Adjustable shelves have become a standard, even inexpensive furniture, you often see some sort of adjustable shelving options in use. One of the easiest ways of doing this is to make a series of matching holes on either side of where the shelves will sit and use small shelving pins to balance the shelves on with. This system works well but does have a few drawbacks depending on the type of wood you select and the kind of shelving pins you select .. of which there is an ever-widening selection to choose from.

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There are many different ways of making the holes for the shelving pins, using a router, cordless drill or even a drill press, and what I am showing here is just one version that is quick, easy and effective for smaller jobs. The one thing that is common among all of these is that the holes need to be precision on both sides of where the shelves will sit, otherwise the shelves will wobble ... and sometimes they will anyway, and here's why ...
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 If you are using natural wood, or even MDF products, depending on the width, it is not uncommon for shelves to have a slight warp to them ... but don't be too alarmed, often with a little bit of weigh, and sometimes just with the weight of the shelf a small amount of wobble will settle out over time.

Jig for Drilling Shelf Pin Holes

As I mention in the video, you need to know what hardware you are going to work with before you start drilling holes. There is a fairly wide selection of pins and sizes available, and differing depths so starting off with the hardware is important ... second to that is your drill bit. Once you know the diameter of the pins, now you can select a drill bit and I highly recommend a brad point drill bit for this. The reason is, you don't want the drill bit to wander as this will do 2 things, it will create wear on your jig, which means you holes may not line up after drilling a number of them, and when our drill bit wanders, even a tiny bit, there is a better chance you drilled holes will not be lining up as nicely as you would like. And while we are here ... if you don't have a metal drill bit stop, now would be a great time to get that too. They will probably come in a set of 4 or 5 different and popular sizes and they are so much better than fiddling with using wooden stops, you will be glad you have them.

In making this jig we start off with 2 pieces of better quality wood approx. 3/4" x 4" x 6" The only thing that is important is that the wood is flat enough that it will glue together nicely, and that one side is absolutely straight and flat. When I make this jig, I like to glue everything together at the same time, the top and bottom and the side piece, that way they all line up together. You may not even need to clamp these, there is really not much pressure on the jig so if the glue is allowed to dry for a few hours it should be fine without much if any clamping.

Shelf Pin Jig

Once the glue is dry and hard enough to work with, it's time to drill the holes. Best if you can do this in a drill press to get nice accurate, and vertical holes but if not, use one of the jigs I have shown in my drilling hack videos to ensure you get a nice vertical hole. The alignment of the holes is whatever you want. There are no standards for these you can do whatever works best for your application. For most of the jigs I have made for doing this, my holes are 2" from the edge and I space my holes 3 or 4 inches apart and the reason for that is having too many holes doesn't really give you that many more options. I have found 3 or 4-inch spacing work just fine. 

This jig will work fine for you for a time and remember, you can always use the same jig and drill more holes in it to re-make the jig for different sizes, or when the holes get warn ... and they will. It is important to think about the holes being warned, especially if you are embarking on a new build. If you have already used this jig for a certain number of holes, you need to have close look at how much wear there is on he holes and whether or not there  will be too much wear for a second project because by time you are drilling your last holes on another project your holes could be off enough that they just aren't going to align properly. This is an easy jig to make, if you are in doubt, make another of drill a new set of holes to be on the safe side. 

Copyright Colin Knecht

Make pins for shelves


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