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how to use a kreg jig

Hey, look at this! Tool Tutorial Friday is back! Today I have a great tool for creating strong joints when building with wood and furniture construction. Today I’m going to show you the simple tutorial for How to Use a Kreg Jig. If you don’t have one yet, you need to purchase one ASAP! This little tool is my go to for for building furniture, frames and just about anything that needs a tight joint.

(I’ve included affiliate links in this post for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

I use the K4 Kreg Jig  It didn’t take me long to figure out how to use it, but I know it would have been helpful to have a step-by-step tutorial when I was first learning how to use a Kreg Jig. For your convenience, this is a quick tutorial.

I was first introduced to the Kreg Jig by my friends Ana White and Rayan with The Design Confidential. These two DIY ladies opened my eyes to pocket screw joints. Be sure to check out their blogs for more tips from the masters!

The Basics on How To Use a Kreg Jig

First you will need to measure the thickness of your board. The wood I used was 3/4″ thick. It is important to actually measure your stock because what is sold as a 1″ thick board is usually about 3/4″ thick. You should always measure any wood you buy regardless of how it is labeled. The wood may shrink or deviate from the standard size.

Use that measurement to set the depth collar on your Kreg drill bit. The Kreg Jig I have has this handy guide built into the base. Simply set the drill bit into the groove and line up the step (the spot where the drill bit goes from wide to narr0w) with the measurement that corresponds to the thickness of your wood. The depth collar is adjustable with a hex bit.

kreg jig use

Next you want to set the jig placement, also based on the thickness of your wood. You’ll notice the numbers on the side of the jig. Loosen the gold thumb screw and raise or lower the hole guide until it corresponds to your wood measurements. Re-tighten the thumb screw.

kreg jig closeup

 

If you are joining two different thicknesses of wood, use the thinner board to set your measurements. You may want to vary your screw size. Kreg Jig has this handy chart to find the correct screw lengths (the left vertical side in the chart is the thickness of the board receiving the pocket holes. The horizontal top edge is for the thickness of the board that is being screwed into.)

The next thing I do is clamp the jig to my workbench. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but it helps hold things steady.

kreg jig bench clamp

Set your wood into the jig, line up the end you want to drill holes in at the bottom of the jig. Then press the clamp lever towards the board to clamp it in place. You may need to turn the clamp screw to tighten or loosen it for a secure hold.

kreg jig clamp boards

Insert the Kreg Jig drill bit into your drill. Start your drill in the forward motion. Drive the bit into the pocket hole guide. Stop at the depth collar on the bit.

For strong joints always use at least two pocket holes. One will only act like a pivot point for the joints to twist and turn.

kreg jig pilot holes

Remove the drill bit and unclamp the wood.

To complete your joint, clamp the pieces together and drive pocket hole screws into the pocket holes and into the second piece of wood. Choose the screw that is recommended for your material thickness:

1/2″ material = 1″ screws

3/4″ material = 1 ¼” screws

1 1/2″ material = 2 ½” screws

There is a clamp that comes with the K4 Kreg Jig (you can use it to clamp on top and bottom of the joint), but I prefer a larger clamp like this 24″ IRWIN clamp so that the wood doesn’t get marred.

kreg jig clamp joints

To conceal the pocket holes after your joint is completed, purchase the Kreg plugs. Or you can fill them with Bondo (Yes! Bondo works great as a strong wood putty! Just remember to allow for drying time and sanding when using Bondo.)

And that’s the basics for using a Kreg Jig! You can save some money if you want to purchase the Kreg Jig Jr., but if you plan to do a lot of building, I recommend the Kreg Jig K4 for easier joinery. It has the removable pocket hole guide. The price usually runs just under $100.

