How To Use A Pocket Hole Jig

A simple step by step guide to understand pocket holes and show you how to use a the Kreg Jig.

Sawdust covered Kreg Jig with text overlay

Table of Contents

The Kreg Pocket Hole Jig is by far my favorite tool in the workshop.

This pocket hole jig and a drill were the only tools I had for the longest time. The lumber store would cut the boards for me.

That is how I built my first projects like the kid’s table and chair set, the apothecary media cabinet, and my workbench.

The Kreg Jig is super easy to use but all the numbers and settings stump a beginner.

I am breaking down everything you need to know about using a Kreg Jig so you can start using it with confidence and build ALL THE THINGS!

***This post contains affiliate or referral links. It is a way for this site to earn advertising fees by advertising or linking to certain products and/or services. Please read my full disclosure here ***

What is a pocket hole?

A pocket hole is an angled hole that is drilled into one board.

When you screw in through the angled hole to attach two boards, an extremely strong joint is made.

Why use pocket holes?

A few of the benefits of pocket hole joinery include –

  1. Extremely beginner-friendly! Once you understand the settings, you can make pocket holes and joints in a matter of minutes.
  2. The joint is super strong. The angled screw produces a huge clamping pressure. When coupled with wood glue it makes a really strong joint.
  3. There is no clamping and waiting for glue to dry. Make the joint and move on to the next step. It helps get more done in less time.
  4. It makes the alignment of two boards extremely straightforward.

What is a pocket hole jig?

A pocket hole jig is a jig that helps to make pocket holes easy.

It is clamped to one of the boards being joined and you drill through guides to make a precise pocket hole.

The Kreg Jig – the pocket hole jig that I use and love has simple settings to make pocket holes

Which Kreg Jig to buy

While there are many other companies that sell pocket hole jigs, Kreg is definitely my favorite because they offer many choices for many budgets.

But with so many options on the market, it can be confusing which Kreg Jig to buy.

You can easily find a Keg Jig for any budget.

Kreg Pocket hole jig filled with sawdust

The basic feature – the ability to make pocket holes remains the same. But things like ease of use and versatility goes up and so does the price.

  • Kreg R3 – This is the most basic pocket hole jig. It is great for beginners and you can build furniture with it. However, it can be a bit cumbersome to use when making large projects.
  • Kreg 320 – Coming under $40, this is a new beginner-friendly and budget-friendly pocket hole jig. I love how versatile it is and can be used in so many configurations. See my full video on all its features.
  • The K4 – This mid-range pocket hole jig is one of the most popular. This is the one I bought 8 years ago and is still going strong. I use it all the time for all my pocket hole needs on my projects.
  • The K5 – It is basically the K4 with a few more bells and whistles like a swiveling dust collection, extension wings that help hold a wider material level and some extra hidden storage.
  • The Kreg Foreman – This is a machine that makes pocket holes for you without a drill. It is the higher-end model but automation always comes at a price.

No matter which one you pick, you are going to love how easy it will make building furniture – big or small.

Also, check out all my favorite Kreg Accessories to help you with building using pocket holes and more!

Parts of a Kreg Jig

The basic parts of a Kreg Jig or really any pocket hole jig is as follows –

  • The Jig itself
  • A clamp to hold the board in place
  • A special drill bit to make the pocket hole
  • A depth collar for the drill bit with the hex key
  • A special square drive bit to drive the pocket hole screws.
Basic parts of Kreg Jig K4 labeled

All of the above comes as part of the package itself.

In addition to these, you will need –

  • Pocket hole screws based on the size of boards you are joining (more on that below)
  • Clamps – to hold the jig on the workbench or board and while joining the boards.

Be sure to take a look at Kreg Jig 101 to learn everything you need know!

How To Use A Kreg Pocket Hole Jig

Sometimes the best way to learn is to see it is action.

Below is a full video tutorial of how to use the Kreg Jig. The full written tutorial follows below.

I have a full tutorial on using the Kreg 320 here too.

Kreg jig tutorial

Step 1 – Measure thickness of boards

This is a very important step. The strength of the pocket hole depends directly on knowing the exact thickness of the boards.

Not all boards are made equal and there is a variation across boards from various sources.

It is always a good idea to break out that tape measure and check the thickness.

PS: the new Kreg 320 comes with a nifty tool so you can quickly check the thickness!

Step 2 – Set jig height

This is based on the thickness of the lumber you are using. move the jig height and set it up so that it matches the thickness of your board.

how to set the height for a pocket hole jig

What if you are joining boards of 2 different thicknesses? Use the smallest thickness.

Step 3 – Set depth collar on the drill bit

Kreg pocket hole jigs come with a special stepped drill bit and a collar.

You can set how deep the drill bit goes by setting the collar and tightening it.

  • To set the exact depth, line up the edge of the drill bit (NOT the tip) with the marking on the pocket hole jig.
  • Then, move the collar as high as possible on the bit and tighten.
how to set the drill bit for a pocket hole jig

Watch the video to see everything in action and how to adjust the drill bit collar and jig placement for board thickness!

Step 4 – Position lumber and clamp

Position the board you want to drill the pocket hole in on the jig and clamp it.

The guide marks at the top of the jig tell you the locations where the pocket holes will be drilled.

board clamped to a kreg jig ready to drill pocket holes

Be sure to make at least 2 pocket holes in a board in order to get the strongest joint!

Hole Placement

Below is the basic rule I use to drill pocket holes.

Always do a visual check to make sure that the board covering the holes because you don’t want holes along the side of your board.

