Sunday, February 5, 2012

Get Woodworking Week – Pocket Holes?

This post is geared toward those that are thinking about taking a dip into this wonderful hobby/craft we call Woodworking.  The brainchild of Tom Iovino of Tom’s Workbench, bloggers around the Woodworking community will be posting articles geared toward the beginning Woodworker.  So, if you have been perusing the forums, blogs, woodworking websites, and the occasional PBS woodworking TV show, the techniques, tools and required competence must seem overwhelming.  Rest assured anyone considering this hobby has been in your shoes. 

So, where do you start?  My first and strongest recommendation is to start with Popular Woodworking magazine’s “I Can Do That” articles.  They are free and very informative for the beginner.  Each project can be completed over a weekend with a basic set of tools.  Start out by reading their free Online Manual that will go over the basic tool-kit and techniques. They have quite a variety of projects to build, from the traditional to the contemporary.  Not only will these projects build your confidence and skills, but will also please that certain someone on the finance committee. 

Speaking of the finance committee, what is the one starter tool I would say you can’t live with out?  Easy – the pocket-hole jig.  In my opinion, the one area that frustrates most beginners is joinery; the “simple” task of fastening one board to another.  The pocket-hole joint allows you to join two boards together, simply, quickly, and strongly.  Don’t be intimated by naysayers who say the pocket-hole joinery is not “fine woodworking”.  You can build many “fine” projects with pocket-holes joinery.  Once you have mastered a few projects, your confidence will grow and will start to try other more complicate joints.  But trusty pocket-hole jig will always be useful tool in any shop.  While, I rarely use the pocket-hole joint any more in my furniture projects, I use them all the time in my shop furniture and shop made jigs.  The miter saw stand, out-feed/assembly table, and the tool stand pictured below were all made using pocket-hole joinery. 

The biggest drawback to pocket-holes is that they are visible from one side.  Yes, they make plugs to fill the pocket-holes, but to be honest don’t waste your money on those.  They will never truly conceal the pocket hole.  What you need to do, is plan ahead and make sure the visible side of joint is hidden or concealed from view, like on the underside or back of a piece. 

So what pocket-hole jig should I buy?  I have one of the ever popular Kreg jigs and have been quite satisfied with it.  One of the best things about the Kreg Jigs is that they and their accessories (screws, clamps, etc.) are available at most, if not all, Lowes stores.  So, if you run out of the specialty screws you only have to go as far as your local Lowes to pick up some more.  Although I have not used one, the Porter-Cable Pocket-Hole Jig also looks to be quite good.  The two things I would strongly recommend is buying a surface vise-grip like clamp and a right-angle clamp.  With those in your arsenal, you can handle just about any situation. 

I hope this post has given you some food for thought from my perspective.  Be sure to check out Popular Woodworking magazine’s “I Can Do That” articles.  And please feel free to give me your feedback.

Thanks for stopping by,



  1. Kyle,
    well said. I'll agree. The pocket whole jig is a great tool and for a beginner, it'll certainly let you get on with wonderful builds and gain confidence rather than get fought up on the struggle of dovetails on your first project. Also, the Kreg jig and its accessories are a great value and ubiquitously available so they're a great brand to start off with.

  2. Great article. The pocket hole jig is one of the most versatile jigs around. I like using it on quick, throw together projects.

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