Tool Review: Pocket-Hole Machine by Castle
The new castle 100 pocket-hole machine attempts to bridge the wide chasm between fully automated floorstanding pocket-hole machines and fully manual drill jigs.
The Castle 100 has a small, sturdy, primarily aluminum stand with a plastic base, table, and clamp head. Holes in the housing accommodate clamping the machine securely to a benchtop from one side (a 5-in. steel C-clamp is included) and mounting a dust hose on the other side. A stout hold-down secures the workpiece to the table. A Bosch Colt trim router and a carbide bit, which come with the unit, are housed inside the stand. You push an external lever down to pivot the router up into the workpiece, and it cuts the pocket smoothly and cleanly. Then, with a handheld drill, and using the steel guide on the back of the machine, you drill the clearance hole for the screw. (A drill bit and square driver are included, along with a bag of screws.) The drill guide can be adjusted for different material thicknesses from 1⁄2 in. to 13⁄16 in. Another adjustment, which Castle calls the “web adjustment,” positions the pocket relative to the edge for different screw lengths. Both adjustments are locked in with large, finger-friendly brass knurled knobs. The adjustment mechanisms and the pivoting lever are all 1⁄8-in.-thick solid steel. This is a solidly built piece of equipment.
The machine bores a lower angle pocket compared with most manual jigs. The routed pocket is also very clean and crisp compared with drilled pockets. As a result, the plugs Castle sells in a variety of species fit well. Clamped to a benchtop, the Castle 100 works great for small face-framesize pieces. Drilling the screw hole is easy, but the drill guide has lateral play that can result in the hole being off center of the pocket. Once locked in, though, it stayed there. The teeny table, about 5 in. square, doesn’t readily support large panels for case construction. However, you can solve that by clamping a simple plywood support stand to the benchtop or clamping down the workpiece and mounting the machine right on it.
—Tony O’Malley is a professional woodworker in Emmaus, Pa.
From Fine Woodworking #277