Review By Dean Bielanowski  Kreg Website - http://www.kregtool.com

Kreg Tool Company Logo

ProPack Pocket Hole Joinery System
& Accessories
Review

Introduction
If you didn't know better, you could be mistaken for thinking that pocket hole joinery is the latest and greatest trick on the woodworking scene. Pocket holes certainly give a piece the 'designer touch' and look and work much different to other traditional all-wood methods like dowelling and biscuit joinery. The fact is, however, that pocket hole joinery is an old art form, that has only recently been bought back to life, mostly due in part to the pocket hole system we are taking a look at today. The Kreg K2000 System is probably the most widely used jig for pocket hole joinery. Kreg Tools, the founding company and manufacturer of the K2000 have been in operation for many years and have their headquarters situated in Huxley, IOWA (USA). They maintain an excellent website at www.kregtool.com with some interesting content, including video demonstrations of the Kreg jigs in action. Well worth a look (after you read this review first of course!).

Like A Child on Christmas Morning....
I must confess, that I eagerly awaited the arrival of the Kreg K2000 in the mail like a child awaits Christmas morning. The anticipation was gut wrenching. I'm sure we have all been a little excited at the prospect of opening up your newest tool, assembling it and giving it the maiden blessing... and hoping it stick with you loyally for years to come!

With the box landing on my doorstep late in the afternoon (it's always the way when your waiting for something), I had no trouble ripping it open to find my way to pocket hole heaven...

K2000 ProPack Contents
The first thing you will notice with the ProPack is that it ships in a nice molded plastic carry case. I'm a big fan of these cases and all your portable tools should have one. They keep things neatly packed away and go a long way to avoiding dust and rust buildup on your treasured 'toys'. After flipping open the latches on the front of the case, this is what we find inside:

  • Original Kreg K2000 Jig Assembly
  • Kreg Rocket Jig (2-holed jig)
  • Kreg Mini Jig (single holed pocket hole jig)
  • 2 x support wings to hold work piece level during drilling
  • adjustment blocks for centering the screw in 1/2", 3/4" and 1-1/2" material
  • 3/8" (KJD) step drill bit
  • depth collar to set drilling depth
  • 3" and 6" #2 square driver bits
  • Face Clamp™ to keep your materials aligned during assembly
  • 75 pcs. of the 1-1/4" fine thread self-tapping screw
  • 75 pcs. of the 1-1/4" coarse thread self-tapping screw
  • Instruction Manual

The inclusion of the Rocket and Mini Jig into the ProPack adds even greater flexibility and portability to the system.

There are two other items you will need before you can get started with some serious pocket hole work... These are a nice solid piece of ply to secure the K2000 jig and support wings to for better control and safety during use, and a drill capable of 2,000rpms to create the holes with the KJD step drill bit. Most corded drills and hammer drills fit the bill here and are recommended to produce nice clean pocket holes to work with. Naturally, these 2 items are not included in the package.

Setting Up
The K2000 jig is designed to be mounted to a board for stability and safety, whereas the Rocket and Mini Kreg jigs are 'mobile' tools. Using the included 1-1/4" and 1-1/2" Maxi-Loc screws, I secured the K2000 and extension arms to a slid piece of pine. The manual recommends Ply, probably because it is less likely to bend/warp etc, but I had a nice piece of 3/4" scrap pine handy and I was keen to get going. Once screwed down, the K2000 is very stable. See image on right. This board can then be freely taken with you to any job site and is still light enough not to cause any serious muscle strain. The board is then clamped to a solid stand or surface before use. The glass-reinforced nylon body of the K2000 and Rocket/Mini jigs also ensures excellent durability, strength and no hassles with rust!

Two extension pieces (wings) are provided with the K2000 to allow greater support of wider stock and to prevent the piece rocking or moving when drilled. The extensions also act as a depth stop collar guide which is essential for ensuring the correct placement of pocket holes for your assembly tasks (more on this later)...

Maxi-Loc Self-Tapping Screws
Supplied with your Kreg ProPack are two small sample packets (75 pieces) of Maxi-Loc Self-Tapping screws. Variant screws for hardwood and softwood included. The advantage of using these self-tapping screws is that they do not need a hole pre-drilled in the matching piece to be joined. The screws supplied are square drive meaning no hassles with burring or stripping the heads when over-tightening, unlike Philips head and other generic-type screws. They also feature a 'washer head' to ensure a solid and even clamping force when driven. In fact, Kreg states on their website that in testing, the strength of the pocket-hole joint with metal screws against other traditional forms of joinery (including mortise and tenon joints) was significantly greater. This ensures piece of mind when using pocket holes for joins that will encounter pressure or weight.

