What is a Kreg Jig, my diy home goddesses? It is the most wonderful tool, if you want to try to make a few simple things. ‘Like what’, I hear being whispered in the background. Well, have a seat, and let me tell you all about my experience.
My Story and a Little History on the Chair Rail
My living room was not useable. Imagine, a useless room! I mean, I live in my kitchen and my basement. I don’t get a lot of company, so I don’t need a formal living room. Its set up is not conducive to a media center. A fireplace takes up a lot of wall. And it’s kind of small for a pool table, ping pong table, or any fun toys. It was just wasted space.
So I decided to turn it into a ‘gentleman’s room’. I envisioned a library, with a poker table. You know, the kind of room where people could play cards (or in my case, blackjack), or read, or write mysteries, or play computer games, or even work on their blog.
But I had this big problem, you see. I had chair rails on every single piece of wall in the living room. Chair rails protect the walls from dings from a chair. So why where they in the living room? Yeah, I had them in the dining room, and in the front hall for that matter. History says they were originally created to divide the walls into eye pleasing portions. It would break up the wall, and people would possibly use different colors on the different sections, or maybe put wainscoting below the chair rail so it would look different. The name chair rail actually came from the Quakers, who would put boards with pegs on the wall to hang the chairs while the floors were being cleaned.
Anyway, I digress.
So here I have a room that I want to put wall to wall shelves in, but I have this chair rail in the way. I didn’t want to remove it, because I was sure I would ruin the walls, and that would be a massive expense. And I couldn’t find any shelves that were the right size to butt up against the moulding. So I decided to design my own bookshelves. I have a post all about it here.
But the question of the day was how would I make these shelves solid? I could always just glue and nail the wood together. Easy Peasy, right? A friend at work said that wouldn’t be very stable. He suggested I do biscuit joinery. SAY WHAT? I looked it up here. You take a special tool, cut a slice into the side of the board, and put a ‘biscuit’ into it, slide it into the other piece of wood, glue it, clamp it… You get the picture. Too much for this diy home goddess! We are all about simple fixes, stuff we can do on our own.
So I did some more research, and found the Kreg Jig. It looked a lot easier to deal with. You use the machine, make holes, and use special screws to put the boards together. That’s it! A life saver, I tell you! A life saver!
What the Kreg Jig Does
The Kreg Jig is one of the many tools the company sells. But the Kreg Jig is the perfect tool for the diy home goddess. Their website even says it’s “Perfect for do-it-yourselfers and anyone new to Kreg Joinery”. Here are some of the things you can make with it:
- Garden boxes
- Picture frames
- Outdoor chairs/indoor chairs
- Bed frames
You get the point? Basically anything that is made out of a box, or has perpendicular joinery. Here’s a gallery of stuff people made with it.
And if you think this kind of joinery isn’t used, check the wood tables at IKEA. If you look at the legs where they join the table top, and you see a hole (pocket hole) where the screw is, that’s pocket (a.k.a. Kreg) joinery!
My Review of the Kreg Jig
- It runs about $100 for the basic one (before screws) any diy home goddess will need. Yeah, it sounds a little expensive. But if you come of up some projects you will be using it for, you just might realize it’s worth it. The screws will run you about another $20 for 100 screws. Depending on the project, that will be more than enough for about a half dozen projects or more! The plugs (to hide the holes) I don’t use, because… well because I just don’t see any point in hiding the holes. Most of the companies that assemble furniture with this kind of joinery don’t fill the holes, so why should I. And finally, you will need a drill, but you already have that, don’t you!
- You must purchase specific screws, which costs extra money. Just any old screw can’t be used. It is based on the type of material used (coarse screws for softwoods and fine screws for hardwoods), and the thickness.
- It’s a compact piece of equipment, fitting into a small plastic tool box. You don’t need a lot of shelf space for it.
- It’s very sturdy. I put it through a lot making the bookshelves, and the drill bit it comes with didn’t bend or break at all.
- I had a little bit of a problem learning how to use it at first, because it was one of the first tools I had purchased. But the website has a video on it to watch and learn how to use it. You will want to do some testing on scrap wood first, to get the hang of it. And yes, you can remove the screws just about as easily as they go in, so you won’t be wasting screws in learning how to use the equipment. If you are a reading learner instead of a visual learner, the manual has good step by step instructions.
- The machine itself is easy to use when creating the initial holes, except maybe sometimes needing a third hand. At first, you might want someone else to help you hold the wood steady. Yes, the clamp will hold it firm, but it can very easily slip out of place. So you have to use one hand to drill the holes, and the other hand to firmly hold the piece of wood while drilling. A third hand, or a second set of eyes is helpful in the beginning, until you get used to it; especially if you aren’t used to tools.
- Keeping the drill bit straight is a trial and error process unfortunately. There is no warning from the equipment that anything is wrong until you see the hole on the other side of the wood, or the screw peeks through, instead of at the correct angle. I don’t have the knowledge to figure out how to keep that from happening except trial and error, and I couldn’t find anything on the internet about this.
- The one drawback is learning the concept of how to do the final build. It takes a little getting used to putting the screws on the inside of the pieces you are putting together at the perpendicular on the inside, not the outside. This can be a little awkward, depending on the piece and size you are trying to make.
- A minor issue is sometimes the screw doesn’t lock when drilled. I cannot find out why. I fixed this by filling the hole with wood putty or a plug, letting it dry, and redo the hole. It usually did the trick. I think it was because I wouldn’t drill the hole correctly the first time, but I’m not sure.
For extensive reviews, check out Amazon.
All in all
It is a great tool for a diy home goddess who wants to put a few rustic things together herself. Like my bookshelves. I saw a lot of reviews saying it’s perfect for a diy’er, and I agree. I think it is a must for anyone who wants to build simple stuff. It’s amazing how it makes you feel when you can say you built this item. Another diy’er who shows you how to use it, with a great tutorial and pictures, is here.
I highly recommend you at least look at the Kreg website, see what it’s about. Then, maybe even get to the nearest Home Depot and buy one so you can start creating your own shadow boxes, picture frames, tables, bookshelves, storage units. I gotta start designing classy storage units!
And don’t these pictures just make a perfect vision of a gentleman’s room?