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How to use a hole saw?

Hole saws are small cylindrical metal blade that attach to power drills providing the ability to create larger holes in materials.

 

The hole saw consists of a circular saw blade mounted on an arbor. The arbor provides the base to the hole saw and fits directly into the drill which grips it.

 

In addition to an arbor many hole saws have drill bits already attached.

Step 1 – Select a hole saw

It is important to make sure you are using the correct hole saw for the material you are cutting as well as the correct size hole saw to create the hole you need. If you are cutting through metal, then have a bottle of cutting oil or lubricant ready to make the saw run more smoothly.

Step 2 – Select the correct hole saw arbor

If you have a detachable arbor, select the correct arbor for your hole saw to fit onto. There are typically two types of arbor; one for small hole saws (14mm – 30mm) and one for large hole saws (32mm – 210mm). Also make sure that you have an arbor that will fit into either a 3/8 or 1/2 inch chuck, depending on which your power drill has.

Step 3 – Insert the arbor into the power drill

Insert the arbor through the back of the hole saw, ensuring that the power drill has a firm grip to prevent any movement during using the hole saw.

Step 4 – Attach the hole saw

Screw the hole saw onto the arbor’s thread until it is tight. If the drill bit is adjustable, make sure it protrudes past the hole saw teeth by approximately 3/8 inch and tighten it via the set screw. It will need to protrude at least 3/8 inch so that you can bore your pilot hole.

Step 5 – Tighten the hole saw attachment

To be extra sure, you can use a pair of spanners to tighten the hole saw onto the arbor. This will prevent it from unscrewing and coming off on your drill. Movement from the hole saw when using the power drill can cause damage to the material you are cutting. 

Step 6 – Insert arbor into the chuck and tighten

Insert the end of the arbour into the drill’s chuck. You should use a corded mains-powered drill or a cordless drill that has at least an 18-volt battery.

18 volts is required for the cordless drill as anything less may not produce the required torque to use your hole saw effectively. Tighten the chuck until it holds the arbor securely.

Step 7 – Drill pilot hole

Drill a pilot hole in the centre of the hole you wish to cut out. The pilot hole is used as a guide to keep the hole saw straight and centred. As you drill, keep the drill bit level and square to the workpiece. 

 

Note: if your workpiece is free-standing or unattached, make sure you secure it before cutting so that the hole saw does not make it spin.

Step 8 – Align drill bit in the pilot hole

Place the tip of the arbor’s drill bit into the pilot hole – this will keep your hole saw aligned and keep it from “wandering”.


When you start drilling, the hole saw’s teeth should contact the workpiece evenly. If you are cutting metal, add a few drops of cutting oil to your hole saw’s blade.

Step 9 – Start slowly and increase speed

Hold the drill tightly and squeeze the trigger so the saw starts to spin. With moderate pressure, begin pushing the saw into your workpiece, making sure you are keeping the saw level.

 

Occasionally, slow the saw down and back it out of the hole so as to clear dust and chippings, this will also help to keep the saw blade cool.

Step 10 – Saw through from the other side

For smooth splinter-free holes, it is recommended that you finish the cut from the opposite side of the workpiece, where possible.

 

Once you have drilled through the material, remove the hole saw.

Step 11 – Remove slug

Remove the slug of waste material from your hole saw. If your arbor has an ejector spring then the slug should just pop out when you remove the hole saw from your workpiece.

Wonkee Donkee Review

When drilling holes in materials it is important that you have a good quality drill that can complete the jobs you need. At Wonkee Donkee we have reviewed our favourite drills comparing them on quality, usability and price.