Kreg K4 vs K5 Jig: An in-depth comparison
Functional, easy to work with and versatile.
Yeah – that’s any Kreg pocket jig alright.
There’s a reason why Kreg tools are praised by probably 99.95% of DIYers like you and me. At least I haven’t heard (or seen) a single soul complain about them. 🙂 Have you?
Today I’ll be focusing on their older K4 pocket-hole jig and its upgrade, the K5.
Are both of them good? No.
However, the newer K5 introduces three very important improvements over its predecessor:
➥➥ Storage wings on the side for more space and better tool organization. People used to DIY extra storage space on the older K4. Now this comes as a built-in feature.
➥➥ A front-facing clamp lever allowing for more convenient operation. This is an explosion of convenience at your hands especially if you tinker around with cabinets!
➥➥ A built-in clamp for easier, faster woodworking if you’re dealing with bigger projects. Even for smaller projects you’ll be glad to have it around.
Obviously, I’ll do a very in-depth comparison between these jigs. But if you want the quick and dirty, here’s what I think:
A Kreg classic. Great performance for the price, suitable for small and medium projects. Same construction and wood support as K5.
Massive improvement in terms of speed, convenience and storage capabilities. A must have for larger projects as it will save you a lot of time and efforts.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that the K4 is that inferior for a lot of applications. If you’re looking at smaller projects or don’t have a lot of tools lying around, it’s a very sound choice!
After all, in terms of general functionality, construction quality and pocket hole/wood thickness support they’re the same 🙂
I’ll outline both the differences and similarities between the two members of the K-family in-depth, so keep reading.
3 key areas where K5 is a huge improvement
#1 Storage wings advantage
If you have more accessories and additional tools, you might find yourself running out of space. Or even worse, you might find these tools create irritating clutter all around.
I prefer working in clean environments.
The storage wings of Kreg’s K5 are perfect for containing all those additional accessories you work with. In projects where you won’t need your extra tools, you can simply detach the wings and reattach them later.
But there’s one additional benefit of these wings. In case you’re working with bigger, longer wood pieces or panels, they will provide you with extra support so these planks/panels stay put.
All in all, with K5 you don’t need to do additional tinkering as this guy did with his K4 for extra storage:
#2 Front-facing clamp lever
All Kreg tools have an overall great design. The user experience – how you work with that tool, how it stays in your hands, is convenient and seamless.
Yet, older pocket-hole jigs suffered from one glaring disadvantage!
Yes, the lever was put at the back of the jig.
The innovative Kreg K5 corrects this shortcoming and increases your working convenience by slapping it at the front.
Why does that matter?
Imagine working on a bigger piece of wood. So big that you have to reach over or around it every time you want to clamp. Minute after minute, possibly hour after hour.
It doesn’t sound that great, does it? A front lever means that you have easy access to the clamping mechanism through the now moved lever. It makes everything faster and easier.
#3 A built-in clamp gets you as close to automation as possible
The K family of jigs introduced a way more efficient clamping mechanism compared to Kreg’s older models like the R3. The drill guides, as well as dust collection feature (which you will need) are also an overall improvement.
However, the K5 goes one step beyond that with a fully built-in clamping process. Faster, simpler and ridiculously seamless is all I can say about that.
With this built-in gem, you are nearing automation in your home improvement projects. To add to this, it’s ridiculously easy to adjust.
You don’t need any additional tools or nuts – just slide, click the front lever and start tinkering with your woodworking project.
This, combined with the changed position of the clamp lever seriously cuts your time spent per project. It’s efficiency at its best.
These put aside, are the jigs similar?
Yes. In all other regards, K4 and K5 are practically the same.
In both tools, you’ll see the classic Kreg construction. I’m talking about the blue-colored very durable bodies made of glass-reinforced nylon. These were made to serve you for years without any flimsiness or risk of breaking down easily.
As far as functionality goes, both of them stick to the same features:
3 holes (an improvement over the Kreg R3 which has 2)
Best for work with 25-50 pocket holes
Support 1/2″ to 1 1/2″ wood thickness
Also, remember that when working with the aforementioned 1/2″ to 1 1/2″ thickness in materials, you’ll be moving in 1/8″ increments.
The drill guide spacings themselves stand at 9/16″, 7/8″ and 1 7/16″.
In other words, you can use both of them for medium-scale projects, and possibly for some more substantial home improvement aspirations you might have. For simple, small scale projects, consider the R3 I’ve also written about.
How can I use Kreg jigs with thicker wood?
As you noticed, even the better K5 has a limit of 1 1/2″ when it comes to wood thickness.
Fear not: Kreg’s got your back. All you have to do is get one of the face clamps that supplement your basic pocket-hole tool.
Indispensable add-on. Allows you to work with thicker wood as easy as pie. Tough and functional.
Kreg has three different face clamps in stock: 2″, 3″ or the gigantic 6″ monster.
Very important: No matter which clamp you decide to go for – most people stick its 3″ model, you have to remember something.
These face clamps actually support materials slightly thinner than the designated thickness support. For example, the 2″ will comfortably support 1 3/4″ thick planks. The 3″ will snugly fit with 2 3/4″ etc etc.
Keep that in mind so you don’t end up with disfigured panels or planks!
Get a Master System if you need an All-in-1 solution
Both the K4 and K5 also come in a Master System bundle. These are versatile, full DIY kits that include the base jig and a staggering amount of accessories. Master System kits differ depending on your preferences, but generally, you can have:
A face clamp
Screw kit in several sizes
A system organizer
I don’t think the system organizer is that needed, but a face clamp is always a great idea. Same applies to Kreg screws, as they are vastly superior to the usual screws you’ll find at your local store. The choice is up to you, though!
A great way to supplement the classic K4 capabilities. Dust collection shroud comes in handy, as K5 is better at dusting off.
An extensive kit that makes full use of K5's extended features and project scope. Costs a bit, so get it only if you'll go for larger projects.
Kreg K5 is not a must, as the K4 is also more than great for medium-scale to somewhat high-scale projects around the house.
That said, the newer jig from the brand introduces several improvements that will make your DIY life more convenient. If you want to do your projects faster, seamlessly and have less clutter with your accessories, the K5 is a sensible purchase.
Have you used both of these jigs? What were your impressions? Let me know in the comments below!