Want to learn how to use more tools? Grab a tool and learn now:

Tool Tutorials | Pretty Handy Girl

Check out these projects using a Kreg Jig:

DIY Open Frame Radiator Screen Cabinet Doors:

DIY open frame cabinet doors

Wall-Mounted Hutch:

Wall Mounted Hutch Building Plans

Pergola with Trellis Trash Can Screen:

Build a Pergola with Trellis to Screen Your Trash Cans | Pretty Handy Girl

Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper:

Fireplace Draft Stopper

Disclosure: I was not paid to endorse Kreg Jig. I purchased the jig with my own money and wrote this tutorial to give my readers the basic tips for using one. As with all tools, be sure to read your owners manual and familiarize yourself with your tools. I am not responsible for any errors or omissions in this tutorial. This post contains affiliate links.

95 replies
  1. Gimbler
    Gimbler says:

    Is that first photo, setting the depth collar correct or have I been incorrectly setting my “step” and not the tip to the thickness of my board?

    Reply
  2. Kimberly Mathews
    Kimberly Mathews says:

    I had to smile when I saw this post. I broke out my Keg Jig today for the first time to build a bed using one of Ana White’s plans. Thanks for the great tutorial!

    Reply
  3. seansmom
    seansmom says:

    Hubby bought a Kreg at a DIY show in our area a few years ago, and we use it all the time. It was offered at the Kreg booth as a “special”, so we spent a LOT less than what they sell for now. It’s a really handy tool to have around!

    p.s…glad Tutorial Friday is back!!!!

    Reply
  4. Kim
    Kim says:

    Thank you SO much for your tutorial. I actually just purchased a Kreg Jig and haven’t yet used it. It seemed rather intimidating for a novice woodworker like myself. I had a hard time just figuring out how to assemble the thing… But after reading your instructions I feel a little more confident that I can use it with success. I’m hoping to build some large wooden planters for my first project. I’ll be looking forward to your next tutorial using the Kreg Jig.

    Reply
    • Laura
      Laura says:

      OMG Kim… you will love your Kreg… I love mine… you can build anything with it… wait till you use it a couple times… you’ll see furniture items and say.. .”I can build that” go check out http://www.ana-white.com she has tons of plans to build furniture and they all use the Kreg… I made so many things… A table and chairs for my granddaugher.. a bed for her… a play kitchen set… a set of nesting tables for my living room… I love love love it…. I blogged about a few of the things I’ve made so far… My tables are my favorite project so far..

      Reply
  5. Kimberly
    Kimberly says:

    I was literally laying awake in bed last night trying to remember what that was called so that I could look up how to use it and here it is. Thanks!

    Reply
  6. Bill
    Bill says:

    Another tip – take some white paint and go over all the letters/numbers and wipe off the excess – allow to dry – much easier to read the settings.

    Reply
  7. Ken Schultze
    Ken Schultze says:

    Brittany nice blog! This Kreg system is a must for any DIYer! I use mine from home improvement to fine furniture. I recommend getting the largest kit you can afford. Once you get past the very very small learning curve you will end up getting the extras after you realize how much you can truly build with it. Have fun and create!
    Ken

    Reply
  8. Steve Osterday
    Steve Osterday says:

    One of the first things I built when I bought my jig was the “Workbench” project. It was an easy build, got me familiar with the tool and the result provided me with a very useful workbench to use on other projects.

    Reply
  9. Debora Cadene
    Debora Cadene says:

    Hi Brittany…I just got the Kreg M4 and was wondering if you could help me out a little. First off, I’ve never used one, so have lots of questions. I watched the video and it shows putting the spacer bar under the thing that slides up and down. Does this stay there? What is it for and what happens if you don’t put it there? I have written to Kreg, and did look in the FAQ section, but I’m just plain ol confused…..

    Debbie.

    Reply
      • Debora Cadene
        Debora Cadene says:

        Oh…sorry about that. Its the video that comes with the M4 Kreg. It shows sliding the blue spacer block into the groves under the piece that you adjust for different sizes of wood. I think it adds an extra 1/4″, but I just don’t know what it all means.

        Debbie.

