Adjustable shelves can be found in
many storage and decorative cabinets. They are popular because the cabinet
can retain its practicality over a variety of uses by easily modifying
the height of each shelf to store various sized items. Adjustable shelves
allow versatility in a storage solution, and this factor is a highly
desirable commodity in today's style of living.
You could spend hours laying out a
board with many pencil marks in an effort to achieve matching, level shelf
support holes for your shelf pins to sit in, or you could use the Veritas
Shelf System, which eliminates the need for time consuming layout sessions
and guarantees alignment accuracy...
The Veritas Shelf Drilling System
I am a big fan of the Veritas line of products. You probably already
know that if you have read some of my other reviews of their products on
this website. They have time and again, proved to be of an exceptional
Before we begin, let me say that there
are many ways to produce adjustable shelf pin holes in a board. The most
popular method at present would probably be with a router and a commercial
or homemade jig that can be made purchased or made for this specific
purpose. So in essence, the Veritas Shelf Drilling Jig could be thought of
as a method that is slightly different from the currently accepted 'norm'.
If you are in the position where you do not own a router, guide bushings
and an appropriate spiral bit however, then the Veritas system may suit a
little better. It only requires a drill and appropriately sized drill
bits, something which most all woodworkers and DIY'ers would already
What's in the Box?
Naturally, you get the 2 lengths of anodized, pre-drilled, hardened
rails which measure 24" in length. Each rail features 20 guide holes with
1" spacing in between. The rails are held in place with the standard
length clamp rods included in the set. Using these standard rods, you can
set the jig on material up to 12" wide. This width capacity should fit the
bill for most projects. If you require longer clamp rods to work with
wider material, then longer rods are available from Lee Valley.
The red/maroon colored bush carrier is
designed to fit snugly into the 1" spaced holes in the rails and holds the
drill bush, of which 11 different-sized hardened drill bushes are provided
as standard - sizes 5, 6, 6.75,
7, 7.5, 8 (5/16"), and 9mm, 7/32", 1/4", and 3/8".
In the basic kit, you also receive an un-hardened drill
bush, which you can use to bore a custom diameter bush for a special need.
There are no shelf support pins
included in the pack, although these can be purchased from just about any
hardware store. I picked up a pack of 12 (which will support 3 shelves)
for around $2, although they do differ in price depending on the material
used in producing them.
You also receive 2 register pins which
are used for accurately extending the length of your shelf support pin
holes, as well as a hardwood-handled 7mm sleeve-setting punch which is
used for installing support sleeves so your pin holes to not get damaged
through constant use.
I decided to build an adjustable shelf bookcase for my daughter. Kids
books come in all shapes, sizes and heights, so adjustable shelves really
fit the bill well here. I used MDF for the project, because it will be
painted (pink of course) and I had a few large sheets of MDF laying around
I wanted to get rid of.
So we need 2 sides to the bookcase, each with drilled adjustable shelf
support pin holes. Despite how easy the jig appears to be to use, some
layout work is still required... First we must measure from the bottom of
each board to reference the point where we wish to begin drilling the
shelf support holes. This, naturally, must be the same distance from the
bottom on both sides of the bookcase. With that marked out, we can place
the Veritas jig onto the MDF and line up out bottom mark. Now we must set
the rails to the desired distance from the edge of the board we wish our
support holes to be located. I chose about 3/4" from the outside of the
rail to the edge, which resulted in the actual drilled support holes being
inset about 1 1/4" from the edge, a nice distance in my opinion. The rails
can skew on the clamp rods a little, so you have to check at each end of
the rail that your distance in from the edge is equal at both ends, and
for both rails before you can clamp everything down with the brass knobs.
edge board clamps secure the jig onto the board to ensure it does not move
when drilling. We found the jig held very firm and did not move during our
Next, we make sure we have the right
sized bush in the bush carrier. You can change bush sizes easily by
loosening the grub screw on the end that holds the bush in place. The
shelf support pins I purchases had a 5mm diameter, so I chose the 5mm bush
(of course) and a 5mm drill bit. It is important to use a depth stop of
some variety to ensure your holes are drilled at roughly equal depths. You
dont want to be drilling all the way through the board! I started off
using a little tape wrapped around the drill bit, but this start getting
chewed up as the tape with the bush a few times. A metal or wood block
depth stop is much better.
Ok time to drill. Insert the bush
carrier in the first guide hole, insert the drill bit and proceed to
drill. Once that hole is done, lift and slide the bush carrier to the next
and repeat. No rocket science here. We found the bush carrier did tend to
ride up with the motion of the drill bit, but as long as you hold it down
with a bit of firm pressure, all is good! We found adding a drop of oil to
the guide bush helped quite a lot, however, this oil will likely slightly
stain your workpiece, so you have to use your judgement for your
particular project and finishing requirements.
It does take time to drill a series of
holes. We started with a cordless drill, which has no brake, and had to
wait for it to spin down before starting on the next hole. We quickly
switched to our cordless drill with a brake and that made things much
faster. This jig will not allow you to drill holes as fast as those jigs
you can buy for a router, however, it does work, and it works well. There
is good clearance within the rail for chips and the like, which means your
bit wont bind or heat up with friction.
Once we reach the end of the rail with
our drilled holes and need to extend them further up the board, the
register pins come into play. Its simply a matter of releasing the clamps
holding onto the edge of your board, slide the whole jig assembly up the
board, position one of the rail drill holes over one of the existing shelf
pin holes, insert the register pin in both rails so it sits neatly in the
drilled whole, clamp the jig down again and continue along. No layout is
required for this procedure. You can continue drilling until you have the
number of shelf pin holes needed for your project, and that's about all
their is to it.
The results were excellent. As you can
see from the photos to the right, we ended up with very clean, evenly
spaced holes for our shelf pins. The holes were equidistant to each other
and lines up perfectly across the board, ensuring we will enjoy nice level
shelves when the project is finished.
Setting the jig does require some initial layout and time. Probably
5-10 minutes over 2 boards. Drilling takes a little longer than the router
method, however, this jig costs much less than some of the commercially
available shelf pin jigs for the router. Drill consumables, such as drill
bits, are also far cheaper than upcut spiral bits which are needed to cut
holes with the router method. Certainly if you have a need to drill a lot
of pin support holes for projects on an ongoing basis, you would be going
for the router/jig method, but for the occasional project where shelf
support holes are needed, and your inventory does not include a router and
upcut bits/bushings, then the Veritas Shelf Drilling Jig will certainly
meet your needs.
Order Online through these companies...
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In the USA/Canada
Current Price: $139.00
Veritas Shelf Drilling Jig
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The Veritas Shelf Drilling Jig showing the brass clamp knobs
Setting the jig from the bottom
of the workpiece.
Insetting the guide rails from the edge
and locking the rails to the clamp rods.
Using the register pins to extend the rails accurately
The results... Looks good!
The shelf support pins fit in firmly.
Ready for a back, face frame, a little molding and some paint!