I might get slack from woodworkers around the world for what I’m about to say. “Woodworking is easy.” Yes, even cabinet-making. Hold on! You might say, “Digging perfect holes into wooden boards is difficult for screws and stuff.” But hey, those are easy too. We have pocket hole jigs to do our job.
Pocket hole jigs like Kreg K4 and K5 make things easy for us by drilling perfect holes down to a tee for tiniest of screws. These two tools have their similarities and differences. But once you get the hang of the process, it’s a 10-minute job. For me, these machines saved countless hours.
Since I came to know the existence of such tools, I have the two lined up in my tool cabinet. After using these for the better part of a year, I decided to compare the two in a Kreger K4 vs K5 battle.
Let’s analyze the tools and see the common grounds and the differences these two have. Of course, I’ll be passing my verdict on which one edges out the other at the end. From there, the choice is yours regarding which tool you’d go for. It depends on the performance and your budget at the end.
- My Experience with the Two Pocket Jigs from Kreg
- Looking into Kreg K4 Pocket Hole Jig System
- Dissecting Kreg K5 Pocket Hole Jig
- Similarities Between the Two Jigs
- Kreg K4 vs K5 Comparison
- Which One of These You Should Buy?
My Experience with the Two Pocket Jigs from Kreg
Before I go onto ranting about the two jigs and what they “Don’t Have” in common, let’s just take a deep dive into these objects and see what these two have to offer. I’ll try to explain what I found out about the two while using them on various projects at home this spring.
Looking into Kreg K4 Pocket Hole Jig System
I’m not playing around with words when I say, “I enjoy using Kreg Jigs due to the size of the products and how they function.” I mean, everyone likes a portable hole jig that gives you multiple options to mount it and kick off your DIY adventures in the garage. K4 Pocket Joinery is one of the few beginner-friendly machines.
What you have here is a 3-hole joining system. This is especially useful when people want “Pocket-Sized” holes in soft or moderately hard materials. This little wonder can dig up holes into materials that range from 12mm to 38mm in thickness. This is the perfect tool for small repairs in our homes.
One twist of the wrench for the drill guide moves it up or down by 1/8-inch. Yes, the increment is more suited for small repairs and wood crafting jobs.
Now, when I say wood crafting, it’s pretty normal for a tool like this to collect debris, wood particles, and chips. Don’t fret. Kreg K4 drill guide comes with a wood relief hole that keeps the debris out and the device clean. This way, people will have to do less maintenance on this thing.
Kreg K4 isn’t hassle-prone or hazardous at all. The drill guide has a steel core. It’s not just any steel but a hardened one. Makers are so sure about the performance of this thing that they included a lifetime warranty on the product should anything go wrong.
What you have is a small tool with clamp guides that attach to almost anything. You’ll not be needing huge mounts, clamps, and expensive support. Rather, you get a rear-mounted clamp that’s small in size with this thing. Saving space at its best.
This drill guide can be removed from the base of the machine. The users can hook it up to a workbench or anywhere they prefer. If you don’t want to use bar clamps or C-Clams of your own with this thing, feel free to do so by all accounts.
As I mentioned earlier, don’t worry about the performance graph sliding down with this. Kreg K4 Pocket Hole Jig’s core shrouds the bits and helps you to have minimum bit deflections when working with it. The result is pin-point holes that give you just the right angle to join two pieces perfectly.
I’d say, “This is a sturdy unit.” The large part of the reason is its own “Rear Mounted Clamp” that supports Kreg K4 on uneven surfaces also. You can make adjustments fairly easily without tweaking the machine too little. The rest of the performance depends on our own efforts, to be honest.
What I Like about the Pocket Hole Jig
- I liked the fact that Kreg K4 comes with ample options in terms of bits for us to choose from.
- The drill guide is awesome. It helps me in keeping my bits into place for drilling in line.
- You won’t need huge mounts to set this up onto your workbench. It comes with one.
- The tool itself is small. It’s perfectly portable for people to carry this around the house for work.
- The “Wood Relief Hole” works perfectly to keep the debris away when you’re working.
What I Don’t Like about the Pocket Hole Jig
- This little tool can only be used to drill holes in wood with the thickness of 12mm to 38mm.
Dissecting Kreg K5 Pocket Hole Jig
Now, Kreg K5 vs K4 comparison would be incomplete if we don’t look into the second contender of the “Versus” battle. Thus, I went ahead and bought Kreg K5 for a test drive of 3 months as well. I can’t say I’m disappointed, to be honest. One can buy this with or without the screw kit.
The tool looks good right from the onset. You have a clamp in the front. This actually made it easy for me to set Kreg K5 onto my workbench for tweaking and repairing home furniture. But this is not the end of the story. You can take the tool away just as quickly since the clamp is “Toggle-based.”
The clamp has a ratchet-based adjustment system as well. One can adjust the height without any tools or screws. The clamp sets up nicely with a “Click” noise onto the bar. As you’d expect, there are no lock nuts either. Just snap the machine on and you’re good to go.
