Woodpeckers has come out with a new drill guide, intended to make for easier, straighter, and more accurate drilling into wood materials.
The Woodpeckers Auto-Line drill guide features a 1/4″ hex shaft, for use with cordless and corded drills, as well as impact drivers.
The Woodpeckers Auto-Line drill guide features a keyed chuck, tapered depth control shaft and stop-collar, spring return, reversible chuck carrier, built-in v-groove, alignment lines, and adjustable fence.
The chuck carrier has a 1″ drill bit capacity, but if you remove it and reverse it, you can fit bits up to 2″ wide.
A v-groove in the base allows for easy centered drilling of round stock such as wood dowels.
There are two centered pins that stow on-board when not in use. For use, they thread into the bottom of the base and can be tightened with one of the column caps, which has a built-in hex bit.
The fence can be attached to any of the 4 sides of the Auto-Line’s square base.
Additionally, the fence can be used in multiple orientations. Here, it’s used to refence against the edge of a board.
The fence can also be reversed for maximum range.
The fence can also be rotated in such a manner that allows for easier drilling of vertical boards.
The fence can also be used as an outrigger, to provide additional support when the Auto-Line drill guide is used on a large surface, such as on plywood or other sheet goods.
Introductory Pricing: $220
Sale Pricing ends 2/8/2021, shipping ETA is 6/20/2021.
Does this Woodpeckers drilling guide look to be a useful accessory? Sure. It has multiple features and a very versatile design.
The design does not seem to have any cut corners. The chuck carrier, for example, is built with Teflon sleeves that move along stainless steel columns.
One of the columns has a tapered flat machined into it, to ensure that the stop collar does not move or slide down during use.
You also get the fence, which seems to be quite versatile. The hex bit necessary to install the centering pins is machined into the bottoms of the column caps.
But for $220, or $240 after the introductory sale pricing period?
I swore off portable drill guides a long time ago, ever since I had a lousy experience with a Craftsman accessory.
You know, you could buy a benchtop drill press for less than this accessory. Or even half – or more than half – of a basic floor-standing drill press.
But, the Woodpeckers Auto-Line drill guide is said to be machined in the USA, and it seems to have been designed for maximum usefulness, versatility, and quality.
This is the Milescraft Drillmate drill guide, a popular accessory that sells for $34 at Amazon. The Woodpeckers will cost 7X more than this, once the sale pricing ends. The Milescraft has a larger capacity – 3″. You can also adjust its angle, with stops at 45°, 60°, 75°, and 90°.
The two devices look to be designed with very different user intent, with the Milescraft seemingly aimed more towards general construction tasks, and the Woodpeckers towards finer joinery.
Let’s say you have to drill a stopped or through-hole into your wood-topped workbench. That hole needs to be perfectly placed and perfectly straight. If you have both accessories in front of you, which would you use? From what I can see, I think that the Woodpeckers would align easier, especially if the fence can be used.
In my opinion, the Woodpeckers Auto-Line drill guide isn’t a must-have. For situations where you need to bring your drill to your work, as opposed to being able to use a drill press, there are very many options. You could use an accessory such as the Milescraft, or you could use a woodworking router, you could create your own jig, or you could buy a jig if your drilling operation is for a popular type of task or project.
But, the Woodpeckers jig *might* improve upon your drilling experience compared to less expensive and less-featured guides that might be more designed around price point.
This is not something I would buy, or at least I don’t have any immediate needs or apparent future project needs, but it does look to be a big upgrade. The market currently doesn’t offer much in the way of high quality drilling guide choices.
Rockler sells a very similar high quality product, it actually has a detachable vise, which is very handy. I’m quite happy with mine.
I’ve been eyeing the Rockler unit for a future workbench build – it seems like it would make boring dog holes pretty easy. Perhaps we can get Stuart to compare all three.
There are also workbench drilling guides, jigs for use with routers, or drill bushings such as:
I bought the Lee Valley a few years ago, but my bench plans changed and I haven’t used it yet.
For dog holes, I’d likely use the bushing in a DIY jig, or set up a router jig. For creating a MFT-like assembly table, I’d use a router jig such as Woodpeckers.
Portable drill guides are useful, but I think they’d be difficult to hold steady for tasks like drilling 3/4″ dog holes into thicker materials.
The milescraft is no less accurate. Woodpeckers have some unique and useful tools. This isn’t one of them.
Let’s say you need to drill x-number of holes y-distance from the edge of a surface, such as a workbench. The Woodpeckers will require far less attention than the Milescraft. But, you can also buy that Milescraft, build a jig to reference the worktop edge, and have a lot of money left over to spend on more tools.
It is very good to have options.
General Tools and Wofcraft also make variants – some also tilt – but as DJ points out the high center of gravity may make holding these in perfect alignment while drilling a bit tricky
JD – not DJ – sorry to the transposition
I have a Kanzawa one that I like.
