After using a pocket hole jig for several years I can attest to its usefulness. I use it for projects ranging from decking to fine furniture. (I personally own the K4 and Foreman)
I’ve compiled a list of the best jigs here and listed information about each individually. Here is a quick overview:
- Best Value: Kreg K4 Jig
- Best for hobbyists: Kreg Foreman
- Best for Beginner: Kreg R3
Anyone, from a weekend project warrior to a cabinet or furniture maker, can make good use of a pocket hole jig. It is one of the easiest ways to join to pieces of wood together. Not only is it very strong, but it is really simple.
How can you avoid wasting time trying to make the perfect joint? Buy a pocket hole jig. It will allow you to create DIY projects that are robust and impressive.
If you are not familiar with pocket hole jigs then check out my post on why you should use one. It is almost a necessity in woodshops these days. You can do nice woodworking without it, but it makes things go so much faster.
Table of Contents
- Kreg K5 Jig
- Kreg K4 Jig
- Kreg Foreman
- Kreg Jig R3
- Kreg Jig Chart
- Why Use a Pocket Hole Jig
- Edge Joining Boards with a Pocket Hole Jig
- Pocket Hole Screws vs Regular Screws
Kreg Tools is the most popular brand for these pocket hole jigs. There are a couple others, but to make your decision making easier I won’t include them here. A simple google search will find them for you.
They make many different styles, and for the uninitiated it can be difficult to decide which one to buy. Read the reviews below and choose one that meets your needs.
Kreg K5 Jig
This jig is a good entry/mid level tool. It has enough accessories and features that it will last you a long time (or forever) in your woodworking journey. It is still affordable for someone who is not willing to risk a ton of money before they are even sure if they are going to keep up the hobby.
If you want to give woodworking and DIY projects a fair shot, then I highly recommend the K5. Let’s get into the details of why it is a great tool.
- Front Clamping Handle (instead of behind like the K4)
- Storage boxes help keep accessories organized
- Swiveling dust port
- Workpiece stops for consistent drilling placement
- Clamping mechanism adjusts without using tools
This jig has several aspects about it that make it a winner for nearly anyone. Let’s start off with the front clamping mechanism. Why is the K5 mechanism better than the K4? The K4 uses a clamp that works from behind the workpiece in relation to the drilling holes. This is not a huge deal, as I have used it this way a ton, but it is much better to have the lever in the front. The K5 It also adjusts with a ratcheting mechanism instead of a locking nut like the K4.
The storage boxes work well to keep your accessories and drill bits organized. They are even removable so that you can put them in drawers and minimize the space that the jig takes up. An added advantage of having these wings on the jig is that it adds stability. The boxes on both sides hold the jig steady as you drill into the workpiece.
The dust port helps clear sawdust and debris. Hook up a shop vac as you drill and you will also notice improvement in the performance of the drill bit because it is clear of debris. They have made this dust port to swivel so that you can hook it up and move your vacuum to any position.
The drill guide block can be easily removed with a quick release pin. This way you can move it to a project as needed by itself. This will normally be for more experienced jig users, but it is nice to have the option. The quick release mechanism also allows you to change the drill depth easily.
What’s Good About it?
The ease of use is great for just about anybody. A beginner can pick this tool up and make great projects in no time at all.
Storage boxes, workpiece stops, and other features show that Kreg has considered the small details.
It is very portable and modular. Take the storage boxes apart and put them under the table and store the jig itself on the shelf. Take it with you to the jobsite to do some woodworking as needed.
Buy this one time and don’t worry about getting another jig for a long time. It will serve you well.
What’s Not So Good?
It can be difficult to find actual flaws with the tool itself, but I can talk about some limiting factors that you may want to consider.
It can be tiresome if you have to drill a lot of pocket holes. This can happen in something like cabinetry work. When I was building my cabinets I had to drill several hundred pocket holes. That is a lot of clamping and moving pieces for each hole. Also, a large piece of plywood can be unwieldy with a small jig like this. Granted, I was using the K4 without the wings, so the K5 may work better in this sense.
For a job that is more industrial I recommend going with the Foreman.
It is a high quality tool that has many ‘nice to have’ features.
Kreg K4 Jig
The Kreg K4 is an entry level pocket hole jig meant for the DIYer. It does everything that the more featured K5 does, except it is slimmed down to just the essentials. If you choose to go with the K4 you will not be limited in your ability to build awesome projects.
If you are just interested in breaking into the pocket hole system but are not completely sold on the idea, then the K4 is a good tool to buy.
