A Full Guide to Drill Jigs: The Best Options Out There!
There are two critical aspects to successfully running a mass production – easy assembly and low per-unit cost. And, this is where the importance of finding the best drill jig comes into the picture.
Drill jigs are production tools used to manufacture duplicate and interchangeable parts accurately. They are uniquely designed to assemble and machine larger quantities of components identically and ensure interchangeability among them.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll talk about drill jigs in detail. We’ll cover topics such as primary elements of a drill jig, types of drill jigs on the market, pros and cons of drill jigs, general considerations in designing drill jigs, factors you should consider while purchasing drill jigs, etc., and highlight the best drill jigs on the market.
Drill Jigs – An Overview
A jig is defined as a tool that guides cutting and machining tools. Drill jig3s is one of the most common types of jigs on the market.
Drill jigs are used for drilling holes that are accurately located in relation to one another and to certain points and working surfaces. The location of the holes is marked by holes in the jig through which the drill passes.
By using drill jigs, you can boost production rates dramatically by reducing the time spent using a center punch, height gauge, or square scriber.
If you’re looking for ultimate accuracy or planning to use the jig as a permanent tool, use bushing made of hardened steel to guide the drill.
Drill jigs can be fixed to the workpiece in which you’ll be drilling holes, or the workpiece is inserted and clamped inside the jig. If you want to drill more than one hole, you’ll have to slide the drill jig on the table toward the drilling machine.
In such cases, move the drill jig with your hands to fix the position under the drill to ensure the drill enters the bush radially. However, if you have a large drill machine, capable of producing high torque, make sure you hold the jig with stops or clamp it to the drill machine table.
Drill jigs typically come with feet which can slide or rest on the drill machine table. Using drill jigs, you can drill holes at higher speeds with better accuracy and workers with average skills. Also, drill jigs help in producing interchangeable parts as each drilled has the same hole pattern as the other parts.
All commercial considerations point in one direction when it comes to competing with similar products on the market – low cost per unit and high quality. And, when it comes to metalwork, drill jigs can help a great deal in achieving both goals.
However, before considering drill jigs for the job, you must look at four factors – the number of units to be produced, the approximate cost of labor per unit with and without the drill jig, the cost of the drill jig including its maintenance cost, and the option to use a less busy or less valuable drill machine with the jig.
After considering the four significant factors mentioned above, if the total cost of production of the products with and without the jig are equal, it would be a good idea to drop the jig altogether.
Primary Elements of Drill Jigs
The primary elements of drill jigs include:
- Body of the drill jig – It is a box, frame or plate type structure that contains the components to be machined. It is typically very rigid and sturdy.
- Clamping elements – These elements help in securing the workpiece in a specific position while drilling.
- Locating elements – These elements help in locating the workpiece in an accurate position with respect to the drill machine.
- Indexing elements – These elements are not present in all types of drill jigs. However, you may have to index workpieces in different positions to perform machining operations of a variety of surfaces or locations.
- Grinding and setting elements – These elements help in guiding the cutting tool in the case of a drill jig.
Types of Drilling Jigs on the Market
The shape and style of drill jigs must depend on the nature of work, the degree of accuracy required, and the number of pieces you want to drill.
All in all, you’ll find six types of drill jigs on the market. These include:
- Box type jig
- Channel jig
- Leaf jig
- Open type jig
- Template jig
- Plate type jig
Let’s look at each type in a little more detail.
Box Type Jig
If you want to drill holes in more than one plane of the workpiece, you’ll have to provide the jig with an equivalent number of bush plates. All jig plates then assemble to take the shape of a box with one face open for loading and unloading the workpiece. Resting feet are provided opposite each jig plate.
Box type jigs should be as light as possible since you’ll have to lift and shift them again and again.
The cross-sections of channel jigs resemble channels. The workpiece is fitted within the channel and clamped. The drill machine is then guided through the drill bush to drill accurate holes. Channel jigs are the most economical drill jigs on the market.