The biggest problem with both these rigs is the high center of gravity. Even with the fence and a tiny 12V drill, you going to be balancing the whole thing to prevent it from tipping. It just unwieldy for anything but perfectly oriented work.
Two pieces of plywood and hole can do the same job, and be much lower to the work. You can add a stop collar if you need it you need it. I can’t even see the time advantage of setup vs tacking together two scraps of plywood and drilling a hole.
As always the woodpecker product looks impeccably made, and I can see it appealing to pro with specific use cases.
Just learn to drill properly. Save $200 and spend it on your family instead.
But how is that gonna get them likes on their instagram? They need to wear leather smocks and use every little woodpecker jig/tool available to show that they are legit.
Not everyone buys Woodpeckers tools for appearances or treats them as status symbols.
Agreed, but one could argue the same thing about a Gucci handbag. There stuff is nice, just not for me, that’s all.
True, but the difference between Gucci and say a Target brand is in name, materials, and styling.
The difference between many Woodpeckers products and existing products is in functionality, as well as quality, materials, and country of origin.
The Woodpecks products that I purchased primarily for use, as opposed to review, were purchased out of functionality considerations.
I also bought many of those first products during Sears sales, or under Woodcraft’s Pinnacle brand.
I’m sure some do buy Woodpeckers tools so that they can hang them on a wall and show off to everyone. But, I’d say those users are in the minority.
There’s a copy of this tool on Amazon from China, but no reviews yet, maybe because people do not have confidence buying from that seller:
I wanna give it a shot bit I don’t have much confidence that I’ll get a real guide. The pics are the actual woodpeckers tool.
It’s garbage. I bought one took a month to get delivered with missing part Amazon refunded what I paid $35.00.
Just buy millcraft
Learn to drill properly? If a hole through a wall stud isn’t perfectly straight, no big deal, the wire doesn’t care. Drilling into thicker hardwood for joinery or some other precise task? Any mistake will be exaggerated and you could potentially ruin your workpiece or have to spend a lot more work compensating and adjusting the final results.
The way I see it, products like these are aimed at:
1) Advanced woodworkers who have everything they need but enjoy upgrading to the highest quality tools where possible.
2) Professional users who desire easier work or greater accuracy.
3) Users for whom this would see very heavy use or who need it for critical work.
If you don’t know what you’d use it for, it’s not for you.
The old Portalign 101-A (also sold under the Craftsman banner) also had the feature of being able to extend the two guide rods through the base. The the jig could then be used to drill centered holes along the edge of a plank
Interesting design. I’ve had a complete set of Big Gator Tool V drill guides in my Amazon shopping cart for years now, but have never been able to bring myself to pull the trigger — I’ve been using an inexpensive Milescraft of similar design (but a plastic housing with metal inserts).
I did buy a transparent plastic one w/ metal bushings from Lee Valley but haven’t had occasion to use it yet:
and there was a rather clever acrylic one from Rockler specifically intended for doweling which I didn’t get.
This is tempting, but it doesn’t look to be quite as stable and versatile as I’d like, and it’s rather focused on using an electric drill.
I’m probably going to break down and get the DJ-3 from Bridge City Tool Works which was just announced — if that doesn’t work out, then I guess I’ll have to get either a post/beam drill or a drill press.
I haven’t seen anything from Bridge City Tools about a DJ-3.
I bought a DJ-2 a few years ago as part of a “is it really worth that much money?!” review plan, but while useful it was hard to find the words to describe a tool that costs way more than is justifiable, even for a USA-made product.
All of the new Bridge City Tools are made in China, but the quality seems decent on the one jig item I purchased. I don’t like their marketing, though, it’s all over the place these days, and so is the pricing. The small plane was $65 direct the other day, $99 now, and $130 at distributors.
Yeah, the pricing is strange — constant sales trying to keep cash flow going I guess.
The DJ-3 was announced at:
and is noted as being 7–9 months out in a reply at: https://blog.bridgecitytools.com/2021/01/13/hp-8x-the-inside-story/#more-11849
No word on pricing, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to justify it and find it a useful solution for drilling.
Well, now I’m annoyed. It’s been “completely designed,” which while good for new users if there are improvements, means that the universal jaws accessory that was sold out when the DJ-2 was still available will never be available. I’ve been waiting and waiting and I guess I can give up now.
At the time, you could only be on waitlists for products if you didn’t sign up early enough. That was 5 years ago, and the universal jaws were never made available since then, at least not to my knowledge.
I suppose that’s what happens with products like these. Even with the Woodpeckers product above, you can say “I wish it didn’t have a fence by default so that the main drilling guide would be less expensive,” but chances are that the design might change in the future. So, despite the higher price it’s better for everything to be included in a single package.
