Good jig but the whole package could use a little polish. Also can be used as a doweling jig.

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Review by Rob posted 05-17-2013 07:00 AM 4194 views 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Good jig but the whole package could use a little polish. Also can be used as a doweling jig. Good jig but the whole package could use a little polish. Also can be used as a doweling jig. Good jig but the whole package could use a little polish. Also can be used as a doweling jig. Click the pictures to enlarge them

I bought the Kreg Shelf Pin Jig not to drill evenly-spaced holes for shelf pins (though I do also plan to use it for that later), but rather as a jig to accurately drill holes for dowels.

First I cut a shim to go between the alignment fence and the piece of wood that needed dowel holes. I clamped the shelf pin jig in place, drilled a couple holes, then moved it over and used the included alignment pin to set up the next hole to be drilled.

If you want to use this as a doweling jig, you should know a few things:
  1. the included drill bit is too short to drill the dowel holes. You’ll either need to get a longer drill bit or you’ll need to redrill all the holes to make them deeper. Fortunately, the stop collar helps with redrilling. Now as I’m writing this, I wonder if it would have worked in one pass if I had skipped the stop collar—maybe it would have made the holes just deep enough.
  2. you really need to join multiple Shelf Pin Jigs together to drill the dowels efficiently; otherwise you only get 1 or 2 holes each time you clamp. But then again, this isn’t any worse than a real doweling jig.
  3. there’s only 1 size—this is a given, since the Shelf Pin Jig is only intended to drill equal-sized shelf pin holes of either 1/4” or 5mm (depending on which kit or drill bit(s) you bought). Obviously, you won’t be drilling holes for larger dowels.

Considering how quick it was to set up and drill 1/4” dowel holes, it should work well when used for its intended purpose, drilling a straight line of evenly-spaced holes for shelf pins. But despite its strengths, it could use a few refinements.

First, it doesn’t come with a nice case like my other Kreg products, and although there’s onboard storage for 2 drill bits and stop collars, you have to store the included Allen wrench separately. I suppose if you’re using the jig for shelf pins, you’ll never need to adjust the depth of the stop collar after you initially set it, but it’s still annoying…as if I didn’t already have enough orphaned Allen wrenches floating around or in my junk drawer.

The coupling method to attach multiple jigs into one long jig seems to get a decent fit, but it also seems very fragile. You just have a flat plastic coupler with 6 holes that attaches to the ends of two jigs with 4-6 screws (2-3 screws in each jig). Although there are 6 holes, Kreg only supplied 4 screws. It would have been nicer if there were integral dovetail joints to join two jigs with or without screws. And although you could technically screw the coupler on and put the other 2 screws on the other end of the jig for storage, it would be nicer if the jig included a case to keep everything together.

The jig does include a registration pin so you can reposition the jig for the next set of holes and continue drilling without messing up the alignment or spacing. The pin has an O-ring which is supposed to allow it to be removed along with the jig. But when I was using it, the pin remained stuck in the wood every time even though it didn’t seem overly snug when I put the pin in the hole. So each time I had to move the jig, I had to remove the jig, put down either the jig or my drill, pull out the pin, relocate the pin, then put the jig over the newly-relocated pin. It seemed like I was spending as much time moving the jig as I was drilling holes, when it should have only taken 2-3 seconds to move the jig. Maybe there’s a trick to getting it to work better, and I just haven’t figured it out yet.

Lastly, I see a lot of potential for this jig as a doweling jig. (Edit: to be clear, I’m not factoring this into my rating since it’s more wishful thinking.) Although it worked fine for drilling my dowel holes after I made a shim, it would be nice if I could just buy extra attachments for it—for instance, a self-centering clamp that snaps into the same notches as the fence, and maybe even swappable drill guides of different sizes. For $5 or $10 per set, you can bet I’d buy them. I can see a lot of additional potential for this jig if Kreg decides to build an entire product line around it like they did with their pocket hole products.

-- Ask an expert or be the expert -

View Rob's profile


704 posts in 3874 days

10 comments so far

View NiteWalker's profile


2741 posts in 3380 days

#1 posted 05-17-2013 07:35 AM

Good thorough review, but I don’t agree.
For it’s intended purpose, the jig is a 5 star tool, maybe 4.5 at the very least based on the lack of wrench storage (but really, for it’s intended purpose, the depth stop is a set it and forget it affair) and possible the connection of two jigs.