        Reply
        • Brittany Bailey
          Brittany Bailey says:

          Debora, I watched this Kreg Jig video: http://youtu.be/XrebqzFXSII
          I’m not sure if it’s the same one that came with the tool (mine is lost right now in the mess of our garage.) I don’t see a spacer that sit underneath the guide block (I think that’s what you are talking about. But, the three hole guide block slides up and down and you set that (in addition to the collar on the drill bit) to the width of your wood.

          It might be helpful for you to just drill some holes in scrap wood to play and see how the jig works before using it on a finished piece.

          Reply
          • Debora Cadene
            Debora Cadene says:

            Thank you for the clip, I hadn’t seen that one. It doesn’t have the spacer block in this video at all. I have tried to contact Kreg, to see what its for, but I just haven’t heard back. I tried to hook up with the Kreg forum, but for some reason, I don’t get the confirmation emails, so working on that as well. Right now its just hurry up and wait until I can chat with someone. It was the weekend, so I am sure mabey today or tomorrow…
            I just wanna make something….
            thanks for replying so quickly, I sure do appreciate it.

            Debbie.

          • White Eyelashes
            White Eyelashes says:

            Debbie,
            I remember seeing the spacer bar used in a YouTube. It is used when you take the jig out of the stand/clamp and take the jig to a large work piece that wouldn’t fit into it. If I remember, each spacer bar represented a half inch of board thickness and you could order more from Kreg to accomodate thicker boards. It slides onto the bottom of the jig (once you remove it from the stand/clamp) and the additional add-ons interlock. To me, it didn’t seem like something I would end up using, but ya never know.

          • Debora Cadene
            Debora Cadene says:

            Thanks bunches. Finally got it all figured out, and have to say I’m not sure I’d use it much either, but as you said…never know. I only have the one, but should probably get 3 more, so it will work with 2x wood. I was making the farm house table and actually needed to add a couple more holes, so used the portable and it worked great.

          • jan
            jan says:

            Hi Brittany,
            Still the best Kreg Jig how-to! Can’t believe it’s been more than two years since I pinned this!!
            So sad, the link to the Kreg youtube video is now private 🙁 . Is this something you still have access to?
            If not, any suggestions on really informative videos? Not a big deal… it’s just there are so many tutorials on youtube that it’s so helpful when one is recommended!
            Thanks kindly, Jan

  10. Lindsey
    Lindsey says:

    Thank you for this post! I am trying to start some of my own building projects (aka, not requiring the assistance of my hubbie) and this was one of the first things I wanted to learn about. Can’t wait to explore your blog more!

    Reply
  11. Kelly ann
    Kelly ann says:

    I’ve been loving the Kreg system but wondering how to use it. I can’t do any other type of joinery except “toe-nailing” LOL
    Thank you for this. BTW which Kreg system (size) would you advise for a novice? I do lots of farm type woodworking, not finish or fine.

    Reply
  12. Jay
    Jay says:

    I got a bit confused. It seemed to me you were using “width” and “thickness” interchangeably.

    Width is the distance from side to side across the grain while thickness is the distance from face to face on a board.

    Peace,

    j

    Reply
  13. Matt
    Matt says:

    The wood doesn’t shrink as it dries. a 1″ board is 1″ thick prior to being surface planed so its nice and smooth. Planing it nice and smooth takes off 1/8″ on each side of the board, which makes a 1″ board 3/4″ thick after planing. I

    Reply
  14. Bek
    Bek says:

    I have a Kreg Jig, I love it, but I cannot, for the life of me, get it to work properly……. every time I’m butting two ends together, the screws always come out the end and the holes are not centred…. It is terribly frustrating and even after watching the DVD 100x I just can’t seem to get it to do what it is supposed to do……. I get to the stage where i just use screws in the butt joint way… boring but it is the only thing that works. so sad 🙁

    Reply
    • MIKE TAYLOR
      MIKE TAYLOR says:

