Simple, Precise, Affordable

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Review by hazbro posted 06-02-2010 03:11 AM 12749 views 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Simple, Precise, Affordable Simple, Precise, Affordable Simple, Precise, Affordable Click the pictures to enlarge them

There have been several posts/threads lately about mortisers, jointers (biscuit and domino) and assorted jigs, so I thought I would add my two cents along with a review + pics in action.

This is the beadlock pro system, not to be confused with the inferior cousin that is essentially a drill block. It is all aluminum & steel construction, heavy duty, and highly adjustable. What you see in the pictures is the bottom rail of a walnut headboard having been drilled out for the stiles. All that was needed outside the beadlock system was a hand held drill.

Laying out the tenon location took forty minutes, drilling them took five.

I purchased this unit on sale for $70, added the 1/2” attachment for another $32 (used coupon), and picked up some tenons for a few bucks more. So for a little over $100 I was ready to go to work. Yes, you have to buy the tenon stock or buy the bit to make your own, but compared to the $10-$20 a board foot for the exotic woods I like to play with I think I’ll end up saving in the end.

As with any jig/system each of us woodworkers have individual needs and budgets that influence what we buy and use, so I’ll quickly list why beadlock is what I use and why I’m super satisfied with it.

1. Space: I have no drill press, and have no room for a drill press. Real estate isn’t cheap in my shop and this is the size of a shoebox.
2. Budget: I try to buy the tools that will maximize my limited space and the tools I already have and this was an affordable way greatly expand capabilities in the shop for very little money.
3. Time/Speed: nobody has enough of either, and I’m no exception. This paid for itself on it’s first project.
4. Versatility: I’ve used this on stuff I never planned on. And I’m also able use this as a drill press jig for single holes (provided I need a 1/2”, 3/8”, or 1/4” hole)!

I know it’s not for everybody. I know there are superior ways to M&T. I know the domino rocks. But none of those things are smaller than a Po’ boy and run less than a cool hundred stock.

And after it’s all glued up, you wouldn’t know unless I’d told ya.

-- measure once, keep cuttin' til it fits

View hazbro's profile


109 posts in 3798 days

9 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118104 posts in 4385 days

#1 posted 06-02-2010 03:22 AM

View Grumpy's profile


26526 posts in 4659 days

#2 posted 06-02-2010 07:30 AM

I have a similiar Beadlock system. Very happy with it. Have the router bits to make the tenons as well but not used them yet.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Wolffarmer's profile


407 posts in 4046 days

#3 posted 06-02-2010 07:57 AM

I have the basic setup. It is a bit hard to get clamped on the mark correctly but it does make a good joint. I have long debated getting the Pro set up.


-- That was not wormy wood when I started working on it.

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3917 days

#4 posted 06-02-2010 11:57 AM

Thanks for posting, the latest Woodsmith gave this product a very favorable review. I do think the pro version will end up in my toolbox within a year. One thing I can add to the review is that the beadlock pro version also includes a paring block for those that prefer to use more traditional M&T joinery. The paring block acts as a sturdy guide so you can chisel out the drill holes for a floating or standard tenon.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3883 days

#5 posted 06-02-2010 06:11 PM

Thank you for the review. I just recently spent a lot of time considering the various joinery options including jigs, domino and the beadlock system. In the end, I ordered the Mortise Pal. It has not arrived yet.

I think the beadlock is right for some people, the domino is right for some people etc.. Isn’t it great that we have all these options. My grandfather cut his mortises with just a hammer and chisel and he had no other option.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 4078 days

#6 posted 06-03-2010 12:47 AM

I saw a review of the beadlock in Woodsmith I believe. They too gave it high marks.

I have the Domino system as I got it used for a good price – It is an excellent machine but indeed expensive if you are on a tight budget. I have used the domino for some highly stressed joints and it has held up like a champ. For alot of applications though, I will still cut my own M &T as they are stronger by far then any of these systems. Plus I like to keep my skills intact – so I will drill out the mortise, chisel out the waste…and cut the tenons on my TS or track saw.

A friend of mine has the Leigh super FMT jig and I tried that recently. I was impressed by its ease of use and setup. I think the biggest gripe I have about these joinery “time saving” equipment is the lack of decent documentation and the sometimes complicated and lengthy setups.

You are right about the space these things take up….As such, I am selling off my PC omnijig as I just feel it takes up alot of space for something I can do with a much more compact jig, not to mention I just don’t use it that much.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View woodsmithshop's profile


1414 posts in 4354 days

#7 posted 06-03-2010 03:21 AM

I have the pro beadlock system, I have only tried to use it once, so being in a hurry,I did not take the time to learn how to use it, so I put it aside and haven’t tried it since, I intend to one of these days, but at the time I was pressed for time and it seemed like too much setup.

-- Smitty!!!

View KevCamp's profile


28 posts in 2189 days

#8 posted 10-06-2015 04:04 PM

Thanks for the review. I’m considering purchasing the Beadlock Pro, in the near future. Any info on where, and how, you found it for less than $100?

View 1900corey's profile


5 posts in 925 days

#9 posted 11-12-2018 04:30 AM

Hi. Do any of you have tips on how to use a bead lock on a miter? I was planning on buying one of these and drilling the mortise holes a little deeper (as if I were using a butt joint), and later cutting the miters.


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