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

View Rob's profile


704 posts in 3874 days

#2 posted 05-17-2013 08:37 AM

Nightwalker, thanks for the feedback. I was borderline on whether to give it 3 or 4 stars. If it had the same level of polish as other Kreg products I own, such as the Kreg Jig Jr and the set-up bars, I’d probably give it 4 or 4.5 stars. But I’m concerned about the coupling method not holding up over time. The standalone product is fairly well thought out, but the coupler seems like it was an afterthought. It also seemed a little pricey, but I guess most of kreg’s smaller tools are in the same price range. I really think there’s a possibility that a future revision of the jig could be more versatile, similar to how the revision I received included a hex shank drill bit rather than a round shank bit. I don’t know for certain, but I would assume the jig with the hex shank drill bit is newer.

-- Ask an expert or be the expert -

View Rob's profile


704 posts in 3874 days

#3 posted 05-17-2013 08:54 AM

Double post

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View Bogeyguy's profile


548 posts in 2871 days

#4 posted 05-17-2013 05:34 PM

Your review should have been based on the fact that the tool is a shelf pin jig. Nothing more, nothing less. I agree that the Kreg line of tools are expensive.

-- Art, Pittsburgh.

View Rob's profile


704 posts in 3874 days

#5 posted 05-17-2013 06:13 PM

Bogeyguy, I guess I wasn’t very clear but my star rating is based on the seemingly weak coupling method, lack of a case, and the somewhat high price for what you get, especially considering that it’s short enough that many people will want to buy 2 and join them but may have trouble justifying spending another $35 to do so.

Again, if it came with a case, both drill bits, or had 2 or 3 more holes, I’d say it’s a 4-4.5 star product. If it had any two of those features and onboard storage for the Allen wrench (if a case isn’t included), then I’d probably give it a 5.

My comments about wanting more accessories to use it as a doweling jig are more wishful thinking, and it’s possible Kreg isn’t interested in making a doweling jig since their pocket hole jig is their bread and butter.

-- Ask an expert or be the expert -

View pintodeluxe's profile


6173 posts in 3616 days

#6 posted 05-17-2013 06:24 PM

You shouldn’t have to buy two, even for large casegoods. Most shelf hole guides allow you to register the jig with a pin, and keep drilling. Is that the case with this model?

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Rob's profile


704 posts in 3874 days

#7 posted 05-17-2013 07:32 PM

Pintodeluxe, yes, you’re right; this does come with a pin. There’s also a little rubber O-ring that is supposed to make the pin stay in the jig, but it didn’t seem to work. When I was using it, the pin always stayed stuck in the hole every time I went to relocate the jig, even though the pin didn’t feel overly snug in the hole when I put it in. I tried pulling the pin before removing the jig, but I had trouble getting a good enough grip on the pin to pull it out with the jig still in place. So I had to pull the jig off and put down either the jig or my drill, pull the pin out, relocate the pin, then put the jig on the pin. It slowed me down quite a bit, and it seemed like I was spending as much time moving the jig as I was drilling. Maybe there’s a trick to getting it to work better and I just haven’t figured it out yet.

-- Ask an expert or be the expert -

View cutworm's profile


1075 posts in 3596 days

#8 posted 05-18-2013 01:01 AM

Thanks for the post. Never thought about using it for dowels.

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 4034 days

#9 posted 05-20-2013 11:52 PM

I bought this jig last week. What I like is the metal sleeves which protect the jig from damage. I really don’t see the gripes others have posted. I already made a spacer to go along with the shelf pin jig. That makes it easy the accurately place the shelf pin jig’s starting point on each side of the case spaced up from the bottom of the case.

And it will provide the answer for a repair job. A friend of ours bought an entertainment center and her kids put it together. Now she can’t find the holes for the shelves on the inside. Yep they put it together backwards. :-) This jig will allow me to drill her some holes and not have to dismantle and then reassemble the entertainment center.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4451 days

#10 posted 05-23-2013 04:29 PM

That widget is way less money than similar things were
in my day – I had a cheap one that used a vix type
in CNC bored holes, but the whole setup did not
drill on consistent centers so glass shelves would
wobble. There was too much play in the spring
loaded bit.

Bushings are the way to go with such a jig. Understanding
this at last I bought what was available at the time
and spent over $100 on an Align-rite jig – not because
I wanted to spend that much but because that’s
what a jig with bushings cost at the time.

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