Cut pocket holes fast and clean by machine

- —Tested by Kevin Boyle, Senior Design Editor

Pocket-hole machine, no. TSM-12, $1,500

I build a lot of cabinets and like to use pocket-hole joinery for assembling face frames. The Castle TSM-12 cuts pockets and pilot holes faster and cleaner than any other system I’ve used. And I like the 6°-angled pockets (most drill-type jigs make 15° pockets) that give the screws better purchase in the meat of the adjoining frame member.

The TSM-12 uses two Bosch router motors that do all the work: A 21⁄4-hp motor routs the pockets using an included three-flute carbide bit, and a 1-hp trim router bores the pilot hole. Simply push the lever forward to cut the pocket, then pull it back to drill the pilot hole. It’s loud, but effective.

The adjustable toggle clamp holds workpieces securely, but without registrati­on markings or stops, I had to clamp on shop-made stops for precise repeatabil­ity. I expected built-in stops for the price of this unit.

You can connect dust-collection hose via 4" and 21⁄2" knockouts in the back panel, and Castle provides a template to make a panel to enclose the open bottom of the machine to assist with dust collection. When I did this, my vacuum gathered up about two-thirds of the dust.

Castle 800-282-8338, castleusa.com

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