Kreg - Shelf Pin Jig (Rating: 3)

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.