How to Drill a Pocket Hole Without a Jig (5 Step Method)

In this article, you’ll learn how to drill a pocket hole without a jig.

If you have ever had the chance to drill pocket holes with a jig, you probably know how easy the technique is. But sadly, not everyone can get their hands on a pocket hole jig, and I’ve experienced similar situations in my many woodworking projects. So, here’s a simple method that can help you.

In general, to drill a pocket hole without a jig:

  • Mark the hole on the wood.
  • Create a pilot hole using a regular-sized drill bit.
  • Get a much larger drill bit.
  • Use the larger drill bit and create a pocket hole with a suitable angle.

Go through the below article to get more details.

Why Should I Use Pocket Hole Joinery?

Before getting into the fun stuff, it is helpful to understand how to pocket hole joinery works.

Are pocket joints stronger than butt joints?

Yes, without a doubt, they are. You might be thinking, why?

Anyone will agree that creating a butt joint is more straightforward than creating a pocket joint.

For instance, you can create a butt joint by drilling a suitable screw through the face grain of one board into the other board’s end grain. But the issue lies in the end grain. As usual, the end grain has lesser holding power; hence the connection won’t be strong.

Quick Tip: A wooden board has three faces: end grain, face grain, and side grain. Examine the above image for a clear understanding.

When you join two boards in a butt joint, the screw runs the same way as wood fibers. This is the main reason for this weak connection. I’m trying to say that using a butt joint is not the best idea for woodworkers. After some time, the screw might get loose if the joint has had to endure a lot of weight. You might encounter a similar situation while using inexpensive cabinet drawers.

What Happens When I Use Pocket Hole Joinery

A pocket joint is similar to a regular hole. But you should drill the hole into the board at an angle. Here are some bullet points for a better understanding of pocket joints.

  • They should be drilled at an angle.
  • The mouth of the joint should have a larger diameter hole (starting drilling point).
  • The end of the hole should have less diameter than the mouth.
  • The mouth should be placed on the face grain of the first board.
  • The end hole should come out from the first board’s end grain, connecting two boards by the second board’s side, end, or face grain.
  • Make sure the hole comes out from the middle (close to) of the first board’s end grain.

Don’t Forget: The hole only should be drilled through the first board. You can drill the second board when you connect the screw, and the tip of the screw will act as a drill bit.

Why Pocket Hole Joinery is Stronger?

Since the face or the edge of one board connects to the other board’s end grain, the pocket joints are more substantial than the butt joints.

What is Drill Jig?

A drill jig is a tool that helps you to drill holes in the correct place. It can guide the drill bit properly. Therefore, a drill jig can be helpful when drilling an angle hole.

5 Simple Steps on How to Drill a Pocket Hole without a Jig

In this 5-step guide, I’ll show you how to create a pocket hole without a jig.

Step 1 – Gather Necessary Tools and Materials

First and foremost, gather the following tools and materials.

  • Power drill
  • Two wooden boards
  • 3/8th drill bit
  • 3/16th drill bit
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil

Here, I’m using two drill bits. One is smaller, and the other is much larger than the first.

However, the size of the drill bits entirely depends on the size of the screw. For this demonstration, 3/8 and 3/16 are perfect. But depending on your situation, you might have to use different-sized drill bits.

Step 2 – Mark the Location on the Board

wood planks and different kind of marking pens

Then, take the wooden board you plan to drill and mark the hole location. Use a pencil and measuring tape for this step. (1)

Here, I’m using a ¾-inch stock, so I marked one inch from the end of the wood piece.

Step 3 – Create a Pilot Hole

Next, connect the 3/16th drill bit to the power drill.

Then, create a pilot hole. Start the drilling process in a straight line. A small hole is more than enough for this demonstration.

Now aim for the center of the end grain of the wood and drill at an angle. (2)

Step 4 – Connect the Larger Drill Bit

Take the 3/8th drill bit and connect it to the power drill.

Step 5 – Drill the Pocket Hole

Drill the hole according to the same angle as in step 3.

The mouth of the pocket hole should be large enough for the screw. The end of the hole won’t have to be large as the opening. So, you don’t have to go all the way with the 3/8th drill bit. A small hole is enough at the endpoint.

That’s it. Now your pocket hole is ready for use. The only thing remaining is connecting the boards. You’ll learn that in the next section.

How to Connect the Two Boards?

Connecting the boards is not part of this how-to guide. However, if I end it here, it won’t feel complete to me. So, here are a few simple steps on how you can connect the two boards using a screw.

  1. Clean the pocket hole area properly.
  2. Then position the second board’s side grain close to the first board’s end grain (assume the first board is the drilled one).
  3. Place the screw on the pocket hole.
  4. Get the drill and connect a suitable drill bit according to the screw head.
  5. Drill the screw using the power drill.

Don’t Forget: Here, the screw must properly drill through the second board. Also, remember to hold the boards tightly while drilling.

Wear the required safety gear for the above two processes. For instance, I wear safety gloves and glasses when working on a project. Safety should be your top priority. So, take that into account while drilling pocket holes.

Take a look at some of our related articles below.

(1) pencil –
(2) grain of the wood –

Video References

Steve Ramsey – Woodworking for Mere Mortals

Dam Ndow creativity

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About Sam Orlovsky

b1d87d2ee85af3e51479df87928bdc88?s=90&d=mm&r=gCertifications: B.E.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Electric Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Electrical engineering is my passion, and I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. This gives me a unique ability to give you expert home improvement and DIY recommendations. I’m not only an electrician, but I also like machinery and anything to do with carpentry. One of my career paths started as a general handyman, so I also have a lot of experience with home improvement I love to share.

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