Tools To Make Holes In Wood Of All Shapes and Sizes
Making a hole in wood seems easy, but deciding on the right drill bit or saw can be confusing. And while a professional woodworker has all of the right types of drill bits, a DIY project can come to a screeching halt.
Some of the common problems include:
- Making a flat bottom hole in wood that doesn’t come through the other side of the wood.
- Drilling a centered hole for cabinet hinges
- Making large (2-inch, 3-inch or more) holes in wood
- Fast cutting of holes in 2×4’s
In this guide learn what the most common tools for making holes are, and what’s bet for your project.
Best for large holes:
Best for making screw holes:
Budget hole saws:
Best to keep bit centered:
Making holes by hand:
Tools to Make Holes in Wood
Based on my decades of woodworking experience, here’s my list of tools to make holes in wood:
1.Hole Saws Make Large Round Holes in Wood
Available on Amazon: DeWALT Hole Saw Kit
Types of Holes:
- Large holes in any wood, plywood or laminates
- Perfect round holes up to 6″ in diameter
No workshop is complete without at least one set of hole saw kits.
- Hole saws can cut holes in wood from 1″ up to 6″
- In fact, one of the best tools for making the popular corn-hole board holes is, you guessed it, a 6″ hole saw.
- Looking to cut a hole in a thick piece of wood? Use a hole saw with a deep “throat” that will go through deep material
- Lastly, to avoid chipping the bottom of the wood surface, once the pilot bit is through the wood just reverse the bit. This has the added bonus of not jamming the wood deep in the hole saw.
Editors Tip Drill a hole and the wood is stuck in the hole saw? Use either an awl or screwdriver to work it out using the holes on the side of the bit. Or, drill two screws into the wood and use them to wiggle the wood loose. Personally, I like to work the hole saw back and forth to avoid this as I’m drilling. × Dismiss alert
2.Pilot Bits For Drilling Screw Holes
Available on Amazon: FTG Pilot Bit Set
When it comes to drilling holes for screws, most screws are tapered. And, to properly set the screw you need the diameter of the drill bit to match the shaft of the screw.
The solution? A set of pilot bits that quickly snap into any drill and, of course, a set of these to match your screw sizes.
As a bonus (and not required to use) you can also countersink the heads with most sets.
Lastly, if you need to make holes for screws in multiple pieces of wood you can use a speedy hole jig.
Cutting Flat Bottom Holes in Wood With Forstner Bits
A forstner bit will make ultra smooth, pinpoint accuracy holes in wood. This bit is typically used for 1/2″ to 2″ holes.
I’ve drilled thousands of hinges with a Forstner bit and it’s one of my go-to bits for my drill press. Because this bit excels in precision drilling it can accurately drill large holes without wobble. Due to it’s precision design it cuts anything from hardwood and softwood to most types of plywood.
Standard Drill Bits for Small Holes
Available on Amazon: Hex Quick Change Drill Bit
The popular twist drill bits are likely already in your toolbox and do fine making holes up to about 1/2″.
While the twist drill bit looks the same as the pilot point drill bit you’ll see one important feature missing: the pilot point for the larger bits.
However, if you use a punch to make an indent for these bits they work fine for sizes over 3/16. But over that size and these bits can “wander” in the wood grain.
A twist drill bit works in any type of wood but is limited maximum hole size and is less accurate for larger sizes due to lack of a pilot point.
Making Medium Sized Holes in Wood With Spade Bits
Available on Amazon: DeWALT Spade Bits
A spade bit is the standard issue drill bit for putting holes in wood of all shapes and sizes. And, due to it’s inexpensive design, it’s a great tool for an occasional DIY’er.
I have a few sets of spade bits in my toolbox at all times. Because they are versatile, cheap, and have a unique long pilot tip they are perfect for drilling holes in any type of wood.
And the best part? They are the best drill bit to avoid ripping out the side of the wood opposite the drill. Because they have a long pilot tip you can see the bit come through and then simply start drilling from the opposite side of the wood.
But the only thing this bit can’t do is drill a flat bottom hole – you’ll need to go back to the forstner bit for that.
Best Hole Saw Kit in 2023 Reviews Buying Guide
Hole saw kit has a significant tool in drilling arsenal – as it helps to create perfect holes effortlessly in different materials that include wood, metal and even ceramic tiles without causing any damage.
They have a ring-shaped blade with 1 to 4 inches diameter and high-speed steel teeth which ensure perfect cuts every single time. Hole saw kits are useful for both professionals and DIY’ers for handling with drilling requirements.
With an increase in the demand for the best hole saw kits, several manufacturers have developing models that differ in terms of several features that include blade length, durability, ergonomics and others.
To make a wise choice that fits into your requirements and budget-level, we recommend analysing the products with below factors.
Hole saw size –
Which sizes of saw or saw bits are included in the kit is essential to consider before making its purchase. With its wide range of sizes, you can deal with a variety of projects because some are designed for metal or woodworking, while some are for plumbing or light fixing. The general range is 2 ½ inches. Beyond this range, you have to select a kit accommodating your requirement.
Hole saw material –
You can set the best saw material based on the type of material you are dealing with. A hole saw with a steel blade is perfect to cut plastic, wood, or fiberglass, cobalt saws are durable and heat-resistant which makes them to cut aluminum or steel. Hole saw with tungsten carbide tips cut thick steel or iron. While diamond-encrusted blades are used to dig holes in tile, limestone, glass, or fiberglass.
Number of pieces –
Similar to drill bits, the hole saws in the kit are available in a set of standard sizes to create a hole of a specific diameter. With its large number of included pieces per pack, you can easily drill various size holes without looking for a set. So, you have to check the number of pieces (range of 7 – 40) included in the pack before buying a kit.
Apart from these key features, there are so many things to consider that we mentioned in our detailed Buying Guide. Also, we enlisted some top-selling Best Hole Saw Kits after doing thorough research on various products in the market. Read on to finalize the correct model as per your cutting requirements and budget.
Best Hole Saw Kit in 2023
Best Hole Saw Kit in 2023: Reviews
SUNGATOR Bi-Metal Hole Saw Kit
SUNGATOR is the most popular brand to enter on our picks today. Rightfully so, as SUNGATOR is providing the most affordable choice for the best hole saw kits.
The SUNGATOR Bi-Metal Hole Saw Kit is the cheapest option you will find in the market right now. Still, it is constructed with high-quality material to prevent rusting and corrosion. Each of the 10 included saw units is 2 mm thick, making them at least 50% more durable than thinner saw units. There are sharp teeth produced on these saw units that make them perfect for hole cutting, even on metal. Each obtained cut is clean and smooth with a varying depth of cut within 43 to 50 mm.
The complete SUNGATOR Bi-Metal Hole Saw Kit includes 18 pieces in total that include a spare pilot drill, a large mandrel, a small mandrel, and a medium adapter apart from the hole saws. With the additional mandrels for different sizes, you will find this kit very easy to use. You will also get a large crying case that can perfectly house all of these components.
- 18 pieces included
- 10 sizes available
- Bi-metal hole saw units
- High-quality material
- 50% longer lifespan
- 43 to 50 mm depth of cut
- Cheapest hole saw kit in the market
- A decent number of sizes available for the price
- The depth of cut is quite deep
LENOX Tools Hole Saw Kit
Lenox has been serving the professional needs of its customers for a very long time now. You will find a great hole saw kit from Lenox present here.
