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. Moreover, 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

Figure 1- A Set of Hole Saws
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
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
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
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 Attach the Hole Saw to Drill.

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
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
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.

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.

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