Kreg screwing jigs have been on the UK market for some time, and are now available exclusively from Toolstream. I have the very simple, but very efficient Kreg Pocket Hole Jig used for making concealed screw joints on woodworking projects and it has been used a lot, particularly where fine joints are not required.
But a look at the Kreg range will tell you that Kreg has done a lot of research and development of various kinds. The resulting jigs are usually aimed at users who may not have the budget or commitment to invest in expensive power tools, but the jigs allow them to achieve a neat and professional result that they can be proud of.
The Kreg Deck Jig is one of the latest off the production line and quite appropriately for a summer project, I gave it a go.
The deck on my last house in Brighton was a glorious place to be on a summer’s day, but it was by no means a brilliant piece of woodworking. Several times, during the years I was there, I had to reach for my cordless driver to tighten loosening screws or refix boards that were rising. The salty air was gradually attacking the fixings, and in truth, I would have had to re-lay the decking boards within a few years. If the whole thing had been done with a Kreg Deck Jig, the job would have lasted a whole lot longer because the vast majority of the fixings would have been concealed from the prevailing wind and rain.
Time to examine the detail to see what I mean.
The jig comes in a neat and compact case with all the component parts. However, there is a bit of work to do to get the jig ready for use. This takes only a few minutes, and is not difficult.
The first task is to take the large blue base with its built-in handle and attach the pilot-hole guides. These guides locate into predrilled spots and are held robustly in place with a couple of bolts each. It is important to ensure that they are firmly fixed, as all of the drilling and screwing action takes place via the steel-lined guides.
The next step is to attach six rubberised feet to the circular spaces under the body of the jig. They are important so that the jig does not slide on the decking plank surface while drilling or fixing. A few extra feet are included in case.
Finally, the stepped drill bit and the KTX square driver bit have to have their depth collars set correctly. Kreg designers have made this easy for us as the base has two slots, each named, that allow the collars to be slipped on to the bit and driver at the correct depth, and tightened with the allen key supplied.
The jig is now ready to be used, but if you had any sense at all, you would consult the well-written Quick-Start Guide or even better, the excellent instructional DVD that is part of the package.
In short and snappy voiceover, an American expert gives us chapter and verse on all the best ways in which to use the Kreg Deck Jig. It is very clear from this what the “Do’s and Don’ts” are and what some of the problems might be and how the jig can be used to solve them.
For example, the best way to fix a deck board is at right angles to the middle of the joist. However, when working right at the end of a deck board where the deck meets a wall, for example, the best way is to drive the screw at forty-five degrees into the joist. This is easily done, because the jig has two guides on each side of the middle guide, left and right, that position the drill bit at exactly the right spot on the joist so that the screw doesn’t just miss the joist altogether.
Also included in the kit, looking a bit like flat versions of an old-fashioned child’s dummy, are six spacers. These come in two thicknesses, a 1/4 and 5/16ths, so that you can set the decking boards neatly at the same distance apart. They work very well and allow the end result to look very neat and professional.
The DVD also explains that there are also situations where the Kreg Jig is not required or can’t be used, and the fixings will have to be driven straight into the board and will be exposed – but these are quite limited.
After viewing the DVD I felt quite confident that I would able to use the Kreg Jig successfully. Trying to imagine how inexperienced users might react I thought that the main problem for them would be the cutting and layout of the boards, certainly not the fixing of them.
The most efficient way of using the jig is to have two cordless drill drivers because swapping from drill bit to driver bit is very time consuming when doing a large deck. But the two bits have a collared hex shank that will fit into one of the many quick-release hex chucks on the market, so the occasional user will be spared the need to buy an extra drill.
A pack of coated screws is supplied with the jig, but large quantities and stainless steel screws are available to purchase.
I was very impressed with the way in which this jig worked. Being able to locate and drill pilot holes exactly where they are needed consistently makes for a neat job. The screws are effectively concealed from direct water contact, especially if you use the spacers to get quite a close fit between the decking boards.
All the guesswork is taken out of driving the screws too, as they are driven to a consistent depth, just below the surface of the board. It just gives the confidence that even an inexperienced user would be able to achieve a great- looking and professional result on any decking project.
I suspect that the Kreg Deck Jig will be the cause of many decks this summer as one householder impresses his neighbour with his deck – and then keeping up with the Joneses (or is it Kreg’s?) will come into play.