Our 1st pick for the best hole saw kits are the LENOX Tools Hole Saw Kit, and it is perfectly suitable for heavy-duty professional applications. It comprises a total of 26 pieces that are suitable for a wide range of applications, including automotive, construction, welding, and so on. These new designs from Lenix are nearly twice as durable as compared to older Lenox hole saws.
There are 20 different hole saw sizes included in this kit that is pretty much standard and most commonly used. Each of these saws has an increased wall thickness that allows it to undergo a lot more stress before it deforms permanently. Lenox has provided an optimum tooth design on these saws that penetrates most metal without any problem. The longer and equally sharper tooth allows a precise cutting operation and also allows quicker plug ejection.
- 26 pieces included
- 20 sizes available
- Bi-metal hole saw units
- Best choice for commercial application
- Staircase design for easy injection
- Sharper and longer tooth
- One of the most versatile options
- Penetrates string materials with ease
- Highly durable pieces
Milwaukee Hardened Hole Saw Kit
We have decided to include MILWAUKEE’S on our list today as it is also a very premium option for workshop tools. The following hole saw kit from MILWAUKEE’S features most pieces and sizes.
In the 2nd position, we have yet another ideal hole saw kit designed for professional and commercial usage. The Milwaukee 49-22-4185 consists of 28 different pieces that include 22 holes saw sizes for best applicability. Overall, the Milwaukee 49-22-4185 is very easy to use and yet highly durable. Hence, you can expect a very long lifespan for each of these pieces even after regular usage.
Each hole saw piece available in this set is separately ice-hardened to increase its lifespan by up to 50% compared to the units that aren’t. As for the teeth design, Milwaukee has gone with the Matrix II teeth for enhanced durability. The tooth also has a positive rake angle that eases the penetration and increases the speed of cutting. To make sure the tooth does not wear off easily, the Milwaukee 49-22-4185 is designed with a radiused tooth for an even stress concentration.
- 28 pieces included
- 22 sizes available
- Bi-metal hole saw units
- Premium hole saw kit
- Ice hardened tooth
- Up to 50% extended lifespan
- Matrix II tooth
- Best choice for commercial application
- Highly durable hole saw pieces
- Most sizes available
DeWALT Hole Saw Kit
You all must know DeWALT if you have looked for any operation-related tool or machine. DeWALT has been supplying decent quality machines and tools for more than a decade, and its hole saw kit is not an exception.
Our 3rd pick for the best hole saw kits is coming from a well-known brand DeWALT. The DeWALT Hole Saw Kit delivers you the best value for your investment as the kit consists of 14 pieces in total. Here, you will be getting 11 standard saw sizes that are very strong and user-friendly. Each of these saws is designed with a C clamp design. Thus, you can install any of these saw units on your machine without needing any tool. This also reduces the surface damage on the saw, increasing its lifespan.
The kit also comes with comparatively taller bushings compared to those seen on standard hole saw kits. As these saw units operate on alignment Windows, you will be getting the most accurate performance with these units. There are two adjustable bushings provided within the kit that accepts all standard backsets to make sure it’s applicable with your machine
- 14 pieces included
- 11 sizes available
- Bi-metal hole saw units
- C clamp design
- Tool-free clamping mechanism
- Two adjustable bushings included in the package
- Compatible with a wide range of machine
- Easy to install and remove
- Additional adjustable bushing provided
Diablo DHS14SGP Hole Saw Kit
You might not be familiar with the brand Diablo as it is one of the fresher brands in the industry right now. But, this is also why you will find Diablo saw kit one of the most affordable choices right now.
Diablo DHS14SGP saw kit is comparatively cheaper than most choices added to our list of the best hole saw kits. There are 14 pieces present in the package that allow creating holes of 11 different sizes with ease. The maximum cutting depth for these saw units is around 2 ⅜ inches possible in a single pass. This allows you to produce up to 40% deeper holes that increase the productivity of the operation.
The Diablo DHS14SGP includes ⅝ inches mandrel pilot bits and a threaded adaptor that can be fitted within the diameter range of 1 ¼ inch to 6 inches without any consequences. On the other hand, the secondary ½ inch threaded adaptor is suitable for the diameter range of 9/16 inches to 3 1/16 inches. Diablo has also introduced tool-free ejection of plugs which makes it much easier to use. The overall cutting life of Diablo DHS14SGP saw pieces is nearly 20 times compared to other saw pieces.
- 14 pieces included
- 10 sizes available
- Bi-metal hole saw units
- 2 ⅜ inches cutting depth
- Two threaded adaptors provided
- Tool-free ejection process
- Up to 20 times longer cutting life
- Very durable choice
- Suitable for a range of machines
- Additional accessories are handy
Spyder 600887 Hole Saw Kit
Unlike most brands mentioned on our picks today, Spyder is a brand that produces a versatile range of options. Its hole saw kit is a decent choice if you are on a tight budget.
Are you looking for a high-speed hole saw kit under an affordable price range, look no further. The Spyder 600887 is the best hole saw kit for your needs as it allows you to create holes up to 5 times faster than its competitors. It has a Rapid core eject technology that ejects the plugs simply with a press of a button once the process is complete. You will be able to use the Spyder 600887 with many different materials such as wood, plastic, metal, and even plaster.
Spyder 600887 hole saw kit includes 13 different pieces in the package. This gives you 9 different size options for creating holes in different materials. Spyder has also included universal arbors within the set that is suitable for almost any hole saw a machine that you may own in the future. There is also an 8/10 inches long hex pilot and 8/10 inches long arbor adaptors present with the rest of the pieces.
- 13 pieces included
- 9 sizes available
- Bi-metal hole saw units
- Up to 5 timers faster-cutting speed
- Rapid core eject technology
- 8 and 10 inches hex pilot bits and arbor adapters
- Allows you to increase productivity with faster operation
- Suitable for wood, metal, plastic, and plaster material
- Universal arbors for increased compatibility
Milwaukee 49-22-4025 Hole Saw Kit
IF you are on a tighter budget, you should prefer a brand like Milwaukee as it provides you a decent product within an acceptable price range. The following hole saw kit from Milwaukee is a similar choice.
Finding the best value for the money tools is quite difficult, especially if you are looking for heavy-duty tools like a hole saw kits. These tools require high strength and durability to operate for a longer period of time. The Milwaukee 49-22-4025 provides you with such a hole saw kit within a decent budget range. This is a 13 piece hole saw kit that is designed for a longer lifespan and faster cutting operation in mind. It includes 9 different sizes for the saw units that will be decent for most applications.
Each of these saw units features RIP guard teeth specially designed with higher density steel behind the cutting edge for extended strength and durability. Hence, these units are backed by a lifetime tooth break warranty which is great considering it’s a heavy-duty toolset. On the other hand, the low friction and thermoset paint allow faster-cutting speed without any problems.
- 13 pieces included
- 9 sizes available
- Bi-metal hole saw units
- Designed for long life and faster cutting
- Low friction thermoset coating
- RIP guard teeth
- Teeth are backed by a lifetime brake warranty
- Heavy-duty option
- High-quality coating on each saw unit
Greenlee 660 Hole Saw Kit
Greenlee is a highly premium brand that specially deals with special-purpose tools and machinery. If you have similar requirements, take a look at the hole saw kit from Greenlee.