Then again, given that the previous USA-made Bridge City Tools were produced here in small batches, and the new tools are made in China, the entire DJ-3 set will probably cost less than the universal jaw accessory would have.
Yeah, it’s unfortunate that availability was so limited on the tools previously — makes me wonder what sort of plans they have for the product line overall.
The DJ-3 fills an obvious lacunae in their lineup, and it paired w/ the Jointmaker Pro and the planes cover the majority of woodworking tasks.
I’d really like to see them revisit making a hand drill though, despite my having difficulty justifying buying the new small Lee Valley one, and my debating about getting a nicer Millers Falls hand drill to replace my Stanley.
The the higher end of the cost spectrum is a drill guide from LJ Smith for stair building:
I love the “idea” of woodpecker’s products but hoo-boy I find the majority of them far too expensive to rationalize as a hobbyist. I need to become a youtube influencer so I can fill my shop gratis.
Yeah every now and then I see a neat item but when you see the price it isn’t that neat anymore.
I have owned both an older Craftsman (1980’s vintage?) drill guide and a Wolfcraft 4525404 drill guide, both similar to the Milescraft model. Neither worked well.
There were several issues I saw:
-There was a lot play between the columns and the top sliding piece. This affected both the hole location (center) and the angle of the hole, which varied a few degrees off from center. I think part of the issue was that the legs allowed for different angles and did not tighten securely. It looks like the columns on the Woodpeckers units are pretty sturdy, but there is still going to be some inherent play between the columns and whatever bearings they use which is not going to get better with age. It’s like the front fork on a motorcycle.
-Fine sawdust gummed up these bearings and eventually resulted in a lot more effort to drill a hole. That extra force seemed to introduce more twist and throw off the precision even more. I had better luck lubricating with graphite rather than oil, but the proximity of these columns to the drill bit made this inevitable.
-As already mentioned, these jigs have a high center of gravity. I had to clamp the base down or fought pretty hard to keep it upright.
I no longer own either of the models I had as I didn’t find them much better than drilling by hand. The Woodpeckers unit appears to be a much better tool but I won’t justify the price in purchasing one hoping that it is that much better.
Reading about this guide, I was enthusiastic. I could use this plenty of times. Then, like most, I was disappointed by the price tag. I just don’t need it that bad. But still, cool product woodpeckers
Looks like a worthy competitor to Rockler’s new drill guide but at least take a look at the Rockler product before you dig out your wallet.
The Woodpecker unit has one nice feature – made in the USA.
Your last line of the review …”The market currently doesn’t offer much in the way of high quality drilling guide choices.”…kind of says it all. And the reason the market does not offer much is because there is not a big need for it.
For the odd job for someone who works away from their main shop, the Milescraft and similar products, which cost so much less, fill the void.
The WP guide is intended for fine woodworking, and again, the need is very small. The average cabinet/furniture maker will work out of a dedicated shop and have a drill press.
Sure, anyone can buy this, but the real need would be a dedicated fine woodworker who often find themselves needing to make holes with drill press accuracy, but often has pieces too big or awkward to bring to a drill press. Maybe for jobs where you are doing finish joinery on big items, using a mortise & tenon type joinery where you are using round dowels as the tenons. Yes there are jigs for this, but if ultimate accuracy is needed, then the WP guide has a purpose.
So, aside from the few that have a real need for this guide, that justifies paying this price (and WP collectors), there isn’t a big market for this, as said in your final comment. Of course, WP makes everything based on quantity ordered, so this helps defray the cost of making an item that will not sell high amounts.
There are alresdy very good doweling jigs like the Dowelmax that allow you to make repeatable multiple holesthat align well for mating pieces. This sort of jig might be used for doweling – but getting the precision needed to mate pieces – especialy with multiple dowels – would be tedious. I’m not one to overly complain about price if I believe that there is real value added – and I’ve moved to a Festool Domino XL machine for my loose tenon joinery even though the price was steep. But as you suggest – I’m hard pressed to see a value proposition for me in this tool – having an old mosnster Walker Turner radial arm drill press and a more modern Delta drill press in my shop
I have been studying the Rockler drill guide. When your drill press can’t reach that far, it’s an option. Bad thing about WP onetime tools is the deadline to decide. It would be nice if it was also a doweling guide.
My old WT radial arm drill press has a 32 inch reach – so I can drill to the center of a really big piece. But I think that this is aimed more at folks who speculate that they might have some on-site work where a drill press is not available. Tools sre one of those commodities where we can speculate about some hypothetical task then talk ourselves into buying a tool that will accomodate it. The proof of the pudding (so to speak) is often found in the eating – or in the case of tools in their use. I am as guilty as many in having bought tools with high expectaion for use – only to find that they are more dust collectors than dust/sawdust makers.
Need is up to each person’s mind to decide. If someone else is deciding it’s not good. They tell you that you don’t need a car, a bicycle is all you need. Then the next person tells you that you don’t really need a bicycle, you just need to walk.