"A independent lab completed testing a few years back that showed that a pocket hole joint failed at 707 pounds when subjected to a shear load while a mortise and tenon joint failed at 453 pounds (approximately 35% stronger). Pocket hole joints are tremendously strong for a couple of reasons. 1. The use of a mechanical fastener (screw) is significantly stronger than the material around it (wood), and 2. The amount of direct clamping force placed on the joint by driving the screw combined with today's glue technology makes for a sensationally strong bond."

 Additional screws can be purchased in lots of 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 5000. The cost of these 'unique' screws are quite reasonable as well.

The First (of many) Pocket Holes...
Once I had my K2000 ready to go, out comes the corded hammer drill and in goes the KJD drill bit and depth stop collar (included). I thought a simple and good first test would be to butt join two 3/4" scrap pine pieces, without glue, to test the strength of the joint alone with only screws providing the support.

The 'host' piece of pine which pocket holes will be drilled into is placed in the K2000 jig and the simple clamping arm holds the work piece solidly against the vertical surface. The K2000 can hold pieces up to a maximum of 2" in thickness, so 3/4" pine was no problem at all. The clamp arm, which has an adjustable threaded screw clamp assembly, can be easily adjusted to suit most thicknesses of stock. The clamp itself, when engaged against the work piece, can exert several hundred pounds of pressure to ensure the work piece will not move when the pocket holes are drilled. Applying and releasing pressure with the clamp is simple and very fast and requires very little effort.

Ok, with the stock engaged in the clamp and the stop collar adjusted to the correct depth, the pocket holes are drilled with the corded drill set to maximum speed (2500rpm in this case). You will find the KJD bit has a very snug fit in the guide holes. At first, you would think the drill bit would actually grind against the inside of the hardened-steel guide holes, however, it doesn't due to the manufacturing of the Kreg drill bit itself. In fact, Kreg offers a lifetime warranty on these guide hole components if used with their special drill bit.

Drilling each pocket hole only takes about a second per hole, so you can imagine it is quite quick to clamp the piece and drill your pocket holes in comparison to a dowel or biscuit joint which would require much more preparation and alignment time. With our pocket holes drilled, we then take our 'mating piece' and align it to our host piece which has our pre-drilled pocket holes with glue applied to the surfaces first of course. Using the standard included face clamp (which has a 2" reach), we then clamp the pieces together in the desired alignment with the large face of the clamp on the opposite side of our pocket holes. It is then simply a matter of seating our pocket hole screws in our pre-drilled holes and using either the 2" or 6" square driver bit to drive our screws home. As they are driven, the effect is that it further clamps the two pieces together with strong force, provided a nice, clean joint that requires no external clamping while the glue sets. If Darth Vader was still alive, he would be saying... "All too easy..." and it really is! So that is the basic process of creating a pocket hole joint that is universal to most pocket hole applications with the Kreg jigs.

It's All About Position!
The K2000 can effectively join materials from 1/2" to 1-1/2" thick. It does this by use of three 'positions' that can be established on the jig along with the appropriate sized screw for each position.



Diagram courtesy of kregtool.com

Position 1 uses only the Upright component and is the standard setting for the jig. A lot of lumber these days is cut and sold in 3/4" inch thick pieces, so this default setting fits the bill nicely. In this position, the 1-1/4" screws are used. Use longer screws and you risk breaking through the back of the adjoining piece when drilling. if you use shorter screws, you may be compromising the strength of the joint. A T-bolt at the back of the upright component is used to hold each part securely in place on the jig. In practice, I had no trouble with movement of the jig at all. Position 1 can also be used for material ranging between 3/4" and 1-18" in thickness, although you may have to adjust your screw length for the join. As efficient woodworkers, however, we measure and check everything twice before we get stuck into it... right? It is then simply a matter of adjusting your drill bit stop collar on the wing guides to the 3/4" inch setting.