      YOU ARE CORRECT THE DAM KREG JIG IS MADE WITH RETARDS 3/4 PLYWOOD IS NOT GOING TO USE 1 1/4 SCREW NOT EVEN CLOSE 1 1/2 MAKES IT AND THAT SCREW IS MAYBE HALF WAY OF 3/4 PLYWOOD I AM SCREWING TO

      Reply
  15. yann
    yann says:

    Hi
    Great Article. I am looking at starting with a Joinery Jig such as pocket hole. I am looking at buying a K4 or a K5 soon. I am a newbie in woodwork and I am looking for some advice on what else is required to start with pocket holes. Any advice for a good drill (any 18V will do?). What other things will I need to start the right way: clamps, saw? Thank you for any advice.

    Reply
  16. yann
    yann says:

    Hi
    Thanks for the great article. I am looking at starting with a Joinery Jig such as pocket hole. I am looking at buying a K4 or a K5 soon. I am a newbie in woodwork and I am looking for some advice on what else is required to start with pocket holes. Any advice for a good drill (any 18V will do?). What other things will I need to start the right way: clamps, saw? Thank you for any advice.

    Reply
  17. Noman Wilson
    Noman Wilson says:

    Thanks a bunch, your description of how to use the Kreg Pocket Hole Jig was much better than the users manual that came with the purchase.

    Reply
  18. Hilary
    Hilary says:

    Hi! Thanks for this tutorial!! Quick question- do you use the drill bit that the kreg jig included for every pocket hole you make? I’m scared to use it because it seems so much bigger than the screws I will be using.

    Reply
  19. Aicha
    Aicha says:

    Hi, do you need special screws for this? I got the K3, made the wholes but having problems using regular screws. Any advice? Thank you so much!

    Reply
  20. Carla Belyea
    Carla Belyea says:

    Thanks for showing the irwin clamp to hold boards together! I tried to make a stool and I had my pocket hole screw holes mades, but couldn’t figure out how to put the pieces together! I got the kreg jig r3, wish I had gotten the k4, looks so much easier to get the holes drilled in.

    Reply
  21. Wes
    Wes says:

    Great basic tutorial! One additional point you might mention is drilling down into the piece half way, and as the drill is still turning, pull your bit up a bit to loosen and remove the loose pieces, then finish the hole. This saves wear and tear on the bit and cleans out the hole for a smoother finish. Love my Kreg jig, don’t know how I worked without it. Keep up the good work

    Reply
  22. Judy Tricker
    Judy Tricker says:

    I love my Kreg Jig. Worked out how to use it but was unsure how to keep the pieces still to put them together. Glad I see I was on the right track as bought a clamp just like the one you used!! Onwards and upwards now!!!

    Reply
  23. Ivory
    Ivory says:

    Thank you so much for sending me this tutorial on, “how to use a kreg jig”. You rock. After reading everything and trying to build something using the kreg jig, I’ll let you know how I did. Thanks again.

    Reply
  24. Jake Willis
    Jake Willis says:

    I got a kreg jig a few years ago for a very specific project but have found it to be a necessity in my shop since. Great article, I would not want to be kreg-less for any project now!

    Reply
  25. Ekta Kapoor
    Ekta Kapoor says:

    Honestly, I’m really scared of heavy wood work job & equipment or anything of that sort. it c=scare me a lot. I don’ consider it all, I would rather do the simpler stuffs around, But this tutorial is quite convincing and helpful too. I may have a try at it, who knows, I may get it and realize tha there’s nothing really in it,. Thanks, B

    Reply
  26. Sam Yuska
    Sam Yuska says:

    Why do you start the instructions by saying,” You will need to measure the WIDTH of the board ” Is it not the thickness of the board you use to set the system up? What dose the WIDTH of the board have to do with it?

