Say “Kreg,” and pretty much everyone immediately thinks of the familiar bright blue tool that made pocket hole joinery a delightfully accessible technique for scads of happy woodworkers. These days, though, the company is expanding their role and offering a whole lot more.
Don’t get me wrong; they are still the driving force in pocket hole jigs, and are continuing to expand that market. Lately, the Kreg Jig has been showing up on television in the hands of Norm Abram, on the Extreme Makeover show, and on Design on a Dime, a DIY show. To facilitate a wider audience, they are expanding their range of products both to the commercial market, with large fixed machinery pocket hole tools for cabinet shops, and to the small hobby woodworker, with the new R-3 jig, affordably priced at just 45 dollars. (See this issue’s Tool Preview for more about the R3.)
“We feel pocket holes are a great joinery technique,” explained Brad Lilienthal, Kreg’s director of marketing, “but no matter what technique you use to join wood, how accurately you cut the stock is still critical. Hence, part of our focus is to also make sure our customers can cut wood quickly and accurately. With that in mind, we introduced the Trak and Stop system, the first leg of our line of Precision Measuring System products.”
“It all started with the patented Flipstop. We’re always looking for patented products that can make a woodworker’s job easier, more accurate and, preferably, both. Consequently, about three years ago, when inventor, author and woodworker Mark Duginske came to us with his product line, we jumped on it. Mark had quite a few products, but we focused on three key components that we felt were of most value to our customers: the Precision Trak and Stop Kit, the Precision Miter Gauge and the Precision Band Saw Fence.”
Precision Trak and Stop Kit
“The Precision Trak and Stop Kit works with a miter saw, radial arm saw or drill press,” Brad continued. “It lets you cut or drill to any length accurately without having to place any marks on the board. Once set, you can make repeat cuts or holes, but that’s not all. There are two types of stops in the kit. One, the production stop, is fixed, like a typical stop on any fence. The other, called the Flipstop, has a self-elevating foot. When you press a board against its front face, the stop lifts out of the way. The upshot is that you can set two stops for different lengths and use them quickly without ever having to remove the nearer stop.”
“The beauty of this is not only that you get repeat cuts accurately without wondering which side of a pencil line you should be cutting to, but also that you can cut or drill to two measurements. That’s particularly helpful when using a miter saw for trimming stock to length. Typically, you make the first cut oversize, then flip the board to trim the other end. On most saws, that means resetting the stop, which can be a nuisance when you have multiple pieces to cut to the same length. The Flipstop eliminates that problem, and does it not only for cuts, but for holes as well. All you need do is create extensions for your miter saw to support long pieces of wood.”
Precision Miter Gauge
“Most any table saw comes with a miter gauge,” Brad admitted. “Sadly, most are far from accurate, not all that easy to use and usually need modification and an added fence to work at all. We wanted to make a fence that was factory-calibrated for accuracy, ready to use right out of the box and adjustable to one tenth of a degree accuracy. That, in a nutshell, describes our Precision Miter Gauge.”
“The gauge comes with a two-foot extruded aluminum fence that slides to support the wood close to the blade. On the fence itself is a Flipstop; the same handy gadget that appears on the Track and Stop system, and for the same reasons. There are also quick-set positive brass stops for the most common angles, with holes at 90 degrees, and at 10, 22 and a half, 30, and 45 degrees off 90. The miter bar which rides in the table slot has five adjusters so you can fit the bar perfectly into the slot of your table saw. Of course, it is also designed to allow you to add a sacrificial fence when you need it.”
Band Saw Fence
Next came a band saw fence, as slick as its brethren. “In addition to being rigid, solid and easy to move and set,” Brad said, “it can also be adjusted to account for blade drift, a common problem with band saws. The fence has both fine and gross adjustments, and flips from high profile to low profile, allowing you to get accurate cuts on thin stock even when the blade guard is lowered. A magnifying cursor that reads an embedded tape measure makes it easier to see your fence setting. Like the best table saw fences, the interlocking dovetail design lets you lift off the fence to allow full clearance of the table for freehand cutting, or when using the miter fence.”
Kreg also offers two accessories to the band saw fence. A micro-adjuster allows you to fine tune the fence setting without using the “bump and hope” method. Roll the knurled knob and you can change fence settings in mere thousandths of an inch. The other handy accessory is the curved face resaw guide, which allows you to steer the piece being resawn on the fly to compensate for blade drift. The resaw guide is offered in four and a half and seven inch heights.
Not surprisingly, Kreg also offers a host of other accessories for jig and fixture work, or for solving common woodworking problems. One clever tool, for example, is the Perfect Miter Attachment. This odd-looking foot fits both the Production and the Flipstop, allowing you to measure off a cut miter accurately without damaging the fine point. It will work in either direction; either point in toward the fence or point out. “Because all the accessory parts are also sold separately,” Brad pointed out, “you can build just about any jig you can imagine, from drill press tables to adjustable templates for production work.”
Perhaps most notable about the company is their propensity toward constant innovation. It seems every time you revisit the web site, there’s something new on board, and that’s no accident.
“We are always on the track of new products to ease the woodworker’s job,” Brad pointed out, “so don’t be surprised to see new items crop up on the web site from time to time.”
I’m one step ahead of you, Brad. I added a bookmark for the Kreg web site in my “favorites” file so I’ll be up-to-date at my next guild meeting.