The Greenlee Cttr Hole Saw Kit is the most premium choice from our list of the best hole saw kits today. It will cost you a high investment considering it only includes a 7 piece set in the package. Out of which, there are 5 different hole saw units present in the package. All of these units are made up of carbide material that is not found in any other hole saw kit present in the industry. This makes the kit applicable for a variety of stronger materials that bi-metal units cannot penetrate with ease.
Each hole saw unit in the Greenlee Cttr Hole Saw Kit has a flange that prevents the user from over-drilling the workpiece. There is also an ejector spring that automatically removes the plug once the hole is finished. This saves a lot of time considering back-to-back applications. The carbide teeth on the hole saw units allow optimum performance and increased durability, which is suitable for the price tag.
- 26 pieces included
- 20 sizes available
- Carbide hole saw units
- Premium hole saw kit
- Flange to stop over drilling
- Ejector spring for fast plug removal
Bosch HB25M Bi-Metal Hole Saw Kit
Bosch is a well-known brand in the industry that triumphs in many different sectors. With great products designed for professional use, they also have a similarly high-end hole saw kit.
The Bosch Master Bi-Metal Hole Saw Kit is not the most premium option that is present on our list today. But surprisingly, it features a higher number of pieces than most options. This kit has 25 pieces that include 11 different hole saw units that work well with both standard and quick charge arbors. Each of the saw units has a pilot bit that snaps easily into the mandrel, making it ready to use right away.
These units cut faster, allowing the user to make more holes in any given time period. This makes it an ideal choice for a mass production application. On top of that, the threadless design helps to prevent hurdles in the operation. Each hole saw has a reinforced shoulder that grants it additional strength and increases its overall life span. The saws are made up of 8% cobalt alloy, which makes the units more resistant to increased heat and friction.
- 25 pieces included
- 11 sizes available
- Bi-metal hole saw units
- 8% cobalt alloy saws
- Easy installation in the mandrels
- Faster cutting operation
- Professional choice
- Available at a significantly cheaper price range
- Most number of pieces included
Buying Guide For The Best Hole Saw Kits
Being an essential workshop tool, it is wise to invest in a model that is durable, efficient, and versatile. For this, you have to take several factors into your account while choosing the product. We have mentioned all those details in this guide to help you in making a wise buying decision.
Here is a list of factors to be considered while shopping for this hole saw kit.
Different types of hole saw materials (like steel, carbide-tipped, cobalt, tungsten carbide) available to drill through different types of stock materials. Choose the hole saw material depending on the type of objects you are dealing with (cutting requirements).
A steel hole saw is the most preferred option to drill through plastics, wood, or fiberglass. It is a stronger yet cheaper option that is designed to deal with a bit tougher materials.
Cobalt hole saw is harder, and more robust (than steel) that works well to drill through dense and harder materials (like aluminum or steel). Usually, heat will gradually make the drills get dull and worn out quickly. Since it is made of cobalt-steel alloy, the hole saw gets extra strength and heat resisting competence. Thus, this affordable option deflects heat and enhances the longevity of the attachment.
Hole saw with carbide-tipped blades will stay stronger, sharper, and durable for a long time. Whereas, titanium-tipped or tungsten hole saw blades are considered the best all-rounder that can efficiently cut through any material (harder material like thick or stainless steel, or iron). Hence, these two are commonly used materials in this saw kits.
Diamond-encrusted blades of a hole saw are the perfect option to cut a hole in hard materials (where metal saws won’t work) like ceramic, limestone, tile, glass, or porcelain slate.
Hole Saw Sizes:
It is essential to know the saw sizes that come in the hole saw kit or set before making its purchase. This lets you know what can be used to get perfect results. A hole saw kit with a wide range of sizes will allow you to do a variety of projects easily, which includes pet houses, doorknobs, or lighting fixtures. In general, the hole saw kits are mostly used for wood, plastic, or metalworking.
Most household plumbing comes smaller than 2 ½ inches, yet some require a hole saw over this range (in rare situations) to make holes while plumbing. So, this is the reason that most hole saw kits have 2 ½-inch as their largest bit.
In case, if you need to drill a hole larger than 2 ½-inch for any special use, then you have to pick a kit that comes with the hole saw bits sufficient to accommodate your purpose. If it doesn’t drill enough holes for your need, then it is not your required or preferred option.
We suggest you know the largest hole which you want to drill/cut and ensure that your chosen kit has bits (even as large size one) to use properly.
Usually, a hole saw kit comes with bits of various sizes to accommodate several projects. Thus, it ensures you can use the saw bit to drill the correct sized hole required for the specific project. For this, hole width is essential to consider while investing in this saw kit, because this width will define how large a bit can produce the hole. If you are buying an individual hole saw then check for the apt hole width required for your given project/task.
Saw blades are included with a wide variety of diameters in the hole saw kit to help you perform several projects efficiently. The general diameter range of these blades will be from ¾-inch to 4 ¾ inches. The blade has open slots on the side for removing the plug easily after drilling/cutting. You can find a minimum of 10 saw blades, a set of arbors, and mandrels to hold various blade sizes in the saw kit.
TPI and tooth design are two main things you have to consider while checking the teeth of the hole saw. Both these factors will direct you in selecting the correct option.
Teeth Per Inch (TPI) refers to the number of teeth (tooth count) per inch of the saw blade. This TPI rating will impact the quality and speed of the cut and also determine the type of material the particular saw cut through easily. So, it is essential to consider while choosing the hole saw.
The tooth design of the hole saws can be either standard or square, in which square tooth design is the best option to cut through harder materials like ceramic or metal.
Alike pilot bits, the drill bits in the saw kit will fit perfectly in the center of the round saw blade and act as a guide to set the blade in the center of the material. The numerous bits in the saw kit will serve as a backup for the user whenever the drill bit break or is worn down.
These bits are available in different sizes and shapes, in which the longer bit will be more effective to anchor the hole saw to the material. While less flex and more stability are provided by shorter drill bits, which means they are perfect to deal with harder materials.
Hole Saw Arbors Vs. Drill Chucks:
You have to consider the difference in the size of the saw kit’s arbor and the size of the drill’s chuck. You can get arbors of different sizes in the kit to work with different diameters of hole saws. You might be limited to fit the specific hole saw’s type when having a small drill with a 1/4-inch chuck.
The top range of most hole saw kits will be 2 ½ inches, and arbors fitting these bits will easily fit all drills of a standard 3/8-inch chuck. Apart from this size, use large arbors that need a drill having a ½-inch chuck.
Also, check the size of the drill’s chuck while buying a hole saw kit to ensure that your chosen kit fits perfectly with your drill. For instance, a drill that has a ½-inch chuck will fit apt to work with every hole saw, while a drill having a 3/8-inch chuck is best suited with several kits along with hole saws that come under 2 ½ inches. However, a drill with ¼-inch chucks won’t fit properly in the hole saws, which means you have to check it thoroughly.
Being a power tool, these are powered by either an electric outlet or battery. Among them, a cordless drill is a convenient and portable option for outdoor use, whereas a corded drill is a more powerful option yet less convenient to use.
Usually, more power is needed for the proper functioning of the hole saw compared to the standard drill bit. Thus, the corded drill is a powerful option that produces high RPMs and more torque than its counterparts. Also, it runs on a continuous power source to power up these tools.
