Which Kreg Pocket Hole Jig To Buy

Like this article? Please help by Liking, +1'ing, Tweeting or Pinning. Thank you!
Almost all woodworking projects require joining two pieces of wood together. There are a number of different joints that can be used to create a strong connection between 2 pieces of wood but the easiest and most affordable way for the DIYer is to use pocket hole joints. Kreg makes the most popular pocket hole jig on the market.

Kreg makes a number of different pocket hole jigs that range in price from very cheap, to somewhat expensive. This post will help you decide which Kreg jig to buy.

Why Pocket Hole Joints?

Pocket screw joinery is the best option for the do-it-yourselfer because pocket screws create very strong joints and don't require you to have a lot of special or expensive tools that you won't use frequently.

Dowels, biscuits, half lap joints, dovetaills, and so on are time consuming and sometimes require specialty tools. If you're not a full time carpenter and just like to build things from time to time because it not only saves money but it's fun, it's important to not spend a lot of money on tools that will collect dust. All you need are butt joints which are easy to cut even on a small budget. See my post on how to make square cuts. Getting perfectly square cuts will ensure a straight project and strong joints.

You don't need dozens of clamps! The screws will hold the work pieces together. Clamps aren't cheap and even small projects wind up needing more clamps than I have. I built a number of euro style cabinets to make a built-in desk and I don't own a single expensive, long bar clamp!

How Strong Are Pocket Hole Joints?

Pretty strong from my experience. I haven't done any formal testing but the first thing I built with my Kreg Mini when I got it was a pair of panel carriers to move some drywall and plywood down to my basement. We were moving 2 sheets at a time, about 104 lbs, down the stairs. About half the time using the top handle with the pocket hole joint. About 2,000 lbs of drywall and plywood was moved this way. That was about 3 years ago and I've used them a few times since and they haven't failed. Cabinets, desks, and all other projects I built with Kreg pocket holes have been very sturdy too.

Kreg Mini Pocket Hole Jig

The Kreg Mini Kreg Jig Kit only costs around $20 and is a good pocket hole jig to have even if you have more expensive Kreg Jigs because it can get into spaces others can't, like under stairs to make repairs and into tight corners. If you already own another Kreg Jig you can save some money buy just buying the Kreg MKJ Mini Jig by itself without the accessories.

The accessories that come with the Mini Kreg Jig Kit are a special stepped drill bit that makes the pilot hole and pocket hole in one step. The bit comes with a stop collar and an 4mm hex key for adjusting the collar.

The Kreg Jig Mini makes the same pocket holes it's big brothers make. This is the only Kreg Jig I own and I've used it for numerous projects including cabinets for a built in desk. I learned how strong the pocket screws were when I moved dozens of sheets of drywall with my DIY panel carriers.

It's a little slower to use than the other jigs because you have to manually place the jig in the correct spot. Using makeshift spacers made it easier and using the Kreg Face Clamp speeds things up even more. You can get a Vise-Grip Locking C Clamp with Swivel Pads for about half the price but the Kreg Face Clamp has larger pads which will minimize the risk of putting dents in the wood.

Kreg Jr. Pocket Hole Jig

In hindsight, I should have bought the Kreg R3 Jr. Pocket Hole Jig System vs the Kreg Mini. It's only about $20 more than the Kreg Mini Jig but it comes with everything you need including a 3" square driver, some screws, pocket hole plugs as well as a case.

The Kreg Jr is a lot faster to use than the Kreg Mini because it comes with built in guides that can be adjusted for the thickness of material you're working with and the case includes a guide to help you adjust the stop collar on the drill bit.

One of the things that slowed me down a lot was having to stop and change the stop collar. In building my desk I used 3/4" and 1/2" plywood and I'd have to stop and readjust the collar using a tape measure. It was a very clumsy process.

With the Kreg mini I would have to unclamp, move the jig over, position it using the spacers, clamp it back down, drill and repeat. With the Kreg Jr I would have been able to just slide the jig over and not have to spend time realigning the jig. When you're making dozens of pocket holes, those few seconds saved each time really add up. A plastic insert allows you to attach the Kreg Face Clamp to the Kreg Jr Jig which makes repositioning the jig with one hand a snap.

Kreg K4 and K4 Master Pocket Hole Jig

The Kreg Jig K4 and Kreg K4MS Jig Master System are meant more for professionals and the serious DIY'er woodworker. The K4 runs around $100 and the K4MS goes for about $140. The Master System is essentially the same as the K4 with some extra useful accessories such as the face clamp, portable base, 6" square driver (in addition to the 3" driver) and a material support stop. If you're going to buy the K4 instead of the R3, might as well spend the extra $40 because those accessories come in handy.

