What in the World is a Kreg Jig and How Do I Use It?!

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Kreg Jig Insta
If you have read any of my DIY woodworking posts or follow the amazing Shanty-2-Chic sisters (girl power!), you have probably heard of the handy little tool called a Kreg Jig. A Kreg Jig is a device that makes pocket holes. What is a pocket hole? It’s a diagonal hole you drill into a piece of wood to discreetly attach it to another piece of wood. Here are some examples of when a pocket hole is used in woodworking:

I used a pocket hole to attach a shelf to my daughter’s play kitchen.
This bench was a pocket hole party!
The rungs of my blanket ladder were attached with pocket holes in the back. No unsightly screws showing!

*Disclaimer: This article will go into detail about how to use the Kreg Jig Mini-a budget and beginner friendly version of the Kreg Jig.

I knew when I first wanted to try some of the Shanty-2-Chic projects, it was a bit of a turn off to see how often they used a Kreg Jig. I didn’t have one, I didn’t have $100 to spend on one, and I definitely didn’t know how to use one! After a few months of wishing I had one so I could at least try one of the Shanty projects, I was gifted a Kreg Jig Mini.

Once I used it, I fell in love, and you can too! The possibilities are endless with a Kreg Jig Mini in your hand. If you’ve been putting off projects because you don’t have a Kreg Jig and don’t know how to use one, it’s time to ditch the excuses! You don’t have to drop $100 on the big one, just start with the Mini like I did!

Let’s first look at the pieces that came with your Kreg Jig Mini.

  • Jig! This thing-a-ma-bob will guide a driver into your piece of wood to create a pocket hole.
  • Drill Bit: This drill bit is designed to make the perfect pocket hole. It creates space for your driver to fit plus creates a smaller hole to guide your screw.
  • Depth Collar: This goes on the drill bit and determines how deep the drill bit can go into the wood. The collar is set at a specific location to keep the bit from going in any further than it should.
  • Allen Wrench: This is used to adjust the depth collar and set it in place. 

You also will need

  • Get Jiggy With It! Printable. This will really help you set your Jig up for the perfect pocket hole!
  • Clamp: You will be clamping the Kreg Jig to the piece of wood and a table.
  • Table: Make sure it’s strong and preferably pushed against a wall.
  • Drill: You need a strong drill for a pocket hole project. I have a 120v and it gets the job done.
  • Long Power Bit: The pocket hole is pretty deep, so you will need a 3.5 inch bit, probably much longer than the one you normally use. Below are the two I use. If you use official Kreg Jig screws, you will need a #2 Square power bit. If you will be using simple phillips head screws, get something like this. Now, here’s how to use it!img_7292

You have 2 pieces of wood you want to join together, right? Let’s call them A and B. We will be creating a pocket hole on piece A, and then drilling a screw through it and into piece B. See my diagram below. Here is how! Note: I always do a test pocket hole and screw with scrap pieces of wood before starting work on the project wood. img_7272-1.png

#1 Set the Jig in place. Find the thickness of A-actually measure it! If you are dealing with a 2×4, it’s thickness is actually 1.5 inches. (Whyyyyyy????) Use this information to figure out where to place the Jig piece A. Use the diagrams below to see how far from the edge of different thicknesses of wood the Jig should go.img_7273-1img_7274-1img_7276-1

Once you have found where it goes, clamp it to a table super tight!

#2 Adjust the depth collar. We don’t want the pocket hole to be too deep or too shallow. The depth collar will ensure the drill bit goes in just the right amount. To do this:

  1. Measure the thickness of piece B.
  2. Take the small Allen wrench and loosen the small bolt on the depth collar so that it slides easily.
  3. Use the thickness of piece B to adjust the depth collar on the drill bit. Note that you are not measuring all the way to the tip of the bit, just the end of the thick part! See the diagrams below for lengths.img_7277-e1516566871850.pngimg_7278IMG_7344
  4. Tighten the bolt with the Allen wrench.

#3 Drill the pocket hole. Put the drill bit into your drill. Double check that the Jig is securely attached to the piece of wood and a table. Drill into the Jig until the depth collar hits the jig, then pull it out. Remove the clamp and Jig. Ta-da! You just made a pocket hole.

#4 Screw together. There are a bagillion ways to attach piece A to piece B; it all depends on the plans you are using. To attach A to B, I highly recommend pushing both pieces against a wall so you have more leverage. Sometimes, it’s an awkward angle and you have to get creative. Push that screw in there as you use the drill! Use a 3.5 inch drill bit, like the ones mentioned above. Otherwise, you will not be able to tighten the screw all the way in.

You are now armed and ready to create an unlimited number of woodworking projects! I personally know it would be nice to have the next Kreg Jig version up, but don’t think it’s necessary right now. However, if you find it is tedious to use the Kreg Jig Mini, it may be time to upgrade.  Until then, enjoy your Mini and happy woodworking!

Here are the different Kreg Jigs available on Amazon!

  • Kreg Jig Mini-The basic Jig used in this tutorial.
  • Kreg R3 Jr.-Includes drill bit and double Jig
  • Kreg Jig K4-3 hole system, includes clamp, much quicker than Mini or K4
  • Kreg K5-The Bentley of Kreg Jigs: INcludes 3 hole system, clamp, drill guide block, storage wings…
  • Kreg Screws-If you want to get all fancy!

I would love to see your work! Please feel free to tag me in your first pocket hole project on Instagram or Facebook!

Kreg Jig Pin


2 thoughts on “What in the World is a Kreg Jig and How Do I Use It?!”

  1. Thanks for being one of (so far that I’ve really seen) the only posts using the mini jig instead of the deluxe one that’s nearly $100 more, when both will accomplish the same goal. Love the diagrams especially the one that shows how far back to place the jig on the wood, as this seems to be an area I have been making mistakes in. Thanks! 😃


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