Position 2 is used mainly for 1/2" inch thick material using the 1" screws. It can be used, however, for material ranging between 1/2" and 5/8" in thickness. To convert between Position and Position 2, all you need to do is add the 1/2" step block to the K2000 jig. This simply sits in place and effectively raises the material up just over 1/4" inch to give the optimal setting and position for drilling the pocket holes. The upright component of the K2000 also features 3 drill guide holes marked A, B and C which you can use to drill holes in a variety of widths of material for the best possible join. See the attached photos and diagrams which gives you a better idea of how this system works. Before drilling, reset your depth stop on the drill bit to the appropriate setting.



Diagram courtesy of kregtool.com

Position 3 is for the wider material. It is used for material from 1-1/2" to 2" in thickness. If you needed to join anything thicker than this, then it would probably be advisable to use another method for maximum joint strength. For position 3, we remove the 1/2" step block, remove the upright component and add in the riser block between the K2000 base and the upright component. This basically makes our jig taller and moves the pocket hole position further back from our planned joint end. You may notice you have to use the larger of the two T-bolts with this assembly to keep everything nice and solid. You once again reset your depth stop collar before drilling your pocket holes.

Changing between each position only takes a few seconds, it doesn't require complex tools or an engineering degree and is virtually stress and hassle-free, unlike many other types of machinery and jigs that have adjustable components in hard to reach places that sometimes cause more problems than they are worth.

Common Applications
The K2000 and associated jigs can be used for a wide variety of joints:
 

Common Pocket Hole Uses

  • Butt Joints
  • Mitered Corners
  • Face Frames
  • Angled Joints
  • Carcass Production
  • Curves
  • Post and Rail Legs
  • Beveled 90 Degree Corners
  • Table Tops and Aprons
  • Edge Banding
  • Window and Door Jam Extensions
  • Stairs
  • Shelving

It also has application for outdoor use as the pocket holes can be plugged meaning no water or moisture can pool around exposed bolts/screws and seep into the wood. The K2000 is my new tool of choice for butt joints and carcass construction. My clamps/cramps may actually start building a dust layer on them soon, which is certainly a scary thought! The Kreg website has several excellent video clips showing many of the applications listed above and I recommend you pay a visit to view these. Videos can show things that often one thousand words and 20 minutes of reading cannot, so take a look as soon as you finish reading this review. 

Please take a look at the example picture frame I constructed in under 5 minutes using the Kreg K2000. The speed at which joints can be created, without clamping is amazing. The process is great fun also, and almost addictive in nature!

Kreg Rocket Jig
The rocket jig can be seen as the portable K2000, as it essentially can perform all the same functions, but a little faster than the mini jig can. The rocket must be clamped to the work piece, whereas the work piece is clamped to the K2000 setup. The top of the rocket jig features a clamp capture, which is much like a rebated housing that snugly holds the round face of the Kreg face clamp. Two hardened steel drill guides on the rocket mean this device is particularly suitable and faster for joining wider pieces on the run. Like the K2000, the rocket also has 3 positions which can be interchanged depending on the thickness of the pieces you are planning to join. Two additional 'components' are provided for this to work. These are the "Riser Block" and "Base Plate". With the 3 components, you can join pieces from 1/2" to 1-1/2" thick and they will come out just as strong and effective as using the K2000. The riser block acts like an extension to use when joining 1-1/2" material. The process of drilling the pocket holes and assembling the joint is the same as with the K2000, so I won't repeat it here. I find myself using the Rocket jig quite a lot as a quick and convenient tool that fits in your pocket and can be quickly clamped to existing joints to further strengthen them when they have come loose or lost their strength.

Kreg Mini Jig
The Kreg Mini Jig is your pocket-sized single hole jig that can go anywhere quickly and easily and can also be used to strengthen existing joins where pieces cannot practically be clamped in the K2000 for drilling. The mini jig, like the rocket jig is fast and simple: Align it and clamp it on the work piece to be drilled and drill your hole. No rocket science here! In fact, you can do everything with the Mini jig that you can do with the K2000, however, things tend to take much longer if using the Mini alone, so it it makes a great addition to the Kreg ProPack. The plug setting feature on the underside of the jig allows you to quickly position and insert pre-cut wood plugs to cover your pocket holes. The wooden plugs can then be planed or leveled off with a router and the appropriate router bit for a flush, smooth finish, with the pocket hole and screw neatly hidden away. You can use contrasting plugs to accentuate or highlight the pocket hole joint if you so desire. Kreg manufacturers and retails pre-cut wooden plugs in a variety of wood types for a reasonable price.

