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Best Shelf Pin Jigs For Woodworking

Updated: September 27, 2022
From pre-drilling before cabinet assembly to installing holes once the finish has dried a shelf pin jig is a must. In this guide learn about the different grades of these jigs and what is best for your projects and budget.
Fulton Shelf Pin Jig
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Best Shelf Pin Jigs For Woodworking

From bookcases to cabinets one of the best shelf pin jigs will help you quick and accurately drill a long series of holes. And, versus manual methods, perfectly centered.

Woodworkers know the option of laying out the holes and drilling by hand can be done. But without a jig this manual method will inevitably lead to tippy shelves.

So, looking for a jig with the following features will save time and improve quality on your next project:

  • At least 10 guide holes for speed
  • Index holes to enable shifting the jig for long hole runs
  • Dual rails for drilling front and back at same time
  • Standard size holes for use with spring loaded drill bits

Lastly, while most of these jigs are a clear plastic a few use a metal bushing that is the size of the pin. 

Top Shelf Pin Jigs

Best overall:

Value option:

Budget pick:

Most compact:

Last updated on 2023-01-26 at 18:53 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

Editor: After building thousands of cabinet boxes and drilling countless holes my preference in this style of jig is clear plastic, inexpensive that has an optional dual-rail assembly. Which is why I use the EZ Align Jig in my shop.

Best Shelf Pin Jigs

1. Rockler Shelf Pin Jig (Best Overall)

Rockler Shelf Jig

Top quality from Rockler

Rockler is a premier woodworking brand and their dual rail shelf pin jig is a precision jig with all the features.

Top Features

  1. 1-1/4 inch spacing
  2. Works with 5mm or 1/4″ drill bits
  3. Two sets of indexing pins

Overview

The Rockler shelf pin template is a heavy duty jig built for long lines of cabinet pins in anything from cabinets to tall bookshelves. With a heavy duty Phenolic construction supporting both imperial and metric holes it will make quick work of your pin drilling.

The only downside? You’ll need to buy a guided bit like this 1/4-inch Snappy bit.

Pros

  • Dual rails for front/back drilling
  • Long run of holes
  • Standard 3/8″ holes

Cons

  • Price
  • Guide bit not included

2. EZ Align Dual Rail Pin Jig (Best Value)

EZ Align Jig

Dual rails for drilling speed

From assembled to un-assembled cabinets this dual rail jig offers speed and accuracy at a value price.

Top Features

  1. 1-1/4 inch spacing
  2. Works with 5mm or 1/4″ drill bits
  3. Includes indexing pins
  4. Drill bits included

Overview

Almost every shelf requires two rows of shelf pins. So why not have a jig that can do both at the same time?

The EZ Align team thought so and invented this dual row jig.  Key features:

  • Eliminate rocking shelves with single placement drilling
  • Easy to advance indexing system
  • Supports both 1/4″ and 5mm holes
  • Finally, as a bonus, this jig includes two quality self guided bits (one each of 1/4″ and 5mm).

Pros

  • Dual rails
  • Value price
  • Includes guide bits

Cons

  • Plastic guides vs. Kreg steel bushings

3.Milescraft 1316 CabinetMate (Budget Pick)

Milescraft Shelf Jig

Simple + budget friendly

With all of the basic features and a compact design this is the best bet for small projects or limited use.

Top Features

  1. 11 holes at one time
  2. Storage compartment for drill bits and pins
  3. 1/4 and 5mm index pins
  4. Includes drill bit
  5. 32mm hole spacing (1-1/4)

Overview

For DIY’ers and construction professionals this compact, budget friendly jig has all of the features of more expensive jigs. But at a fraction of the cost.

Pros

  • Budget
  • Storage for bits
  • Includes one drill bit

Cons

  • Single row drilling
  • Lacks index pins

4.Kreg KMA3200 Shelf Pin Jig (Compact)

Kreg Shelf Jig

Brand name + metal bushings

Any cabinetmaker would recognize the metal bushings this compact, top branded jig manufacturer uses in their shelf pin jig.