The topmost plate of a leaf jig is arranged in a way that allows it to swing about a fulcrum point. This allows easy loading and unloading of the workpiece. The jig plate is hinged in the case of a leaf jig. You’ll find clamping screws and drill bushes in the jig plate, which is clamped to the resting face using an eyebolt.
Open Type Jig
In an open type jig, the top face of the jig is open, and the workpiece is placed at the top.
Template jig is the simplest jig design. The plate comprises a template designed in a way that it comprises the shape and size required to be drilled. The template plate is typically made of metal or wood and comprises holes at the exact locations to be made in the workpiece.
The size of the template jig resembles the size of the workpiece.
By using the template jig, you can reduce marking operation and better accuracy. It is the most cost-effective jig on the market.
Plate Type Jig
The plate type jig is an improved version of a template jig. The only difference you’ll find is that instead of simple holes, the plate comprises drill bushes to guide the drill machine. You can clamp the workpiece to the plate and drill accordingly.
Plate type jigs are highly recommended for mass production.
General Considerations in Designing Jigs
- A drill jig’s design typically depends on the nature of work to be done, the degree of accuracy required, and the number of units to be drilled
- Since the drill jigs need to be turned over and back, they should be comfortable to handle, for the operator. Not only this, but they should also be lightweight with optimum stiffness and strength. However, make sure you don’t compromise on the quality of the drill jig just to shed a few pounds from its overall weight
- As you need to fasten the workpiece to the drill jig so that it maintains its proper position, make sure you use a fastening device with the drill jig. Fastening devices provide quick manipulation and hold the workpiece firmly to prevent any random change in position during drilling
- It is a good idea to finish the drill jig by removing any scratches or unfinished corners from its body to avoid injuries during the drilling process
Other factors essentially considered during assembly, design, and fabrication of jigs include:
- Tool guidance for sleek cutting tools such as drills and reamers
- Use of minimal parts for assembling the jig
- Use of standard parts as much as possible
- Optimum adjustability and flexibility to accommodate minimum variations
- Accurate, easy, and quick indexing as and when required
- Safe handling of the jig on the drill press table
- Durability and sturdiness
Factors Governing the Advisability of Using Drill Jigs
Typically, when one piece involves the drilling of two holes, the location of the holes is determined by using a pair of dividers set to a scale. The location is finalized, and prick punched, followed by drilling the holes.
This method showcases how easily a single workpiece can be drilled without precise measurements. However, when it comes to drilling thousands of such pieces, the complete drilling process becomes a costly affair.
In such cases, drill jigs are cost-effective options. The drill jigs, however, must have holes matching the drill size, accurately location. By using a drill jig, you can reduce the cost of drilling thousands of workpieces using dividers, and the prick and punch surface method.
Cost of the Jig + Cost of the Drilling < Cost of Drilling the Workpieces Using the Prick and Punch Method
Drill Jigs with Feet and Legs
When you need to move the drill jig around the drill machine table to drill several holes in one drilling session; the drill jigs typically come with feet or legs. To make sure the legs don’t collapse during drilling, it is important to harden them. Most of the drill jigs on the market come with tool steel legs.
The Accuracy of the Drill Jigs and the Accuracy of the Machines on Which They Are Used, Are Related
While it’s important to be cautious when designing drill jigs to make sure their legs don’t collapse or they don’t tip during drilling, it’s also critical to understand that the drill press table should be at a 90-degree angle to the drill spindle, and flat and true.
If either of the criteria is not fulfilled, the position of the holes will not be at the required angles with the working surface of the workpiece.
In manufacturing units, where interchangeable components are produced, or the components are supposed to be machined properly, the condition of the machines is closely monitored, especially the parts that define the accuracy of the final products.
How to Locate Holes for Drill Bushings – All You Need to Know
When designing jigs, the most significant part of the designing process is locating the drill bushing holes. Even though the methods used to locate the holes differ, they depend on the nature of work.
