A pocket hole machine is a necessary tool to have in your workshop if you want to conceal screws in your work. It is also useful in finishing wood joinery projects, in the most professional way possible.
This is especially relevant for people who are finding ways to improve their skills as a contractor. Or, those who want to improve their DIY skills and become better at woodworking as a whole.
A pocket hole machine is much like a pocket hole jig except that it automates most of the processes so that the user can spend less time dealing with things like clamps and measurements. This makes it also a lot more efficient than a pocket hole jig.
Typically, you should expect to pay anywhere between $450 – $1000 for a nice pocket hole machine. On this page, we will cover everything that you need to know about pocket hole machines, what features to expect, how they work, and the top options to consider.
What is a Pocket Hole Machine & How Does It Work?
Table of Contents
- 1 What is a Pocket Hole Machine & How Does It Work?
- 2 How Much Do Pocket Hole Machines Cost?
- 3 Comparing the Top 10 Models
- 4 Best Pocket Hole Machines: Our Top 5 Picks
- 5 1. Kreg DB210 Foreman Pocket Hole Machine – Best All-Around Pocket Hole Machine
- 6 2. Castle 100 Pocket Hole Machine – Most Portable and Durable Pocket Hole Machine
- 7 3. Armor Auto-Jig Pocket Hole System – Most Affordable Pocket Hole Machine
- 8 4. Porter-Cable QUIKJIG Pocket Hole System – Best Specifications for Professionals
- 9 5. Shop Fox W1833 Pocket Hole Machine – The Best Angled Pocket Holes
- 10 Pocket Hole Machine Brands
- 11 Factors to Consider Before Buying a Pocket Hole Machine
- 12 How to Use a Pocket Hole Machine
- 13 Ready to Get a Pocket Hole Machine for Your Next Woodworking Project?
If you take your woodworking seriously and want to improve your finishing skills, hide unsightly screws, and so on, a pocket hole machine is the tool for the job. Using automatic drills powered by a motor, a pocket hole machine makes wood joinery and finishing much easier than trying to do everything manually.
Any of the best pocket hole machines will automate most of this process. This way, there is not any excessive amount of intelligence or muscle required to make it work. The hardest aspect of using a pocket hole machine is planning out where you want your holes to be placed.
A high-quality pocket machine will have an automated locking mechanism that takes away the pain of manually measuring each new wooden slab. As long as you know where you want your holes to be placed, and the type of hole to make, a pocket hole machine will handle everything else for you automatically.
How Much Do Pocket Hole Machines Cost?
As we mentioned, a good price to pay for one of the best pocket hole machines is typically anywhere $450 – $1000. If you want to find a cheap pocket hole machine, you might consider getting a pocket hole jig instead.
Pocket hole machines cost a little more due to their automatic functionality. Fully automatic machines cost more than ones that are semi-automatic.
In return, you also receive advanced features such as an efficient motor for placing holes, different speeds, automatic measurements, and even things like extra drill bits and a dust collector.
Although finding a used pocket hole machine for sale might help you save some extra cash, we highly recommend that you just spend the extra bucks getting a new one. This way, you won’t have to worry about worn out bits, inefficient motors, broken parts, and so on.
If you do decide to cut back on a certain feature or two in order to pay a little less, make sure that the model will still be able to handle the needs of your jobs. Below, we will break down what features matter the most, and how to find the best pocket hole machine that balances your expectations with your budget.
Comparing the Top 10 Models
|Kreg DB210 Foreman Pocket Hole Machine|
|Castle 100 Pocket Hole Machine|
|Armor Auto-Jig Pocket Hole System|
|Porter-Cable QUIKJIG Pocket Hole System|
|Shop Fox W1833 Pocket Hole Machine|
Best Pocket Hole Machines: Our Top 5 Picks
1. Kreg DB210 Foreman Pocket Hole Machine – Best All-Around Pocket Hole MachineThe Kreg Pocket Hole Machine is a great place to start your search for the best pocket hole machine. With a well-rounded set of specifications which balances well with a competitive price, there is no wonder that this product is so widely acclaimed!
A Kreg Foreman pocket-hole machine like this one comes with everything that you need to use it right away out of the box. This includes an above-average 2,800 RPM capability, a dust collector, and automatic clamp adjustments!