This is very cool, but my first question upon seeing the price was, “Can’t I get a decent drill press for less?” I get the appeal of Woodpeckers’ tools and I’d love to have the budget for some of their offerings. I’m sure there are applications that this would be preferable to a drill press. I was actually looking at variations of this recently after having difficulty drilling perfectly straight holes down into material.
After years of resisting the temptation of purchasing an expensive Woodpecker tool, I decided to give it a shot with a Delve square while it was on sale. Even on sale, I questioned the price but I gave into the hype. Nevertheless, when I received it…I wasn’t that impressed. There were several machining marks and bare spots. Never again. I would like to add that I’m not a cheapskate when it comes to tools. I own a Sawstop, DVR drill press, Laguna bandsaw, etc. I love quality…just don’t love overpaying.
Did you bring it up to them?
I’ve had some odd issues over the years – an MDF case for a tool without a rotating lock, and a t-square that shipped without any screws attaching the two parts together, and they fixed it no problem. Their tools are all made in-house and in seemingly small batches. It’s possible something happened to your square during or after anodizing.
Koko The Talking Ape
These things are useful for drilling into cabinets, for instance, that cannot be brought to a drill press.
Some years ago I bought a guide similar to the Milescraft but from another manufacturer. There was so much slop in the chuck mount and the sled holding the chuck and the rails that it wasn’t all that useful. Also, it added about 6 inches to the overall length (drill plus guide shaft plus chuck plus drill bit).
I had better luck with just screwing two blocks of wood together to make a short fat L. You put your chucked drill bit in the crotch of the Y and drill away. Square in both dimensions.
Woodpeckers makes nice stuff. Its expensive to buy but high quality, USA made, low volume tools are expensive to produce. Hence they hefty price tag. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure they’re making a decent profit but I don’t think the pricing is extravagant.
I like using jigs/specialty tools. Especially if its something that is layout intensive. Less chance of me screwing up if I don’t have to measure.
I also like learning to master my tool technique. Learning to use a hand drill to drill perfectly aligned holes is a skill set.
I think alot of guys get caught up in the, “I need “X” expensive tool to take my hoby to the next level.” In reality its, “I need to master “x” technique to get to the next level.” Spend some of that tool budget on education. And honestly with Youtube and the rest of the internets its pretty damn cheap to get some quality instruction these days.
At the end of the day if you like the tool, buy it. Heck, even if you never use these “one time” tools usualy go up in value.
I like this one from UJK:
No fence option but really nice quality. I had a Wolfcraft and used a Milescraft bot are in the cheap side of things…
UJK is carried by TSO but I don’t see this one listed on there page unfortunately.
If you are an Agatha Christie fan and drive out to Torquay from London – you can do a stop at the Axminster store. Not exactly worth a trip from anywhere – but they are a sort of UK equivalent to to the big-box of tool stores.
It seems as if this or similar devices would be useful for making dog holes for a bench top? I have an older Festool MFT 1080 that needs a new top, but they are no longer available commercially so I have to make one. This seems like it would work well for that purpose.
They have been used for this, but a router would be better. Or, a jig with drill collars.
I’m actually one of the people who can use this but then I’m watching the video and where it says Minimal Run out, I can visibly see the tip of the drill bit showing run out. Yikes.
I saw that too! But given the design and what you’re dealing with, runout won’t be easy to eliminate entirely.
is that run out in the woodpeckers tool or is it translational from the drill or any cant induced by how it’s held. As said it would only ever be so precise.
Now I would say – I often hand drill with a rafter square on the piece to help me keep the drill plumb to the hold. or I will for repeated tasks make up a drill template. I do this on occasion.
SO I can’t say I can justify anything of this cost but over all I like the idea
The Rockler is capable of angle drilling. The Woodpecker is 90 degree only. That’s how they appear to me anyway. Check it out yourselves.
Whatever happened to the Axminster version from years ago? I remember it hit the market briefly before being taken off for a re-design. There’s a Japanese one that is supposed to be pretty good, also. We can always look to the timber-framing market for quality power drill press adapter do-hickeys but the minimum entry fee is about $700 the last I checked.
Looked cool and tried to set myself for a high price tag at $80, but I was apparently way off.
You wood workers need to stop spending so much money! These companies can see you coming from a mile away. Lol.
Anyhoo, it looked like it was wobbling on that 2×2, and I mean the chuck, not the workpiece.
I bought a cheap Chinese copy online and did not know about the Woodpecker tool at the time. Big mistake. All the red parts except for the collar and hardware is molded plastic. It’s too flimsy, the two guides can be twisted by the sliding chuck plate out of alignment. Not even worth the $45 I paid including shipping. There is a reason the Woodpecker is priced at $220 being all-metal and accurately made.