November 24, 2010

Porter-Cable 560 Quik Jig Pocket Hole Joinery System - Review

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Pocket hole jigs are an easy way to make a nice, tight, glue-free joint. It's basically a jig for pre-drilling the hole for a low-angled toe-screw and it's good for cabinet work, built-ins, saw jigs, all sorts of butt-joint stuff. There hasn't been a whole lot of innovation to the category since Kreg developed their Master Kit, which has since become the standard.

Well, Porter-Cable obviously wasn't satisfied with the current technology, so they've gone and developed something they call the 560 Quik Jig and after reading the initial press release, we did a round of high-fives when we got word that they agreed to box one up and sent it our way for reviewing purposes.

First off, this thing doesn't look like anything we've ever seen before. Our inner-nerd looks at it and says, 'tricorder,'; there's some silvery metal, some black plastic, a big knob, a gauge, and a few sliding parts. Unfortunately, our inner-nerd thinks just about everything looks like a tricorder, so this isn't much help.

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Before we get too into the Quick Jig, let's spend a few sentences on describing how the Kreg works. First, you need to put the jig insert piece into the base and lock it in at the correct height using a little knurled knob. This height is dependent on the thickness of the wood. Next you have to clamp the piece of wood in, which may involve adjusting the clamp end so that when it's closed, it's a nice, tight fit. After that, you've got to adjust the depth stop on the drill bit which involves a little Allen head set-screw and a built in measuring jig on the side of the stand. This adjustment is also dependent on the thickness of the wood. Ok, now you're all set to drill the hole.

For the same piece of wood in the Quick Jig, the process involves clamping the wood and drilling the hole.

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Everything else is done for you. The functionality is based around a series of auto-adjustments that are made as the clamp tightens around the wood. As the Quik Jig moves, the depth stop slides upward and the hole jig moves downward. When the piece is clamped, everything is right where it should be, based on the thickness of the wood. There is also no need to ever adjust the drill stop on the drill, because the stop on the jig has already moved to the right location.

The Quik Jig also has a gauge on the side which lets you know which size screw to use. To get this information with the Kreg, we had to consult a chart in the manual.

And if that wasn't enough, the base of the Quik Jig is 1-1/2" thick which makes a 2x4 the perfect outboard support if you're working with a long piece. And keeping the hits rolling, there is also a dust collection system that works great.

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The Porter Cable also has a few features which make drilling multiple pieces easier. First, there is a side depth stop which allows you to easily drill the holes in the same location off the edge of the board. Also, there is a secondary clamp which very slightly eases off the wood just enough for you to remove one piece and slip another one in without having to release the larger clamp.

We really only had two small irritants with the tool. A) there is a spot for the drill bit to sit when it's not in use, but that's all it does: sit. It doesn't clip in like we wanted it to, so if the jig gets tipped over, the bit falls out. We'd like to see better onboard storage than that. And B) along the same lines, the Quik Jig doesn't have a case. For an item that costs over $200 and has as many working parts as the Quik Jig, the fact that it doesn't come with a case stuns us. Sure, the garage woodworker doesn't care, but the carpenter sure does.

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These quibbles aside, this is a huge advancement in the pocket hole world and one that takes all of the tediousness out of the process. It would be hard to make the process any easier. The Quik Jig is really quite an engineering accomplishment. Making all the pieces slide and adjust to the right spots all depending on the stopping point of the clamp is a little head-scratching when we really start to think about it. We wonder about the amount of time it took to get it all figured out. Lordy.

But is this a tool for everyone? Probably not. If you see yourself utilizing pocket holes one or two times a year, you could find the functionality that you need at a cheaper price. But if you're serious about your efficiency and your gadgetry, this one is going to go right for the pleasure center.

The Porter Cable Quik Jig costs a little over $200 which is a hefty price tag, but after using the tool, it's not a price we find offensive in the least. If your time is money, it's worth every penny.


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Posted by Doug Mahoney at November 24, 2010 10:10 AM
Recent Comments

I did find that the inability to remove the drill guide is only disadvantage of the PC. If you want a drill guide on it's own you could always spring for the Kreg R3. At @$40 it's not super expensive. And it can be used those times when you have odd areas to get a jig into or are drilling pocket holes in oddly shaped pieces and need to set the depth of the pocket hole manually.

Posted by: Ethan at December 22, 2010 4:01 PM

No, the PC is one piece. And actually, the image that I took of the two tools together is a bit misleading. With long pieces, the PC can be turned so the workpiece is parallel to the floor (which is where the 1-1/2" base comes in handy for a 2x4 work support). So the PC can be easily used with the wood sticking straight up (pictured) or horizontal.

Posted by: Tool Snob at November 25, 2010 9:37 AM

One thing I like about the kreg, or at least the model I have, that you can take the drill guide out of the stand - which lets you work with pieces too long to stand on end. Can the porter cable be adapted to work without the stand, or is it all one solid piece?

Posted by: paul at November 25, 2010 9:15 AM
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