The (Kreg) Jig is Up! How you can start building furniture now, even if you're a noob.
One Jig to Rule Them All
Hot tool helps newbies build fantastic furniture
Stephanie Reavis' beautiful cabinet constructed with a Kreg Jig
As spring sneaks in, it’s fun to go through each room in your house and create a punch list of things you’d like to change, add or replace. The list can hold all of the items that bug you, from minor to major, not including relatives.
Don’t hold back; put everything down on that list, from faucet repairs to paint jobs to pictures that no longer give you a happy feeling. If there’s anything you see that messes with your well being - ping! (magic wand sound effect) - it goes on the list.
If your list reveals lots of holes in the furnishings department, don't be bummed. It’s never been easier to build stuff. And try not to feel overwhelmed if you've got a long list; here are a few of my must-builds for comparison:
- pine recycling center for the kitchen
- wainscoting in basement
- big framed whiteboard for the home office
- computer hutch for the kitchen
- matching nightstands for the master bedroom
- built-in cabinets and shelves for the master bedroom
- floor-to-ceiling bookshelves for the den
- window bench in the guest room
- bed frame and headboard for the guest room
- storage benches in the mudroom
- storage shelves for dumbbells in the workout room
- built-in storage for the laundry room
- tool storage shelves and boxes in the workshop
So, what are the chances of any of these projects actually getting built, whether in your house or mine?
Pretty darn good. Even if your desire level is way higher than your budget.
The Kreg Jig ($30-$100) is a ridiculously simple tool that allows you to create lightning fast, professional looking wood projects using nothing more sophisticated than a cordless drill.
You don’t even need glue. The whole process is so simple and stressless, you’ll be freakishly excited to take on projects you’ve never attempted before.
You can choose solid wood, particle board or medium density fiberboard (in thicknesses starting at a half-inch) to get results that look insanely good.
How does the Kreg Jig work? It allows you to drill precise high-speed flat-bottomed “pocket holes” that you’ll use to create right angle joints and butt joints. After drilling out the holes (10 seconds), you drive a special self-tapping screw into each hole (10 more seconds) for a strong, tight joint that requires no gluing.
The Kreg Jig has an integrated clamp that locks the board in position so you can drill at the perfect angle. When it comes time to assemble your project, just clamp the boards together on the jig and drive two screws into the pocket holes in each corner. Done.
Wood and Plenty
I got my Kreg Jig about a week ago and it’s been so much fun I’ve actually lost sleep lying there in bed thinking up projects to make, from picture frames to art easels and porch swings.
The speed of the thing is what really gets the romance flowing, and when you see the quality of the joints you feel like some kind of a woodworking god, even if you’re only a hack like me.
You can get simple or deluxe Kreg Jig kits at Lowe’s and Lee Valley Tools. I like the 'Master' kit because it comes with a DVD packed with tips for all kinds of applications and projects. The DVD presentation isn't boring either; it's fast-moving and inspiring.
If you’re considering accessories, I’d advise buying one additional clamp to start - the Kreg face clamp ($30); it really speeds things up. And you’ll need a packet or two of specialized Kreg screws, which come in two styles - fine threads (for hardwood) or coarse threads (for poplar, soft woods and particle board). If the pocket holes will show on the work piece, you can also buy Kreg’s precision-made plugs to cover the screw heads.
The Kreg Jig easily gets my vote for Tool of the Year; it makes furniture construction safe and easy, even for beginners; if you need proof, Rachel Ray used the Kreg Jig on her show and she’s not exactly a full-time sawdust diva.
For ideas on easy pocket-screw projects you can build, check out www.ana-white.com (she offers many free plans for knock-off versions of furniture carried in trendy shops). Or visit the free Kreg Users’ Community on the web at www.kregjig.ning.com.