In cases where accuracy is not an issue, a workpiece with rightly drilled holes is taken, and the exact location of the holes is transferred to the drill jig. As is it vital to keep the bushing holes in the drill jig a little bigger than the holes in the workpiece, the sizes of the drill jig holes are increased using a counterbore.
Advantages of Using Drill Jigs
The advantages of using drill jigs for mass production include:
- Elimination of measuring as well as other setting methods before the machining process.
- Improvement in machining accuracy since the workpiece is located automatically and no manual adjustment is required to guide the tool.
- Production of identical and interchangeable parts which leads to the facilitation of assembly operation.
- More production capacity as several workpieces can be machined in a single setup, or multiple tools can operate together.
- Reduction in operation labor as the handling operations are limited and simplified further. Even a semi-skilled operator can perform the tasks as most of the work is machine-based.
- Reduction in the quality control expenditure of the end product.
- Reduction in the overall machining cost by partially or fully automating the majority of the processes.
- Flexibility to create pocket holes by simply sliding the device into place.
- Creation of strong and attractive-looking joints easily and quickly.
Best Drill Jig Options on the Market – Our Top Picks
Here, we’ll talk about the best drill jigs on the market currently. Once you go through the detailed reviews of all products, you’ll be able to identify the best drill jig for your drilling project.
If you’re looking for the best pocket hole jig on the market, which is also easily affordable, you may want to consider the Kreg Jig K4 Pocket Hole System. You can use it as a bench-mounted system or a standalone jig as and when you want.
The drill bit included in the package comes with a depth-control feature, making it easy and quick to control the drilling depth. Using the large camping recess, you can secure the jig for hassle-free drilling.
So, whether you’re using the drill jig for some minor home repairs or building shelves from scratch, you can rely on Kreg Jig K4 Pocket Hole System to complete your project in less time, with minimum effort and investment.
The 3-hole Drill Guide allows you to drill perfectly placed pocket holes in different materials. Not only this but all drill guides come with a hardened-steel core to support the workpiece through 100% drill force, resulting in reduced wear and tear of the workpiece, minimal deflection of the drill bit, and a clean pocket hole.
- Attached large clamp for easy setup
- Can be used as a bench-mounted or portable jig
- Comes with a variety of pocket hole size options
- Removable Drill Guide suitable for home repair jobs
- Some existing customers have reported missing parts in the package
- The drill jig can only be used with materials that are ½-inch to 3/2-inch thick
How does Kreg K4 compare with the K5? Find out here!
Kreg Jig K5 Pocket Hole System is somewhat similar to the Kreg Jig K4 Pocket Hole System. You can use it as a tabletop jig or a portable jig. So, whether you’re on the go or working at home, you can comfortably use the drill jig wherever you want.
The drill jig comes with a plethora of spacing hole that will allow you to insert your screws in the exact spot you need them, provided the material you want to drill is not very thick. Another eye-catching feature of Kreg Jig K5 Pocket Hole System is its extra-large support wings.
These wings provide users with a stable base in the case of portable drilling. You can also open and shut the support wings to hold accessories based on your convenience.
All in all, the drill jig is easy to set up. Simply choose the screw basis the thickness of your wood, position the stop collar with the help of the drill bit setup block, pull the pin loaded with spring to correctly position the drill block, and adjust the workpiece clamp.
Kreg Jig K5 Pocket Hole System also comes with a detachable dust port that can move from one side to another or attach to a regular vacuum hose. So, whether you’re planning to build a coffee table or garage organizer, you can make the most of the Kreg Jig K5 Pocket Hole to complete your woodworking project in no time. Find this Jig here on Amazon.
You might also be interested: The Best Kreg Jig Alternatives On the Market!
- Can be used as a benchtop or portable setup
- Large support wings with a large storage capacity
- Attached clamp
- Easy thickness adjustment
- Swiveling dust collection
- The drill jig can only be used with materials that are ½-inch to 3/2-inch thick
- Some existing customers have mentioned that thee adjustment of the clamp can become a complicated task at times
The Milescraft 13230003 Pocket Jig 200 Kit help you connect your workpieces in no time. Whether you want to build bookshelves, cabinets, or storage shelves, you can make the most of the drill jig kit to finish all projects with finesse.
