look more professional. This a “gotta have it” tool for the DIYer! Please check out my plug cutter setup tips and video!
There it is… how to use a Kreg jig in a nutshell. As always, please contact me if you have any questions or need help setting up your jig. Good luck!