A Jig for Producing Shelf Pin Holes

The search for equipment to make drilling holes simple and systematic. May 10, 2005

Does anyone know where to buy a jig that uses a plunge router to put in 5mm holes on 32mm centers for cabinet sides? We remember seeing a jig that Norm Abrams used on This Old House several years ago and don't know if he had that made or if it was an item that you could purchase. We purchased a jig from Woodhaven that uses a Vicks bit and it works okay, but you get tearout on the plywood and we thought a plunge router bit would be cleaner.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
I made mine out of Corian. Easy to make. You can do a search on his site to find it. I remember many people asking him where he got it.

I think using a plunge router to drill little holes is like shooting squirrels with an elephant gun. I drill those holes in plywood all the time, with a hand held drill motor or on a drill press, with no tear out. Use a sharp bradpoint style bit and figure out what RPM produces a clean hole.

Norm made a jig out of some plywood, I think, just drilling a series of holes on the drill press with a bit the same size as the collet on his router. Takes about 5 minutes to make.

I use hand drills all the time for this. One trick with brad points is to run them for a second in reverse before drilling the hole. Really cuts down on tear out.

You may want to invest $1,400 in a Delta 13 spindle boring machine.

Or you could buy one of these and do it the easy way!

Try the one from Rockler that works like the Vix bit but it is made for shelf holes. It comes with a brad point bit. When using it in a handheld drill, make sure that the drill is turning at least 1800rpm; 2400 would be even better. If you turn it slower, like in a cordless drill, it will tear out.

I made a bunch of these back in the mid-eighties, and it was just too far ahead of its time for this area back then. Everyone around here was still doing face frames. I think I still have a couple back in a corner of the shop.

I made the top out of 1/2" apple ply 12" X 48" with three rows of holes 23 mm apart, and 37 mm and from each edge, which is the back-set for hinge mounting plates, and one 7 3/4" from the front for shallower bookshelves. The holes are 18 mm and are chamfered from both sides. I can drill 45 holes in 30 seconds with no fuzz in any type of material.

The base cabinet template is 24" X 34 1/2" and has a 4" toe-kick cut in the front, so you can index from the bottom of either place. All of the holes are correctly positioned for hinge back-set and pins and top drawer.

Or if you need to do a three or four drawer stack, all you have to do is learn which line of holes to use, and you can screw the slides on with those short, fat system screws while the side is laying on the bench-top before you even assemble the box.

I was asking $250 for them back then, and that includes a 15 mm to 1/2" bushing, which bonds to the shank of the drill so it will fit the router.

The Festool router system for doing shelf holes is fantastic. I currently have the Veritas system used in conjunction with a cordless drill, which is nearly excellent when I use the top-of-the-line Veritas knife edged brad point bit, but the Festool router and rail is better. Maybe $500 for the system, but perfect results in any material and very fast.