Although some plastic parts can be easily broken with misuse, the nice specifications of this model balance well with the price. These are all reasons why you should consider this pocket hole machine first.
2. Castle 100 Pocket Hole Machine – Most Portable and Durable Pocket Hole MachineA Castle pocket hole machine like this one is a great choice for professional contractors who need a model that is both durable and easy to take on the go. Mobile contractors especially appreciate how transportable and lightweight this model is.
Including a steel frame, automatic clamping mechanism, and fully-automatic functionality, this is a great option to consider. It also has a very competitive price which matches up well with other pocket hole machines of this caliber.
It’s important to keep in mind, though, that the design of this model is a little unique. Due to its portability, this model may require a bit of a learning curve for some people before you will know how to use it efficiently.
3. Armor Auto-Jig Pocket Hole System – Most Affordable Pocket Hole MachineHaving your own homemade pocket-hole machine doesn’t mean that you need to spend that much money. Models like this Armor pocket hole machine demonstrate that manufacturers still have the ability to underbid competitors heavily without sacrificing much of the quality standards we expect in a pocket hole machine.
This is more of a DIY pocket hole machine suited for hobbyists and garage woodworkers. Although this model does a great job cutting back as little as possible on features to produce such an affordable price, it doesn’t quite match up to other options presented here.
For example, this is only a semi-automatic model. As a result, this model will require a little bit more effort to use. When you consider the price of the model, this may not be much of a concern!
4. Porter-Cable QUIKJIG Pocket Hole System – Best Specifications for ProfessionalsA set of construction tools like the ones we review here just wouldn’t be quite complete without a Porter-Cable product. This is one of the most popular and widely acclaimed manufacturers of tools such as pocket hole machines.
A Porter Cable pocket hole machine like this one may not be the overall best option, but it does have features that are directly targeted at professional contractors. The variable-spaced bushings, as an example, will grant you the ability to many more potential pocket-hole positions than the average pocket hole machine.
It’s important to keep in mind that getting a porter cable pocket hole machine replacement bit is a little complicated. Due to special sizing, you won’t be able to purchase bits from other manufacturers.
5. Shop Fox W1833 Pocket Hole Machine – The Best Angled Pocket HolesWoodworkers and professional contractors handle a wide variety of tasks. For this reason, certain people value certain features a lot more than others. This model really stands out in particular for those who specialize in making angled cuts. Although just about any pocket hole machine can do angled-cuts well, this machine takes them to a whole new level!
If you are making 15-degree angled cuts, in particular, this is a great model for you to consider. This product uses a unique stepped drill bit which makes the smoothest and most professional-looking 15-degree angled pocket holes that perfectly hide your screws.
This model also has above-average power specifications. With a 2,500 RPM capability, you can make pocket holes more efficiently with this model than most of its competition!
Pocket Hole Machine Brands
With so many different options to consider, many people focus on the brand of a product before making a final decision. In order to help you speed up your research and understand which brands stand out the most, and why they are unique, let’s take a better look at the most popular pocket hole machine brands.
There are few products in this niche valued more than a Kreg pocket hole machine. With a vast following and high-quality standard, a Kreg Foreman pocket hole machine is probably the most commonly purchased option.
The Kreg DB210 Foreman Pocket Hole Machine is a wonderful example of the high standards of quality that this brand provides. Best of all, they are also a lot more affordable than some of the lesser popular options!
Castle woodworking is one of the most newly-founded woodworking manufacturers. Based out of California, they have come a long way since their beginnings in the 1980s.
A typical Castle pocket hole machine like the Castle 100 Pocket Hole Machine is a very popular choice for people who value durability and portability. If these are two of your top concerns, a model like this will exceed your expectations.
Owned by Stanley Black & Decker, Porter-Cable is one of the most respected and widely-acclaimed brands in the construction manufacturing industry.
With a long history and reputation which essentially speaks for itself, it would be hard to not consider a Porter Cable pocket hole machine.
Our favorite Porter cable pocket hole machine is the Porter-Cable QUIKJIG Pocket Hole System. This is due to its unique set of specifications best suited for professional contractors. Or, those who want access to premium features like a dust port and variable-spaced bushings.
Based out of San Diego, California, Armor Tool is known for creating a large number of all-purpose clamps.
