A head-to-head tool review
I’ve used a Kreg pocket hole jig for years. Like a lot of woodworkers and carpenters, pocket holes have changed the way I work and made my job a lot easier. But years ago I grew tired of drilling so many holes by hand, especially when we were doing wainscoting in 30′ x 40′ rooms, one house after another. So I bought a Kreg Foreman. It was a pricey decision, and worth every penny. But now Kreg has come out with a new Foreman and it’s HALF THE PRICE!
A better tool at a lower price?
When was the last time you saw a new model of anything that came out with a lower price and was actually better than the original? Just so everyone is clear, the new Foreman is a lot different from the original. And many of the changes are definite improvements. For those of you who never stepped up to the $800.00 purchase prices of the old Foreman….now’s your chance.
A lot of cabinetmakers use pocket hole machines in their shops, but I’ve always had to carry mine onto a jobsite. The original Electric Pocket Hole Machine (EPHM) weighed in at nearly 16lbs.
|The new Professional Pocket Hole Machine (PPHM) weighs about 10lbs. I know that 6lbs isn’t that big of a deal, but for me, with a large and somewhat awkward tool, 6lbs makes the difference between carrying it with one hand and having to use two.|
One thing about the original Foreman that always bothered me was adjusting the fence. I drill pocket holes in a variety of different materials, from 1/2-in. Baltic birch plywood to 1 1/2-in. Douglas fir. Every time I switched material thickness with the original Foreman, I had to loosen the fence with a 1/4-in. allen wrench. And then the bit wouldn’t drill deep enough, so I’d have to unfasten the acrylic top and adjust the depth of cut, too.
Well, those days are over. The new Foreman has a tool-free adjustable fence, with engraved marks for 1/2-in., 3/4-in., and 1 1/2-in. material.
And to adjust the depth of cut, you don’t have to lift the lid. The adjustment knob is right on the back of the new Foreman.
The new hold down is a vast improvement, too!
|The original Foreman has a steel threaded shaft and a brass knurled lock nut. Mine used to get clogged with dust and took two hands to adjust.|
The new Foreman has a plastic knob and lock nut. Yes, plastic is “cheaper,” but it’s also lighter weight and doesn’t tend to stick as much as metal.
Another thing that’s changed from metal to plastic are the adjustable stops.
|The original stops are metal and adjustment can be done tool-free.|
|The new stops are plastic, and I guess that’s one change I’m not as fond of. In order to adjust them, I have to reach for an allen wrench. Fortunately there’s a tray right under the lid.|
|However, there is some good news, too. The new stops work much better than the old stops when you’re drilling pockets holes into mitered material! They catch the miter long point every time.|
On the original Foreman, pulling down on the handle automatically engaged the drill motor. Often, when I moved the tool while it was plugged in, the drill motor would start.
|But with the new version, the handle has a handle! And it has a trigger, too, just like a miter saw.|
My old Foreman collected dust—piles of it—right under the tool. In my shop, I’d occasionally remember to pick the tool up and clean out the dust, but getting the most from any drill bit means keeping the dust away from the cutting edge.
|The new dust collection port works. Period.|
This may not seem like a big deal, but it is! On the original Foreman, there was no external way to secure the tool to a worktable. I had to drill holes through the foot of the metal frame.
|But on the new “improved” model, the plastic base is equipped with feet that accept screws or clamps!|
Anything that saves a few steps on a jobsite sure helps. The lid on the new Foreman may not be hard acrylic plastic, but it’s definitely durable, and you don’t have to remove any screws to lift it.
|Under the lid is a handy tool tray. Just don’t tip the Foreman too far on its side during transportation—there’s no lid on the tray.|
On the original Foreman, I had to have another allen wrench for removing the bit. Yeah, I know, that’s not something you have to do very often.
|But I also had to remove a clevis and a cotton pin to drop the linkage.|
|On the new Foreman, the clevis is made with an ingenious ball catch: just pull on the tip of the clevis and the ball catch retracts and the linkage drops free.|
|Then remove the bit the same tool-free way you do with an impact driver—pull back on the chuck!|
Honestly, I haven’t seen any tool that’s been improved THIS much. My hat is off to the folks at Kreg. Their engineers did a great job. Sure, some of the new parts are plastic whereas the old ones were metal—like the base itself. But in my opinion, the plastic parts are an improvement, too. Remember, the older you get, the more every pound counts, whether you’re carrying it or wearing it.
The new Kreg Foreman costs $399.99 and is available for purchase through the Kreg website.