The best thing about Milescraft 13230003 Pocket Jig 200 Kit is that you can easily create corner joints, frame joints, Miter joints, T-joints, or do all sorts of repairs. With the built-in board thickness, you don’t need to measure the thickness manually time and again.
To use the drill jit kit to its maximum potential, all you need to do is set the depth of your drill bit and begin drilling.
The drill jit kit also comes with an adjustable clamping magnet to help you secure the jig to your workpiece using any standard metallic clamp. The hardened steel bushings come in handy for drilling precise holes.
All in all, for less than $27, Milescraft 13230003 Pocket Jig 200 Kit can be a great buy. You can easily complete all types of woodworking projects with this drill jig kit in your toolbox. Check it out here on Amazon.
There are 4 common board thickness settings built into the jig (1/2″, 3/4″, 1″ and 1-1/2″) with an easy read out arrow to help define your board thickness setting and easily adjust it.
- Comes with a built-in board thickness scale
- Can be used for a variety of woodworking projects
- Has good quality hardened steel bushings for accurately drilling holes
- Durable and sturdy
- The clamp is not included in the product package
- It can be somewhat difficult to find compatible screws
- The fence stop is made of plastic
If you’re looking for a reliable drill jig kit, the General Tools 850 All-in-One Aluminum Pocket Hole Jig Kit can be a great buy. The super-affordable drill jig kit allows you to work on almost all types of woodworking projects ranging from minor home repairs to detailed carpentry projects.
You can easily store the 76-piece kit comes that comes with materials in a sturdy carrying case. Whether you’re a DIY woodworking enthusiast or an expert, the General Tools 850 All-in-One Aluminum Pocket Hole Jig Kit can be a good pick. You can use the drill jig as a bench-mounted or portable drill jig.
The General Tools 850 Pocket Jig Kit is an affordable yet extremely durable tool that fully meets the FSC requirements. It’s very versatile due to its lightweight design and it’s suitable for all woodwork tasks for both the beginner and professional user.
- Easy to use and set up
- Comes with a built-in clamping system
- Can be bench-mounted or use as a portable drill jig
- Allows you to install screws in difficult corners
- Can be used with workpieces up to 1.5-inch thick
- Comes with low-quality drill bits
- Can also be used for shredding wood
- Not as comfortable as Kreg jigs
- No height adjustment feature
- The holes drilled by the drill bit are not neat
Kreg R3 Jr. Pocket Hole Jig System can be a good buy for DIYers who are looking for an easy-to-use drill jig system.
The drill system can be used as a portable drill jig system, and you can use it for instant repair jobs. With the Kreg R3 Jr. Pocket Hole System, you don’t need to worry about the thickness of your workpiece material; the jig system can easily drill 1-inch to 1.5-inch thick workpieces.
The drill system is easily adjustable, and the brand even provides a solid metal grill guide with the drill jig system.
The Clamp Pad Adapter allows you to secure the R3 to the workpiece using different types of clamps. The best thing about the Kreg R3 Jr. Pocket Hole Jig System is that you can use it in restrictive situations and difficult corners.
All you need to do is fix the screen through the mounting hole on the jig top. Every jig comes with hardened-steel cores that come with a lifetime guarantee. You can find the Kreg R3 Jr. here on Amazon.
- Comes with a wood-chip relief hole
- The hardened-steel cores are high-quality and come with a lifetime guarantee
- Allows you to fix broken wood joints quickly
- Can be used for major woodworking projects
- The drill jig kit is well-organized
- Easily attaches to any clamp
- Can make a perfect pocket hole
- Not suitable for larger wood boards
- Needs to be tightly clamped to reduce shaking
- In some jigs, only one hole is usable
If you’re looking for a high-end, reliable jig, Kreg K4MS can be a suitable buy. Even though it’s somewhat more expensive than other drill jigs on the market, it is value for money. If you’re a DIY woodworking enthusiast looking for a comprehensive drill jig system with a variety of accessories, we recommend starting with Kreg K4MS.