- Drill guide is removable for portable use
- Comes with dust port to use with a vacuum
- High quality drill bit and square bit
- Easy to adjust clamping system
I can personally attest to the quality and design of this tool. Mine is about 3 years old now, and through numerous projects it still performs to the same standard as when I bought it. That is the main reason that I never upgraded to the K5.
There are a few details about this tool that make it super easy to use and great to have in a woodshop.
The clamping system is very intuitive and easy to adjust. There is a locking nut that holds the clamp at the correct distance. Simply spin the plunger to the correct length that will put an adequate amount of pressure on your workpiece.
The drill bit guide slides up and down and is held in place via a small screw. There are clear lines and numbers etched into the side so that it is easy to see where you have everything set.
I haven’t used the vacuum dust port myself, but I probably should. It would help with drilling efficiency and clear out debris to make my work surface cleaner.
What’s Good About it?
The simplicity of the tool will make it stand out in your woodshop. There are very few moving parts, and therefore less potential for something to break. I have never had anything break on mine, but even if I did it would be easy to replace.
It will pay for itself when you think about how many projects you will be able to make in such a short period of time. Plus if you think about the money you are saving over buying a similar piece of furniture from a store, it is a no brainer.
Like the K5, this tool is extremely portable. You can take it basically anywhere. Take the drill guide block out and fix things in your home that otherwise you wouldn’t be able to get to.
One advantage of having the K4 is that you can slide the Kreg HD guide into the jig. This guide is meant for boards 1-1/2″ and thicker. It has a larger drill bit and uses heavier duty screws. Normally the HD guide is meant to be clamped onto the board with a face clamp, but having the K4 means you can slide into the jig and use it like normal.
What’s Not So Good?
It is lacking in extra features. If you want a barebones pocket hole jig, then the K4 is your go to tool. But it can be nice to have some storage boxes and some more ease of use.
The handle clamps from behind the workpiece. This will require you to reach to the back of the unit every time you clamp down. This can be tiring if you are doing several pocket holes, and it is even more difficult if you plan on doing large sheet goods.
The clamping system can be time consuming to adjust if you are changing thicknesses often. A lot of my projects use 3/4″ thick boards, so I get away with leaving it at that same setting. If you switch between 1″ and 1/2″ and then back, then you will be doing a lot of adjusting.
The K4 is a good, entry-level pocket hole jig.
The Kreg Foreman is great for a workshop that is a mix between professional and avid hobbyist. It will allow you to make pocket holes with amazing efficiency and accuracy. The best part is how it does it all on its own instead of having to use a cordless drill with the drill bit.
The entire pocket hole drilling process is performed in one motion. This lets you make 4 or 5 pocket holes on a piece of plywood quickly and easily. Slide the board into position, pull the lever down, then move it to the next hole.
A K4 or K5 would require you to unclamp and clamp the board down each time. Also, the board stays horizontal with the foreman. It makes it easier to deal with large boards, especially with the large work surface it provides.
- One motion starts the motor, clamps the workpiece, and drills the pocket hole
- Creates standard, mini, and HD size pocket holes (with correct drill bit installed)
- Drill bit easily changed with one tool
- Large work surface provides stability
- Dust collection attachment included
- Storage tray
This is a powerful machine that should perform all of your pocket hole needs with ease. It is meant for people who want tools that get the job done.
It accepts boards that range in thickness from 1/2″ to 1-1/2″. The clamping mechanism is easily adjusted to accommodate the board thickness.
The steps to drilling a hole a fairly simple. Change the drill bit depth to the required setting. This will change according to the thicknesses of the boards you are joining together (See chart here). Adjust the clamping piece to the correct height. Then align the board where you want the pocket hole drilled. After this has been done you just pull the trigger that starts the drill and lower the handle to push the drill bit into the wood.
It comes with a standard Kreg pocket hole drill bit, but you can change it to the Micro-Pocket bit for thinner pieces or the HD bit for strong joints in boards greater than 1-1/2″ thick. This is great because it means there isn’t anything that the foreman can’t do.
What’s Good About It?
I like the intuitive way everything is set up. Changing the drill bits, thicknesses, alignments, etc is all very straightforward. The learning curve is not very difficult with this one. It honestly reminds me of the K4 just in an automated package.
It can make a large number of pocket holes in a short period of time. This could be a cornerstone of a cabinet shop. I can only imagine how quickly I could have made my cabinets if I would have used this instead of the K4. There was a lot of clamping and moving large pieces of plywood (vertically). A carcass could be made in a matter of minutes with the foreman.