The K4 and K4MS are more durable than the other systems. Because the drill guide is stationary and the work piece gets clamped to the dril guide you don't get a small point of pressure from the clamp on the plastic drill guide. My Kreg Mini has some dents in it from clamping with a standard C-clamp but is still usable.

If you frequently make pocket holes and have space on your workbench to permanently or temporarily affix the Kreg K4 Jig, you'll save yourself a lot of setup time. Just slide the work piece in the jig and clamp it down with one hand. A dust collection port allows you to hook up your shop vac to keep your work area clean.

Kreg Micro Pocket Hole Jig

The Kreg Jig Micro Drill Guide System makes 25% smaller diameter pocket holes and uses smaller pan head screws which allows you to make pocket holes in thinner stock.

If you frequently use 1/2" plywood or boards to make drawer boxes or picture frames, the Kreg Micro is for you. The Kreg Micro fits into the same bases and accessories that come with the K4 Master system and it can be used on it's own with spacers.

Even though the other Kreg Jigs can make pocket holes for 1/2" stock, many times 1/2" plywood comes in actual thicknesses of less than 1/2" and reducing the size of the pocket hole makes for sturdier construction in thinner pieces.

Kreg Jig HD Pocket Hole Jig

The Kreg Jig HD Starter Kit KJHD is specially designed for thicker stock such as 2x3's, 2x'4's and other 2x dimensional lumber. The holes are 25% bigger which provides up to 50% greater strength. This new Kreg Jig was first released in 2012.

Special screws were developed for the new jig that are larger and have a 3 special coatings to resist corrosion. This is a great jig for outdoor projects such as planter benches, outdoor furniture as well as indoor furniture made of dimensional lumber such as workbenches.

The Kreg HD drill guide can accept the Kreg Face Clamp and fits in the K3 and K4 jigs.

14 comments :

  1. thanks needed this review as I am just going to buy one and was not sure what one I needed so this was very helpful :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad I could help Dawn. :) Which one did you decide to go with?

      Delete
    2. I second Dawn's comment. Thank you so much for the info!

      Delete
  2. Good info, except Kreg's Right Angle Clamp won't work with the Micro jig bore holes when doing a corner join. The diameter is too large. Any ideas on what to use as a clamp for corner joins - like a drawer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I discussed a couple of right angle clamps that I think are good in a recent article on making square cuts with a circular saw Those clamps don't go in the pocket holes and both can be used for making drawer boxes.

      Delete
  3. Hi I went for the Kreg Jr. Pocket Hole Jig since I have limited space and it was more mobile

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am trying to make a farmhouse table and some benches. Not sure I can afford a some of the more costly KJs would I be able to get away in only using the Mini Pocket Hole KJ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Justin, I can't think of anything you can't do with the Kreg Mini Jig but it's a bit slower because you have to stop and measure the spacing if you're not on 3/4" stock. Depending on the thickness of the material you have to either set the jig a little before or a little past the edge. With the Kreg Jr that process is quicker because of the guide that comes with it. Doable with the mini and some spacers. A good clamp is important.

      Delete
  5. Do you need to buy/use Kreg screws or can you recommend a less expensive and easier to find screws at Home Depot?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've only ever used the Kreg screws because I know that the heads are the right size and I like how they make it easy to select the right screw based on the thickness and type of material. I find it easier than trying to find similar screws from different brands. I haven't found the prices to be much different to justify the time searching for something else. You should be able to use other screws though provided they meet the same specs as far as length and thread density. I picked up this Kreg SK03 Pocket-Hole Screw Kit so I have a bunch of different sizes handy if I need them then order boxes of other sizes as I know I'll need them. Hope that helps.

      Delete
  6. Thanks, this review was just what I was looking for. DIY desk here we come...

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks Tom! I recently discovered why one might use pocket joints, and your site confirmed that I wanted to get the R3 kit.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Seems to me that with the Mini it would be pretty easy to measure carefully once and then build your own guide for the setting the collar, no? Doesn't solve the clamping problem though.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Just wondering if you've ever used the metal jig from Harbor Freight. I'm new to this, and your explanations are very helpful. I'm going to buy, but from what I've read, the Harbor Freight model saves lots of money on the larger jig, and is better made. Any thoughts?

    ReplyDelete