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] holes and 1.25″ pocket hole screws using my Kreg Jig. Pocket holes are possible without, but this guide makes it so much easier then trying to free hand. You won’t regret investing in this tool/jig […]

  2. […] Use scrap wood supports on either side to help you set the piece. Attach the middle section to the sides of the main body using pocket holes and screws. (New to using pocket holes? Follow Brittany’s tutorial on How to Use a Kreg Jig.) […]

  3. […] reference back to various sites to make sure I was doing things correctly. I found guidance in this site for many unanswered questions along the way. This was a fabulous site that showed exactly how to […]

  4. […] Next, glue up the two boards and secure using pocket hole screws. (Unclear how to use pocket holes and a Kreg Jig? Check out my instructions for using a Kreg Jig.) […]

  5. […] you are new to building and want to learn how to use a pocket hole jig, check out this post from my friend Brittany over at Pretty Handy Girl.   Pocket holes give you a super secure […]

  6. […] power tool, but it’s used in conjunction with a power drill so I think it fits in this list. Learning joinery with the Kreg Jig has been the best investment of my time thus far. I have used it for almost every build I’ve […]

  7. […] Then drill pocket holes, using a Kreg Jig, into both ends of your 2″ x 4″ x 53″ boards. Never used a Kreg Jig? Here’s a simple tutorial. […]

  8. […] It is a great tool for a diy home goddess who wants to put a few rustic things together herself. Like my bookshelves. I saw a lot of reviews saying it’s perfect for a diy’er, and I agree. I think it is a must for anyone who wants to build simple stuff. It’s amazing how it makes you feel when you can say you built this item. Another diy’er who shows you how to use it, with a great tutorial and pictures, is here. […]

  9. […] This is how you’ll join the frame pieces and finish your frame. If you’ve never used a pocket hole jig before, check out Brittany’s tutorial for how to use a Kreg Jig. […]

  10. […] Stain or paint the shelves. Add pocket holes to the underside of the shelves to prepare for attaching to the side frame support. Drill the holes at 1.5″ and 8.5″ from the back edge of the shelf. This should center the holes on the side frame support pieces. (Need help using a Kreg Jig? Here’s a tutorial to help you learn how to use a Kreg Jig.) […]

  11. […] Previous Previous post: DIY: We’ve outdated hardware all all through our residence since our h… Search for: […]

  12. […] x 3″ x 7″ for the medium feeder.) If you need assistance, you’ll find this tutorial for How to Use a Kreg Jig […]

  13. […] Use a kreg jig to drill pocket holes. […]

  14. […] To attach the sides of the washer toss box together, you’ll need to drill pocketholes using a Kreg Jig and a drill.  While holding the pieces together with a Kreg Right Angle Clamp, secure them in place with 1-1/4″ Kreg screws.  If you aren’t familiar with the specifics on using the Kreg jig or pocketholes, take a look at this tutorial on How to Use a Kreg Jig. […]

  15. […] If you don’t know how to join wood using a Kreg Jig, there is a good tutorial here: http://www.prettyhandygirl.com/how-to-use-a-kreg-jig/. […]

  16. […] a pocket hole into both ends of the 1×2″ boards. (Click here to learn how to use a Kreg Jig. It’s […]

  17. […] want to read more on the Kreg jig as well as see step by step instructions on how to use it, click HERE. Come back and check out the blog next Friday when I talk about my DIY secret […]

  18. […] the longest leg to the 1″ x 4″ support with Kreg joinery (you can view my tutorial on using a Kreg Jig here.) Attach the smaller legs by driving the 3″ wood screws through the bottom of the drawer […]

  19. […] so I added additional horizontal supports between the front to back supports. I used a kreg jig (tutorial for using a kreg jig) to create pocket hole joinery to secure the […]

  20. […] boards for each frame, four frames total).  I angled the edges using our miter saw and then used a kreg jig to attach them on the back side of the […]

  21. […] Use a kreg jig to create pocket holes in the width pieces. Two holes per side. (New to a Kreg Jig? Why not Learn how to use a Kreg Jig here.) […]

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