Review By Dean Bielanowski  Veritas Website -

Veritas® Shelf-Drilling Jig

Veritas Shelf Drilling Jig

By Dean Bielanowski


Adjustable shelves can be found in many storage and decorative cabinets. They are popular because the cabinet can retain its practicality over a variety of uses by easily modifying the height of each shelf to store various sized items. Adjustable shelves allow versatility in a storage solution, and this factor is a highly desirable commodity in today's style of living.

You could spend hours laying out a board with many pencil marks in an effort to achieve matching, level shelf support holes for your shelf pins to sit in, or you could use the Veritas Shelf System, which eliminates the need for time consuming layout sessions and guarantees alignment accuracy...

The Veritas Shelf Drilling System
I am a big fan of the Veritas line of products. You probably already know that if you have read some of my other reviews of their products on this website. They have time and again, proved to be of an exceptional quality.

Before we begin, let me say that there are many ways to produce adjustable shelf pin holes in a board. The most popular method at present would probably be with a router and a commercial or homemade jig that can be made purchased or made for this specific purpose. So in essence, the Veritas Shelf Drilling Jig could be thought of as a method that is slightly different from the currently accepted 'norm'. If you are in the position where you do not own a router, guide bushings and an appropriate spiral bit however, then the Veritas system may suit a little better. It only requires a drill and appropriately sized drill bits, something which most all woodworkers and DIY'ers would already possess.

What's in the Box?
Naturally, you get the 2 lengths of anodized, pre-drilled, hardened rails which measure 24" in length. Each rail features 20 guide holes with 1" spacing in between. The rails are held in place with the standard length clamp rods included in the set. Using these standard rods, you can set the jig on material up to 12" wide. This width capacity should fit the bill for most projects. If you require longer clamp rods to work with wider material, then longer rods are available from Lee Valley.

The red/maroon colored bush carrier is designed to fit snugly into the 1" spaced holes in the rails and holds the drill bush, of which 11 different-sized hardened drill bushes are provided as standard - sizes 5, 6, 6.75, 7, 7.5, 8 (5/16"), and 9mm, 7/32", 1/4", and 3/8". In the basic kit, you also receive an un-hardened drill bush, which you can use to bore a custom diameter bush for a special need.

There are no shelf support pins included in the pack, although these can be purchased from just about any hardware store. I picked up a pack of 12 (which will support 3 shelves) for around $2, although they do differ in price depending on the material used in producing them.

You also receive 2 register pins which are used for accurately extending the length of your shelf support pin holes, as well as a hardwood-handled 7mm sleeve-setting punch which is used for installing support sleeves so your pin holes to not get damaged through constant use.

In Use
I decided to build an adjustable shelf bookcase for my daughter. Kids books come in all shapes, sizes and heights, so adjustable shelves really fit the bill well here. I used MDF for the project, because it will be painted (pink of course) and I had a few large sheets of MDF laying around I wanted to get rid of.

So we need 2 sides to the bookcase, each with drilled adjustable shelf support pin holes. Despite how easy the jig appears to be to use, some layout work is still required... First we must measure from the bottom of each board to reference the point where we wish to begin drilling the shelf support holes. This, naturally, must be the same distance from the bottom on both sides of the bookcase. With that marked out, we can place the Veritas jig onto the MDF and line up out bottom mark. Now we must set the rails to the desired distance from the edge of the board we wish our support holes to be located. I chose about 3/4" from the outside of the rail to the edge, which resulted in the actual drilled support holes being inset about 1 1/4" from the edge, a nice distance in my opinion. The rails can skew on the clamp rods a little, so you have to check at each end of the rail that your distance in from the edge is equal at both ends, and for both rails before you can clamp everything down with the brass knobs. edge board clamps secure the jig onto the board to ensure it does not move when drilling. We found the jig held very firm and did not move during our testing.

Next, we make sure we have the right sized bush in the bush carrier. You can change bush sizes easily by loosening the grub screw on the end that holds the bush in place. The shelf support pins I purchases had a 5mm diameter, so I chose the 5mm bush (of course) and a 5mm drill bit. It is important to use a depth stop of some variety to ensure your holes are drilled at roughly equal depths. You dont want to be drilling all the way through the board! I started off using a little tape wrapped around the drill bit, but this start getting chewed up as the tape with the bush a few times. A metal or wood block depth stop is much better.

Ok time to drill. Insert the bush carrier in the first guide hole, insert the drill bit and proceed to drill. Once that hole is done, lift and slide the bush carrier to the next and repeat. No rocket science here. We found the bush carrier did tend to ride up with the motion of the drill bit, but as long as you hold it down with a bit of firm pressure, all is good! We found adding a drop of oil to the guide bush helped quite a lot, however, this oil will likely slightly stain your workpiece, so you have to use your judgement for your particular project and finishing requirements.

It does take time to drill a series of holes. We started with a cordless drill, which has no brake, and had to wait for it to spin down before starting on the next hole. We quickly switched to our cordless drill with a brake and that made things much faster. This jig will not allow you to drill holes as fast as those jigs you can buy for a router, however, it does work, and it works well. There is good clearance within the rail for chips and the like, which means your bit wont bind or heat up with friction.

Once we reach the end of the rail with our drilled holes and need to extend them further up the board, the register pins come into play. Its simply a matter of releasing the clamps holding onto the edge of your board, slide the whole jig assembly up the board, position one of the rail drill holes over one of the existing shelf pin holes, insert the register pin in both rails so it sits neatly in the drilled whole, clamp the jig down again and continue along. No layout is required for this procedure. You can continue drilling until you have the number of shelf pin holes needed for your project, and that's about all their is to it.

The results were excellent. As you can see from the photos to the right, we ended up with very clean, evenly spaced holes for our shelf pins. The holes were equidistant to each other and lines up perfectly across the board, ensuring we will enjoy nice level shelves when the project is finished.

Setting the jig does require some initial layout and time. Probably 5-10 minutes over 2 boards. Drilling takes a little longer than the router method, however, this jig costs much less than some of the commercially available shelf pin jigs for the router. Drill consumables, such as drill bits, are also far cheaper than upcut spiral bits which are needed to cut holes with the router method. Certainly if you have a need to drill a lot of pin support holes for projects on an ongoing basis, you would be going for the router/jig method, but for the occasional project where shelf support holes are needed, and your inventory does not include a router and upcut bits/bushings, then the Veritas Shelf Drilling Jig will certainly meet your needs.

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In the USA/Canada

Current Price: $139.00

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Veritas Shelf Drilling Jig Photos
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The Veritas Shelf Drilling Jig showing the brass clamp knobs


Setting the jig from the bottom
of the workpiece.

Insetting the guide rails from the edge and locking the rails to the clamp rods.

Drilling commences...

Using the register pins to extend the rails accurately

The results... Looks good!

The shelf support pins fit in firmly.

Ready for a back, face frame, a little molding and some paint!

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