A cartoon Kreg jig in use

Get Strong, Invisible Joints Every Time: A Beginner’s Guide to Making a Pocket Hole

How to Make a Pocket Hole

What I enjoy most in my woodworking projects is joinery. I have done several tests on different types of joinery using different types of wood and I can say; pocket hole joinery yields strong joints and I don’t have to wait for the glue to dry up before moving to the next step. That saves a lot of time and I am able to complete my projects faster.

Pocket hole joint in oak boards

To make a pocket hole, anchor a pocket hole jig on the piece of wood using a clamp, then align the jig and the wood such that the edges of the wood and the jig are in line, then use the power drill with the pocket hole drill bit to make your pocket holes.

You can use a pocket hole joint to  butt-join pieces of wood using the screws. In this method, you create a shallow angled pocket that allows you to drive a screw at an angle creating a strong joint than most other joinery methods.

Wood butt joints for kreg pocket hole joinery

Types of butt joints where pocket holes can be used


What I like most about the pocket hole method is that it yields a durable and strong joint that can sustain a lot of pressure and is also a modern method that is simple to make.

When I started using this method, it used to take me an average of 10 minutes but with my current tools –  DEWALT cordless drill, pocket hole jig, pocket hole guide, and a clamp, it now takes me an average of 5 minutes to make perfect pocket holes for two butt joints.

Do You Need a Special Drill Bit for Pocket Holes?

Yes, you need to have a special drill bit for pocket holes. Drill bits are made for different purposes and the one for pocket holes has three features.

  1. The first feature is the thin metal punching that works to create a clearance hole for the screw shank.
  2. The Second, a thicker part that creates a slanting hole in a piece of wood.
  3. The third feature is the stop collar that you may adjust to suit your depth needs.

How to Make a Pocket Hole

For a demonstration of how to use and set-up the Kreg K5 pocket hole jig, check out my other article here: Pocket Holes With a Kreg Jig – Tool Tutorial

Even before you think of making a pocket hole, it is important to note that the holes are on the piece of wood that the screws enter to the adjoining piece, and not on the other piece of wood. This is important if you are doing this for the first time.

VINWOX Pocket Hole Jig System – Adjustable Woodworking Tools with Step Drill Bit and Robertson Screws & Bit, bezels for a Portable Unit or Mount to Bench

Making a pocket hole is a simple process that should not take you more than 10 minutes regardless of your experience.

What You Need

  • Power drill
  • Clamp
  • Pocket hole jig kit
  • Working table

How to create the Pocket Hole

Once you have all the supplies that you need, the steps are as simple as follows:

Step 1: Anchor the pocket hole jig on the piece of wood

On the piece of wood that you want to drill, anchor your pocket hole jig on the wood using a clamp and onto the working table. Ensure that the edge of the jig is in line with the edge of the piece of wood. The end of the piece of wood should also be in line with the end of the jig. Depending on the type of jig you are using, you may be clamping the wood into the jig,

Step 2: Install the pocket hole drill bit

You need to install and set up the right pocket hole drill bit into your power drill. If you are doing this for the first time, Review the instructions for your specific model and make sure all the settings are correct according to your wood thicknesses and screw length.

After installing the drill bit, adjust the stop collar so that it is in unison with the measurements of the pocket hole jig.

ODOMY 46PCS 15 Degree Pocket Hole Screw Jig, Dowel Drill Joinery Kit Hole Positioner Locator Tool Holes for Woodworking Angle Drilling Holes (Blue)

Step 3: Drilling the Hole

After you are done with the setup, it is time to drill. At the back of the Kreg pocket hole jig, there is a guide hole where you can insert the drill bit. Therefore, you need to insert the drill bit into that hole, then power it and drill until the jig meets the stop collar.

HOWOD Pocket Hole Jig Kit, Professional and Upgraded All-Metal Pocket Screw Jig.

In most cases for butt joints, you are going to make two pocket holes and you just need to repeat the same process on the other edge of the wood adjacent to the hole that you have made.

Step 4: Assembly

Now all that is left is to align your work pieces and screw them together. The key here is to keep the pieces help firmly in position while screwing the joint together, as the joint may sift slightly during this process. Also, make sure you are using the correct length of screw. Learn everything you need to know about selecting the correct screw length here: What size pocket hole screw should I use?

You can add glue to these joint for a little extra strength. Even where you have end grain in the joint, glue can still add strength – don’t believe the myths – glue on end grain isn’t a complete wastes.

How to Drill Pocket Holes Without a Jig

It may not be worth working without a pocket hole jig but sometimes you need to know how to do it without. You can use this method to join pieces of wood for your simple projects instead of toenailing.

This method is simple and doesn’t need a lot of equipment. Just a power drill and two drill bits of different thicknesses can work. Whenever I want to hurry and join some pieces for myself, I don’t even use the clamp since it is a simple process as in the steps below:

  • Step 1: Check the thickness of your wood, and place it towards the edge of your working table.
  • Step 2: With your power drill and the thin drill bit, drill the wood at an angle where the screw shank can go through to the other piece of wood.
  • Step 3: Once you are done with the first drilling with a thin screw, repeat the process with a thicker drill bit but almost to the middle of the wood, just to create a shoulder where the screw head can sit.
  • Step 4: On the adjacent part of the wood, create a similar hole with the same process so that you can have two holes for a stronger joint.

HOWOD Pocket Hole Jig Kit, Professional and Upgraded All-Metal Pocket Screw Jig.

Final thoughts

After reading this article, you can agree with me that pocket hole joinery is enjoyable and simple, and yields strong joints. In addition to that, you don’t need a lot of supplies or equipment since even if you don’t have a Kreg jig, it is still possible to do without, as I have discussed above.

Also, it is one of the best joints to use if you have multiple projects on-going, since you don’t have to wait for the glue to dry up; hence, it can save you a lot of time for the next project.


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