Top 5 Best Pocket-Hole Machines in 2019: Buying Guide
The best woodworkers try their best to conceal screws whenever possible. A neat, flush finish is what separates the amateur, DIY furniture-maker from the pros, so if you’re looking to up your game, you should make every effort to do the same. One of the best tools to do this with is the pocket-hole jig.
We all know how the pocket-hole jig works: you clamp down your jig onto your stock to pre-drill holes at an angle. There’s no doubt that this is an extremely effective tool to help hide screws, but what if you’re looking for a quicker way to go at it? Consider investing in a pocket-hole machine, instead.
A pocket-hole machine works just like the classic pocket-hole jig, but it makes quicker work of otherwise time-consuming clamping, measuring, and drilling at low angles. Some machines come with a built-in drill so you don’t need to have a power drill on hand to make pocket holes. Other models work just like the ol’ fashioned pocket-hole jig, but they come with better clamping systems, fence protection to prevent drilling through your wood, and locking mechanisms to make drilling holes in multiple boards easy and accurate. To cover up the pocket holes, you can fill them with plugs that you made yourself or that are premade by a manufacturer.
What to Look For in a Pocket-Hole Machine
Pocket-hole machines come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, weights, and – most importantly – prices. Before you head out to purchase a pocket-home machine, you’ll want to make sure they fit the following criteria.
When drilling pocket holes, we want to make sure that our stock is kept securely in place while the built-in drill or power drill bit can penetrate without causing too much movement. The best pocket-hole machines and jigs should come with strong-grip clamps that are adjustable to the width and/or length of the board.
Locking Mechanism for Repeated Drilling
A locking mechanism is a simple yet effective way to help produce repeated pocket holes in similar sized wood boards. With the traditional pocket-hole jig, you’re left measuring each board every time before making drilling holes at an angle in your stock. Pocket-hole machines come with various locking mechanism – front-to-back locking against the back fence, and even side-to-side locking against stops.
Adjustable Back Fence, Depth Gauge, or Depth Collar
When drilling pocket holes, we don’t want the drill bit to pierce too far into the wood board which can leave a weak web or pilot hole for screwing two boards together. There are several ways manufacturers help woodworkers with making the perfect pocket-to-pilot hole ratio, and it’s all in the back fence, depth gauge, or depth collar. Depending on the model of the machine, you may get one or several methods to ensure perfect pocket holes every time.
Pocket-hole machines can come with built-in drills, and for this type, it’s important for the motor to deliver ample drilling speed to make neat cuts. Like power drills, you’ll want something that goes at least above 1,500 RPM.
Which Pocket-Hole Machine to Get
As we mentioned before, there are several types of pocket-hole machines – those that come with built-in drills, and those that require having a separate power drill to make pocket holes. Our list of the top 5 pocket-hole machines includes both types.
5. Shop Fox W1833 Pocket Hole Machine
The fifth-place position goes to Shop Fox’s W1833. It has a heavy-duty table design which allows users to rest large stock on while they use an integrated drill to cut pocket holes on the bottom-facing portion of the stock. Using a downwards plunging motion, the drill will come up at a 6° angle to make the ideal pocket hole with appropriate webbing and pilot hole ratio for each of your boards.
It comes with an adjustable back fence to prevent excessive penetration, and two side locks to help make accurate, repeated pocket holes with every plunge. One drawback is the clamp which moves down to press against your stock as you pull the handle – it can be too strong and can morph softwoods.
4. Castle 100 Pocket Hole Machine
The Castle 100 is the only model on our list that has a built-in router to make pocket holes but still requires an external drill to produce pilot holes. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially considering how perfect the pocket holes are made. The guide to insert small-sized bits for drilling pilot holes is at a perfect 6° angle to enhance the quality of the web.
It’s also a compact unit that you can take from place to place, and it comes with all the appropriate locking and clamping systems to prevent unwanted movement of your stock. It also features a dust-collection port to get rid of wood shavings and sawdust.
3. Castle TSM22 Pocket Hole Machine
The TSM22 by Castle is a popular pocket-hole machine for several reasons. First, the built-in drill delivers up to 1,780 RPM to make clean pockets and pilot holes every time. Unlike other models pocket-hole machines and the traditional pocket-hole jig, the pocket hole will not require further sanding to get rid of ugly splinters or uneven surfaces.
The drill located under the head of the unit makes the 6° pilot hole for proper strength when joining two boards together with a screw. In addition, to start the drilling process, the user simply steps on a pedal which sends the multiple drills into the stock, freeing your hands up to offer support in preventing movement.
2. PORTER-CABLE 560 QUIKJIG Pocket-Hole Joinery System
Out of all the models on our list, the PORTER-CABLE 560 QUIKJIG is the only one that doesn’t have an integrated drill for making pocket holes or pilot holes. Basically, you’re getting a pocket-hole jig with extra features, but the extra features are its saving grace. You get accurate measurements for repeated drillings, well-built stops to prevent penetration and make perfect-sized pocket holes, and the kit includes a collar to measure the perfect depth in every application.
One drawback of the 560 QUIKJIG is that it even though it comes with a long drill bit for making pocket and pilot holes, there’s no built-in storage space for it. If the drill bit falls and the pilot point snaps, you have to go out and purchase a replacement.
1. Kreg DB210 Foreman Pocket-Hole Machine
Finally, the number one spot on our list belongs to Kreg’s DB210. This is another table-style pocket-hole machine that uses a plunging handle to drill pocket and pilot holes. It comes with perfect stops to make repeated drillings super easy, and the adjustable fence allows users control in determining the depth of the pocket hole.
It also comes with a dust-collection port to get rid of pesky sawdust from your workspace. The 15.0 amp motor delivers up to 2,800 RPM for clean pockets with every plunge. As a table-style machine, it’s lightweight and can even be mounted on a bench for dedicated workers. It’s also one of the most noiseless machines out there.
Pocket holes are an ingenious way to keep unsightly screws out of sight and out of mind. They work to keep two boards locked together to prevent unwanted moving and wobbling, and they can be filled in with self-made or purchasable plugs.
There are several types of pocket-home contraptions out there, and the classic one is a simple pocket-hole jig which requires meticulous measuring, makeshift locking systems for repeated drilling, and a careful hand to prevent excessive penetration through your wood. If you’re not really up to the challenge of working with normal pocket-hole jigs, then a pocket-hole machine is the way to go.
Pocket-hole machines do all that a simple jig does and much more. The best models come with locking mechanisms, perfect clamping systems, depth gauges or collar stops for your drill bits, built-in drills with adjustable depth, and penetration insurance.
Out of our pick on the top 5 pocket-hole machines, we feel that users can get the most value out of the Kreg DB210 than anything else on the market. First of all, it comes with its own dedicated drill so you don’t need a separate power drill to make pocket holes. Secondly, it’s lightweight, extremely sturdy, and it’s easy to use. Finally, changing bits for the built-in drill is a toolless job thanks to the quick-change chuck that uses hex bits. It delivers up to 2,800 RPM for perfect pockets with every plunge of the handle.
We understand that some people aren’t willing to invest hundreds, and even thousands, of dollars on a machine that enhances the quality of your pocket holes, but for hardcore professionals who need to make repeated pocket holes in a time-efficient manner, a pocket-hole machine can be a great investment.
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