This simple multi-purpose drilling jig makes cabinet construction easier without the need to buy an expensive prefabricated drilling template.
Templates bring the benefits of standardization to the home shop. You don’t need a CNC router or a line boring machine to knock out uniform cabinet parts. All you need is a template drilling jig you can make yourself.
[caption id="attachment_13597" align="aligncenter" width="350"] For large cabinets that require a lot of drilling and precision, this template jig will save you a lot of time, especially when you're making multiples.
A kitchen might have a half-dozen or more wall cabinets, all the same height and depth. Regardless of cabinet width, all have identical sides. You’ll have to drill pilots for hinge plates and holes for shelf pins in each of them. A single template can enable you to drill these holes, no layout required.
For the Drilling Template Jig Diagram and Materials List in PDF Format, click here.
The template is a piece of 1/4" plywood with fences that locate it on the workpiece.
Start by making the three fences from scraps of 3/4" stock, and mill a 1/2"-deep, centered groove along one edge of each, scaled to the plywood’s thickness. This construction allows the template to be used with either face up. It also allows the template to fit tight to the shoulder of 1/2"-deep rabbets you may cut in the sides for your cabinet back panels.
Cut the plywood for the template 1" longer than the cabinet sides. (Press the top and bottom fences onto it and check how it fits on a side: it must be snug — no play.)
My jig will enable you to drill mounting holes for cup hinges, so drill those reference holes first. The hinges must be located precisely 37mm back from the cabinet’s front edge — that translates to 1-29⁄64". The shelf-pin holes don’t have to be placed on the same line, but doing so makes layout a bit easier. You have to account for the 1/2" taken up by the fence. Set a marking gauge to 16-1⁄64" and scribe a line on the template. Across this line, mark the mid-point and the centers of the hinge plates. (Because the upper and lower plates are positioned differently, label the top end of the template.)
[caption id="attachment_13590" align="aligncenter" width="350"] Drill your hinge pilot holes in the template using your hinge plate as a reference for where the holes need to be.
Drill the hinge plate pilot holes and countersink them on both sides of the template.
[caption id="attachment_13593" align="aligncenter" width="350"] Align your plate then drill the holes with a self-centering bit, countersinking both sides of the template holes.
Now, bore the shelf-pin holes in the template. If you’ll use a self-centering bit for boring shelf-pin holes, it has a 3/8"-diameter collar, so make the template holes 3/8" diameter.
[caption id="attachment_13595" align="aligncenter" width="400"] To make spacing the shelf-pin holes easier, cut some spacer blocks and lay them down, use the blocks to align your drill in between each hole.
Here’s an easy way to drill equally spaced shelf-pin registration holes in the jig: Cut a half-dozen 1-1⁄4"-long spacers. Set a fence on the drill press to center the bit on the scribed line, and clamp a long auxiliary top to the table. Line up the template’s midpoint directly under the bit, and set and clamp a stop against the template’s end. Drill the first hole. Place a spacer between the template and the block. Drill another hole. Add a second spacer and drill again. Repeat until you’ve drilled seven holes.
To extend the line of holes in the other direction, slide the template back to the mid-point, switch the reference block to the other side of the setup, and step off the holes.
[caption id="attachment_13596" align="aligncenter" width="350"] Glue three alignment fences to the front and each end of the template to finish.
Glue the three fences to the template, and you are ready to start drilling those cabinet sides.
To use the drilling template jig, set it on a cabinet side, fences tight against the edges, and clamp it securely. With a #6 self-centering bit, drill pilots for the hinge plates. Switch to a 1/4" self-centering bit and drill the shelf-pin holes. Flop and reclamp the template to drill the back shelf-pin holes.