Kreg Foreman – Easy Joinery With The Ultimate Pocket Hole Machine

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Kreg Foreman pocket hole machine

When someone mentions “Kreg jig” or “Kreg joint”, every woodworker within earshot knows exactly what they’re referring to. As a brand, Kreg offers a lot of different products. But as an icon, their name is almost synonymous with “pocket hole” joinery. And there’s a good reason for that: they have perfected the art. We’ve reviewed some other Kreg jigs in the past. But this time they sent us the Kreg Foreman DB210 professional-grade pocket hole machine to check out and, by George, this Foreman proved to be a real heavyweight champion! If you want pocket holes without the fuss of hand drills and clamp-on guides – and in a fraction of the time – you’re going to love the Foreman as much as we do.

Kreg Foreman – A Lean Mean Time Reducing Drilling Machine (Pocket Hole Edition)

I built this drawer cabinet using the Kreg Foreman.

The cast aluminum table on Kreg’s Foreman pocket hole machine may superficially resemble an electric grill, but its only tie to pugilism is a tireless knack for knocking out pocket holes with a quick uppercut.

For speed and accuracy, it doesn’t get much better than Kreg’s professional-grade Foreman pocket hole machine.

Short of stepping up to an industrial model, Foreman is the fastest, most efficient method of drilling pocket holes we’ve found. Especially for the price.

Even the packaging is “professional grade”.

On their own, butt joints aren’t exactly known for strength. It’s literally two pieces of wood butted up against each other, usually glued and/or screwed together. However, because of perpendicular structural components that brace against racking forces, they are plenty strong for most cabinetry and other box-like assemblies.

Kreg also has a line of clamping solutions to aide in the assembly process.

Butt joints (especially long ones) tend to get most of their strength from the glue. Screws do add some mechanical support, but their most vital role is to provide the clamping force that pulls everything together – maintaining alignment – during assembly. And depending on the wood and application, the screws may be all you need.

Kreg-eus Maximus – Anatomy Of Pocket Hole Butt Joinery

Anatomy of a pocket hole
Anatomy of a pocket hole joint. Image –

For those out of the loop, pocket holes are basically angled holes, or “pockets”, that give you an easy way to screw together the various types of butt joints: common and mitered. They’re the screw equivalent of toe nailing. Here’s a quick visual aid:

Cutaway of Foreman drilling a pocket hole.
In this cutaway, you can see how the Foreman drills a pocket hole from underneath.

There are many uses for pocket holes (cabinetry, furniture, panel glue-ups, frames, drawer construction, losing your keys and change, etc…) and they can greatly simplify the build process. They’re also able to be hidden in inside corners.

Pocket hole cross section.
Kreg pocket hole bits cut a counter-bore, create a flat ledge for the screw’s head to pull against and drill a clearance hole for the screw shaft; all in one operation.

With “regular” butt joints, screws are often threaded into the narrow edge of a workpiece, into end grain or between layers (if it’s plywood). None of these – especially the last two – are particularly desirable.

Kreg pocket hole joinery.
Here you can see how a pocket screw protrudes from the hole and into the mating workpiece.

Pocket hole joinery reverses screw direction, so the threads bite into the face of the wood (except in cases of edge to edge joinery), where it’s much less likely to split or strip out. Kreg pocket screws also have a self drilling tip that further reduces the risk of splitting. That’s right; no crack in your butt joint!

Edge joining with pocket holes.
Despite what I said above about screwing into the edge of plywood, this joint is surprisingly strong – even without glue.

Ah… Screw It! With Kreg Pocket Hole Screws, Of Course!

Kreg pocket hole screw kit.
A Kreg pocket hole screw project kit can start you off with a nice assortment. This one includes the 5 most popular types/sizes. Other kits are available as well.

So far, most of the work I’ve done with the Kreg Foreman has been in 3/4” material. And I’ve been using the 1-1/4” zinc-coated coarse thread Maxi-Loc Head screws (#SML-C125). But there are lots of sizes and types to choose from and the requirements of your project may differ, so check out Kreg’s screw lineup – or their screw selector wheel – to help you decide which will best suit your needs.

Self drilling screw.
Kreg pocket hole screws feature a self drilling tip that eliminates the need for pilot holes.

