Drill v. Router for creating Shelf Pin holes on a jig

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Forum topic by HITMAN posted 12-11-2012 02:05 AM 8717 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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28 posts in 3329 days

12-11-2012 02:05 AM

I promised my wife a shelving unit for her craft room for Christmas. Purchased the poplar 3/4 inch furniture grade plywood and had the three sheets each cut into four 11 3/4 inch pieces. Now I need to build the cabinets and drill the holes for the adjustable shelf pins.

There are many shelf pin jigs on the market, however, the reviews are less than great for most of them. Most that I looked at are for self-centering drill bits and you use a drill to make the 1/4 inch or 5mm holes. I saw a video of a guy from Idaho who made is own jig out of HDPE or lexan or some sort of plastic, and then used his plunge router fitted with a 1/2 inch template bushing and a 1/4 inch straight router bit. The video makes the router option look better, and I can immagine that the router hole is more accurate than a drilled hole.

The router idea for drilling the shelf pin holes seems like the better of the two, but I have a 690LR Porter cable router with a fixed base, so I would have to see if Porter Cable makes a plunge base that will fit my router (another $100 or so for a tool I will seldom use). If Porter Cable has the plunge base to fit my 690LR router, I would just have to buy the template bushing and the 1/4 inch straight bit, and then find something smooth and rigid enough to make the jig.

Any thoughts on all this rambling. Gotta pull the trigger on either a store bought jig or plunge router base soon.



10 replies so far

View grub32's profile


215 posts in 3045 days

#1 posted 12-11-2012 02:10 AM

Buy the kreg jig at 40 bucks…hey, for less than you are planning to spend buy 2 and connect them together. It is made for that and it super accurate.

I love mine.

I should put this vote for the kreg jig in the thread about the best 50 dollar tool.

Money very well spent.


-- Educator by Day, Wood Butcher by Night!!

View HITMAN's profile


28 posts in 3329 days

#2 posted 12-11-2012 02:19 AM

Much appreciated Grub. I saw the Kreg jig and thought that it looked solid. Are there any things you don’t like about the kreg?


View waho6o9's profile


8189 posts in 2573 days

#3 posted 12-11-2012 02:22 AM

Find a cabinet shop close to home and have them do it, done.

Or spend money and let the jig sit there, tough call.

View NiteWalker's profile


2737 posts in 2573 days

#4 posted 12-11-2012 02:30 AM

Two things:
First, I use drilling jigs with no problems, but I can see the advantage of a router bushing system.
I’ve never had any issues with drill guide systems, so that’s what I stick with.
Second, if you’re interested, I have the “rockler 1/4 jig for sale for $24 shipped. It has the jig and bit. I haven’t used it much since most of my work is small cabinets and boxes. I use the kreg jig now and like it a lot. It’s a great all around jig and built to last like kreg’s pocket hole jigs, but it’s not the ideal tool if you have really long rows of holes to drill as you’d have to keep repositioning the jig. But let me know if you’re interested in the rockler jig.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View grub32's profile


215 posts in 3045 days

#5 posted 12-11-2012 02:34 AM

I can’t say there is anything I dislike about it. Fits I a drawer, bits attached to the bottom of the jig, comes with a 1/4 in but but the 5mm is available for about 8$. The metal inserts I believe are warrantied for life.

Read the reviews here, this product is very well reviewed.

Best of luck,


-- Educator by Day, Wood Butcher by Night!!

View Loren's profile


10382 posts in 3644 days

#6 posted 12-11-2012 02:44 AM

My experience with self-centering bit jigs like the Rockler
is they are not as accurate as a system with bushings,
like The Veritas 32 system or the Align-rite.

Accuracy and tolerances are not the same to every person,
but I can tell the difference in the way the shelves sit on the
pins…. and if you plan to use glass shelves you want the
holes need to be as close to dead-on as possible.

Drill systems are more convenient for retrofitting existing
casework for shelf pin holes. Router systems are faster
and noisier. The Festool looks pretty slick until
you consider the wear factor of the pin and the
aluminum guide rail… plus the price.

I drill them with a handheld doweling machine and
a set of template rails. It’s pretty slick and not

I cannot argue that a cabinet shop won’t be able
to do it fast while you wait. A double line drill
is not found in every shop, but it’s enough of
a money maker that finding a shop that has
one should not be a challenge.

When I was starting out, I used pegboard for
shelf pin templates and results were pretty good
for several sets until the holes started to get

View Vrtigo1's profile


434 posts in 2988 days

#7 posted 12-11-2012 03:18 AM

If you’re only going to do it once you could use perforated hardboard (aka pegboard) to throw together a quick and dirty drilling template. Otherwise I have the rockler jig and it works well enough. Router is probably the way to go if you have to do a bunch of them but for just one piece of small furniture I think you are solidly inside the territory jigs like rockler and kreg were designed to handle…just have to weigh spending $40 on something that will get used and probably sit in a drawer somewhere for a year or two before you need it again. I haven’t pulled mine down off the wall in quite some time.

View MJCD's profile


541 posts in 2368 days

#8 posted 12-11-2012 04:31 AM

What I’ve found very effective is to purchase pegboard, and use its accurate hole placement as the template for the shelf pins – using a drill press. Overlay the pegboard onto your shelf side, then mark the spacing – you should endeavor to mark the center of every hole onto the shelf side. you will achieve even spacing, perfectly aligned holes, both top to bottom and side to side. It works everytime.

Realize you don’t need shelf pin holes the full height of the shelf – realistically, you will have shelves every 10” to 13” apart, unless you specifically want some short (6” height) shelves. Set you drill press depth stop to ensure a 1/4” deep hole – something deep enough to allow seating the brass pin supports – which i strongly recommend; then use the appropriately sized drill for the pin hole (the OD of the brass pin support). These pin supports stop the loaded shelf from egging-out the shelf pin hole.


-- Lead By Example; Make a Difference

View HITMAN's profile


28 posts in 3329 days

#9 posted 12-12-2012 12:43 PM

Thanks to everyone who weighed in on this forum topic. I visited a Woodcraft stor today and took a close look at three off the shelf shelf pin jigs. I ended up purchasing one made by Woodpecker. I liked it becuase I can use either my drill, or in the future a plunge router. I also like the fact that the jig is 100% made in the USA. The jig is a template style jig and had to buy a drill guide, a pack of 1/4 inch self centering bits, and a bit stop. The whole setup cost me around $80, but I am planning on using it to make three large shelving units in the next twelve month. I looked at the kreg jig and another cheaper template jig make by wood river. Thanks again to everyone for input. I will post a few photos when finishe


View Steve Peterson's profile

Steve Peterson

376 posts in 3079 days

#10 posted 12-12-2012 09:07 PM

I use pegboard and a hand drill. I made a drill guide from 2 thicknesses of plywood glued together with short dowel pins to position it over the pegboard. The middle hole was drilled on a drill press to keep it perfectly square. It can probably drill hundreds of holes before it wears out so much that it needs to be replaced.

Then clamp the pegboard to a reference edge (the front or the back edge of the cabinet. Use a wide enough piece of pegboard so you get both rows of holes in one placement. This keeps both rows perfectly lined up.

-- Steve

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