Pocket holes – The best thing you didn’t know you needed
I recently bought a Kreg pocket hole jig. I’d seen them used by many other woodworkers, mostly on Youtube. You don’t know what you’re missing until you’ve used pocket holes on a project, they’re fantastic. Here are my top 5 reasons you should get one too.
1 – Speed
Pocket holes are just so quick to use. For example, say you need to join two boards along their edge, at a right angle and with no visible screws, what are your options? Glue will work but requires a lot of clamping and, of course, a long wait while it dries. You could use brackets but they are fiddly and can be tricky to get a nice flush fit. With pocket holes and screws you simply drill the holes one of the boards using the jig, temporarily clamp the workpieces together flush and drive the screws.
2 – Strength
These things are so strong! The screws are engineered to really pull materials together and hold them there. Combine these with glue and you have a joint that will outlast the materials themselves. Kreg does a range of screw lengths so you can firmly fix materials of all thicknesses. I joined two 40mm thick pieces of hardwood with some of the longer screws that came with the jig and even without glue I couldn’t separate the pieces with a mallet.
3 – Beauty
One of the main reasons for using pocket holes is to hide the screws. This gives a joint with the strength of steel screws with no unsightly screw heads. However, the holes themselves are quite unsightly. This isn’t usually an issue as in most cases you’d simply put the holes on the underside or back-facing surface of a project. However, say you are making a shelf where both sides of a board will be visible, Kreg sell specially cut dowels for plugging the holes.You could make these yourself fairly easily too. Either way, it’s a great way to disguise the pocket holes and give your work a professional look.
4 – Workflow
The first time you use pocket holes on a project you’ll immediately realise something… there’s no waiting. You can apply glue to a butt joint, pull it together with pocket holes and screws and then immediately continue working on those pieces in some other way, There’s no need to wait for the glue to dry. Not only is this a massive time saver but it really helps to keep the flow of a project and increase the enjoyment level.
5 – Ease
There’s something really satisfying about being able to fix things so quickly and beautifully and also know they’re definitely strong. I really enjoyed using this technique for the first time today. All of the parts that come with the jig have been well made and thoughtfully designed. It comes with instructions though, in my opinion, they’re not really needed. Whether you’re new to joinery or an old hand I think this is a tool that literally anyone can use to a professional standard the first time they try it.
Bonus – Value
Although you could argue that buying a jig and specialist screws to do something you could also achieve without either of those things isn’t cost effective, I’d disagree. If you weigh in the time using pocket holes saves and add to that the additional strength your final project will have you really have good value for money. My jog cost £30 and a box of 150 screws was another £8. That really isn’t that much money for something so useful.
I’m looking forward to finding new ways to use this tool to advance my joinery and get good results quickly.
Also published on Medium.