Kreg Right-Angle Clamp Review (Accessory)
One important accessory to the K2000 that I think is well worth purchasing is the Kreg Right-Angle clamp. The 6" Face clamp that comes standard in the Pro pack does a great job clamping pieces flush but cannot clamp right angled joints, say for chair construction or even cabinet construction. Without the right angled clamp, it can be difficult to hold these joints together while you drive the screws. I had to use either long clamps or picture-frame style clamps to hold these joints previously. So when I got my hands on this accessory clamp, it certainly made joining right angles much easier, and much quicker.

The right-angle clamp is not much different to the standard face clamp in construction. It is a standard vise-type locking clamp but with one important difference... One clamp end is designed to sit neatly into a pre-drilled pocket hole while the other face is a standard circular face to clamp to the mating piece. This allows you to clamp a right angled joint with relative ease and provides an excellent clamping force in the process which will not move when driving screws. The catch is, that you cannot use the clamp if you only have one pocket hole on the assembly, as it needs that single pocket hole to slot one side of the clamp into. With a standard 2-pocket hole joint, you simply apply the clamp to one of the pocket holes to clamp the joint. You then drive the first screw into the other pocket hole. Once the first screw is in, that usually provides sufficient holding force to remove the clamp from the second hole and drive the second screw in. Pretty quick and simple. For joining wide boards where you have multiple pocket holes along one face, you simply use the clamp in an adjacent hole while you drive the first screw. You then systematically move the clamp from pocket-hole to pocket-hole as you drive screws along the entire width of the board.

No rocket science involved here, but for long boards, you need to make sure your right angle joint is flush, or in the position you need it to be as you go along with the clamping/screw driving process.

In testing, the right angle clamp was a god-send, proving itself much quicker and easier to use than any other method of clamping right angle joints we attempted. One small issue we found however, was that when working with soft woods like pine, if too much clamp pressure was applied, then top edges of the pocket hole itself were prone to a little chipout which may, or may not be cause for concern depending on whether you plan to have your joints hidden, or displayed on the project. We found easing the clamping pressure a little and using a slight more upright clamping position on the joint resolved this issue in most cases. In hard wood and MDF, we had no problem at all.

Overall, however, we found the Kreg right-angle clamp extremely useful in holding right angled joints while driving pocket hole screws. It is also a great general purpose clamp for innumerable other workshop tasks. It comes at an additional cost, but is well worth the investment in our humble opinion.

Conclusion
Well, it's really hard to fault this product. It seems to be the golden answer to fast and strong joinery that won't give you grey hairs in the process! The only downside that could be mentioned is the extra time needed to fill a pocket hole for finishing purposes, although with the right tools, this isn't much more time consuming than plugging screw or nail holes with traditional wood plugs or fillers. The Kreg jig has had an overwhelmingly positive effect on my woodworking practice and is also great fun to use. It's almost like an addiction, but woodworking in any form does seems to have that effect on many! This is certainly one jig that will barely see a layer of dust form on it and kudos to Kreg for creating a fine product with the K2000 and accessories. I definitely recommend it for EVERY woodworker!

Kreg Universal Bench Klamp Review
There is no doubt that pocket holes are rapidly becoming the method of choice for joining face frames, among many other uses. This use in particular seems to be growing much faster than any other. I have used pocket holes extensively recently for the same purpose. They make a fast and strong joint, and with face frames, you won't see the pocket holes themselves, so no need to fill them to hide them from view. One problem that plagued me and used up some valuable time was trying to handle the face frame pieces to clamp them at the right angles I needed accurately and without hassle. I did build the assembly box/table as shown on some of the Kreg demonstration videos, however, that had limitations too.

Thankfully, someone at Kreg came up with a simple product to solve that problem, and as we know, simple things are often the best. Enter the Kreg Universal Bench Klamp...

The Klamp, which I will refer to hereon as "clamp" to describe it in grammatically correct terms of its function resembles one of Kreg's standard face clamps with one of the "arms" removed/modified to attach to the solid 10" x 10" x 1/4" thick metal base. So simple is the idea that it becomes quite a valuable tool in itself. You can either install the metal base directly into your workbench or use a ply board to install it into. You install the base by routing out a square in your table/board big enough to house the plate. You have to chisel out the corners to square for a snug fit, and also ensure you set your router depth to match the depth of the base so it sits level with your table/board surface. This is an important consideration as it will affect your joint accuracy and may interfere with other work if you decide to mount it direct to your workbench surface. With the plate mounted flush to your workbench or board and secured using the 4 screws provided in the countersunk holes, you can attach the clamp to the plate. The clamp is removable, which allows you to maintain that flush surface across your bench for all other woodworking needs.

