What is a Pocket-Hole Machine and How to Use It?
Joining two boards together sounds like easy work, but it can be a little bit complicated if we’re unsure how to do it. Basically, we can connect two boards together using wood glue, but even that won’t provide enough sturdiness to prevent slipping, sliding, and eventual separation of two boards. The best way to connect boards together while maintaining a flush, beautiful finish is with pocket holes.
Pocket holes are holes driving at an angle – around 6° for the best-quality pocket holes – in one board. This allows the user to drive a screw into the hole, penetrating it and connecting it to another board. The pocket hole can be covered using a plug (self-made or bought from the store). This is one of the most effective ways of joining two boards together while reducing the visibility of unsightly screws.
What Is a Pocket-Hole Machine?
Back in the day, woodworkers were left with a single option – a pocket-hole jig. The jig is basically a clamp with angled holes to guide a drill bit through. This jig is still used today as it is an effective guide in making pocket holes at low angles, but there are better ways to do it.
If you’re a professional worker who mass-produces furniture, or you’re just looking for a cost-effective, time-efficient, easy way to make beautiful pocket holes, then consider investing in a pocket-hole machine. The main difference between a pocket-hole jig and a machine is that the former requires the craftsmen to manually gauge how deep their drill bit will penetrate the stock, whereas the latter comes with built-in gauges to help determine the size of the stock and guide the drill bit to produce a high-quality pocket hole.
Pocket-hole machines come in all shapes and sizes – not to mention prices – and it’s important to find a machine that works best for you. They’re designed to reduce the amount of time and effort needed to make pocket holes, but some work better than others at doing this.
Arguably, the most popular pocket-hole machines for DIY-enthusiasts and even professional furniture makers are a floor model or table-style machine. Basically, these machines have built-in gauges, clamping mechanisms, and locking systems to help produce multiple pocket holes on same-sized stock in a fraction of the time it would take you with a regular jig. They also come with built-in pilot-hole drills and/or pocket-hole routers so you don’t need to have a power drill with you to use them.
How to Use a Pocket-Hole Machine
Operating a pocket-hole machine varies by brand and style. Table pocket-hole machines require users to set up the adjustable back fence to help keep the stock from moving too far back or forward to prevent penetration or lack thereof.
Setting side stops helps in measuring the distance of the edge of your stock and the pocket hole if you need to make repeated holes in multiple boards of the same size. To drill the pocket hole, simply pull a handle or step on a pedal to start the machine. When the pocket hole is done, simply pull the stock away from the machine and you’re ready to join two boards together.
Other pocket-hole “machines” require having a power drill on hand to either drill the pilot hole or drill both the pilot and pocket holes. Some models have a built-in router the punch through the stock to make pocket holes, and users can use a guide to punch in tiny pilot holes on the other end of the board. These models aren’t exactly “bad” since they are cost-efficient and still help in producing beautiful pocket holes and sturdy webs, but it requires a little bit more work to get it done.
The pocket-hole machine is an extremely handy tool to have around the workshop. The purpose of this machine is to reduce the amount of time needed to produce pocket holes while ensuring that every hole you drill will be of high quality and support two adjoined boards with a screw.
There are heavy-duty models used by commercial furniture makers which may cost you an arm and a leg, but there are also other inexpensive machines or enhanced jigs you can consider. If you’re looking for a lightweight model that makes beautiful pocket holes while maintaining an affordable price tag, we suggest looking at the Kreg DB210.