The setup was fairly easy when I tried this “Updated Version” the first time. I had to measure the thickness of the wood and then put the setup block in place. This comes handy when you use the “Stop Collar.” Now came the tricky part of pulling the spring pin to get the drill guide in place.
Setting up the clamp to a comfortable height actually came last. As I mentioned, adjusting the ratcheting clamp is fairly easy. People can adjust it to different wood thickness as well. You’ll hear two clicks when lifting the handle.
Congrats! The tool is locked. It won’t move an inch until you decide otherwise.
What’s unique about Kreg K5 Jig is the support wings you get with it. You can attach and detach them from either side. Or use two of them at once on both sides. Your choice. These things prevent your tool from tipping to either side when there’s shaking or jerking involved in a DIY session.
However, this isn’t the only thing these support wings do.
These will double (or should I say Quadruple) as storage options for your drill bits and screws. There’s a lid right under each support wing for comfortable and easy storage for all of us.
Okay, it easy to set up, convenient to work with, and storing bits. But what about cleanups, I wondered? Then I looked at the dust port. It can swivel from side to side. I could easily position it where I wanted. The port has a hose connector for a standard vacuum machine.
Users can connect this to a vacuum cleaner hose and it would take all the debris away from the workplace. To no one’s surprise, this thing makes drilling holes easier. I noticed a decrease in heat as well. This contributes to the longevity of your drill bits AND the tool in general.
What I Like about the Pocket Hole Jig
- People can use the K5 Pocket Jig on their benchtop mounts or for portable drilling.
- As usual, this thing comes with its own clamp. One can use others as well. The choice is yours.
- It’s very easy to setup. Trust me, I could do it in three steps and within five to ten minutes.
- The spring pin makes drill guide and bits easy to adjust and work with without adjusting them too much in the middle of the job.
- There are storage components for people who want to keep the drill bits near at hand.
- Cleaning the tool is even easier than previous one. It attaches to a vacuum cleaner through a hose. Just run the cleaner and suck the dust.
What I Don’t Like about the Pocket Hole Jig
- You need to oil the joints of the jig from time to time. It’s not a big deal but you need to do it frequently to keep it in shape.
Similarities Between the Two Jigs
Before we go to a “Hard Core” comparison between the two tools, let’s just look into what unites them. Let’s first get the similarities out of the way so that we can discuss the differences in detail a bit later. That’s why I designed this segment of my article in the first place.
- Both of these tools have their own clamping system. You don’t need to worry about bringing on a separate set of clamps just to hold these things steady. Yes, the actual clamping procedure might differ (more on this later) but you’ll not need external clamps per se.
- K4 and K5 from Kreg are both portable. I could easily carry them from one place to another in the house. These are lightweight tools as well. You won’t feel more than a feather’s weight when carrying them around. One can separate each portion while carrying it as well.
- Setting both these machines up is relatively easy. It took me less than 10 minutes to get the job done. Every attachment perfectly fits into its designated place. You don’t have to tinker anything to make it fit or get into place. I didn’t even have to apply force to get the job done.
- The drill bits are well-made. They are sturdy just as the steel core is. You won’t have to worry about longevity issues or any part getting damaged. The core supports the drill bits perfectly as well. Everything is snug and easy to adjust thanks to particular measurements.
- The drilling blocks that you get with the two machines are identical. I’m not the one to complain but people might need to go by the metric system and learn it quickly if they want to work with any one of these jigs. Yes, the measurement on the block is metric-centered.
- Allen key and the stop collars that you get in the packages are identical as well. The measurements on these (the increments your machine tightens to) are identical as well. The drilling bits will receive the same kind of treatment with either of the two machines.
- Both of these machines have dust collectors as well. Thanks to these, dust won’t be able to impede your work. But I must tell you, the way the collectors collect dust and dispose of it is different. That’s what we’re going to leave for the next part of the article for me to discuss.
- The maintenance process for both of these tools is similar. You have the dust collectors taking away the debris. People need to take care of the drill bits and the drill guides the same way. This drastically brings your maintenance costs down. I appreciate that quite a lot, to be honest.
Kreg K4 vs K5 Comparison
Now that we’ve got my experience and similarities between the tools away, let’s get onto the topic that remains to be resolved. Yes, we’re finally (and I’m sorry to have taken so much time) getting to the point at hand. Let’s put Kreg K4 and K5 head to head and do an honest comparison in this part.
The Way These Machines Clamp to Wooden Planks is Different
The biggest difference I found between the two tools is the way these things use clamps. You get a standard clamp with K4 Jig. This is at the side. People need to adjust this thing frequently to make sure the wooden planks they work with are in place and are clearly visible. This is tedious.
On the other hand, you have Kreg K5 Jig which brought the clamp in the front. This is easier to adjust and play with as well. I could hear a “Click” noise when adjusting the ratchet. The pin stays in place while you do some tinkering with the piece of wood that you have on the workbench.
I could mount this on a board using the clamp and then mount the board on the workbench with additional clamps (one or two) for easier movement. Convenient to say the least.