The style and the built material of the saw blade will decide the cutting speed of a hole saw. High-speed steel and bimetal blades are the quick types of blades used to cut or drill through any material. the speed of any power tool is measured in rotation per minute (RPM), in which the higher the RPM value, the quicker you can cut the material.
Blades having deep gullets and aggressive teeth angles are the best to eradicate more material in every rotation, as they cut deeper and quickly. Hence this blade type doesn’t make smooth cuts like a blade with more TPI, whereas a blade with smaller gullets will eventually consume a long time to cut through the material.
Durability is another factor to check before buying a hole saw kit. Treat the construction materials and saw blades properly in the hole saw kit making. This will enhance its longevity, reliability, and durability with simple care and proper use.
For its proper maintenance, we suggest you go through the user manual to get a clear idea about your specific product (drilling speed, materials it can deal with, power source, blade type, or hole width). Thus, it will let you set the things properly and thereby prevents you from ruining the hole saw.
With the availability of numerous hole saw models that vary in sizes, build quality, and shapes, choosing the correct option is a bit challenging. Some hole saws are apt to perform specific tasks while others won’t. So, you should know the intended use or purpose of using the hole saw – like for cutting through wood or drywall, (or) making holes in metal before shopping for it. After you came to know the actual purpose, then go to the store or online market to select the saw designed to cut through the specific material.
These add-on features will ease your usage, enhance the productivity and help you to quickly finish the work. Some of these extra features are mentioned below, in which you can choose them as per your requirement.
Hole Saws And Carbide Hole Cutters!?!? Which One??? Diablo,Bosch,Greenlee,Lenox,Milwaukee
Diamond Tip – The saws with this tip are preferred for tougher jobs (like cutting through ceramic) where other hole saws unable to handle.
Extra-Thin Kerfs – It let the device work for a quick and efficient hole-cutting/drilling process.
Carbide-Tipped Teeth – The teeth on the saw will make it ideal to cut through Formica or fiberglass.
Raised Shoulder – This feature will deter the over-drilling of the device.
You might notice small parts like a special bit in the hole saw kit used to attach its mandrels, saw blades, and adapters of various drill types or impact drivers. So, the design and durability of the case are essential to consider while buying a hole saw kit to protect them from external elements and debris, especially when you are using this kit in different workplaces.
Ease of Use:
These saws are straightforward to install and use for altering drill bits to enhance productivity and do the work quickly. Also, it removes the waste material properly, especially working on metal or plumbing projects, where it is hard clearing the waste material manually.
The right adapter is essential for proper usage of drills or impact drivers of different brands. Mostly, it comes in the hole saw kit, and we recommend you have different drill adapters to meet your requirements.
Types of Hole Saws and Its Uses:
Various types of hole saws are available in the market, in which each type is meant for a specific use. As a user, you should clearly know which type is suitable for a particular purpose/task. Here are some commonly used types mentioned.
Carbon Steel – A common and affordable option that is used mostly to cut malleable or softer materials (like softwood or plastic). They are named as multipurpose or general use hole saws. These are mostly used by DIYers, yet not much by professionals.
Bi-Metal – A common yet most expensive option with its flexibility and durability. Since it is made of two types of metal-carbon steel and high-speed steel, which last longer under any extreme situations. These are used to cut tougher materials like hardwood, steel, plasterboard, non-laminated plastic, or cast iron.
High-Speed Steel (HSS) – This HSS hole saw is hard and offers clean cuts, yet lacks a flexible carbon steel element, which makes it not an ideal tool for general purposes. These are used in electrical work or other fields, especially where you need a clean cut.
Single Tooth – As the name implies, single tooth hole saws have only a single (one) tooth that is used to cut through cement or wood sheeting. The tooth is made of tungsten carbide-tipped which aids in efficiency and durability. Also, it has incredible speed and a quick collection of debris.
Tungsten Carbide Tipped (TCT) – This TCT is a versatile and perfect option to deal with hard materials like ceramic and fiberglass. They work as single tooth models, yet it consists of several teeth rather than a single tooth.
Diamond Grit – Rather than traditional teeth, we find a diamond-grit edge in the hole saw that offers heat resistance and durability. A perfect option to cut tougher materials like ceramic or fiberglass. Ensure to take proper care on the tip by watering often to maintain them cool till you stop working.
Adjustable – Here you can adjust the saw to set on a variety of hole cut sizes. For this, you have to move the metal strips of the unit into particular grooves or adjust the screw tightness based on the model you are using.
Core Cutters – It is a special hole saw used widely to clear cylindrical chunks of material and aids in better cutting depth. This saw is built with TCT or diamond edging and made of strong materials and used for tougher jobs like drilling plasterboard or fiberglass.
Top 5: Best Hole Saw Sets You Can Buy on Amazon [Buying Guide]
Frequently Asked Questions:
Yes, you can. A bimetal hole saw is designed to easily cut through hard or tough materials like stainless steel or thin-gauge steel.
Usually, a pilot bit serves as a guide to center a hole saw. In fact, you won’t use a pilot bit with a hole saw, yet it is difficult to center the saw for its proper cutting/drilling.
A ring-shaped saw blade found in the hole saw kit is an arbor hole saw. They accompany the pilot drill bit to restrict the saw teeth from moving.
The main purpose of using a hole saw is to cut through thin-gauge metal materials, such as steel, and aluminum. Make sure to apply water or oil to lubricate the surface to reduce overheating of the bit, which further damage the bit.
These hole saws are manufactured with various types of tool steels like carbon steel, bimetal, and high-speed steel. Among them, bi-metal is the most common material used in the making of harder and durable hole saws.
Like other hole saws, a 6-inch hole saw has the same process to use them. Yet following the user guide will help you in getting the best results.
Generally, diamond edge hole saws are tough, hard, and strong to cut through hard materials (like steel). But not an ideal option to drill hardened material (such as stainless steel), because the steel might clog them).
It is a toolbox comprising several bits in various sizes and other accessories stored in a hard protective case. Since it has all those required to do several projects, this kit is the best option for both novice and professionals. Upon its regular usage, you may buy specific hole saws to meet all your sawing requirements (or) swap the worn-out pieces.
Since most of these hole saws are corded models, use the drill with a minimum of 14V and hook it to the chuck arbor. Then connect the hole saw to the pilot drill and lock the saw. For further assistance, we recommend you follow the user instruction of your specific saw.
Saw depth and diameter are used to measure the hole saws. One can notice hole saws of different sizes in the saw kit. You can choose a saw with a diameter ranging from 14 mm – 210 mm, while a depth with a cutting range of 22mm – 350mm. You have to choose the exact hole saw size depending on the intended use or purpose. over, you can buy an arbor extension or adjustable hole saw to accomplish a little more precise hole size.
If you are in need of a hole saw kit, you have arrived at the right place. Today, we have given you the best option for the hole saw kits being sold in the industry right now and a handful of pros and cons with each of our choices. This will make it much easier to make a choice as you can decide what pros suit your needs the best. You can also go through our buying guide for any additional help that you need before buying a hole saw kit. Although, if you want to make a quick decision, here are some of the best holes saw kits that will suit a lot of applications.
- Not everyone requires a high-end kit, especially if you are going to use it for DIY projects. In such a case, we should buy an affordable option such as the SUNGATOR Bi-Metal Hole Saw Kit, which is much cheaper than any other hole saw kit in the market. You will find 10 sizes included in this package that are bi-metal.
