Tool Reviews: Time to Make a Pocket Change?

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This article is from Issue 101 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Kreg Pocket-Hole Jig 720

Overview

  • Clamps and sets material thickness in one motion
  • Drills pocket holes in material from 1⁄2" to 11⁄2"
  • Onboard storage for drill and driver bits
  • Built-in vacuum port

Kreg Pocket Hole Jig 720 #176182, $129.99

Kreg recently overhauled its line of pocket-hole jigs, and while the new 520 (#176181) and 720 (above) jigs replace the K4 and K5 in Kreg’s line, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should leave your current jig for a younger model. I took the 720 on a few dates and found something old and something new in this something blue. Read on to see if you want to start a new relationship. 

Let’s be clear: the gussied up 720 functions in much the same way as its predecessors—integral steel tubes position a specialized bit to bore the angled holes necessary for pocket screws. The advantage it brings is simplified operation. No more fiddling with the thickness adjustment nut while trying to hold your workpiece in place. No more remembering to set the depth adjustment, lest you accidentally drill through the base of your jig like … a guy I know. Instead, insert your board and simply engage the clamp lever: the drill guide will slide into place, clamping the board and setting the depth in one fell swoop.

The only part that isn’t automatic is adjusting the depth-stop collar on the drill bit. Instead, Kreg has marked the bit with board thicknesses, and put a window in the collar. Line up the collar so the board’s thickness shows through the window, then lock the collar in place with an Allen wrench—also cleverly equipped with its own board thickness gauge—no tape measure required. Unfortunately, older bits and collars are made obsolete since previous jigs had a built-in stop-collar setup guide for common thicknesses that the 720 lacks.

A built-in vacuum attachment port and onboard storage for driver bits, drill bit, collar and Allen wrench round out the features of the jig.

The optional docking station (not shown), which also fits the 520 model and is included with the 720PRO, provides storage for screws and a hold-down clamp to secure the jig to your bench. It also permits attachment of a stop for repetitive production work, then folds up to minimize the jig’s footprint when not in use.

Another innovation comes in the form of a plug cutter (#176187) that you install by swapping out the pocket hole drill guide. While you can buy pre made-plugs, they are essentially dowels cut on the bias, which leaves end grain showing on the surface. This handy add-on accessory allows you to cut plugs at an angle that exposes face grain which is more likely to match the surrounding surface. Plus, since you’re cutting your own stock, you aren’t limited to the maple, oak, pine, and “paint-grade” plugs available. 

Ultimately, if you already have a K4 or K5, there’s no reason to upgrade to the 720 unless you’re stymied by the thickness lever (or have drilled through your jig one too many times after forgetting to set the depth). But if you’re just getting into the pocket-hole game, the 720 is a full-featured place to start that relationship.

—Tester, Derek Richmond

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