In addition, this company specializes in making pocket hole machines. If you want to save a little bit of money on your pocket hole machine, this is especially a great brand for you to consider.
Although the Armor Auto-Jig Pocket Hole System doesn’t have all the fanciest features, it also is best for those who want to cut back as much as possible in order to pay the most reasonable price possible on a high-quality pocket hole machine.
Shop Fox products are one of the newcomers in the industry. For this reason, they are also discussed a little bit less than some of the heavy-hitters and longstanding corporations like Stanley Black & Decker.
With a short history dating back around 25 years, they have recently started to get some attention for their pocket hole machines.
The Shop Fox W1833 Pocket Hole Machine is a great example of this. With a unique design that really excels at making high-quality 15-degree pocket holes, many people consider this to be the best pocket hole machine.
Factors to Consider Before Buying a Pocket Hole Machine
Pocket hole machines come in many different sizes and shapes. They also have a wide variety of features that exist, making it difficult for the average person to decide that the best pocket hole machine for their needs really is.
To help you out, here are the top features to keep in mind:
Motor Power & Efficiency
It hopefully goes without saying that the motor is one of the most important indicators of the quality of each machine. Typically, models that are capable of handing at least 1,500 RPMs are suitable for professional contractors.
The more power the better, though. If a certain model you consider doesn’t have a motor at all, you will need to do a lot more work manually.
Automated Locking Mechanism
As we have mentioned briefly, the locking mechanism is an important factor to consider if you want one of the best pocket hole machines. A typical professional pocket hole machine will come with an automated locking mechanism that helps you produce the same pocket holes across different boards without measuring everything manually over and over.
Durability and the Number of Bits
The exact details you have in mind for your homemade pocket hole machine plans may not necessarily collide with reality. Especially if you don’t consider the bits which are included in your model.
Although you can purchase bits separately in most cases, it’s best to make sure that they are included in many different sizes. These bits are like the punch pieces of the greatest transfer punch sets, but punch pieces are designed for almost any type of material.
Included with a Dust Collector
Just about anybody who has experience with woodworking will be able to vouch for this one. The mess that comes with joinery jobs like using a pocket hole machine can easily leave a big mess of dust.
This is why we recommend finding a model that includes an automatic dust collector.
Parts such as the back fence, depth gauge, and/or depth collar need to be fine-tuned before each use in order to ensure that you create perfect cuts each time.
However, pocket hole machines tend to have different designs, which make it hard to pinpoint which of these potential parts to look at first in each model.
How to Use a Pocket Hole Machine
Using a pocket hole machine is generally very straightforward and easy. Even if you are a complete beginner, you will be able to quickly master the steps required.
As with any sort of power tool, though, it’s important to put safety first and make sure that you use the tool with the proper level of care and respect. Keeping this in mind, here are the basic steps involved in using a pocket hole machine.
1. Prepare your Workspace & Turn on the Motor
Before you get started, the first thing you need to do is get your workspace ready. Clean off anything that might get in the way, and have all your parts and materials ready.
Once you have your space clear and ready to start punching holes, put in the bit best suited for your job and turn on your motor.
2. Clamp the Wood Slab in Place
Depending on the model you use, the clamping process can either be instantly done or with a little effort.
However, it is important that you get your piece firmly clamped in place so that the positioning and quality of each hole are as perfect as possible. Clamp the piece down in place, and make sure it will sit firmly for the entire job.
3. Finalize Your Settings Make Your Pocket Holes
Now that you have your motor running and wooden slab ready to punch, it’s now time to do the fun part! Do one more final check to ensure that your settings are all on point and then start making your pocket holes!
Ready to Get a Pocket Hole Machine for Your Next Woodworking Project?
If you want to get one of the best pocket hole machines, it’s important to start by first considering what your budget and expectations are. Pocket hole machines can come with an array of different potential features and specifications which are best suited for a wide variety of potential customers.
If you want the best all-around pocket machine, we recommend you start by checking out the Kreg DB210 Foreman Pocket Hole Machine. Those who are on a tighter budget might instead start by looking at the Armor Auto-Jig Pocket Hole System.
In any case, be sure to know what you want. Think about which features matter the most to you. In most cases, it is very simple to find a great pocket hole machine that both fits into your budget and expectations.