- The Milwaukee 49-22-4185 Bi-Metal Hole Saw Kitis an all-purpose recommendation as it features the most number of hole saw pieces. There are 22 different sizes present in a single package that will allow you to use this set for a versatile set of applications.
- Lastly, we will recommend the Greenlee – Carbide Hole saw kit as it is the only choice from our picks today that features carbide-made hole saw pieces. It is suitable only for special purpose applications as there are only 5 sizes available.
Best RPM for Hole Saws when Cutting Any Material
You may think using a hole saw is simply a matter of chucking it up and drilling. While that may work in many cases, setting the best hole saw cutting speed with your drill—even if you only get close, will save you from burning out the blade and possibly even ruining the material. We thought it might be handy to create a guide for setting the best RPM for hole saws when cutting any material.
Many of the best cordless drills operate on high and low speeds, and some have multiple modes or even software that controls the RPM (rotations per minute) of the keyless drill chuck. Even if you need to throttle the drill by hand, however, speed is crucial. Understanding your drill’s speeds helps you drill more quickly and without ruining your hole saws. With a little practice, you can save a lot of money in the long run.
Best RPM Speed for Using Carbide-tipped Hole Saws
Following is a table representing the best RPM speed for using carbide-tipped hole saws. It guides you through the optimal speeds for cutting through aluminum, stainless, fiberglass, ceramic tile, and even cast iron. As a general rule—the harder or more brittle the material, the slower you should cut.
Best Cutting Speed for Using Bi-metal Hole Saws
Of course, we also had to include a table for setting the best RPM speed when using bi-metal hole saws. These hole saws seem much more prominent in the trades and cost less than their carbide-tipped brethren. Consider these the general speeds you want to use for optimal cutting through mild steel, stainless, cast iron, brass, and aluminum. You can use the highest speeds on aluminum and mild steel, while cast iron and stainless require a bit more patience.
The Best Hole Saw Cutting Speed is to Slow Down? Yep.
It may very well be that you can’t achieve these speeds using the tools you have. In that case, just do your best. Be sure to use that variable trigger to lower speeds when cutting harder or more brittle materials. It takes patience, but these hole saws work best when used properly—and you may very well end up cutting through the material more quickly than if you run the tool at full speed. You will most certainly go through fewer blades!
Methods to Set Lower RPMs
Method 1: Smart Connected Tools
Tools that use technology like Milwaukee One-Key or DeWALT Tool Connect can let you set different speed ranges for your drill. This lets you assign up to four different speed ranges—and more easily control your RPMs. While we don’t expect anyone will rush out to buy a Smart tool just for use with hole saws, it may help if you already have one of these drills in your collection.
Method 2: Multi-speed Drills
It used to be that drills had one speed or gear. Now, they typically come with two—but some do better than that. If you happen to have a drill that has three or more speeds, get familiar with your settings. Manufacturers set those differing speeds at specific breakpoints. Knowing the top RPM for each mode will help you better understand how to feather the trigger to achieve the desired drilling speed.
After some practice, this should become second nature to you.
Method 3: Set Your Gear Mode and Feather the Trigger
Obviously, if you don’t have an electronic way to control speed or a 3- or 4-speed drill, go manual. If you know your drill’s top speed, then feathering the trigger can at least get you in the ballpark RPM range. In any case, it will certainly do better than pulling the trigger all the way in High speed and burning up your bi-metal saw during its first cut!
The two charts above should give you a fairly definitive list of how to configure your drill speed for the optimal hole saw cutting. This keeps your blades sharp and stops the metal from heating up so much that it deforms the blade tips on the material. Once you lose that edge, you might as well rub a flat piece of steel across it—you’re done.
Sometimes, slow and steady does win the race!
Special thanks to Lenox Tools for providing specifications for both bi-metal and carbide-tipped hole saws.
When he’s not playing with the latest power tool, Clint DeBoer enjoys life as a husband, father, and avid reader—especially the Bible. He loves Jesus, has a degree in recording engineering, and has been involved in multimedia and/or online publishing in one form or another since 1992.
Clint’s career has covered nearly the entire realm of audio and video production. After graduating at the top of his class with an Associates Degree in Recording Engineering, he began working for the famed Soundelux studios in 1994, one of the largest post-production companies specializing in audio for feature films television. Working on a myriad of feature films, Clint honed his skills as a dialogue editor, foley editor, and sound designer. Years later, he moved into the expanding area of video editing, where he served as the company’s senior AVID video editor for three years.
Working for such clients as Universal Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Paramount Home Entertainment, NASA, Universal Studios, Planet Hollywood, SEGA, NASCAR, and others, Clint DeBoer dealt extensively with client management as well as film video editing, color correction, and digital video MPEG compression. He also carries several THX certifications (Technician I and II, THX Video), and is ISF Level II Certified.
After founding the CD Media, Inc. publishing company in 1996, he went on to help start or grow several successful online publications, including Audioholics (as Editor-in-Chief for 12 years), Audiogurus, and AV Gadgets. In 2008, Clint founded Pro Tool Reviews followed by the landscape and outdoor power equipment-focused OPE Reviews in 2017. He also heads up the Pro Tool Innovation Awards, an annual awards program honoring innovative tools and accessories across the trades.
Crediting God and his excellent staff for the success of what is now the largest power tool review publication in the industry, Clint DeBoer hopes to see continued growth for the company as it rapidly expands its reach. Pro Tool Reviews critically reviews hundreds of hand tools, power tools, and accessories each year to help inform users about the best and newest products in the industry. Reaching everyone from the construction industry professional and tradesman to the serious DIYer, Pro Tool Reviews helps tool consumers shop better, work smarter, and stay aware of what tools and products can help put them at the top of their game.
Hole Saw – The Ultimate Guide to Using a Hole Saw
Hole saws have gained vast usage among handypersons and DIY enthusiasts due to their efficiency and ability to cut a wide variety of hole sizes. over, they are relatively affordable and consume less power.
In this article, we’ll discuss tips and uncommon info surrounding the use of hole saws. We’ll also look at how to use hole saws to achieve project success and some maintenance tips to ensure that your hole saw lasts longer.
Table of Contents
- Cleaner Finish
- You Can Use it on Different Materials.
- Hole Sizes
- The Material in Question
- The Diameter and Depth of The Hole
- The Power of The Drill
- The Drill’s Battery Voltage
- Why Do You Need a Hole Saw’s Pilot Bit?
- Why is a Hole Saw’s Pilot Bit So Important?
- 3.1 Choose the Right Type of Hole Saw and Hole Saw Arbor
- 3.2 Attach the Hole Saw to Drill.
- 3.2.1 Insert the Arbor into the Power Drill
- 3.2.2 Attach the Hole Saw
- 3.2.3 Tighten the Hole Saw Attachment
- 3.2.4 Insert the arbor into the Chuck and Tighten
- 3.3 Drill Pilot Hole
- 3.4 Take Some Safety Measures
- 3.6 Removing Plugs
- 3.7 Can I use a Hole Saw with a Battery or Cordless Drill?
- Section 4 How can I use a Hole Saw to Enlarge an Existing Hole?
- 7.1 Preventing A Blowout
- 7.2 How to Avoid Wood-burning when using a Hole Saw?
- 7.3 What to do When Drilling Large-diameter Holes
Figure 1- A Set of Hole Saws
Section 1: Why Don’t Choose the Drill Bit But Hole Saw?
