Worst $20 Tool Purchase Ever? (And Actually, it was $40)

jigBefore moving forward on the cabinet build, I had the onerous task of drilling all the shelf pin holes in the 42″ upper cabinets (nine of them). So I went to the two area woodworking stores and bought a shelf-pin-drilling jig from each at $20 a pop. I was planning to do a tool test of sorts.

The results? Not good. Neither of the two were properly aligned top to bottom, so when I flipped the jig(s) to register against the other side of my workpiece, the holes didn’t line up across. They were, according to the packaging, supposed to – but on one jig they were off by about 1/16″ and on the other by 1/8″.

So I did what I should have done in the first place: headed to the drill press after laying out all my hole locations on a piece of 1/4″ ply, and made a proper jig.

It took me about 30 minutes (which includes finding then digging out the drill press fence  from under a pile of crap), and it made the rest of the process go faster. I made the thing full-size, so I had to align it only once on each workpiece, clamp it in place, then climb aboard and drill (I kneeled atop the work as I drilled to help keep my jig tight to the work).

And while the jig didn’t make long to make, it took me almost three hours to drill the holes (If my math is correct, there were 720). Damn was that boring work.

About fitz

Editor & content director for Popular Woodworking, ABD PhD focused on early modern drama, freelance content and copy editor/writer, ailurophile
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7 Responses to Worst $20 Tool Purchase Ever? (And Actually, it was $40)

  1. billlattpa says:

    I have the cheap Kreg jig, but it works just fine. I forget what it cost, but at that I only have one, and I just switch sides with it.

  2. Kevin Thomas says:

    What brand were those jigs so I know what to avoid?

    • fitz says:

      I’m not really comfortable naming them; it’s conceivable that I got a bad one in each case and my experience is therefore singular. But, there are only two woodworking stores in Cincinnati, these were branded with the store’s logo…

  3. Henryk says:

    Pegboard works for me.

  4. kari logwood says:

    Funny that I just now saw this post after my recent doweling adventures. It always seems like magic when my hand made doweling jig works and everything comes in alignment.

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