Top Features

  1. New or add-on for existing cabinets
  2. Dual position fence
  3. Built-in storage
  4. 1/4″ drill bit included
  5. 32mm spacing

Overview

The number one reason to like the jig is its simple drill bit that isn’t spring loaded. After drilling thousands of shelf pin jigs with spring-loaded mechanisms the freedom of a bit and collar is welcome.

The only downside to this Kreg jig? You can extend this jig to longer lengths but at double the cost.

Pros

  • Compact for portability
  • Metal bushings
  • Doesn’t require a spring-loaded bit
  • Kreg brand and warranty

Cons

  • Single row drilling
  • Only has six holes and requires constant movement

Top Manufacturers

  • Kreg is a popular woodworker brand that 
  • Rockler features premier woodworking tools and has store fronts in many major metros

How to Drill Shelf Pin Holes

With a jig there isn’t a lot to consider other than a classic question of: do I drill the holes before I assemble the cabinet?

Personally, I like to drill first and avoid cramping myself (and a drill) into a finished cabinet. 

Steps to Drill Shelf Pins

  1. Determine the lowest and highest positions of your shelving
  2. Mark off these locations with blue tape with an arrow indicating up (more later)
  3. Position the jig on the side piece
  4. Double check direction of the jig and side piece
  5. Verify the hole location is set far enough back to clear any shelving “lips”
  6. Drill the first set of holes using the appropriate sized self-centering drill bit
  7. If additional holes are needed, slide the jig up the side and use the supplied indexing pin to lock the jig in place

As every jig is unique you’ll want to follow the included instructions.

How Do I Set Shelf Pin Spacing?

Measuring Cabinets Furniture

The best part of the jigs is it determines spacing of the shelf pin holes for you. 

However, you can customize a few things:

  • Bottom and Top Holes: I don’t always start with the lowest possible hole if I know the shelving won’t start at say 8″. So, adjust upwards (and down at the top) based on your shelving.
  • High Visibility: But for a project with high visibility to the inside of the cabinet you can also skip holes if you have a good feel for where the shelves will go.
  • Just One Hole: And of course, you can specifically target holes and drill exactly where you want

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you make a shelf pin jig?

While most professionals prefer a factory jig for both the precision and ease of use, its possible to make your own jig by using a strip of aluminum or heavy gauge phenolic. Simply start with a drill press, make your first hole and then slide the jig forward a precise spacing (typically 1 to 1.5 inches).

How deep should shelf pins be?

The best way to determine how deep your shelf pins should be is by drilling a test hole. Most are drilled to a depth of about 3/8-inch, which is deep enough for the pin to be inserted to its shoulder. But not deep enough the hole will go through a 1/2-inch plywood side.

How do you make sure the shelves don't wobble?

First, always make sure you orient the shelf pin jig in a consistent direction. Most woodworkers will use a piece of tape or other large visual cue to ensure the top is always the top. Then, and this is easy to do, make sure the jig isn’t sitting on top of any wood chips as this will raise that corner of the shelf.

Related Articles

Summary

While you can make your own shelf jig, with many options available for under $75 there is a top quality jig that will reduce manual measurements and errors.

