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Your Thoughts and Suggestions on Building a Pocket Hole Machine

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Forum topic by Peter Oxley posted 957 days ago 3924 views 1 time favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 2506 days


957 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: pocket hole jig machine drill

I have a Kreg K3 Pocket Hole Jig (you know, the one with the handle in the right place), and it gets a lot of use, enough that I’m thinking a pocket hole machine would be nice. However, the $900 price tag on Kreg’s basic machine is kind-of holding me back!

I’ve been thinking about building a machine, and I think I’ve worked out some of the problems with multiple actions (drill on/off, clamp motion, drill motion), thickness adjustments, etc. If you want to throw in your thoughts on those subjects, that’s great. But …

I’m really curious about your thoughts about:
1) Pneumatic vs. electric vs. manual: I’m leaning strongly towards manual drill advance, but I’m going back and forth between air and electric for the drill and considering all three options for the clamp.
2) Hand operated vs. foot operated: A hand operated machine would have an action like a miter saw or mortise machine, and could be entirely bench-top (space consideration is always an issue). A foot operated machine would have a kick motion like a car clutch, and would probably have to be a stand-alone machine. The only way I see to make a foot operated bench top machine would be if the drill advance was pneumatic or electric with a foot switch instead of a lever, but like I said I’m almost certain I want to use manual advance.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

-- http://www.peteroxley.com -- http://north40studios.etsy.com --


19 replies so far

View Loren's profile

Loren

7425 posts in 2280 days


#1 posted 957 days ago

There’s a guy on Youtube with about 100 video of iterations
of pocket hole “machines” he builds powered by corded drills.
Clever guy. He sure likes pocket holes.

http://www.youtube.com/user/woodentoolcompany

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 2506 days


#2 posted 957 days ago

Thanks, Loren. I was looking at his stuff earlier. He’s really into pocket holes! He has some good ideas, some of which I am going to borrow. His machines are vertical, and I’m thinking of a horizontal machine … so the bit comes up through the table instead of down through the fence.

-- http://www.peteroxley.com -- http://north40studios.etsy.com --

View dannelson's profile

dannelson

140 posts in 1003 days


#3 posted 957 days ago

Check out the one that portercable makes the benchtop unit dont remember how much I paid but it has cut 10’s of thousands of pockets and I only replaced 1 router. and very very fast. the only drawback it is set up for 3/4 stock

-- nelson woodcrafters

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 2506 days


#4 posted 957 days ago

Thanks, dannelson. It looks like the PC 550 and 552 are no longer in production. Don’t see any used ones for sale near me, either. Any chance you want to sell yours? ;) Ideally, I would like to be able to drill different thickness, but if I could get a great price on a machine that only did 3/4, I could just use a jig for odd thicknesses.

-- http://www.peteroxley.com -- http://north40studios.etsy.com --

View Loren's profile

Loren

7425 posts in 2280 days


#5 posted 957 days ago

Understand that the Kreg jigs drill a hole at a different angle
than the P-C and Castle format machines.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 2506 days


#6 posted 957 days ago

Yeah, I’m not too fixated on the angle. Would probably go with the Kreg-style 15 degrees if building my own. There’s a type I’ve seen that doesn’t do the piloted hole, just a sort of tapered/stopped dado. That would be really easy, but I’m not sure I want to go that route.

-- http://www.peteroxley.com -- http://north40studios.etsy.com --

View cabmaker's profile

cabmaker

1309 posts in 1441 days


#7 posted 957 days ago

Thank goodness I am no longer out on the fastrack, but will say that if your doing hobbiest type work I personally dont see the need for anything other than what you use now. If production is your criteria youll probably want a drill tub and frame table. There was a time when I was so overwhelmed with business that I incorporated a ritter tub and table and still barely kept up but when I closed the big shop that was the first to go. I ve seen quite a lot of this type equipment on the market for pennies on the dollar. I never heard of castle till about three yrs. ago but if I was looking I might zero in on it. If you are in a production setting it may pay you to buy a setup. Plan on dedicating approx. 300 sq. to the new addition. Enjoy JB

View Loren's profile

Loren

7425 posts in 2280 days


#8 posted 957 days ago

Yeah, agreed. The problem with pocket screws is clamping everything
while you drive the screws. The Kreg format joints tend to shift
more than the Castle format joints, which is why the Castle style
is preferred sometimes.

