Opinions on Pocket Hole Jigs

I asked what everyone is using for Pocket Hole Jigs in another thread, but having noodled about some since then, it seems worthwhile starting a specific thread on the matter.
What I use now is some cheap junk jig that I bought years ago, and leaves more to be desired than it does to offer in functionality and useability. I was looking at the Kreg K3 kit, and came across videos and opinions on the Harbor Freight jig. That jig is viewable on their web site. Of course - it is cheaper than the Kreg, will accommodate both 1x stock and 2x stock, looks to be well built, etc. It has now become a contender.
So - what is everyone else using?
Is anyone using or familiar with the Harbor Freight offering?
Other comments?
OT comments are normal in a community, so I won't make a big deal out of them if they pop up in this thread.
--

-Mike-
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On Fri, 18 Jan 2013 08:07:24 -0500, Mike Marlow wrote:

I bought the Kreg k3 some years ago, not too expensive, simple, efficient, versatile and possibly one of my most used tools.
I don't know anything about anybody elses jig, I would spring for another Kreg in a heartbeat if I needed a new one. (price has went up a lot though)
The only part of the k3 kit I haven't used is the stop assembly gizmo, I usually just register off the edge of the jig or mark the location on long material.
basilisk
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On 1/18/13 7:07 AM, Mike Marlow wrote:

General Tools also makes a generic pocket hole jig. The only concern I would have on non-Kreg jigs is how easy is it to adjust for thickness of material? The adjustment on Kregs is fast and simple.
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-MIKE-

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On 1/18/2013 11:11 AM, -MIKE- wrote:

And always 15-degrees! I noticed that the Harbor Freight one provided 2 different angles. I don't own either, so I am watching this thread with interest.
Dare I suggest: How about buying the drill bit and the screws and making one's own jig? With all of the engineer's around here it would seem to be practically child's play! : ) I might use masking tape on the drill bit to mark the level to drill to. At least for occasional use, this would seem to be more practical than forking over $100+.
Bill
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I tried that, and it worked out just ok. There's a lot of "indicental knowledge" (for lack of a better term) in those pocket hole jigs. Some of the details I can remember off the top of my head: the angle of the drill bit needs to be just so, the length needs to be within a certain range, the jig needs to be clamped in the proper location.
Not long after, I bought the K4 system. It's much easier to use, more durable (metal sleeves) and also more dangerous. (Do not rub your fingers along the holes on the wood side of the jig (to clear sawdust out). It's sharp!) To clamp, I just basically throw the piece of wood into the jig and throw the switch.
Kreg is certainly proud of their stuff, but the pocket hole jigs are quality tools. The price kept me away for a long time.
Puckdropper
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Make it to fit, don't make it fit.

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On 1/18/13 11:41 AM, Bill wrote:

Funny you say that, because I used pocket holes waaaaaay back in the day when I didn't know anything. I learned it from a master carpenter and always thought of it as my little secret that I'd save to impress people. :-)
He said it was basically toe-nailing for screws. He used to do it on cabinet boxes and anything he didn't want nail holes showing. Best part, it was all freehand and dare I say, as good as most Kreg jig holes. I got pretty good at it and it's just a technique I would reach for as a default. After using the Kreg jigs are the past decade, I'd probably do a really lousy job by hand, now.
--

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On 1/18/2013 11:08 AM, -MIKE- wrote:

how do you get the hole started freehand, and how high up from the joint does it have to be?
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chaniarts wrote:

If you are using a 3/8" drill bit in a drill press, I don't think the first part is a problem (although it's conceivable that the drill press could get in the way). As for the second part,clearly it will depend on the thickness of the boards. You could make one for 1/2" boards and another for 3/4" boards, for instance. If in doubt about the entree point of the drill bit, use a 15-degree angle to determine the height. If your screws aren't long enough, then use a larger angle.
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On 1/18/13 1:06 PM, chaniarts wrote:

The same way you would with toe-nailing a nail; start at more of a right angle until you're in the wood enough to grab, then quickly close the angle to be more acute until it's at the angle you want the nail (screw).

I've never measured. :-) I guess it's approximately the same as the pocket screw jigs. Back when I used to do that regularly, I was using plain bugle flat head screws, not the washer-head types for pocket holes. You gave to be *real* careful using flat-heads because they can pull down too far and split the wood. But that's what I started with and that's what I used. When I discovered washer-heads, it got real easy to do, especially with a brad point or even Forstner bit that would drill a flat bottomed hole.
Modern pocket hole screws are great, because they act a bit like a gauge. They are usually only threaded as deep as they are designed to enter the wood into which being screwed. So you can measure or eyeball how far to drill the hole and an approximate entry point.
--

-MIKE-

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On 1/18/2013 1:06 PM, chaniarts wrote:

Don't drill the hole at an angle, drill it at 90 degrees. Then cut the side at 15" through the side of the hole.
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On 1/18/2013 11:41 AM, Bill wrote:

Rookie! ;~)
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On 1/18/13 11:07 AM, Mike Marlow wrote:

I don't know how the other Kregs do it, but mine has little slides that click into place with markings on them for stock thickness.
Keep in mind that this is just to insure that the hole is centered on the end of the wood. This is of moderate importance for squaring the joint and getting equal pressure. However, there may be times when you don't want the hole perfectly centered. With repeated use in different circumstances, you'll reply less on what they tell you to do and more on what works best for you in whatever particular circumstance.
I make a habit of always making test connections on scraps of the same material to be connected. You will find reasons, at times, to do things a bit differently than the directions suggest. hole deeper or shallower, centered or not, longer or shorter screws, etc.
One reason I like the smaller (Jr?) jig without the integrated clamp (like the HF), is that I can clamp it wherever and on whatever I like. The integrated clamp models are more for bench-top and not as portable. I would like to get a bench-top model at some point, but I'm glad I didn't start with one. There are things you can do the the Jr you can't do with the larger ones, but the Jr can do whatever the larger ones can do.
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On 1/18/2013 7:07 AM, Mike Marlow wrote:

The Kreg is the "standard". You will probably never wear it out. You can find cheaper and you will get cheaper.
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The hardened steel drill guides come with a lifetime warranty so even if they do wear out, they're covered against replacement.
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wrote:

Mine is old enough that it came with a VHS tape. If you've worked with tools for a living you think in terms of getting home for dinner. I'm looking at upgrading my system to the newer one if I think it's worth it. If I do I'll offer the older one here.
Mike M
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On 1/19/2013 8:09 PM, Mike M wrote:

Is yours the one that is all metal? I have one of those.
The biggest advantage on the latest vs. that one is better dust control, adjustable for proper screw exit on different stock thickness, and extra drill hole. Ah! and the clamp lever is on the front side so that you do not have to reach around or over the piece being drilled. And it can be used more easily away from the bench.
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On Sun, 20 Jan 2013 15:09:28 -0500, "Mike Marlow"

http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?pF270&cat=1,180,42311,46275,46270
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wrote:

Mine is the K-2000 Pro. It's the blue but does have metal inserts. Seems to look about like the K-3 for the basics. No dust collection but I saw a Youtube video where a guy forgot his adaptor and just set the vacuum hose with the brush so that's not a problem. I like the other clamp but what you described makes it less valuble. I guess I'll stick with this until there is a reason to change.
Mike M
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On 1/21/2013 5:54 PM, Mike M wrote:

Newer than mine. LOL Mine has plastic on the clamp rod where itpressed against the wood and on the clamp handle.
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