Hole Saw – The Ultimate Guide to Using a Hole Saw. Circular saw bit

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

Cleaner Finish

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.

Hole Sizes

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.

TCT hole saw & HSS step drill

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

How to cut the perfect hole in wood using a hole saw2018/07/17

How often do you need to cut a hole far bigger than the largest drill in your tool box? When that happens, your easiest option is to grab your drill and a hole saw.

Typically, a hole saw comes in three parts:

Screw-in mandrel. attaches the hole saw to the drill (pilot drill included)

Mandrel pilot drill (pilot drills can be replaced when needed)

Drill loaded with hole saw, mandrel, and pilot drill—ready to go.

Use a bimetal hole saw to cut wood and other materials

Exchange-A-Blade has one of the most extensive hole saw programs in the industry in both usage and sizes. However, here we are going to talk about bimetal hole saws.

Bimetal hole saws are designed to cut everything from wood and plastics to ferrous and non-ferrous metals, including stainless steel. Although they are slower cutting than carbide hole saws they provide a much smoother finish. These are the workhorses of the hole saw family and are available in up to 39 sizes from ¾” to 7 ⅞”. If you are not sure which size to choose, check recommended hole saw RPMs for your material.

About bimetal hole saws

A bimetal hole saw consists of a very hard, high speed steel Band, which is welded onto a high carbon steel body and a thick, high carbon steel backplate. The high-speed steel Band is ground to a 4/6 tooth configuration and the teeth are “set” to give adequate side clearance. The side clearance allows the body of the saw to travel through the material without binding and affects the amount of space between adjacent teeth and the amount of material each tooth clears. The 4/6 tooth configuration or “pitch” alternates between 4 and 6 TPI, or teeth per inch, around the body of the saw. This variable pitch enhances cutting by allowing more efficient waste removal and reducing heat buildup and vibration.

Cutting edges usually consist of saw like, bimetal teeth, which are “set” to give side clearance, or larger carbide teeth for fast cutting, or diamond grit cutting edges for ceramic and tile products. For best results and safety, use a hole saw designed to cut the material at hand and use the appropriate cutting speed and lubricant.

Is a cooling lubricant needed when cutting with a hole saw?

It is imperative that water be used as a cooling lubricant when cutting with any diamond grit hole saw. Failure to do will reduce the life of the hole saw dramatically. While no lubricant is required when cutting holes in wood products, cutting oil will help extend hole saw life when cutting a large number of holes in ferrous and non-ferrous metals.

Gauge your hole saw cutting speed for the best results

Speed kills, and this certainly holds true for hole saws. Two rules to remember are:

While many drills will run at 2,000 rpm, running hole saws at these speeds will cause them to burn out, cut slower because they can’t eject waste material, and can become very hard to control. Review the recommended cutting speeds for both materials being cut and size of hole saw being used. While it’s impractical to accurately judge the speed of a typical hand drill, you can judge the ratio of recommended speed versus the full speed of the drill. If your maximum drill speed is 1,800 rpm and the recommended cutting speed is 600 rpm, you should run the drill at approximately one third full speed. If the recommended cutting speed is 200 rpm, you should run it at a very slow speed. Please refer to our web site which provides a list of recommended cutting speeds for various materials.

Clear chips and waste while using your hole saw

When cutting thicker material, remember to clear chips and waste material from the hole. Cutting speed may be reduced and heat will build up by chips and waste material building up at the base of the blade and between the gullets. While cutting the hole, using a slight up and down motion will help remove excess waste material. If this doesn’t work, periodically stop cutting, remove the hole saw and clear the waste material. This will speed up the cutting, reduce heat buildup and help extend the life of your hole saw.

Selecting the right bimetal hole saw for you

Exchange-A-Blade has three lines of bimetal hole saws consist of the following:

hole, ultimate, guide, using

How to Use a Hole Saw Without Pilot Bit?

Hole saws are commonly used to cut large holes in materials such as wood or metal to create a smooth, round hole. The most common type is the arbored hole saw with a pilot bit in the center. But what if you do not want to punch a smaller center hole in the material that you are cutting out?

Can You Use a Hole Saw without a Pilot Bit?