Bestseller No. 1
Milescraft 1316 CabinetMate - Shelf Pin Drilling...
1,422 Reviews
Milescraft 1316 CabinetMate - Shelf Pin Drilling...
  • Comes with the 1/4 in. self-centering brad point...
  • Custom spring-loaded-brad point drill bit allows...
  • Built in closed storage compartment for your bit...
  • Allows you to mark the locations for euro-style...
  • Please review specifications to ensure this...
Bestseller No. 2
Kreg KMA3225 Shelf Pin Jig 1/4' (6mm)
115 Reviews
Kreg KMA3225 Shelf Pin Jig 1/4" (6mm)
  • Create perfectly spaced holes at 1-1/4" (32 mm)...
  • Drill clean, precise holes with hardened-steel...
  • 32 mm system compatible for locating hinges and...
  • Work confidently with alignment windows for...
  • Snap two jigs together to quickly drill more holes...
Bestseller No. 3
EZ Align Premium Shelf Pin Drilling Jig With 1/4'...
316 Reviews
EZ Align Premium Shelf Pin Drilling Jig With 1/4"...
  • The EZ-Align Shelf Pin Jig is a dual drilling jig...
  • Two dual purpose star indexing pins are included...
  • The jig also features a 50mm index from opposite...
  • The jig works with both assembled and...
  • Included with the EZ Align Shelf Pin Jig system...
SaleBestseller No. 4
POWERTEC 71653 Shelf Pin Drilling Jig with 1/4'...
267 Reviews
POWERTEC 71653 Shelf Pin Drilling Jig with 1/4"...
  • INCLUDES: (1) Shelving Jig and 1/4” Self...
  • FUNCTION: Allows you to create quick, high...
  • APPLICATIONS: An easy-to-use shelving jig commonly...
  • FEATURES: Designed for face frame and frameless...
  • BUILD: The clear template is made with quality,...
Bestseller No. 5
Kreg KMA3232 Shelf Pin Jig 5mm
  • Create perfectly spaced holes at 1-1/4" (32 mm)...
  • Drill clean, precise holes with hardened-steel...
  • 32 mm system compatible for locating hinges and...
  • Work confidently with alignment windows for...
  • Snap two jigs together to quickly drill more holes...
Bestseller No. 6
Kreg KMA3210 Kreg Tool Company 1/4-Inch Kreg Shelf...
  • A very fast and simple technique to build shelving...
  • Item Package Dimension: 0.75" L x 2.0" W x 4.5" H
  • Country Of Origin: United States

Last update on 2022-12-31 at 13:16 / Images from Amazon

  • About the Author
  • Latest Posts
( Woodworker )

Eric has been a professional woodworker for over thirty years and has worked in small cabinet shops making everything from kitchen cabinets to hand-made furniture. Now working from a home woodworking shop Eric is sharing his passion for woodworking, tool advice and how-to knowledge from his Minnesota-based woodshop.

4 thoughts on “Best Shelf Pin Jigs For Woodworking”

  1. Great article. Have you ever heard of a 3/16″ shelf pin jig? The cabinets in my house were custom made and the trim carpenter used 3/16″ shelf pins. I want to add a few holes here and there but I cant see anything other than 1/4″ and 5mm for jigs / self centering drill bits. Would love some insight… Again, thanks for this article!

  2. Hi Scott, appreciate the question. 3/16″ is a rare size in a shelf pin! I have only seen a 7/32″ shelf pin drill bit, and a more common 5mm bit is slightly smaller and closer to that 3/16″.

    You have a few options:
    1. Your best bet with a standard jig would be with a 5mm bit that is 0.2″ vs. the 0.1875″ of a 3/16″. The hole size will be similar to the eye, and if you can match the pins in 5mm you’ll know where they are as they won’t fit in the 3/16″ holes.
    2. Another option if you are drilling a number of holes would be to mark the hole center with a jig and bit, then use a brad point drill bit with a depth collar set to the right depth to finish the hole.
    3. Or, you can use the existing holes to mark your hole location centers, measure and use a brad point with a depth collar (skip the jig). Cheapest for just a few holes, just more time in layout.

    Best,
    Eric

  3. I’m looking for a simple jig to use to add hole to an existing cabinet. Am I able to attach the jig to existing holes to establish correct alignment?

    Thank you.

  4. Hi Trudy,

    Yes – shelf pin jigs have an “indexing pin” that inserts into the existing holes.

    Good luck!
    Eric T

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