How to Drill a Pocket Hole Without a Kreg Jig


How to Drill a Pocket Hole Without a Kreg Jig

Pocket holes which are drilled at an angle can be very useful in all kinds of joinery projects. However, while using a Kreg jig is an easy way to tackle the issue, the piece of equipment itself is not always affordable for every household.

Fortunately, there are other options if you’re looking to create pocket holes in your latest creation. Here I have pulled together four suggestions on how to drill a pocket hole without a Kreg Jig, with two methods requiring no specialist tools and two more revolving around the use of some other affordable items.

Tools and Materials

  • Power drill
  • 3/16th drill bit
  • 3/8th drill bit
  • Countersink bit
  • Kreg pocket hole bit
  • Kreg mini-jig kit
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil


Jigless Method 1


Step 1: Mark Your Hole Location

Your first job whenever you’re drilling holes into wood is to mark where you would like them to be. As I was working on 3/4” stock, I decided to mark my hole locations around an inch from the end of the piece of wood. I did this simply by using a measuring tape and a pencil.

Step 2: Drill Your Hole

Next, I used a 3/16th drill bit and a power drill to create my pilot hole. I initially started by boring straight down but then quickly started to tilt the bit backwards. It is important during this step to hold back on the drill and resist the temptation to rush the job – simply take your time and tilt it back as far as you can without the bit skipping out of the wood. Your aim? To get the tip of the bit to emerge in the center of the end of the wood.

Step 3: Repeat With a Thicker Bit

That hole will act as your pilot hole, so the next step is to use a larger drill bit to create your actual pocket hole. I used a 3/8th drill bit for this and aimed it straight down before then again tilting it to the angle of the pilot hole. The aim is to only go a quarter of an inch deep with this drill bit, as this would be enough to cover the head of your screws. Again, take your time and be wary of how aggressive the drill could be. Now, you should have pocket holes ready for use!

Jigless Method 2


Step 1: Mark Your Hole Location

As you would expect, the first step in this method is to mark the position of where you want your pocket holes to be. Again, I simply reached for a pencil and measuring tape to mark out the location on the wood. This will, of course, be dependent on the size, shape, and depth of the wood you are using.

Step 2: Drill Your Hole

Once again, this method involves having to create a pilot hole. I reached for my 3/16th drill bit and a power drill to create it, again taking care to hold back on my drill and carefully boring straight down before then tilting the bit to the desired angle. As ever, the aim is to ensure the bit emerges in the center of the wood’s end.

Step 3: Repeat With a Countersink Bit

The key difference in this method is that I then decided to make use of a countersink bit to finish the job. I attached the bit to my drill and again started drilling down before angling the bit backwards. Again, the aim is to create enough of a pocket that the head of any screw will sit below the surface of the wood. I find that this method reduces the amount of tear, while the countersink bit is also less likely to go too deep into the wood.

Pocket Hole Bit Method


Step 1: Mark Your Hole Location

This latest method requires buying one specialist item, namely a pocket hole bit produced by the likes of Kreg. As with the previous methods, your key starting point is to mark out exactly where you want your hole locations on the wood to be. Again, you can easily use a pencil and a measuring tape or ruler to make this happen.

Step 2: Drill a Shallow Hole

Next up, you need to follow the other methods and again create a pilot hole. However, this time you simply make use of your new pocket hole bit, which features a narrow end. I did this by simply drilling shallow holes straight down into the wood using the smaller part of the bit.

Step 3: Angle the Drill and Start Boring

After that, I placed the tip of the bit into the hole and start boring while tilting the drill back as far as I possibly can. Again, patience is absolutely key to creating the perfect pocket hole, so go slow and make sure you stop as soon as the end of the bit starts to show at the end of the wood.

Step 4: Be Careful Not to Go Too Deep

Care is absolutely essential when creating pocket holes and my own experiences highlighted that perfectly. I went too deep on one of the holes and that had major consequences, as the point of the screw I used then came out of the piece of wood that I had attached to my project. If you’re working with soft wood, just recognize how aggressive your drill could be.

Mini Jig Method


Step 1: Mark Your Hole Location

This final method focuses on using a mini-jig kit from Kreg, which features a drill bit and a jig and is significantly cheaper than buying a full-size piece of equipment. Again, you begin the process of using this by simply marking on your piece of wood where you want your holes to be located.

Step 2: Place the Jig

The next step is to place the mini-jig on the wood and ensure it is positioned exactly where you want it. The mini-jig from Kreg only allows you to drill one hole at a time, so it is important to take care and ensure that you have placed it in the right spot.

Step 3: Use a Vice to Hold the Jig in Place

To prevent your new mini-jig tool from moving around while you use the drill bit, hold it in the correct place on the wood by making use of a vice. Place the wood and the jig inside the vice and then simply tighten it to your desired position using any levers that it features.

Step 4: Drill Into the Wood

Attach your pocket hole drill bit to your power drill and then insert it into the mini-jig and start drilling. The jig will hold the drill at the right angle for the perfect pocket hole, while it will also prevent you from going too deep into the wood. Furthermore, I also found that the body of the jig holds down the fiber of the wood and therefore creates a neater finish to your pocket holes.

Whatever you’re looking to create with wood, it is handy to be able to call on a range of techniques. While a Kreg jig is always useful when it comes to pocket holes, you simply may not always have one to hand. So, with that in mind, it is a good idea to know how to drill a pocket hole without a Kreg jig.

I’d love to get your views on the methods above, so please let us know below which you have used and the projects they have been ideal for.

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