I’d say the latter of the two is also the better of the two. I didn’t have to shift my line of sight whenever I had to adjust the clamp. I put my hand to on the handle and did so with a single movement of the wrist. Ratcheting clamp made my day easier with quick adjustment as well.
Adjusting the Wooden Planks
Pocket Jigs are faster and easier to handle when it comes to drilling holes in wood. You know that, right? While working with Kreg K4, I found the adjustment process is the MORE manual of the two. You have to line the wooden planks up and then adjust the space by turning a knob.
However, there’s a catch! The knob you turn to adjust the wooden plan to drill isn’t the most stable. It will shake to some degree after a year or so in use. This is thanks to the vibration of drilling holes. You need to keep adjusting it from time to time to keep it stable.
Thanks to the clamp I mentioned earlier, the wooden planks won’t shake or move with K5. They remain in place just fine when working and my holes were precise with next to no bit deflection.
The Connecting Point of Drilling Holes to the Jigs
Make no mistake, the drilling holes are the same with both the machines. However, the difference lies in how they connect to your respective jigs. For example, the K4 comes with a thumbscrew. This thing helps you in adjusting to different thicknesses of timber.
This again CAN make your drilling holes move around. Also, the thumbscrew will loosen after a period. You can damage the drilling holes in different places.
Kreg K5 counters the issue with a small improvement. K5 comes with a “Quick Release” system that works like a magnet. If you’re drilling a thick piece of timber. You can adjust the drilling hole box in place by pulling the “Quick Release” knob out, setting up the holes for the timber, and release it.
The Dust Collector Issue
Again, both of these machines collect debris from wood and dust particles. There’s a hole that connects to your vacuum cleaning machine in the case of both machines. However, Kreg K4 comes with a stationary dust collector. You’ll have to keep it on your convenient side to make things work.
On the other hand, the K5’s dust collector is a bit different. It moves. Well, it swivels from side to side. No matter where and how I work with this pocket jig, I could always turn the dust collector to the side and focus on working. It connects to a vacuum hose as I mentioned a thousand times.
There’s a catch here that I didn’t mention earlier. Possibly, your vacuum cleaner’s hose isn’t the right size as these collectors. Don’t worry. There are adapters on the market that will help users in getting their cleaners synched with these tools. These things are cheap as well.
Support Wings Are a Big Thing
You’ve probably noticed by now that K4 Pocket Jig from Kreg doesn’t come with support wings. What you get is a bare-bone machine that can be attached to a wooden board. Now, the issue with it is that wooden planks will rock from side to side when drilling without any support wing.
However, feel free to make your own support wing. It’ll take you some time but save you some money. People CAN buy support wings separately too. This is if you’re using the K4 for your tasks. This will surely cost you some extra money on top of your budget.
With K5 pocket jig, you have the support wings by default with the machine. Thanks to this, the wooden planks won’t rock back and forth. Good news for you guys I suppose! You won’t need extra bucks for the accessory as it comes packed within the package.
One more thing I need to mention is the fact that the support wings double as storage compartments as well. You can keep the drill bits in there for safekeeping after the job.
Kreg K5 Has Something Extra
With the standard K4 Pocket Jig, you don’t have anything besides the holes in the side for custom-made support wings. This is not a “Performance Breaking” thing per se. You won’t have any difficulties drilling holes into wooden objects.
However, if you want to display or showcase your pocket holes, without a “Stop Mechanism,” the machine can go overboard and spoil the measurements of the holes. As a result, holes in the wooden plank can look out of proportion.
Kreg K5 comes with a stopper just beside the storage to make the holes more perfect if they are on display. You don’t need any screws to keep them in place. Rather, the lock snaps into place thanks to the precise ratchet that’s there on the side. This is great when you don’t want to hide the holes.
Which One of These You Should Buy?
If you’re reading this Kreg K4 vs K5 comparison first up, you’re bound to be confused. Let me clear it up for you. Both these machines belong to the “Mid-Range” spectrum. You’ll be putting considerable dollars on the line for both of them (K5 figures itself in the triple digits). But which one is to go for?
Well, if you know about woodworking and cabinetry and want a good tool for the pocket holes, Kreg K4 is enough for a start. Yes, it’s a mid-range tool. I get that. Yet, you’ll have your DVDs and all the help from the internet to kick things off. The tool is easy to operate after you set up everything.
Buy this if you don’t mind spending some extra time learning the ropes of the pocket jigs. Of course, you’ll have to go through the process. The plus side is that you’ll learn the bits and pieces. As a result, things will be easier as a user when switching to high-end tools.
However, there ARE causes for concern. K4 Pocket Jig has screws and nuts they can go bad after a point of time. It’s helpful to keep an eye on things and run proper maintenance from time to time.
Kreg K5 is a bit different. It’s more calibrated than the older cousin. People won’t need to fuss too much over the drill bits’ calibration, the process is as easy as putting screws and locks in place and tweaking a bit. I like the “Quick Release” system when it comes to calibrating drill holes.
This is the choice to make when you have few bucks to spare and know your way around these machines. You’ll have everything included in the “Master” package. It’s just the question of learning how to use it and putting it to perfect use. I’d love to hear your experiences about it.