The answer is yes, you can use a hole saw without a pilot drill to create a hole in wood, metal, or other material without creating a pilot hole. This is quite useful for two purposes.

  • When the main purpose is to enlarge an existing hole.
  • To create a circular piece from the material that you are cutting into. For those who use such shapes in the creation of other projects, the absence of the drill bit is quite desirable.

However, hole saws that do not have a pilot bit will require the use of a drill press or guiding plate in order to work properly.

Using Hole Saw on Drill Press

Without the pilot bit drilling into the center of the workpiece, the hole-saws tend to wander around especially at the beginning of the cut. The drill press or a milling machine solves this problem.

Hold the hole saw in the drill chuck. Place the workpiece on the drill press table and bring the tool close to the work to position the workpiece. Secure the workpiece with clamps to ensure that it won’t move during cutting. Switch on the machine and bring the tool to the work to start cutting.

It is important to ensure that you have sufficient clearance below the workpiece for the hole cutter to come out at the bottom end. You don’t want to spoil the table of your drill press. One way to do this is to use spacers or parallel blocks to raise the workpiece or place a scrap piece of wood below.

hole, ultimate, guide, using

Hole Saw Guide Plates

The next method is to use a guide jig. If you are using a hole saw on a handheld drilling machine such as a cordless drill, you need a guide plate.

A guiding plate sits on top of the material and is firmly in place. The plate keeps the hole saw without a pilot bit from drifting or walking across the material. Without a guiding plate, it is difficult to near impossible to create a perfect circle.

How to Use a Hole Saw Guide?

The guide itself can be a DIY jig or a professional guide that you purchase in a store.

Commercial Guides

This is normally a piece of hard material such as steel with different size holes that will fit on top of the material. Secure the guide and place the hole saw inside and press the trigger to start sawing.

Adjustable Guide Jigs

You can also get adjustable guides. These are mainly used with diamond hole saws for cutting holes in tiles, granites, masonry, and stones.

The adjustable hole saw guide jig comes with a rubber base and plastic or aluminum housing. It has four hardened ball bearings that will open uniformly to adjust to the required hole size.

  • Place the hole saw inside the guide jig between the rollers and adjust it according to the diameter of the saw.
  • Remove the hole cutter and place the jig exactly where you want to drill.
  • Press the suction-cup and lock the jig in place.
  • Now you are ready for cutting the hole accurately.

How to Make a DIY Hole Saw Guide?

You do not need to purchase a separate guide if you already have material with the hole cut into the center. You can make one on your own by using a scrap piece of wood.

  • Use the hole saw with a pilot bit to cut the right size hole into the scrap wood.
  • Unlock the set screw and remove the pilot drill
  • Secure the scrap wood on top of the material you wish to create the hole
  • Set the hole saw inside the guide and press the trigger to begin

Be sure to use scrap wood that is thick and strong enough to act as a proper guide. Plus, set your hole saw firmly inside before you press the trigger.

Using a Hole Saw to Enlarge an Existing Hole

With the DIY guide that you have made, you can create several holes before it gets worn out. Since the hole saw has cutting teeth only on the periphery, it will not enlarge the hole in the guide jig. However, keep in mind that you have to align your power drill axis to the guide hole axis. If you tilt the drill too much, the jig will get damaged.

For maximum efficiency, use quick-release clamps to hold the guide in place and then move them to the next location.

If you plan on creating circular material for the long term, consider using a strong piece of scrap metal for your guide. It will last far longer than wood with the proper care. Plus, the metal will not have to be as thick as the wood which may make it easier to clamp into place.

Summary: So yes, you can use a hole saw without the pilot bit. You will need a bit of preparation, but with the proper guide, you can create hole after hole with relative ease.

The Complete Guide to Hole Saws

In this guide, we’ll cover how a hole saw works, offer a few basic tips on how to use a hole cutter bit properly, and also look in more detail at some of the many different versions of job-specific hole saws you can buy on today’s market.

What are hole saws?

A hole saw or hole cutter is a specialist type of drill bit, designed to allow the user to bore out a circular hole of wider diameter than most standard bits would typically create.

Available for purchase in single units or as part of a multi-piece hole saw set, these types of hole cutters are highly versatile and commonly used items of DIY kit. They’re generally quite inexpensive and widely available, and they feature prominently in both professional and hobbyist tool boxes across a broad range of industries and applications.

