Awesome pocket hole system

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Review by pendledad posted 10-08-2012 03:53 PM 4126 views 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Awesome pocket hole system No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I was trying to determine the best method for joining together my radiator covers. I didn’t have time for traditional joinery like mortise & tenon. I needed something where I could build 4 radiator covers in about two days (very fast for a newcomer like me). I was going between a biscuit joiner and pocket screws. I finally decided on pocket screws because I didn’t want to deal with the gluing and drying. I also liked the fact that I could disassemble the pieces if I made a mistake along the way (which I did).

I decided on the master system because I didn’t want to waste lots of time lining up the smaller jigs and manually clamping them in place on the wood. I wanted the ability to bring the wood to the jig to save time. I can always bring the jig to the work if needed, but having the master system makes quick work of repetitive tasks.

Compared to the $99 kit, this has the face clamps, dust collection, and a couple other perks like a stop gauge. I didn’t really think I’d use the dust collection adapter, but I purchased the master system anyways.

Let me first say that the face clamps (any brand) are ESSENTIAL. They are so easy to use when driving the screws, and the same clamps hold the jig to your workbench. It was nice they included a pair in the master kit, but I could have just bought some from HF too.

The dust collector was easily worth its weight in gold. There are a few perks which you don’t realize until using it. First off, it removes the sawdust from the hole as you are drilling. This allows your drill to just worry about the hole instead of fighting through a mound of dust as well. I am sure it greatly helped my little 12V Dewalt drill the 160 screws on a single battery. (More about my DeWalt review here). I drilled about 4 holes without the attachment and quickly realized what a gigantic mess it was going to make. The second benefit is that the suction from the shop vac actually pulls the wood into the jig. So when I was drilling both ends of a rail, the suction would semi-clamp the wood in place while I used the clamp on the jig to lock it in. It allowed me to get it in the right place and not use my hands to squeeze it and keep it from moving. Not that this is a big benefit, but I liked how it pulled the board tight and then I could clamp it all down with the jig. Very clean, very efficient.

The jig itself is idiot proof. I didn’t bother watching the DVD, I didn’t have time. I just opened the kit and read the 3 pages in the quickstart booklet. I realized then that I purchased the incorrect sized screws and had to go back to the store, but that was my error. 1x material joined to 1x material (3/4”) requires 1-1/4” screws. I bought 1-1/2” screws by accident. Anyways, the quickstart guide gave you an idea of what holes to use (A, B, or C) for different sized boards. You line up the board on the outside edge of the guide, and just drill down through the right holes. Effortless, fast, and precise.

I drilled ~160 holes with the jig across my 4 radiator covers. Every single hole came out perfect. I didn’t have any alignment issues and all the screws drove perfectly. The face clamps ensured everything lined up as you sunk the screws. I put together 4 radiator cover carcasses in 1 day (very fast for me). I’m so glad I bought this jig because I don’t know what I would have done otherwise.

I guess you could add glue to the mating surfaces if you wanted a 100% tight joint that will never move … but I did mine glue free. Good thing too because I put the bottom rail on the top for the bathroom cover and I had to take it apart to fix it. I couldn’t have done that with adding glue.

The kit also comes with some plugs to hide the holes, but I will probably never use these. I like woodworking and I felt that using this jig was cheating. I didn’t use any classical methods of joinery in this project and that makes me feel guilty. But this project was more about assembly and creating rather than woodworking and hobby projects. My kids can get severely burned on my steam radiator covers so I needed to build these fast. That said I am extremely happy with my purchase and I’ll be using this jig many times in the future. Dust free and fast, with a great looking result.

View pendledad's profile


190 posts in 2865 days

8 comments so far

View ChuckC's profile


844 posts in 3710 days

#1 posted 10-08-2012 05:36 PM

Good review. I think pocket screws have a place in woodworking. I agree about the face clamps too. You really need one to get the faces flush to each other.

Enjoy your new toy!

View NiteWalker's profile


2741 posts in 3352 days

#2 posted 10-08-2012 11:33 PM

Great review. :)
I have the K3 (the one with the clamp lever on the front) and would never get rid of it. I agree with everything you said, especially the clamps. I also have a couple of the 90 degree clamps too and they work great.

I don’t use glue all the time with my pocket hole joints either; it really depends. I just built my sister a small spice rack out of curly maple using pocket holes and no glue and it’s solid as a rock.

One precaution; I’ve found that pocket holes don;t get along with 1/2” material all that much. I recently built my niece a small shelf out of 1/2” pre-finished plywood, and the bottom shelf was supposed to be flush with the bottom of the sides, but the screw would poke out of the bottom of the side, so I had to raise the bottom shelf a bit.

It definitely works best with 3/4” material.

FWIW, my workbench is assembled with pocket screws and glue and it’s solid as a rock.

Goin to check out your drill review as I have the same one and love it. :)

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View Straightbowed's profile


717 posts in 3073 days

#3 posted 10-09-2012 02:33 AM

yes I love mine and I have the micro pocket too

-- Stevo, work in tha city woodshop in the country

View hjt's profile


906 posts in 3913 days

#4 posted 10-09-2012 04:40 AM

Great review, but where are the photos of the project you built using this wonderful jig??

-- Harold

View pendledad's profile


190 posts in 2865 days

#5 posted 10-09-2012 11:14 AM

I’m in sanding mode on the covers. After final assembly with the metal grates in place I’ll post the project with plenty of shots.

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 4006 days

#6 posted 10-09-2012 05:12 PM

I have a Lowe’s Bucket Max that I hook up to the jig’s dust collector. It works great. Makes drilling holes much easier and cleaner.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View Builder_Bob's profile


161 posts in 3834 days

#7 posted 10-11-2012 08:27 PM

I have 18 projects on LumberJocks. Each and every exclusively uses pocket hole joinery.

Take a look. You might be surprised at some of them.

-- "The unexpected, when it happens, generally happens when you least expect it."

View woodmaker's profile


321 posts in 3466 days

#8 posted 10-17-2012 05:18 PM

I love my pocket hiole jig! Makes lif a lot easier, and won’t live without it.
I’m still a learning wood worker and will at some point learn to do the mortise and tennons and hand cut dovetails; but I do tend to get in a hurry and not practice these joints (my own fault). I love woodworking its my new hobby, the only other hobbies I have are bass fishing and playing guitar (need more practice on that to).

-- Mike

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