First Encounter of the Kreg Jig

Two Sundays ago, Max and I shamelessly stopped by Lowe’s on our way home. We didn’t expect to pick up a Kreg jig. It sort of just happened. I’ll admit, I’ve had my eye on one for a while. Like all tools, this pocket hole joinery system has quite an expensive price tag, to the tune of $100. Because it was a Sunday night and I had to drive all the way back to Warner Robins, I’d need to wait fourteen agonizingly long days before taking my new toy for a test spin. It’s a good thing too.

I should probably add this to my tips for novice builders: always practice on scraps with new tools before embarking on a legit project.

I didn’t realize this piece of advice would present itself so strategically this weekend. I practically stumbled into it, thank goodness. You already know Max and I picked out plans for building our Master bedroom furniture. What you don’t know is that we’ve never had a dedicated building area. Max has moved around too much and I just came out a shoebox sized apartment in Boston.  As we unpacked all our tools it became obvious we were missing something: a work table.

A small piece of me wanted to brush the necessity aside. I knew how to use a Kreg jig; I’d watched dozens of YouTube videos and even read Ana White’s book. How hard could it be?

Then something started to nag at me and that was doubt. The headboards and nightstands we’d selected weren’t simple projects. Far from it. They were complex. Suddenly, having a buffer project started to sound more appealing. It was decided. We’d master building a work table and then it was on to bigger and more sophisticated pieces. Practice makes perfect right?

By Saturday afternoon, I was adjusting my Kreg jig settings. A wave of enthusiasm rushed through me as I drilled into the first board. It ‘s working great! I thought jubilantly. Three pocket holes later I was singing a different tune. The drill slowly just stopped spinning. As in, it was dead.

I started racking my brain for possible explanations. Unfortunately, staring at the lifeless drill didn’t expedite the process. If it did, mine would have been supercharged. I stood up and started pacing across the garage. How could I be so stupid? I slapped my hand against my forehead. The battery was probably dead. Rooky mistake.

Some background on the drill I use. Back when I was first dipping a toe in the proverbial DIY pool, I selected a Black and Decker 9.6V cordless power drill. Mostly because it was on sale. I was hesitant to spend hundreds of dollars on something I wasn’t even sure I was going to use. With that being said, my drill has served me well over the past three years; however, if there’s a downfall associated with purchasing mediocre power tools, it’s that you get what you pay for. And in my case, that was an excruciatingly long charge time. Mine boasts an awesome hundred and eighty minute – or three hour – charge time. Yay for patience! I took the rest of the night off.

Sunday morning I practically skipped out to the garage, ecstatic about picking up where I’d left off. Again, the Kreg jig worked like a charm. Two boards and ten pocket holes later though, my drill died again. Frustrated, I plugged it back in and sulked into the house to wait for it to charge.

And that’s when I discovered another important DIY tidbit. I should also add this to my list: always read your equipment’s manual.

There it was staring me square in the face. Recommended RPM for Kreg jig use is 2,000 or above. Quickly, I googled the specs on my Black and Decker. It maxed out at a whopping 700 RPMs. Well, no wonder, I thought bitterly.

So where does this leave me? With a pile of wood, screws and a too-weak-to-use drill, that’s where. The silver lining is that I discovered all of this while building my work table – aka my buffer project – and not our headboard or nightstands. Nothing sucks the fun out of a project faster than when things aren’t working properly. Trust me, I’ve found this out the hard way too.

In two weeks Max and I will be making yet another pit stop at Lowe’s. This time, we’ll be investing in a more robust power drill. I’ve done some preliminary research and haven’t decided whether or not to buy a cordless or corded drill. Any thoughts out there in the blogging universe?

One thing’s for certain – whatever we purchase, it’ll definitely surpass the 2,000 RPMs recommended by Kreg jig. In fact, I’m hoping it’s so powerful it knocks my socks off.

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6 thoughts on “First Encounter of the Kreg Jig

  1. Been there, done that!
    Always buy 25% more lumber!
    Go for a 12-18v. Makita or Dewalt.
    But remember the more power the more weight! And the most important – an extra battery! Unc

    • I was looking at an 18v Dewalt. My only choice now is cordless or corded. I’ve read that the RPMs are higher on corded; however, cordless obviously can be taken anywhere. So many decisions!

  2. I was a dewalt girl for a long time until trying out Ryobi’s 18V line. The drill is $129 at Home Depot and for me it’s the best one out there for the furniture building we do. Hope this helps 🙂

  3. Erin, I’ve been happy with my Ryobi drill for several years. I just purchased new batteries for the first time since 2006 this year. I’ve moved on to Festool and other hi end tools as my woodworking progress. If I were starting out again, this would be my first purchase: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Ryobi-ONE-18-Volt-Lithium-Ion-Drill-and-Impact-Driver-Combo-Kit-2-Tool-P882/203406854#.UiYOKNK2aSo. The impact driver is great for driving in the pocket screws. It really helps take the load off your wrist. Good luck.

    • Thanks for the recommendation Shawn – I really appreciate it! Now that I have two glowing recommendations for Ryobi, I think that I’ll definitely be purchasing a drill from that manufacturer. Thanks for visiting and leaving a recommendation!

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