Many different types of hole saw bits are available from a wide range of hardware stockists. almost as many varieties as normal drill bits, in fact. including versions manufactured for use on most sorts of sheet materials. In addition to general purpose hole cutting attachments, especially common variants of hole saws include models explicitly intended for:

Most types of masonry, including brick, concrete and stone

As noted above, hole cutters are very common everyday toolkit items, and you’ll see numerous brands of hole saw widely available from the majority of suppliers that offer a range of drill bits for individual purchase or wholesale.

The most familiar style of hole saw you’ll generally find in product catalogues is based around the standard cylindrical metal tube, with a shank at one end for insertion into a drill chuck. The boring edge usually consists of a circular arrangement of sharp teeth, machined around the full perimeter of the open cutting end of the bit.

Some hole saw designs also feature an arbor or pilot bit (either built-in or removable), which protrudes through the hollow centre of the hole cutter. They help to align and steer the hole cutting tool as it descends through the workpiece, and in many scenarios these handy additions can eliminate the need to drill a preliminary pilot hole before making the main circular cutout.

In this guide, we’ll examine precisely how a hole saw works, offer a few basic tips on how to use a hole cutter bit properly, and also look in more detail at some of the many different versions of job-specific hole saws you can buy on today’s market.

How does a hole saw work?

As implied by the name, a hole saw is made to cut a circular hole of much wider gauge through a workpiece than standard drill bits can create on their own. As with most power tool accessories, the key to choosing a high-end, well-made hole cutter is to look out for a combination of robust construction, quality materials and accurate, tidy machining.

Specifics such as tooth design and overall shape will vary depending on what material the hole saw in question is intended for use on, but almost all products supplied by reputable hole saw brands will have a few traits on common.

As a general rule, the cylindrical walls of a good hole cutter bit are deliberately manufactured to be rather thin in relation to the overall internal diameter of the tool. This helps to reduce friction between the teeth and the work surface, and in turn means less user force is required to break through a workpiece, putting less strain on the drill’s motor as the hole is drilled.

The diameter of the hole created will depend on the rated width of hole saw you purchase. Usually these holes will be made in some form of sheet material. see the sections below for specific examples and applications. although hole saws can also be purchased at varying lengths/depths as well as different diameters. Buying a deeper hole saw bit may allow for clean circular cuts through even fairly thick materials (provided the drill in question is properly set up and specced to handle them safely, of course).

Many hole saws and hole saw kits therefore come with arbors or pilot drill bits pre-packaged as an extra feature, but almost all are compatible with standard arbors and other hole saw accessories if not. Other optional features found in certain types of application-specific hole saw bits might include:

  • Diamond tips for use on ceramics and masonry
  • Extra heavy duty construction for tougher jobs or materials
  • Carbide-tipped teeth for use on fibreglass, formica, galvanised iron etc
  • Extra thin kerfs (i.e. tooth thickness) for fast and easy cutting
  • A raised shoulder around the base of the hole cutter, designed to help prevent overdrilling/breakthrough in cases where this isn’t the desired result

How to use hole saws

When dealing with different sorts of materials (including natural and engineered timbers, glass, plastic, ceramics and metal), you’ll most likely need to choose different types of hole saws. and often employ slightly different drilling techniques. in order to achieve the neat, clean-cut, professional-looking results you’re after. While collections of guidelines are seldom any match for hands-on experience in this department, there are some fairly universal techniques and basic user tips that all hole saw operators should bear in mind when approaching a new job.

Always make sure you’re using an appropriately powerful drill for hole cutting

Cordless models can get the job done on thinner or softer materials, but you’ll require at least a 14V model

You should never attempt to bore holes through masonry or heavier timber (anything over about 50mm) with a battery-operated drill

Always equip yourself with suitable PPE safety wear before starting to use a hole saw

As a minimum, this should always include suitable goggles or glasses, an appropriate dust mask for the material being cut, and good quality work gloves

Never wear loose clothing. such as baggy sleeves or dangling jewellery. that could get snagged in the hole saw, and always tie back long hair securely

Regardless of the material or surface you’re working on, never try to force the drill bit through any faster than it wants to go