You may wonder why a drill bit can’t do the same job as a hole saw. If drilling sizable holes is your priority, you need a tool that is best suited for the job.
A couple of reasons why a hole saw would outperform a drill bit when it comes to drilling a hole includes the following.
Figure 2 – A Hole Saw and a Set of Drill Bits
Hole saws are cut with great precision as they come with pilot bits that allow you to precisely know the size of the hole you want to create or cut.
This precision also allows the spot to come out neatly. Plus, with a quality hole saw, you should be able to avoid splintering.
You Can Use it on Different Materials.
While drill bits like spade bits and Forstner bits are exclusively for woods, you can use hole saws on a wide range of materials.
Besides, there are specific hole saws for different materials – metal hole saws, diamond hole saws, and concrete hole saws.
There is a limit to the type of holes drill bits can drill. If you’re looking to drill well-sized holes, drill bits aren’t an option. You’re better off using a spot saw as you can seamlessly create holes with less effort.
Section 2 What Type of Drill is Best for Hole Saws?
Yes, hole saws are powerful tools, but they are only one part of the equation. It would be best to have a drill that powers your hole saws efficiently.
Predominantly, exercises tend to come in three types – hand-held drills, drill presses, and magnetic base drills.
Your working conditions should influence your drill choice. Most handypersons or DIY experts use hand-held drills (corded and cordless) because of the work ease it provides.
You can easily carry it around while you work. Regardless of your drill choice, you can’t afford to overlook some staple factors such as –
Figure 3 – A Hand-held Drill in Use
The Material in Question
The concerned material should inform your choice of a drill. Some fabrics require a strong drill power, while others might need less. In this regard, you should always check for the RPM. Some manufacturers usually have this info on their products.
The Diameter and Depth of The Hole
Some drills are more capable of drilling deeper holes and broader diameters. Each exercise comes with information regarding their capability; manufacturers should have this info on their products. Ensure to always lookout for this.
The Power of The Drill
Some materials tend to be more challenging than others. In this regard, you need a drill with a working power that matches the material or materials.
With a powerful exercise, you can quickly drill through hard materials like concrete. Also, the drill power affects the drill speed.
It would be best if you had a well-regulated rate for hard materials such as metals. Drilling hard materials such as metal at a very high speed can damage your drill bit. In this regard, we advise using a speed control drill.
The Drill’s Battery Voltage
To use the cordless drill, you must pay attention to the battery voltage. The more powerful the voltage, the more efficient your training will be.
Why Do You Need a Hole Saw’s Pilot Bit?
As the name implies, a pilot bit guides the hole saw to the area that needs drilling. It also ensures that the hole saw stays on course until you finish creating a hole.
A pilot bit is an anchor that holds the hole saw, keeping it from wobbling during the drilling/cutting process.
Why is a Hole Saw’s Pilot Bit So Important?
The pilot bit plays a critical role in ensuring that the bit stays firm using a hole saw. It prevents the hole saw from spinning and wobbling over the objects you want to see through.
Without it, you might accidentally gouge the surface of your item instead of having a neat, round penetration cut.
When you sink the pilot bit, it guides the hole saw in anchoring itself, enabling the saw’s stability even before the operation starts.
Section 3 How to Use a Hole Saw？
Hole saws are very efficient tools. However, you may have difficulty figuring your way around it, and that’s okay. We’ll be looking at the step-by-step procedures on how you can effectively use a hole saw.
Before we begin, let’s look at the few components of a hole saw. A hole saw consists of a saw blade and an arbor. The arbor acts as the base of the spot saw, and it’s the part that fits into the drill directly. Now that we know this let’s begin.
Figure 4- A Hole Saw Attached to a Hand-held Drill
3.1 Choose the Right Type of Hole Saw and Hole Saw Arbor
Here, we can’t’ t overemphasize that the material you’re looking to cut or drill should inform your choice of the hole saw and hole saw arbor. It would be best to note the hole sizes you intend to cut/drill.
If you frequently cut hard materials like metal or concrete, you should select a powerful hole saw to delve into these materials seamlessly.
Plus, hard materials like metal also necessitate lubricants as you’ll need to seam to ease friction and have a smooth drilling process.
For detachable arbors, choose a gazebo that fits your hole saw. Arbors come in two types: small gaps (14mm – 30mm) and large holes (32mm – 210mm).
Besides, you want an arbor that will fit into a ½ or 3/8 chuck, depending on your power drill’s specification or requirement.
3.2.1 Insert the Arbor into the Power Drill
Insert the arbor via the back of the hole saw, ensuring that the power drill grips it firmly. A firm grip prevents wobbly movement when the hole saw is used.
3.2.2 Attach the Hole Saw
Now, screw the hole saw into the arbor’s thread, ensuring it fits in tightly. If the drill bit happens to be adjustable, allow it to protrude past the hole saw blades by approximately 3/8 inch and tighten it again via the set screw.
The reason for this protrusion is so that you can bore your pilot hole without hassles.
3.2.3 Tighten the Hole Saw Attachment
Yes, we seem quite stuck on tightening because it’s better to be safe than sorry. Take the extra step of drawing your hole saw onto the arbor.
This additional tightening will prevent it from coming off during a drill operation.
Wobbly movements from the spot saw when drilling could damage the material, and we don’t t want this.
3.2.4 Insert the arbor into the Chuck and Tighten
Here, you’ll fit the end of the arbor into the drill’s chuck. If you’re using a cordless drill, it should, at least, have an 18-volt battery, as anything less might not produce the torque you require.
An 18-voltage-powered exercise allows you to use your hole saw effectively. After you’ve confirmed this, tighten the chuck and ensure that it holds onto the arbor securely.
3.3 Drill Pilot Hole
Proceed to drill a pilot hole in the center of the spot you want to cut out. The pilot hole is a guide to ensure that the hole saw is steady and anchored.
While drilling, try to maintain a drill bit level. Plus, if your material is free-standing, you should anchor it onto something so the hole saw doesn’t cause it to spin.
3.4 Take Some Safety Measures
Before you start the actual drilling, take a final look at everything you’ll need during the drilling process. Tighten loose ends and fix whatnot. You also want to ensure that you have a lubricant by your side.
3.5 Align the Drill Bit in the Pilot’s Hole and Start Drilling
Position the drill bit’s tip into the pilot’s hole. It will keep the spot saw steady and stop it from wobbling. When you begin drilling, the teeth of your hole saw should come in contact with your workpiece evenly.
If you’re cutting a rigid material such as metal, endeavor to add a few drops of lubricant to the hole saw’s blade to ease friction.
Start drilling at a low speed and increase as you push the saw into your workpiece while making sure you’re maintaining the drill bit level.
Within intervals, slow down and remove the saw from the hole to clear out chippings and pent-up sawdust. It will also keep the blade from overheating.
3.6 Removing Plugs
It is one of the challenging phases in drilling, as most people find it difficult to dislodge a plug (mostly wood) from the hole saw. Well, if you’re using a spot saw with a plug ejecting feature, you don’t t need to worry, as the pin will come off quickly.
On the other hand, if your hole saw doesn’t’ t have this feature, you can use a slotted screwdriver to dislodge the plug. Using a slotted screwdriver can be tedious as it requires a considerable workforce.