I got rid of my pocket hole stuff and went over to doweling
which doesn’t suffer from the same alignment ambiguities you get
with pocket screws and plate joints. Furniture and cabinetry
full of pocket holes also looks, in my opinion, cheap. Doweled
joints go together squarer and doweled boxes come out squarer
too. The arguments for pocket holes are good ones in terms
of speed of assembly, but professional face frame work demands
a pneumatic clamping table if you don’t want to spend a lot
of time sanding misaligned joints flush… and if the case screws
together out of square (they often do with screws) it can be
hard to track down the problem and get the box to go square.

All I’m saying I guess is that if you’re looking at pocket holes as
an efficient production method, it’s worth looking at other options
favored by industry as well. A lot depends on where your stuff is
positioned in the marketplace and where you want to go in terms
of marketing to more affluent customers.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View pvwoodcrafts's profile

pvwoodcrafts

222 posts in 2553 days


#9 posted 957 days ago

I have an older porter cable pocket hole mach. wouldn’t trade it for any of the others

-- mike & judy western md. www. pvwoodcrafts.com pvwccf1@verizon.net

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 2506 days


#10 posted 957 days ago

Thanks for the input. I use a variety of joinery methods (including dowels, M&T, etc), depending on what I am building. Like I said in my orignial post, I use pocket screws enough that I’m considering something more than the jig and drill routine, but not enough to justify a huge investment of cash or a lot of floor space in my shop. The cost is why I’m thinking of making my own, and the space is the reason I’m thinking something similar to the basic Kreg machine – the Foreman – which uses 14×23 of bench space and can be put on a shelf when not in use.

One thing I didn’t mention was that my biggest issue is panels for cases. Standing a panel up in a K3 type jig or a woodentoolcompany style machine is far from ideal, in my opinion. Using the jig with the faceclamp on panels is a hassle, too. Being able to control a panel laying down on a stationary machine seems to me to be the best method. Of course, if I’m going to build/buy a machine, the capability to use it on other parts would be nice!

-- http://www.peteroxley.com -- http://north40studios.etsy.com --

View dannelson's profile

dannelson

140 posts in 1003 days


#11 posted 956 days ago

thought I saw a pc knock off by general or woodtec recall it being green and yellow hope this may help. I would think that you can build on pretty easy off the pc design it uses one router for the swing(to cut the pocket from underneth and a trim router withe a drill bit to bore the hole into the piece.

-- nelson woodcrafters

View Nighthawk's profile

Nighthawk

436 posts in 989 days


#12 posted 956 days ago

I got heaps of holes in my pockets… :-) I to lazy and cheap to buy new jeans…

Oh wait… as you were…. what the above said… :-) lol

-- Rome wasn't built in a day... but I wasn't on that job? ... http://www.wackywoodworks.co.nz

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 2506 days


#13 posted 956 days ago

Thanks, dannelson. I found this machine from Castle. It looks kind of like the pictures I’ve found of the PC machine, but in yellow and green. The price tag is even more than the Kreg machine.

-- http://www.peteroxley.com -- http://north40studios.etsy.com --

View Jerry's profile

Jerry

2181 posts in 2179 days


#14 posted 956 days ago

I am in your same position. I really could use a pocket hole machine, but don’t really have the extra money for it at this time. I do appreciate being able to build some of my own machines if I am able to and this sounds like something that can be built easily. I have always thought about using some kind of vise on a drill press that held my material. We build around 15 or so kitchens per year. We use a face frame pnuematic table but drill holes with kreg jig.

I have been told the smaller kreg bench top machines are not worth the money and that they are under powered.

I don’t have a lot to offer with advice but I do know if I were choosing between electric and pnuematic drill action, I would certainly go towards the pnuematic because electric motors will have more wear and tear issues in the long run.

So I will be anxious to see what you do, please keep us posted and let us know what design you end up doing. Maybe I can learn from you and make my own machine.

-- Jerry Nettrour, San Antonio, www.topqualitycabinets.net

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 2506 days


#15 posted 955 days ago

Thanks, Jerry! It’s nice to know I’m not the only one in this position! I’ve seen drill press jigs that hold the part at 12 or 15 degrees and have a guide hole for the drill bit. I considered doing that, but it looks like a case panel in that jig would be so much in the way that I wouldn’t be able to operate the drill press. What do you think?

I appreciate the feedback on the pneumatic drill. I am leaning in that direction. A high-speed pneumatic drill should punch those holes in a big hurry.

I’m still in the planning phase now, but I’ll be sure to let you know when I get going building it.

-- http://www.peteroxley.com -- http://north40studios.etsy.com --

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