Gentle, consistent pressure is key to achieving a neat, perfectly round hole

Always start off slowly and gradually increase rotation speed as you go

Apart from the power rating of your drill, the main limiting factor in terms of hole depth will often be the specific design of the hole cutter, and in particular the way it’s set up to deal with the material being removed:

Typically, a plug or buildup of removed material will amass inside the hollow core of the hole saw, eventually blocking and preventing it from descending beyond a certain depth (stated alongside diameter under the manufacturer’s product specifications)

At this point, the user may need to clear out the build-up using a screwdriver or similar ‘poking tool’

In many cases, it’s possible to do this via the handy ‘speed slots’ that many brands cut into the side walls of their hole cutters for this very reason

advanced designs might feature an ejector spring for this purpose, usually wound around the central arbor if one is present. you can also buy ejector springs (pictured on the right) as an aftermarket hole saw accessory

However, in cases where no such springs or clearout slots are available, you’ll need to lift the cutter away from the workpiece and manually empty out the hollow core from the open end before continuing

Ensure you cut directly down into the workpiece at an accurate perpendicular (90-degree) angle to the surface

This is the best way to prevent binding and sticking of the hole saw, or even stalling/burning out the drill’s motor

Be aware that going in at a slightly off-centre angle. or hitting a nail while drilling. can cause very sudden and violent binding/jamming of the drill when using a hole saw

Check that the full perimeter of the hole saw cutting edge is making even contact with the work surface all the way around before you start drilling

When making large-bore holes in most types of sheeting and solid materials, it’s always advisable to use an arbor or pilot hole of some kind, in order to prevent the hole cutter from skidding around on the surface during the initial stages of the cut

Whether included as part of a hole saw kit or purchased separately, these pilot bits sit at the centre of the hole saw’s hollow cylinder, and are usually removable or adjustable (often with a suitable hex or Allen key provided)

They will generally extend anywhere from 10-30mm out beyond the open cutting end of the hole saw, and may also incorporate an ejector spring mechanism for helping to jettison plugs of loose material build-up

If you want to drill a hole clean through a workpiece, be aware that going directly from one side through to the other with a hole saw can create a lot of ‘blowout’ (material tearing) on the reverse side

This is due to the width of the hole cutter bit, and the subsequently large amount of material being removed

To counter this, a good technique is to wait until the arbor or pilot bit breaks through. then move to the rear side (if accessible) and drill back the way you came, to a depth of a few millimetres, using the pilot hole as a guide

Once you’ve done this, return to the starting side and complete the full depth of the hole cut

One common hole saw problem encountered on many job sites and DIY projects is needing to drill a larger hole in place of an existing smaller one. for example, when fitting a new halogen downlight of wider diameter than the previous model

This is tricky, as there’s typically nowhere to seat the arbor or pilot bit in order to begin the cut cleanly and steadily

If the rear side and edges of the workpiece are accessible, clamping a scrap piece of timber behind it can give you a surface to drill your pilot hole into

Where this isn’t possible, a very handy optional accessory would be something like a hole saw re-work adapter (pictured on the right), which allows the user to attach two different diameters of hole saw bits simultaneously

The smaller hole saw thus acts as the guide or arbor bit (sized to the existing hole width), and the larger attachment then cuts a new, bigger hole around it

Consider using an accessory such as a dust cowl to cover the hole saw bit while in use, and prevent excessive spillage of debris when boring out large holes

These simple add-ons also help to protect the drill itself by stopping dust from directly entering the motor, especially when working overhead

Dust covers and cowls generally work by accepting the shank of the arbor through a central hole, and flexing as you drill to allow better access to the work surface

Once the hole has been drilled, all the dirt and debris is collected in the cowl for easy and tidy disposal

Applications and types of hole saws

As we’ve already touched on in this guide, there are many different types of hole cutters and hole saw accessories available for various sorts of applications and working environments. These might typically include, to name just a few:

Drilling holes for cable routing and wiring runs

Making cutouts in ceilings for placement of downlights, fittings or light fixtures

Bosch Progressor Quick-Change Hole Saw Adapter Review

Fitting taps and other hardware to sinks, baths and worktops

General joinery, woodworking and DIY projects