3.7 Can I use a Hole Saw with a Battery or Cordless Drill?
While corded drills might allow you to outsource electrical voltage to power your training, a cordless drill will enable you to work seamlessly. It is because of its mobility.
However, if you have to use a cordless or battery-powered drill, ensure it has a battery voltage of at least 18-voltage power. Anything below the 18-voltage power will cause your routine to underperform, resulting in a poorly-done project.
Section 4 How can I use a Hole Saw to Enlarge an Existing Hole?
Drilling a fresh hole requires less effort than enlarging an existing hole. When preparing a new spot, your pivot bit is an anchor that allows you to hold your workpiece in place and drill evenly.
However, it’s quite different when you’re looking to enlarge an existing hole, as there is no place to fix your pivot bit. So, how do we enlarge an existing hole? Let’s find out in the subsequent paragraphs.
Figure 5 – A Large Diameter Hole Saw and A Concrete Plug
First, you mark the existing hole with horizontal and vertical lines. These lines will represent the center of the existing hole.
After drawing the lines, place a scrap piece of plywood over the existing hole, and transfer the center lines to the plywood.
Once the plywood is steady, fix your pilot bit on the intersection of both center lines, drill through the plywood, and then onto your workpiece.
Another way to enlarge an existing hole is by fixing two hole saws onto the arbor. To do this effectively, you need a smaller hole saw (one with the same diameter as the existing hole).
A more massive hole saw (one with a similar diameter to the new hole you’re about to drill).
You should fix the smaller hole saw inside the large one. So, when you start drilling, the smaller hole saw will easily slide through the existing hole, and the large outer hole saw will hit a new spot.
However, you should note that not all arbors allow two-hole saws, endeavor to verify this before attaching two holes to a single pavilion.
Section 5 How to Drill Tap Holes Through Acrylic or Metal Baths and Basins
Using hole saws to drill through wood materials is easy. The same is true for hard materials such as acrylic and metal baths. But you will need a different method, which we will study.
Advisably, you should always have cutting oil around when drilling metal, as this helps to reduce friction and offer the necessary lubrication. When there is a reduction in conflict, the hole saw will run as it will be cold.
Besides, cutting oil keeps the flush metal chips from the kerf. Invariably, this allows the teeth of the saw to slide through your hard material seamlessly.
Alternatively, if you can’t stop applying oil while using your hole saws at intervals, get a sponge and cut it into the exact shape of your hole saw.
Once you’ve done this, soak the sponge with cutting oil and let it absorb evenly. After this, put the sponge inside your hole saw.
While you drill the metal, the sponge supplies the oil making your work relatively seamless. Note that you should prepare cast iron without any lubricant as it needs none.
Section 6 How can I Prevent my Hole Saw from becoming Clogged with Dust?
As we said earlier, having a lubricant around is one of the best ways to reduce friction and sawdust formation. Ideally, sawdust comes from overheating and excess friction.
One subtle and effective way to douse this problem is by slowing down and retracting your hole saw now and then while drilling.
It allows the saw to cool off and the debris to spin off. However, if your drilling project calls for a more robust approach, you can try the trick below.
Once you drill the pilot hole for your cut, score the wood’s surface lightly with your hole saws. After scratching the surface, drill 1/4-inch holes within the scoreline’s inner markings, spacing them closely around the perimeter.
Ensure that you hit the spots entirely through your workpiece.
At this juncture, you can resume drilling with the hole saw and worry less about the sawdust. The sawdust will automatically escape via the ventilation holes as you drill.
Figure 6 – A handyman Drilling A Wooden Plank
Section 7 What do I need to Pay Attention to When using a Hole Saw?
You need to pay attention to some specific tips when using hole saws. For precision, we’ll be looking at three tips that can come in handy.
7.1 Preventing A Blowout
Pulling out your hole saws from a cut can blow out the back of your workpiece. If you intend to blast holes through walls or floor joists, a blowout shouldn’t’ t be an issue.
However, a blowout can pose a serious concern if you’re sawing through finished surfaces such as doors or slabs. So, how can you avoid encountering a blowout while sawing through surfaces?
Fortunately, you can avoid a blowout by harnessing two approaches. First, you can place scrap wood behind your workpiece and saw into it.
Secondly, you can see halfway through from either of the ends and complete it by drilling through the other side of the workpiece.
7.2 How to Avoid Wood-burning when using a Hole Saw?
The best way to avoid burning your wood during a drilling project is by ensuring you have an effective lubricant. Drilling with cutting oil reduces friction and stops your hole saw from overheating.
7.3 What to do When Drilling Large-diameter Holes
Yes, drilling large diameter holes can be quite daunting as it weakens the wrist, drill motor, and hole saw. Instead of trying to hit a large-diameter home at once, you can harness an effortless technique.
This technique involves drilling several stress-relief holes within the cut perimeter. You can begin by drilling a 1/8-inch deep, circular hole on the workpiece with your hole saw.
After this, change the drill bit to a 3/16-inch diameter one. Use this drill bit to create several spots close to each other.
Endeavor to drill these holes around the initial 1/8 inch circular hole. Once you finish this, return to the hole saw and complete the sawing. You’ll discover that the 3/16-inch diameter holes will reduce the strain and stress during the drilling process.
With the tips we’ve discussed above, you should have no issue when it comes to using a hole saw. You can also use the buying guides shared in this article to choose the right hole saw for your project.
However, if you need further assistance in selecting the right spot saw, feel free to reach out to us. We will be glad to guide you and provide the necessary support for you.
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How to Use a Hole Saw Correctly
Cutting a perfect circle in wood doesn’t need to be difficult! There are numerous ways to accomplish this task, depending on the tools you have in your garage. The easiest one to use is a circle shaped saw, named simply, a hole saw.
I’ll explain the parts of the hole saw as well as some techniques for using them. By the end of this article, you should feel confident wielding this tool on your next project.
This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. Purchases made through these links may earn me a small commission at no additional cost to you. Please visit my disclosures page for more information.
What is a hole saw?
Hole saws make both a hole and a round wooden disc using a thin serrated blade around a central drill bit.
Hole saws can be attached to a regular cordless drill or a drill press. There are many types and sizes, which can be used for cutting wood, concrete, tile, and even metal. They’re best used for drilling large diameter holes.
How can this tool help you? Here are some common projects you might need a hole saw for:
- Doorknob and light fixture hardware. Door knobs and light fixtures require a precise hole for proper placement. Most other methods for cutting a circle won’t work on a door or ceiling, so a hole saw will be a great help.
- Plumbing and ductwork. Hole saws can cut more than just wood. You can use one when installing ductwork, or to hook up a rain barrel to your downspout.
- Crafts. Don’t struggle with lopsided circles made with a jigsaw! It’s much easier create the hole in a cornhole board, or to make giant Lego dots on the side of a DIY Lego table with a hole saw instead.
Parts of a hole saw
Before you start drilling, it’s helpful to know what the different parts do and how they go together.
- Arbor shaft. This is the portion that you stick into the chuck of your drill. Make sure it will fit! Some are meant for a drill press, which has a much larger chuck.
- Collar. This is what holds the pilot hole bit and the saw in place on the arbor shaft. There’s a nut that goes over it to hold tight against the underside of the saw.
- Collar Screw. The collar will have a small set screw in the side that tightens with an Allen wrench, so you can adjust how far the bit protrudes.
