All the best furniture makers try to keep unsightly screws out of vision whenever possible. One of the best ways to do this is with the use of pocket holes. Basically, pocket holes are drilled into a wood board at a 6° angle where screws can be driven to connect two boards together. It helps add sturdiness to wood glue when joining multiple stocks of wood together. Pocket-hole machines differ from the traditional pocket-hole jig in the sense that it comes with more features to help enhance the quality of the pocket hole.
In this article, we’re going to look at two popular pocket-hole machines currently available on the market – the Kreg DB210 and the PORTER-CABLE 560 Pocket-Hole Machine. Both of these devices are huge time-savers for professional furniture makers and even DIY-ers. They are two completely different tools – one is a table-style with integrated drills and the other is a fancy pocket-hole jig. Let’s see how they compare with one another.
Pocket-hole machines come in all shapes, sizes, and designs. The Kreg has a built-in table to allow support of long and wide stock. The table can flip up to reveal the drill and dedicated storage space for your drill bits (more on these later). It’s also a lightweight 20-pound unit that loads and unloads easily off of your truck for when you need a pocket-hole machine on the go.
This unit looks similar to a simple pocket-hole jig, but it comes with more bells and whistles. It comes with a universal clamp, locking lever for repeatable cuts, an adjustable spacing system between pocket holes, and integrated storage space for small-sized bits.
We personally prefer the table-style of the Kreg mainly because it’s a completely different tool for making some of the most-needed holes in woodworking. You can get away with the PORTER-CABLE if you don’t mind manually drilling using the built-in clamp and guide systems, but the Kreg’s simple plunge-handle motion makes the task much more time-efficient.
One of the most sought-after features of a pocket-hole machine is an integrated drill. Some models feature one drill with a pilot-hole bit, while others come with two separate drills for making the pocket hole and pilot hot at the perfect angle. The Kreg is a simple one-drill unit that comes with the bits to make the perfect pocket holes every time.
The PORTER-CABLE unit, on the other hand, is a drill-less model. In fact, at first glance, you’ll probably assume it’s just a beautifully-designed pocket-hole jig. This unit comes with several drill bits but no drill.
If your goal is to save precious seconds, the Kreg is your best bet. Its integrated drill system makes it so you don’t need to reach for your power drill every time you need to drill tedious pocket holes. The PORTER-CABLE requires users bring their own power drill to use the pocket-hole “machine.”
Determining how far the drill bit penetrates the wood is a crucial step in making the perfect pocket hole. For most cases, we don’t want the pocket hole to be too large which can ruin the stability of the web. With the Kreg, you have an adjustable back fence with a gauge which lets users know how long a screw you need to join two boards together through the pocket hole.
One of the best features of the PORTER-CABLE is that it comes with a universal clamp which automatically adjusts the depth of the cut, giving you the perfect web every time. In addition, you get a depth collar for your drill bit to ensure that the bit never goes past the desired depth. However, you need to manually adjust the collar to get the right depth when drilling.
Both of these systems have their pros and cons, but we personally favor PORTER-CABLE’s penetration-prevention system more since you don’t need to adjust a tension clamp to the size of your stock. However, despite the depth collar being an effective little addition to avoiding excessive penetration, you need to manually adjust the collar for each use when not making repeated pocket holes.
One thing that many people tend to ignore is the storage space available in a tool’s carry case or built-in compartment. Since pilot hole bits can snap from the slightest drop, it’s important to keep the bit safe and sound in storage when not in use. With the Kreg, you get a dedicated compartment for storing all of your drill bits. To access the compartment, lift the table up and pull the mini drawer out from the side.
The PORTER-CABLE also has built-in spaces for its drill bits except for perhaps the one you’ll use more than any other – the 6-inch square drive. There’s a depth gauge on the side of the unit which lets users know how far the bit will penetrate, but it’s not for storing the bit since there’s no locking mechanism in place to keep it from wobbling when not in use.
The obvious winner here is the Kreg with its built-in compartment for storing sensitive drill bits and other small objects. It keeps the bits safely under the table and out of harm’s way, even when transporting the machine.
Kreg DB210 vs PORTER-CABLE 560: Bottom Line
Both of these pocket-home machines work extremely well, despite their unique limitations. The Kreg’s table-build and integrated drill make it the best option for making pocket holes without the need of having your own power drill on hand. The PORTER-CABLE 560, on the other hand, is a great option if you’re looking for an upgrade to replace your cheap $10 pocket-hole jig.
However, the more superior model – in our humble opinion – has to be the Kreg DB210 mainly because it eliminates most of the work associated with drilling pocket holes. Sure, you need to align the fence, adjust the web and pilot hole, and so on, but when everything’s already set, you just pull the handle and let ‘er rip.