Width of materialPocket hole placement
1″ to 2″B and C
2″ to 3″ A and B
3″ to 4″A and C

Step 5 – Drill the pocket holes

Go ahead and drill the pocket holes through the guide holes in the jig. The depth collar automatically stops the drill at the right height.

making pocket holes on a Kreg Jig

Note – Make sure that the depth collar is tight. If it moves as you push down the drill, the pocket holes will not be deep and you will not get a strong joint.

Step 6 – Attach the boards

Clamp the 2 boards together.

Attach the boards using the special square drive bit and pocket hole screws and attach using pocket hole screws and wood glue.

Joining 2 boards using pocket holes

And there is your pocket hole joint!

It should be nice and strong right away. No waiting for glue to dry!

How to choose pocket hole settings

Here is the basic chart to guide you with the selection process.

Remember, the jig height and the depth collar are set at the same thickness.

Material thicknessJig height settingScrew size
1/2″ 1/2″3/4″
5/8″5/8″1″
3/4″3/4″1 1/4″
7/8″7/8″1 1/2″
1″1″1 1/2″
1 1/8″1 1/8″1 1/2″
1 1/4″1 1/4″2″
1 3/8″1 3/8″2″
1 1/2″1 1/2″2 1/2″

Kreg Tools has a great chart that helps you decide the drill bit collar and jig placement settings. They also have a chart on which size pocket hole screws to use.

I typically use ¾” and 1½” thick lumber so I always have 1¼”pocket hole screws and 2½” pocket hole screws in my supplies.

Also, check out all my favorite Kreg Accessories to help you with building using pocket holes and more!

Other uses of Kreg Jig

Fixing furniture using pocket holes

How to fix furniture using a Kreg jig

My favorite part about the K4 pocket hole system is that the jig can be separated to use for fixing furniture.

Forgot to drill pocket holes?

Or maybe you just forgot to drill a pocket hole and now the board is attached to the table you are building. You can simply slide out the jig and clamp it where you need to make your pocket holes!

Kreg also has a Kreg R3 Jr system which is super affordable and can be used for building and fixing.

There is also a mini jig kit that is perfect for fixing furniture or if you are making one-off pocket holes.

I hope I answered all your questions about the Kreg pocket hole system. If you have any more questions, let me know!

Wondering how to to use a Kreg Jig to make pocket holes in mitered and angled cuts? Check out my guide to making pocket holes in mitered cuts!

Pocket Hole Tips And Tricks To Build Like A Pro –

  • Measure thickness and double-check settings
  • Use Clamps
  • Use wood glue

Read 7 more important Pocket hole tips including what to do when joining different thickness boards and the special setting when using plywood.

Kreg Jig Project Ideas for Beginners –

See 34 more project ideas  – 37 Amazingly easy Kreg Jig projects for beginners.

How to use a Kreg Jig for beginners. Learn everything you need to know!

How to Use a Kreg Jig

Yield: 1 project
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Difficulty: Beginner
Estimated Cost: $100

A simple step by step guide to show you how to use a pocket hole jig by Kreg Tools. Plus everything you need to know to make strong pocket hole joints like a pro!

Instructions

  1. Measure the thickness of the board. Not all boards are made equal and there is a variation across boards from various sources.
  2. Set jig height - this is based on the thickness of the lumber you are using. Set up the jig height to match the thickness of the board. how to set the height for a pocket hole jig
  3. Set depth collar on the drill bit - Kreg pocket hole jigs come with a special stepped drill bit and a collar. You can set how deep the drill bit goes by setting the collar and tightening it. To set the exact depth, line up the edge of the drill bit (NOT the tip) with the marking on the pocket hole jig. how to set the drill bit for a pocket hole jig
  4. Position lumber and clamp - position the board you want to drill the pocket hole in on the jig and clamp it. The guide marks at the top of the jig tell you the locations where the pocket holes will be drilled. board clamped to a kreg jig ready to drill pocket holes
  5. Drill the pocket holes. The depth collar automatically stops the drill at the right height.making pocket holes on a Kreg Jig
  6. Attach the boards. Clamp the 2 boards together. Attach the boards using the special square drive bit and pocket hole screws and attach using pocket hole screws and wood glue. Joining 2 boards using pocket holes
  7. And there is your pocket hole joint! It should be nice and strong right away. No waiting for glue to dry!

Anika's goal is to inspire and empower beginners with woodworking, DIY, home improvement, and home decor ideas.
She wants everyone to unlock their creative potential and experience the feeling that comes with making something. Nothing feels better better than seeing something and saying "I can make that!"

Similar Posts

11 Comments

  1. David N Bowers says:

    I want to join 2x4s cut at a 45 degree angle to form a 90 degree corner for the frame of a table. How do I set my Kreg jig to do that operation?

    1. You place the 45degree end flush to the bottom – creating a 45 degree angle with the bottom of the Kreg Jig. I hope this helps. I am going to be doing a build with angles next week and will try to get some pictures added to this post.

  2. Debi Oliva says:

    Anika – great video and I love your workbench – my next project! I only wish my hardware store could cut 2 pieces the same size! Only once when a woman was working the saw were all the cuts I needed spot on. I have a small circular saw but am terrified to use it.

    1. Thanks Debi. I am glad you enjoyed it. Yes, getting the hardware store to cut pieces precisely can be quite a challenge. I would recommend a miter saw instead of a circular saw. It is a lot easier to use and not too overwhelming. A miter saw is the first saw I started out with too.

  3. Continue your great work!! You are an inspiration

Comments are closed.