- Drive Pins. Sometimes the drive pins are part of the collar, sometimes they’re a separate piece and sometimes you don’t need them at all! Mine are mounted on a separate plate, which is only used on the larger hole saws. This keeps the saw turning at the same rate as the drill.
- Saw. The hole saw itself. The round saw usually has vents on the side to help prevent overheating and to allow the teeth to clear sawdust.
- Drill bit. This bit will guide the saw and prevent it from wandering on the board.
How to Assemble a Hole Saw
The first time I opened up the case of my cheap Harbor Freight hole saw set, I was totally confused! All the blades were covered in oil and there were nuts and bolts that fit on some parts and not others. How do you assemble this thing.
First, choose the right size saw for your project. There should be a number on each one that corresponds to the outside diameter of the circle it will cut.
On larger blades, there will be two holes at the bottom on either side of the center arbor hole. This is for the drive pins, which is a flat plate with two pins sticking up. Insert the drive pins into the holes from the outside. I usually skip this step unless it’s a really big blade, so I can use those holes to easily poke out the wood plug if it gets stuck!
Next, place the collar onto the arbor shaft, and insert the pilot hole drill bit into the collar. Adjust the depth of the drill bit so that it protrudes past the teeth of the saw blade, then tighten the collar set screw with an Allen wrench.
Insert the arbor shaft and collar through the hole in the center of the saw. Match up the flat sides of the collar with the flat sides of the hole so it seats snugly.
My hole saw has a nut that slides over the collar on the back to hold everything in place. Don’t overtighten this nut, or the heat produced can cause it to seize up and make it difficult to remove (I have one that’s permanently stuck!)
How to Attach a Hole Saw to a Drill
After you have your hole saw assembled, it’s time to attach it to your drill. This is just like inserting any other kind of bit, but there are a few things you should know.
First, make sure your drill motor is 18v or larger. Small drills will struggle to move that blade at a high speed and can overheat quickly. A corded drill is a better choice if you’re making a lot of holes.
Second, tighten the chuck of your drill around the arbor shaft of the hole saw. Be sure it’s not touching the nut (which can cause it to loosen), and check that it’s centered and straight.
How to Use a Hole Saw
Okay, you’ve got your hole saw assembled and attached to your drill. Now what? Here are some tips to help you cut the hole flawlessly!
- Place a scrap piece of wood (also known as a backer board) under your workpiece, and clamp both boards down tight. This will stop the board from spinning out of your hands, so you can concentrate on making a clean hole. It also prevents tear out on the back of the board.
- If you need the hole in a precise location, drill a smaller pilot hole in the center first. This gives the hole saw’s pilot bit somewhere to start, so it doesn’t wander.
- Switch your drill to a high torque setting, then place the point of the bit at the pilot hole mark.
- Start the drill, and allow the hole saw’s teeth to make the cut. Don’t apply too much pressure, and make sure to keep the power drill straight. If you notice one side of the hole getting deeper than the other, adjust your position so the saw cuts perpendicular to the work surface.
- After some cutting, pull out the saw to blow away the sawdust and let the blade cool. A hot blade can burn the wood inside the hole.
- For the cleanest cut, saw halfway through the board until the drill bit pokes through. Then flip it over, align the drill bit with the hole and complete the cut from the opposite side.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to Avoid Tearout with Hole Saws
Tear out occurs when the back of the workpiece is unsupported, so the wood fibers give way before the cut is complete. This results in a jagged mess of splinters on the back of your project! Here are a few ways to prevent tearout with a hole saw.
First, use a sharp saw. If your hole saw’s blade is dull, it will tend to tear instead of cutting the wood.
Second, don’t apply too much pressure. Keep things secure, but let the saw do its job. you don’t want to bust through using force.
Third, use a piece of scrap wood clamped firmly underneath your project. The saw will continue cutting straight through to the backer board, holding the fibers in place as it transitions from one piece to the other.
For a perfect cut on both sides of the board, cut about halfway through your project, flip it around, and complete the cut from the other side. How do you line it up? Saw into the material until the pilot hole appears on the other side. you can now use this small hole as a guide.
How to Enlarge Existing Holes
Since an existing hole won’t have any material for the pilot bit, you’ll have to get creative. You could try to cut it with a non-arbored hole saw, but it can be tricky to keep it centered.
A clever tip for enlarging existing holes is to make a plug for it first. Choose a hole saw that’s the same diameter as the smaller hole, and cut a disc out of scrap wood. Switch to the larger hole saw and slide the plug onto the drill bit. The plug will fit into the hole and guide the saw!
This process can be difficult to visualize, so here’s a good video showing how to enlarge existing holes with a hole saw.
Another method for removing wood from a hole saw is to drill long screws into the wooden plug on both sides of the drill bit. Alternate back and forth between the two screws, slowly driving it in a little further each time. When the tip of the screw hits the bottom of the hole saw, it will start pushing the plug out!
If that doesn’t work, you’ll have to disassemble the saw and pop it out from the back. Usually a few good whacks with a hammer on the end of the arbor shaft will suffice!
Hole saws can be dangerous. You’re dealing with a lot of torque. If the saw binds while cutting, it can yank your arm and injure your wrist. Don’t go too fast, and keep a good grip on your drill.
The other safety concern is heat. Allow your drill to rest during large cuts to prevent overheating, and don’t touch the saw blade until it’s had a chance to cool down. I’ve made the mistake of trying to remove it too soon, and burned my fingers!
Always use common sense, wear safety glasses, and make sure your mind (as well as your saw) is sharp before operating a hole saw.
Spade Bit vs Hole Saw
Use a spade bit instead of a hole saw to bore up to 1 ½” holes in wood when you don’t need the plug and don’t mind the rough cut edges. Spade bits have two sharp edges with a point in the center. As the bit spins, the edges shave out the wood.
Spade bits are useful for projects where you need a small hole drilled quickly, like when you’re running wiring through a stud wall. They’re the cheapest option of the three, but they have some downsides.
First, the spade bit can be hard to use near the edge of a board. They also don’t make the cleanest hole and tend to tear out. In general, this type of a bit is best for rough construction rather than a fine woodworking project.
Forstner Bit vs Hole Saw
A Forstner bit creates a flat bottomed hole with smooth sides. This bit will give you a much cleaner hole, but at a much higher cost. This tool is great for holes that will be seen, such as recessing screws that will be plugged, or for decorative elements like this tea light candle holder.
The Forstner bit doesn’t create as much heat as a spade bit. They work well when you need to cut the edge of a board or make an angled hole. However, they can be expensive, and are only typically available in sizes under 3″ in diameter.
Arbored vs Non-arbored
An arbored hole saw has a pilot hole drill bit in the center, and a non-arbored hole saw doesn’t. Choosing one over the other comes down to understanding what the pilot drill bit is and how it works.
If you want to save the cutout circle, then you may want to use a non-arbored hole saw. This way, you don’t have a little hole in the middle. But if your circles will be painted, you can use wood filler to cover up the hole.
If your project requires precision, you may want an arbored hole saw. The pilot hole will help guide your cut and keep it centered.
Also, an arbored hole saw is generally easier for a beginner to use because the saw blade won’t skip over the surface of the wood. A non-arbored hole saw is harder to control, so I’d only use them in a drill press with the workpiece clamped down to the table.
Now that you know how to use a hole saw, you can drill holes in just about anything! I hope this guide was helpful, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask them below!
Check out these other beginning woodworking tutorials!