The drill jig is uniquely designed to offer great rigidity and firmly hold the workpiece. The 3-hole drill guide allows you to drill perfect holes in materials of different thicknesses and widths.
The large clamping recess and a solid clamp tightly secure your workpiece in place. Apart from the Kreg K4MS jig, you get different types of accessories such as a face clamp and a portable base. You’ll also get a dust collection attachment for collecting leftover wood chips. Find it here on Amazon.
- Comes with a removable drill guide
- You can use it for thick materials
- Minimal bit deflection
- Has a clean, pluggable pot-hole
- The hardened-steel drill guides come with a lifetime warranty
- Can split hardwood
- Somewhat expensive than many other drill jigs on the market
Factors You Should Consider While Buying a Drill Jig
Here’s a list of factors our experts considered while picking the best drill jig options on the market. Make sure you don’t miss these factors while making a purchase.
Construction Quality and Usage
Both construction quality and usage are interrelated. While looking for the best drill jig options on the market, keep in mind the type of projects you’ll be working on and the frequency of usage.
If you know you’ll be using the drill jig frequently, buy a high-quality product. Also, make sure it’s durable and strong to handle more woodwork. Moreover, the jig should be able to accommodate boards of different thicknesses.
Drill Bits and Other Accessories
Most drill jig kits on the market come with drill bits. So, buy a kit that comes with a drill bit rather than using old or worn-out drill jigs.
Also, buy a drill jig kit that comes with clamps, wrenches, screws, and other accessories you might want to use.
Most pocket hole jigs come with preset drilling angles (typically 18-degree). Even though this angle works well for most of the projects, it does not work for all of them. Therefore, it would be a good idea to find a drill jig that easily allows you to adjust the drilling angle to suit your project.
With the ability to adjust to different angles, you can easily create stunning woodworking artworks, which are durable and sturdy.
Other Tips for Buying Drill Jigs
- Solicit drill jig buying tips from professionals.
- Take time for research. Test the product twice before purchasing it.
- Study all parts of the drill jig system and read the usage instructions carefully.
- Use the perfectly-sized screw for your woodworking job.
FAQ’s About Drill Jigs
A fixture is a holding device that is used to provide support to a jig or any other tool that it needs to be used, whereas a jig is a type of tool that controls the motion of another too.
A pocket hole is a term referred to a hole that has been made under a 15-degree angle into one workpiece and then joining another piece with a self-taping screw.
Yes. While regular screws might work and end your task well, you are risking getting split ends and ruining the piece of wood, so it is best to get special screws with fluted tips that are specially created for pocket holes.
Now that you know almost everything about drill jigs, you probably understand that drill jigs can be great tools for adding finesse to your woodworking projects.
When looking for the best drill jig options on the market, make sure you consider the factors mentioned in the previous section to purchase a drill jig that’s efficient, value for money, durable, sturdy, and good quality. With drill jigs, you don’t need messy glues to strengthen joints and fix workpieces together.
There’s a place in every workshop for a drill jig kit, even if it will not be used frequently. But, the Kreg K4 Drill Jig Kit fits the bill perfectly. It’s perfect for beginners, DIY enthusiasts, and woodworking experts. It comes with everything you need from a removable 3-hole drill guide for pocket holes to a unique clamp specially designed for pocket-screw joinery. All in all, the Kreg K4 Drill Jig Kit is comprehensive and affordable.
Out of all the best drill jig options on the market; ultimately, your choice will depend on your budget and requirements. We recommend you try different products before locking-down your choice to one. Also, make sure the drill jig you choose is portable and comes with a dust collection port. With a good quality drill jig, even woodworkers with average skills can complete their projects.
We hope you found our guide to drill jigs helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to post them in the comment section below. Our experts will help you with the answers as soon as possible.