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.
I always hated those cotton pins, too.
I have and have used the old model for many years. Love it. Only real complaint is that my little job-site compressors didn’t have enough air to power it. So for field work, I just use the old drill and jig system, which also works fine.
Looks like some nice improvements. I’m surprised they don’t have set marks for 1″ material, though.
Thanks for the review. You are absolutely right, there are many improvements to this model however, the only problem I have is that it is not made in the USA as the original was! That alone will keep me using my old one and forgo updating to the new “improved” version.
I have the old model (pneumatic) and i really like it a lot, but i kind of don’t like being tied down to an air supply. I decided to look at at the new foreman and knew it was impossible to drop the price so far so i decided to look into it. Yep, made in China. That finished my search. If you can’t make it here, i simply don’t buy it.
I read about the new Foreman online before it came out and was excited because I’ve been using my aluminum Kreg that I bought from Sidney Siggia’s many many moons ago. There was no hesitation when it came to making the purchase on the Foreman and I’ve found it to be easy to set up and use. Wish other companies would do the same when it came to improvements, make them better and save you some money at the same time. What a dream.
I have the Kreg Master System. When the opportunity came to my shop I immediately purchased the Kreg Foreman. My project was 32 nightstands, 56 Kreg screws each. You do the math. I couldn’t have finished this project any other way. Thanks Kreg!
The new one blows the old one out of the water. The brass sleeve on the DB110 was such a pain — I could never get it to seat correctly, and seemed to have to adjust it all the time. Furthermore, the dust collection opening was half baked. This is a much better product and allows production work in the field.
On my work table, I’ve got two plywood simple boxes that I use as material supports. The kreg is a different height than my miter saw’s material table — so the boxes are set where one orientation is the right height for the Kreg, and the other is the right height for the miter saw. I think I picked that up from Emanuel Silva. Good trick and great for moving fast with minimal setup.
Just got it this week. Gary Katz’s video sold me. Very light….surprised me. No worries on construction or durability. Also got my hands on auto maxx clamps……I love these. Excellent. Thanks Kreg. Thanks Gary. Lets get to work! Andy
I had no idea the new Foreman was not made in the U.S.A., that could be a deal breaker for me IF it is made in China. So exactly where IS it made?
Made in Taiwan.
Hi Gary, very nice review. Thank you!
Purchased the new Foreman to replace a well worn DB55, when it arrived I picked it up off the front porch where UPS had delivered it, I noticed immediately a huge weight difference from the DB55. I opened the brown shipping box to find a very attractive box with great illustrations of the new foreman on it. I was about to open the box when I noticed where it was made, shipped it right back for a refund. I was not aware Kreg had started having products made outside of the U.S.. Time to find another pocket hole machine manufacturer. Left me wondering if the Kreg screws are still U.S. made?
The new kreg foreman SUCKS!!! If you had the db110 you know exactly what I mean. The new foot for holding the material in place barely works. If you use it on hardwoods you better have a ton of bits ready to swap out or be ready to move at snail pace that’s why you can’t find the db110 even a used one no one who has one will let them go
I have the original. Have drilled several thousand holes with mine. Need to find somewhere to find replacement brushes. Kreg does not keep them in stock since they discontinued the 110.