Whether you are a long time user of the Kreg Pocket Hole Jig or brand new to building projects with pocket screws, here are 5 tips that will help you get more out of your K4 or K5 jig.
Secret Bit Storage
If you have a K5 jig, you already have these two side supports with storage for accessories. But did you know the K4 has storage underneath? One place for the drill bit and one for the driver.
Make your own workpiece supports
The side supports are great, but I don’t keep them attached all the time. And there are times when I need to make pocket holes in longboards and need extra support. Well, guess what: The platform of a K5 jig is the exact same height as a 2×4. Instant side supports.
What’s that little gray block for?
If you have a K5 jig, you may know that this is a little stop block. But do you know how to use it? You probably won’t need to use this often, but there are times when you need to make sure the packet holes are positioned precisely. Usually when you have to leave room for joining other pieces.
Use the vacuum attachment!
I’m amazed at how many people are missing out on the benefits of using the vacuum attachment. You think, “oh it’s just a few holes, it can’t make that much of a mess.” But it does. This is a big drill bit and the shaving go everywhere.
Hooking up your shop vac to the jig eliminates almost all the drill shavings. It’s actually kind of amazing how well it works. There’s even a side benefit: the suction actually helps hold your workpiece into place as you position it.
Why can’t I get long, fine-thread pocket screws?
You probably already know that you should use coarse thread screws for all softwoods and plywood and that you need to use fine thread screws for hardwoods. But why can’t you get the fine thread screws any longer than 1 ½”?
Pocket screws have to be self-tapping in order for them to work since you only drill a hole in one workpiece, not the joining piece.
To prevent the receiving piece from splitting, the screws need to be thin. Coarse thread pocket screws are #8 diameter. In softwoods like pine, these can be fairly long, up to 2 ½”. The fibers of the wood separate pretty easily as you drive a screw.
But for hardwoods, the screws need to have finer threads to help them cut through the dense fibers. The coarse thread screws are too aggressive and might split the wood. To make the fine thread, self-tapping screws even less likely to split, they are made thinner than the coarse thread screws. These are all #7 diameter screws. And at that diameter, they are likely to break off if they are any longer than 1 ½”. It’s just too much torque needed for hardwoods without a pilot hole.
The good news is that if you have two thick hardwood boards you need to join together, the 1 ½” screws provide more than enough holding power.