The clamp essentially allows you to take your face frame pieces, which are of equal height and clamp them together and down to the table so you can drive your pocket hole screws. The metal plate ensures your pieces are flush with each other and the hold down clamp has more than enough clamping pressure (which is adjustable) to ensure your pieces do not move during the process. The clamp can be rotated 360 degrees and moved forward/back a couple inches or so within its groove machined in the base. It also makes using the mini or rocket jigs much simpler than before, leaving both hands free to setup for driving the pocket screws.

There are no problems using it as a general hold-down clamp for any number of purposes, like holding down boards/pieces for planing, routing, sanding and more. The rubber-capped foot on the clamp ensures no damage or marking of the workpiece.

If you want to make offset joints, you will probably need to use spacer blocks under and/or on top of one (or two) faces of one piece so that it creates the necessary offset desired while creating a flush surface for the clamp to push down upon. So with a bit of user-intervention and some small shop-made jigs and spacer blocks, the Universal Bench Klamp can be adapted for an even wider variety of uses.

There really is not too much more to say about the product. It is a really simple idea that delivers for more than just one specific purpose. While the hold-down clamp idea is not new to woodworking, the Universal Bench Klamp will certainly make pocket hole joinery with the K2000 system a much easier and hassle-free affair. A great addition to the range of accessories for the K2000 product.

Special Thanks to Brad Lilienthal from Kreg Tools and Robert Gregory from Gregory Machinery (www.gregmach.com) for their assistance with this review.
 

Available to Order Online through these companies...
Click graphic to go to their direct product page for this item

Rockler.com

Kreg™ Large Face Clamp & Right Angle Clamp
Kreg™ Large Face Clamp & Right Angle Clamp

Kreg™ Universal Bench Klamp
Kreg™ Universal Bench Klamp

Amazon.com
Hartville Tools

Kreg K2000 Pro Pack
In Australia

Gregory Machinery

Kreg K2000 ProPack
All photos copyright onlinetoolreviews.com. Use without prior written permission prohibited


The Unopened K2000 ProPack...


...didn't stay unopened for long!


Every item has a place in the molded carry case and is clearly named for convenience.


The 6" Face Clamp


3" & 6" Square Driver Bits and the 3/8" KJD step drill bit with depth stop collar attached


The K2000 now screwed down
to my scrap pine board and
ready for action!


Robertson Square Drive Maxi-Loc Self Tapping Screws. No more stripping of the heads now!


The two-holed Kreg Rocket Jig is a very handy portable device.


Equally useful, particularly for strengthening existing joints, is the Kreg Mini Jig.


Here we see the three-holed drill guide of the upright components with holes marked A, B and C.


A basic butt joint using pocket holes and screw results in a strong join with a flush finish


Notice the black T-bar which holds the various components for Positions 1, 2 and 3 in place.


Wing component with marked drill bit guide groove for setting your depth stop collar accurately.


Drilling pocket holes for a 5-minute picture frame!


Clamping and releasing each piece is almost too easy!


Pocket holes in all 4 side pieces drilled in about 2 minutes


Here we are screwing in the last joint, after glue has been applied of course. Note the face clamp holding the joint firm


Our picture frame constructed in record time!


Here we see the front of the frame with nice flush joints and no sign
of the pocket holes on the
reverse side.

Kreg Right-Angle Clamp


Not much different to your standard vise-grip clamp except...


...One end is designed to fit into an existing drilled pocket hole to allow it to clamp right angles!


A nice, clean fit.


Here we have clamped a right-angled joint for a chair


Sufficient clamping force is achieved to hold the joint in position while we drive the
first screw.

[Image of RAC]
Application on wide boards
Photo from Kreg Website.

Kreg Universal
Bench Klamp


Clamp, Metal Base, Screws and Instructions... Ready to install, just add a router.


This is essentially what the Universal Bench Klamp is designed for... to hold pieces flush and securely while driving pocket screws. Works a treat!


The Universal Bench Klamp makes a great general hold down clamp on your workbench!

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