BTP Review – Kreg K5 Pocket Hole Joinery System

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    BTP Review – Kreg K5 Pocket Hole Joinery System

    Kreg puts out a lot of products that make our lives easier. The Rip Cut is a great edge guide for almost any circular saw, the shelf hole jig is easy, accurate, and inexpensive, but the line of products that earn the right to be THE Kreg Jig, the one everyone understands when we say Kreg Jig, is their line of pocket hole jigs

    The way it works is simple. The user sets the jig position and drill bit stop to the thickness of the wood being used and to the desired screw length, clamps it in place, and drills out angled holes with a countersink to secure the screw head. Using a long square drive bit, a screw is inserted, and pulls the two pieces of wood together. Easy enough that anyone can do it.

    Kreg sell multiple models, where the real difference is mostly in setup time. The Kreg Mini and Junior need to be set using a measuring tape and clamped to the board, the bigger systems like the K4 and K5 have built in clamps, little positioning adjustment elements, and a long flat surface to ensure everything is inline. They also have included setup blocks for standard thicknesses, so there is no fiddling with anything.

    I decided a couple of years ago to retire my little $20 Kreg Mini and buy the big daddy (without jumping to the Contractor model, which is less jig and more benchtop tool) the K5.

    The K5 has wings on it that support the workpiece and that have compartments to store all the setup blocks and bits. Not quite big enough to hold more than a few screws though, so it still needs a home

    My setup is simple. I use (usually) my old Bosch 12v PS31 drill to drill out the holes, with a vacuum set up to the jig to remove all the chips. This is not just a neatness thing, it makes for a much cleaner hole, which makes for a better end result. I then clamp the drilled workpiece in place against the next piece of wood. Kreg sell clamps designed to help with this, but I prefer to use my own. No need for glue. I then use my old PS41 impact driver to sink the screw. Repeat.

    Once done, there is still an angled hole that is very visible. Kreg sell plugs that are desigEd to be a perfect fit, just glue them in and flush cut the overhang once dry. Quite a few wood species are available as well. On occasion, a plug won’t fit, having swollen with time and moisture. Just throw it in the microwave for 30 seconds – it will shrink back down. A 3/8 dowel will also fit, and filler/bondo is also an option. The ideal, of course, is to try to place the holes where they will never be seen, like the backside of a drawer or underneath

    While the Kreg jig is often seen as “cheating” by woodworkers and as a DIY tool, there are times it is indespensable. For example, when there is just no way to clamp a piece for glue to set, and there is a place to hide a pocket screw hole, use it as a clamp. Remove the screw once done if you want.

    In construction/renovation use, I have found it to be indispensable. Want to build built-ins quickly onsite, Kreg it. Once the sides are slipped in, the holes will never see the light of day. Have a squeaky old floor and access from below? Put some upward pressure on a joist, drill in a few pocket holes, and glue and screw the joist to the subfloor. No more squeaks where the old nails rub the shrunken wood. Need to do tight angled cuts on a deck railing, get outdoor rated screws and use the jig. Will never open

    Pocket screws will not rival mortise an tenon joints for strength, but they will allow you to bash together an end table with your wife in an evening, they will let you make a bunch of cabinet carcasses quickly, and they will come in handy a million other ways.

    I dont suggest a Kreg jig to a pro as their only joinery tool, but I do recommend keeping one around for the simplicity, the time savings, and the ease of use

    Durham region, ON

    yah the k5 is definitely the better system. i have the k4 and always hate how the board mounts to the system, where the k5 has the controls up front, makes it easier to access.

    edmonton, AB

    Great review thanks


    Nice review, I was always thinking of picking up one of these kits,
    After reading about your experience with it, I think it’s made my mind up, I will definitely be getting one from home Depot in the next little while,

    Great tip for the plugs into the microwave, I would have never thought about that.

    Palm Springs, CA

    great review Eric.
    I like my K5 system as well. clamping is much easier than with the previous K4 model.

    "If you're going to do something, do it right the first time"
    Palm Springs, CA

    Bloomington, IN

    I’ll admit that my K5 gets a fair amount of use. It is quite handy for making quick, relatively sturdy joints. As you said, its not a mortise and tenon joint, but it is more than strong enough for most applications.

    Nice review!

    Jon P.
    Timber Carpentry & Construction

    Hamilton, ON

    Great review! Pocket holes are also great for a knock down type of joinery, especially if you want to ship a piece of furniture. You are able to ship it all flat pack (IKEA style) and once on site it can be built. This is what we use on our technical furniture, and we ship all across Canada and the US.


    Nicely done Eric with the review . Pocket holes have really gained ground in construction word . Does the K5 come with a hard case .

    Always willing to learn .


    Nicely done Eric with the review . Pocket holes have really gained ground in construction word . Does the K5 come with a hard case .

    They sell one, and it may even come in some of the kits, but mine was just a cardboard box. Still is, although I may Lboxx it someday. Would take an L3 though, once I factor in the case of screws and a couple of small clamps

    Bellingham, WA

    Nice review @montreal_woodworks! I see these all over IG (the foreman too) and have thought about getting one numerous times. Maybe some day the price will come down a bit or I’ll find one on sale. But I really like that it attaches to dust collection.



    North Bay, ON

    Thanks for the review, @montreal_woodworks. I have seen them, of course but never really understood the appeal. You have given me a better realization of the versatility and ease of use of these jigs.

    BE the change you want to see.
    Even if you can’t Be The Pro… Be The Poster you’d want to read.

    Sudbury, ON

    Great review, thanks. I’ve looked at the different systems out there but never pulled the trigger. Nice to have an honest opinion.


    If you have to choose between a K4 and a K5 – pay the extra and get the K5. The locking handle being on the front side of the jig makes a big difference in usability.

    If you are putting pocket holes into tall and/or long pieces of wood, it is difficult to unlock the clamp when it is on the backside.

    Etobicoke, ON

    Great review Eric. Thanks
    Given me something to think about and a possible purchase down the road.

    “If you don’t pass on the knowledge you have to others, it Dies with you”
    — Glenn Botting

    Fayetteville, NC

    Thank you for posting the review. Helps explain the tool and its use very well.

    Automotive Pro
    Fayetteville, NC
    (and also the World's Fastest Poster)

    Honolulu,, Hi.

    Great review, and great pics. Are those your pics?


    A Working Pro since 1988!

    Member since January 26, 2013.


    Great review, and great pics. Are those your pics?

    A mix of mine and the official Kreg marketing shots


    Great review! I can’t tell you how many times I have gone back and forth on buying one.

    Sudbury, MA

    Nice review. I don’t have the K5, but I like my Kreg jig as well. Mine doesn’t get a ton of use, but when I need it I am very glad to have it.


    Nice review. I don’t have the K5, but I like my Kreg jig as well. Mine doesn’t get a ton of use, but when I need it I am very glad to have it.

    I agree with that. It isn’t my best joinery tool, but the way it works is unique enough that sometimes its the only one for the job

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