Put A Plug In It – Hiding (Or Accenting) Your Kreg Joints

Pocket hole plugs.
Rather than hiding the joinery, plugs can also turn unsightly pockets holes into decorative features. Photo –

Pocket holes are usually used in places where they won’t be seen. But that doesn’t have to be the case. You can buy or make wooden plugs to fill the holes and hide – or accent – their presence. Kreg also has a series of plastic plugs.

Kreg Foreman – The Kreg Jig Leading The Crew

Kreg Foreman pocket hole machine.
The Foreman pocket hole machine comes with three tools: A drill depth setup block, a 3mm hex wrench to adjust the workpiece stops and a 6” long #2 square drive bit for driving Kreg pocket hole screws.

No one becomes foreman their first day on the job. Here’s a look at some of Kreg Foreman’s credentials:

* Large 14” x 23-3/4” cast aluminum table.

* Aluminum fence and table w/super tough, durable plastic base.

* Tool-free fence adjustment and bit replacement.

* Powerful 2,800 RPM 120V, 5 Amp motor.

* Adjustable spring-loaded workpiece stops.

Kreg Foreman bottom view.
The bottom of the Kreg Foreman reveals simple, elegant design.

* Self-clamping hold-down.

* Works with wood ranging from 1/2” (with optional “micro” pocket hole bit and sleeve) to 1-1/2” thick.

* Built-in dust port provides great dust/chip collection when used with a port vac.

* Power switch can be locked off with a small padlock (not included).

Kreg Foreman pocket hole.
With some jigs, it can be tricky to center pocket holes on an edge like this. The Foreman makes it easy.

* 1 step operation. Clamps material and drills the hole in one motion.

* Portable. Can be brought to the job site.

* Internal storage tray for bits, adjustment tool and setup guide.

* Can create all 3 Kreg joint sizes. Includes bit and guide for standard Kreg joints. “Micro” and “HD” sized pocket holes can be made with optional bit/guide sets.

Before we get any deeper into our own experience with the Foreman, perhaps you’d like to see the machine in action via the official Kreg video:

Easy Setup And Simple Operation – Kreg Foreman Semi-Automatic Pocket Hole Machine

Foreman fence locks.
The fence is locked into position by a pair of tool-less cam clamps. Markings on the table show the settings for common material thicknesses: 1/2”, 3/4” and 1-1/2”.

Setting up the Foreman is a simple process: Position the fence for your workpiece thickness; adjust drilling depth (using included setup block) based on the screw you’re using, then adjust the workpiece clamp.

Kreg Foreman drilling depth setup.
Use the knob behind the workpiece hold-down clamp (along with the included setup block) to dial in the drilling depth.

All adjustments are fast, easy and performed from above. And once you’re set up, you can effortlessly drill all the holes you need without a single adjustment. Except, perhaps, to position the material stops as desired. The only time you have to access the underside of the Foreman’s table is if you want to replace the bit and drill guide.

Foreman’s Self-Tightening Hold-Down Clamp Speeds Up Work Flow

Easy clamp adjustment.
The workpiece clamp is adjusted so the material can just slide underneath. The rest is automatic.

With most other pocket hole jigs, you manually clamp and unclamp the workpiece for each and every hole you drill. Some, like the Kreg K5, simplify the process with the addition of a built-in clamping lever. But with the K5, your workpiece stands vertically. And that can be an issue if you have longer workpieces and, you know, a ceiling.

Kreg Foreman self-tightening clamp.
The clamp automatically tightens when you pull the lever to drill a pocket hole. It doesn’t get any easier than that!

Kreg Foreman (why does it feel like I’m talking about a person?) goes a step further by integrating clamping action into the same handle motion that plunges the drill bit. If you’ve ever used a “regular” pocket hole jig, you can image how much time this will save you over the course of a typical build. If you haven’t, here’s a clue: production shops love this feature. And so will you (and that one dude, Kreg Foreman).

Just Stop It! Foreman’s Spring-loaded, Adjustable Stops

Foreman workpiece stops.
There are two workpiece stops that can be adjusted anywhere along the fence.

Like some other features on the Kreg Foreman, the adjustable workpiece stops surprised me in a very good way. What I like most about them is that they’re spring loaded, so the presence of one never interferes with your ability to use the other.

Foreman workpiece stop.
Since the stops are spring loaded, just press your workpiece against the one you aren’t using and it will retreat underneath the fence and out of your way. When you remove the workpiece, the stop returns to ready position.
Workpiece stop in retracted poition.
Or you can latch the stops into their retracted position when you want them completely out of the way. No tool required.
Kreg Foreman pocket hole machine.
The fence also has a ruler and edge boundary markings to help you locate your pocket holes as desired.

