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How to Use a Hole Saw: A Beginner’s Guide

Last Updated: 24 December 2020

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One of the main staples found in a workman’s shed is the hole saw. You’ll find that it’s something that will come in handy as you venture out to more challenging projects. These saws are used to cut perfectly round holes in all sorts of materials. The most common ones are plaster and wood. However, you can use a hole saw with just about anything from metal to concrete.

“Hole Saw” is a bit of a misnomer because it looks more like a drill. It looks like a cylinder with a serrated blade at the end. When would you have to use one, you ask? Here are a couple of ideas:

hole saw
  • Installing deadbolts and locks
  • Making holes for drainage pipes
  • Making holes for light fixtures
  • Extending pipework
  • Making holes for wires and cables
  • Making vents

Uses for the hole saw are not limited to these, but you can now tell that they’re useful for a lot of things. So how do you find the right one for your needs, and how do you use it? We’ll get into that below. Think you might need a chainsaw instead? Check out our find for the best chainsaw under 200.

Select the Correct Size Hole Saw

Select the Correct Size Hole Saw

There’s an array of hole saw sizes. Choose one that fits your purposes. If you plan on cutting through metal, you might want to get lubricant or cutting oil to make the process easier.

You need the appropriate Bit Diameter (whole size) and Cutting Speed in order to optimally drill through a specific material or component.

For instance, 14 mm holes saws are commonly used for creating tiny holes used in domestic pipework. 32mm components are good for creating pipe holes that need one inch in diameter. 51mm components are used to create holes in office desks to create a passage for cables and wires. Lastly, larger sizes like 121mm units are often employed in light fittings and large drain pipes.

Choose the Right Hole Saw Arbor

There are mainly two types of arbors you can attach to your saw: small (14mm-30mm) and large (32mm-210mm). Make sure the one you get fits into the chuck. Once you have the right one, insert it through the back.

Once the arbor is inserted, tightly screw the hole saw onto the arbor’s head. This is extremely important, so use a pair of spanners to make sure nothing is coming off your drill once you operate it.

How to Attach a Hole Saw to a Drill

First, you must have a powerful regular drill to make a hole saw drill. Follow the steps below to make one properly:

How to Attach a Hole Saw to a Drill
  • Step 1

Use the right pilot bit. You’ll usually have a set of these to choose from that came with your hole saw. Most models come with a manual to determine which bit fits your application.

  • Step 2

Insert your selected bit in the hole saw’s bottom and slide the saw itself in the mandrel (this is the fitting made of metal holding the bit in place). Newer models let you snap your bit into its mandrel, while older ones require them to be screwed on. Screw them clockwise until you feel that they’re sufficiently tight.

  • Step 3

Use a wrench to hold your mandrel in place and use another to grip your saw’s base using another. Tighten the saw securely into the mandrel using both of these wrenches. Be sure that it’s sufficiently tight because it could come loose during usage if you’re not careful.

  • Step 4

Disable the drill first by removing its battery or unplugging it. The chuck then needs to be opened just enough for the mandrel base to fit in the drill. Hold your saw at the best as you tighten your drill chuck. You can do this using chuck keys or manually turning using your hand. Tighten it sufficiently to make sure that it doesn’t open accidentally.

  • Step 5

Make a few final turns with your chuck and make sure your saw is centered while you’re doing so. Once you feel that it’s in a suitable position, you can now plug your saw back in or return its battery to start sewing.

  • Step 6

Drill in the pilot hole by cutting through the material. After you’ve penetrated it properly, you can then remove the formed disc, and you have a hole!

How to Properly Use a Hole Saw

Most accidents in the workshop are preventable as long as you take the necessary precautions. As with any tool, our highlighted device requires specific practices. Here are some that you should always keep in mind:

  • Always wear safety equipment as you work. Make sure you’re wearing safety goggles, protective gloves, and a mouthguard when operating this device. The last thing you want is to inhale dust, have splinters get into your eyes, or lose a finger. If you plan on using drill saw for an extended period, consider wearing ear muffs for auditory protection.
  • How to Properly Use a Hole Saw
  • After each use, make sure your saw is free from any chippings and dust. This type of debris can ruin the saw’s teeth. Keep in mind that this blade is not easy to sharpen.
  • If you feel that your saw isn’t as efficient as it used to be, it might be because it’s already dulled. The better option is to replace swap the blade for a new one entirely. If you really want to sharpen it yourself, you can painstakingly use a hand file to sharpen each tooth.

If you have a hand-held electric grinder, now’s the time to whip it out. You could use a bench grinder as well. But as we said, it will save you a lot of time to just replace it.

How to Drill a Hole

How to use a hole saw seems fairly intuitive, but there is a learning curve. Follow the steps below to guide you through your first attempts. Remember, practice makes perfect.

  • Drill pilot hole
    Mark the center of the hole that you want to cut out.
  • Align the saw drill bit
    You might be asking yourself how to use a hole saw drill bit. You have to align it to make sure its edges are all even in contact with the material that you want to cut. Again, if it’s metal, use a lubricant to make things easier.
  • How to Drill a Hole
  • Keep a steady hand
    Start slow and grasp the drill firmly. You won’t have to exert a lot of force to push the saw through any material. Your job is to keep things level.
  • Blow away chippings and dust
    When drilling hole, remember to take regular pauses to take away dust and chippings from your drill. In the off chance that it gets clogged, it will overheat and possibly get damaged.
  • Run it through the other side
    For smoother cutouts, cut the other side as well.
  • Take out the slug
    The slug is the material that you’re cutting out. You can simply push it out or use an ejector spring harbor if you have one.

How to Drill a 4 Inch Hole in Wood

Wood is one of the easiest things to cut. Just choose the right size arbor, drill a pilot hole, make the cut, and remove the slug. Easy peasy. Want to get a more specific tool? Look at our top pick for the best circular saw.


The hole saw is a great tool to have because of its many applications. It definitely makes the cut as one of our favorite tools to work with. For other power tools, you might want to get like the best small chainsaw, check out HandyHomeMaster.

Do you have saw tricks to share with us? Leave them below in the comment section!

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