A month or two ago I asked on another forum how to drill 2500+ shelf pin holes (part of a large built-in bookshelf project). I ended up buying a few expensive jigs to see if they would be optimal (as well as trying the simple peg board method). I finally ended up building a shelf pin hole jig
that was conceived over on the WWA and that turned out to be the best solution (by far!). This jig uses a router and is significantly faster than any other method I tried. Below are a few pictures of my jig and a slight enhancement to the plans (linked above) that some of you might find interesting. But before I get to that, I'll share some of my thought about the other jigs that I tried. Festool LR32 system
: Before I complain about this system, I should point out that I own a few Festool tools and have been very pleased with them (heck, I built the WWA jig with the Festool saw and DC!). However, the LR32 system is not built for drilling a large number of shelf pin holes. They do not sell a long LR32 rail so you'd need to realign for any large project. However, the system is optimized for other tasks (exact placement of holes) and drilling a smaller number of holes. Alignment over multiple parts is not an issue (there are multiple ways to index the rail to the workpiece, even without a multi-function table). Fortunately Festool has an excellent return policy and I had no problem returning the items after I tried them (LR32 guide rail, router, and hole drilling set). PC or similar dovetail jig set up for pin holes
: You basically use a router bushing guide and use the fingers in the dovetail jig to align each pin hole. This works very well until you have to reattach the jig to the workpiece every 2' or so. Acrylic, metal, or other semi-permanent jig with fixed holes & depth stop on the drill bit
: These work and are accurate. However, you need to use a drill and things become unpleasant after the first 100 holes or so. An excellent solution for small projects. Peg board works just as well except you wear out the holes after a few passes (and would need replacement). A router based system like Meg products
would solve this issue except that you'd need to continually move the jig for large pieces. There are router-based jigs that use a similar method but they require lifting the router and putting it in each jig hole. Veritas 32 system
: This is a well made system (another LR32 system) but it is optimized for smaller workpieces. Like many other systems, the downfall is that you'd need to move the jig multiple times for large parts. WWA shelf pin jig
: This jig allows you to drill all the holes for a shelf in 1 pass w/o having to reset the jig or router. However, it needs to be the length of the tallest workpiece (ends need to fit over the workpiece). This can make it unwieldy for smaller projects (although you could easily make a few lengths of rails to accommodate different project sizes).
OK, now on to the pictures! For those unfamiliar with the jig, I'd recommend reading about it here
This first picture is the rail right after I drilled the 3/4" holes in it. The next step is to saw right down the middle through all the holes.
Here's a shot of the tip block and guide bushing on the router. Dewalt nicely includes 2 threaded holes in their baseplate (6mm) so I didn't have to use the brass pin method outlined in the directions. I used a file and sandpaper to round all the edges... this will ensure that the tip block doesn't get caught up on an edge or corner.
Here's a shot of me routing the 'stop' holes in one of the rails (using the other rail as a guide). This allows you to put a pin in one of the holes to prevent the router from sliding any further down the jig. You may also notice the plunge bar. IMO this is a great addition for this jig because it allows you to quickly plunge and recover with one hand (while the other is steadying the tool). I got mine for use with my Woodrat but it works very well in this application. One thing to mention about the plunge bar is that it makes router bit insertion and removal a bit more painful.
Here's the final jig ready for action. I placed the side rails with 1/2" of overlap so I can put pins in 1/2 or thicker material. Not shown in the picture are small blocks under the back rail to use as an index point. I plan on having all my pin holes 1 3/8" from the edge. By screwing some small blocks under the back rail at my exact overlap distance I just need to have the workpiece against the blocks and side rail and I am guaranteed to have the correct alignment and distance from the edges. At that point I just need to slide the front rail forward to the correct distance and I'm ready to cut (this is a 1 time operation for each board width). When I am not using this monster I will break it down and store it flat. I had 14 8' panels that needed shelf pin holes and this jig made the work much easier and faster. I just set the jig once and then used the same settings on each board. I averaged under 2 seconds per hole (that's including clamping time for each board).
I hope that this jig helps someone on this board... it really saved me a lot of pain and aggravation!