Power And Speed – Foreman Delivers The Old One-Two Punch

Quick-release bit holder.
The motor is equipped with a tool-less bit holder.

Before using the Foreman, I’d only ever bored pocket holes with a cordless drill. That usually requires drilling part of the way, backing out to clear the chips, then drilling a little deeper, and so on until I hit the stop collar. It’s a whole different story with a Kreg Foreman.

Kreg Foreman
The top lifts up for easy access to the underbelly.

Not only can the Foreman drill full depth in one effortless motion, it can do so surprisingly fast. I found myself plowing through plywood and solid pine with ease. The powerful 5 Amp motor had no trouble keeping up. You have to go a little slower with hard woods, but not by much.

Hood prop.
To swap out the drill bit, just pull the quick release linkage pin (the ring you see hanging at the front of the motor) and slide the motor off of the rails. It’s a very simple, painless process that you won’t have to do very often.
Internal storage tray.
Speaking of the underbelly, there’s a storage tray to hold your setup tools.

Excellent Chip Collection – Kreg Foreman, Minding The Dust

Built-in dust collection line.
The Foreman has a built-in dust collection port. (The black lever you see just beyond the dust port is used to lock the control arm in the downward position for easier transport.)

When you unpack your Foreman, the dust collection shroud is not connected to the rear port (but the hose to do so is included). Whether you enable it or not is up to you. However, if you own a shop vacuum, we highly recommend the Foreman’s dust collection; it works very well. You can always remove the hose if you change your mind. But if you opt to hook it up (seriously, do it!), be sure to use a vacuum so it doesn’t get clogged.

Foreman dust colelction.
The gray ribbed hose channels drilling chips from the bit to the rear dust port. Only install the hose if you plan to use the dust collection feature.

I could hardly be happier with how well the Foreman cleans up after itself – both above and below the table. (If only the same could be said of an electric burger cooker.) After an entire project, I did find a small amount of wood castings underneath the machine. But I suspect the few times I forgot to turn on the vac may have played a role in that.

Excellent dust collection.
That little bit of debris is all the mess left behind after drilling over 120 pocket holes. That’s all! And the amount of dust that ended up on top of the table was a lot less than that.

One of the few improvements I can think of would be the addition of an AC outlet that powers your vacuum when you squeeze the Foreman’s trigger. Then maybe stay active to clear the line for a couple seconds after you release.

Kreg Foreman Pocket Hole Machine – A Hole In One (Or In As Many As You Need)

Kreg Foreman
The Foreman is designed for right handed operation. Press the trigger lock with your thumb. Then squeeze the trigger and pull the lever down, towards yourself.

Every time I find myself about to declare a favorite feature, I realize that I can’t decide. I’m a bit surprised that something as simple as a pocket hole jig could be improved in so many different ways, but Kreg managed to do just that.

Foreman trigger lockout.
If you want to prevent unauthorized use of your Foreman, the trigger has a hole you can put a lock through.

Kreg Foreman – The Best Man Machine For The Job!

In the early – mid 2010’s there were three big debates raging in the online woodworking community: 1) Is CNC “real” woodworking? 2) Are joinery biscuits (“plate joinery”) good for strength? For alignment? With gravy? Good for anything at all? And, 3) Is pocket hole joinery any good? Over time the criticism has generally softened on all three topics.

The corners can be bolted down.
The corners of the Foreman pocket hole machine can be bolted to a work bench or tool cart.

There were once purists who saw early power tools as “lazy” and unbecoming of a “real” tradesman. But like the electric drills that make them, pocket holes have proven themselves worthy. It’s understandable if you don’t want to include them in your hand tooled “fine furniture”, but they definitely have their place. In many cases, efficiency trumps tradition.

If you use a lot of pocket hole joinery, the Kreg Foreman is sure to change your life for the better.

You can purchase a Kreg Foreman professional-grade pocket hole machine for about $450

Buy Now - via Rockler

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About Steve

Steve made his first woodworking project at age 9 (in 1982) and whittled his first wooden chain at 18. He was also a consumer electronics repair tech and shop owner for a little over 20 years, until his impending obsolescence became impossible to ignore. Since then, Steve has focused passionately on manipulating his wood... in his workshop. Don't judge him.

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