As a furniture maker, I am always on the lookout for new tools, techniques, and jigs that simplify the construction of strong and long lasting joinery. With a couple of face frames to build and a table project in the works, this seemed like a great time to try out the new Porter-Cable PC560 Quik Jig Pocket Hole Joinery system.
Porter-Cable PC560 Quik Jig Features & Attributes
Right out of the box, the Porter-Cable PC560 Quik Jig Pocket Hole Joinery System sets itself apart from other pocket hole jig systems. For starters, the jig is large and hefty, without being too bulky or cumbersome, and is built primarily of aluminum with steel and ABS plastic accessories. The jig contains on board storage for the included pocket hole drill bit and depth stop along with two square drive bits of different lengths. Also included in the box is an assortment of screws, a hex wrench for setting the depth stop on the cutting bit, and a locking-plier (vice-grip type) clamp for holding two workpieces flush when screwing them together.
The Porter-Cable PC560 Quik Jig itself features mounting screw holes on the bottom and the front edge so that the tool can be mounted in either the standard vertical or the horizontal “flatback” position (best used for very long workpieces). The workpieces are held 1-1/2 inches above the table, in either position, so a standard 2×4 works perfectly to support longer workpieces.
The grooved aluminum face keeps the work from sliding, and the clamping mechanism holds the work securely while allowing the operator to easily adjust the Porter-Cable PC560 Quik Jig to hold pieces ranging from 1/2 to 1-1/2 inches in thickness. An automatically adjusting drill depth guide is integrated within the clamping mechanism, meaning the operator can switch between different material thicknesses without adjusting the collar on the drill bit. For drilling multiple pieces of the same thickness, the jig features a repeat handle, allowing the operator to swap workpieces with the flick of a finger.
The on-center spacing of the pocket holes can be between just under 3/4 inch and just over 1-3/8 inch using a dial on the left side of the jig. A right side workpiece stop can be set to provide uniformity in hole placement from piece to piece. The stop itself appears to have been an afterthought as it is nothing more than a machine screw with a plastic foot, which seems out of place when compared with the rest of the jig.
A screw selector guide on the side of the jig automatically adjusts to the thickness of the workpiece, removing guess work or calculation, and instead showing the user exactly which screw to use in each application. The simple on board vacuum port keeps the jig and the surrounding work area virtually chip free. Unfortunately, the dust collection cannot be used in the optional “flatback” position.
Although the jig contains a lot of moving parts, it is very simple to use. Only one hand is needed to set and lock the clamp, and you’re ready to drill. In addition to the instruction manual, a Quick Start Guide is included, and a sticker showing the steps is located right on the jig itself.
Results and Conclusions
I tested the pocket hole jig in several thicknesses of wood and in a variety of species. The PC560 easily handled all sizes of material from 1/2 to 1-1/2 inches, and the drill cut cleanly through each sample, as long as I used a high speed drill – lower speeds can leave rough or fuzzy edges on the pocket itself. I constructed two cabinet face frames from approximately 3/4 inch cherry, and the system worked very well. The joints were tight and square, leaving no gaps. Using the included clamp, the alignment in the thickness direction wasn’t perfect, but was no worse than you would expect from any other joinery system. A quick pass with a hand-plane or orbital sander makes the joint smooth and flush. The system worked adequately for joining aprons to table legs as well, although the different material thicknesses and my desire to offset the aprons from the faces of the legs made some creative clamping necessary. I prefer to use other more traditional mortise and tenon joinery or floating tenon joinery methods for tables and chairs, but these methods are either much more time consuming, require more expensive tools, or both.
This Porter-Cable system surpasses its competition both in quality and ease of use, but also surpasses its competition in price. With a $200 plus street price, this jig is not cheap. If I were building one set of kitchen cabinets, I think I may select a lower priced system. On the other hand, if this is something you expect to use for years, I think the PC560 would be a wise investment. Pocket hole joinery does have its limitations, however, and a professional cabinet maker or avid amateur furniture maker may be better served by a doweling or floating tenon system, although those can start at about 4 times the price of even the most pricey pocket hole jig. For someone looking for an easy to use pocket hole system with consistently reliable results, the Porter-Cable PC560 Quik Jig Pocket Hole Joinery System will fit the bill.