It is really a bargain for the price. This not only takes the place of a K4 or K5 jig, but it eliminates the need for a drill to drill the holes. Some people may like to have a dedicated drill for that job. With the foreman that is not needed. If you normally switched between the drill bit and square head bit like me, then it will make up for the cost in the time you save.
It is still quite portable, and with a built in storage tray you can keep the essential pieces together with the unit. I can see someone taking this to a job site and using it just like they would in their workshop.
What’s Not So Good?
Number one, it is pricier than the other jigs. This will put off many DIYer’s simply because it is not in the budget, and it doesn’t make sense for them to spend that much money if they aren’t going to be using it constantly. The value, however, is very on par with the other jigs.
This tool is not nearly as portable as the others. You can’t throw it into your bag of stuff and head off to drill some pocket holes. This is obvious, but it is worth mentioning the trade off.
It is hard to find reviews that are legitimately critical of this machine. Most people are thrilled (like me) with their purchase, so I don’t really have any more to add in the negative department.
A pricier do-it-all pocket hole machine with few negatives.
Kreg Jig R3
The Kreg R3 is an awesome little tool that is different from any of the previous jigs shown here. It is meant to perform a variety of different tasks, mainly in the small to medium duty range. This means you can use it to fix that shelf that came apart or attach some 2×4’s to a baseplate instead of toe nailing.
It is clearly different from the previous pocket hole jigs; the most glaring difference is that it does not have a built in clamping mechanism. It is meant to use almost any kind of clamp, although it is made to work perfectly with a Kreg Face Clamp.
- Sliders allow you to easily set depth to 9 different settings
- Comes with carrying case
- Portable and simple to use on jobsite
- Attaches with bar clamp, c-clamp or Kreg Face Clamp
- Straightforward and durable design is great for beginners
This tool has some intuitive features that make it a popular choice for DIYer’s and hobbyists. Like the other jigs in this lineup, it uses the same pocket hole angle and steel hardened holes for durability. The drill bit comes into contact with the steel every time a hole is drilled, so it is important for it be as durable as possible.
The clamping style of this tool differs from the others by the fact that it is not built into the unit. You can use several different types of clamps. This allows you to use what you currently have in the shop. It also means that you can clamp it to all kinds of different surfaces, provided you can clamp it well enough in one spot.
Adjust the depth using the sliders on the side of the tool. They will go from 1/2″ to 1-1/2″. You set this measurement depending on the thickness of the board you are drilling into and the thickness of the board you are joining to. (For the correct settings, use this chart here). The carrying case even has a depth collar gauge molded into the plastic to assist in setting the drill bit collar for the correct depth.
Like the other jigs, it also has wood chip relief holes for the sawdust and wood chips to escape while drilling each hole. This is important because it increases drilling efficiency and longevity of the drill bit. It also makes the hole itself cleaner and easier to drill.
What’s Good About It?
It is truly a great tool for beginners or to add to an already stocked workshop. Now, eventually you will want to upgrade to a more heavy use style jig, but if you are new to pocket hole construction, then this is a bargain and you will use it forever. It is also a low risk, easy way to try it out.
The portability is great with this jig. You can use it anywhere that you can get it clamped down. I can see myself using this tool in places where no other jig would be able to fit.
I makes me want to say that all DIYer’s should have this jig in their toolbox no matter their skill level.
What’s Not So Good?
It is built for generally light use. It is still extremely durable and high quality, but for a shop building cabinets you will probably want something that can handle the strenuous activity that kind of work requires.
It does not have the ability (like the other three jigs here) to adapt to mini or the HD kreg drill bits. You will need to buy both of these style jigs separately.
It does not have built in clamping ability. This means that you will need to get a separate clamp to hold it onto the workpiece. This will not be an issue if you work with Kreg Tools because you will most likely have a face clamp.
The Foreman and K5 both have built in storage. This one obviously does not. On the other hand, however, it does come with a storage case.
A quality and versatile entry-level pocket hole jig.
Pocket hole construction is a great way to build all kinds of different projects. To get started, choose one of these great tools here on this page. I personally recommend the Foreman for those who are going to be doing a lot of work and need something heavy duty, and the K5 for everyone else.
Why not the K4 or the R3? I think you will love building things with pocket hole construction so much that it is worth it to step up to the K5. For those simply not sure or still skeptical, then the K4 or R3 will definitely work.