Whether you’re into case modding or need to make lockset cutouts in new doors, hole saws are the perfect tools to have on hand for cutting clean, symmetrical, circular holes in everything from wood and metal to drywall and plastic. CableOrganizer.com wants your next hole-cutting project to be as simple and frustration-free as possible, so we’ve put together answers to some of the most frequently asked questions on hole saw use.
What type of drill is best for use with hole saws?
Hole saws are essentially cylindrical bits that are capable of cutting perfectly round holes in materials like wood, plastic, drywall, metal, fiberglass and acrylic. Hole saw bits can’t do much on their own; they rely on handheld drills to supply the power and rotation needed for hole cutting. Since drills are the driving force behind hole saws, it’s important that you use one that can stand up to the job.
As far as hand drills go, brand isn’t much of an issue, but power is! For clean, consistent cuts, a good rule of thumb is to stick with reasonably powerful drills of at least 14 volts. For cordless drills, professionals often recommend upgrading to 18 volts to ensure that you have enough power.
Why is a hole saw’s pilot bit so important?
True to its name, a pilot bit guides the hole saw to exactly where it needs to be, then keeps it on course until the job is finished. Without a pilot bit, the hole saw would just spin and wobble over the object you were trying to saw through, leaving you with a gouged surface instead of a clean, round penetration cut.
The pilot bit is located at the exact center of a hole saw, and protrudes a short distance beyond the saw’s toothed edge. The first part of making a hole saw cut is to drill the pilot bit into the center of what will become the hole. Sinking the pilot bit allows the hole saw to anchor itself to the object being cut, providing the saw with guidance and stability before its cutting teeth even touch down.
How can I use a hole saw to enlarge an existing hole?
Existing holes can be enlarged with a hole saw, but it’s a project that requires a few extra steps. As we discussed above, having a pilot bit lead the way is vital to keeping your hole saw steady and producing clean cuts. When it comes to enlarging existing holes, one particular challenge arises: there’s nothing solid to sink a pilot bit into.
This problem can be fixed with two simple items: plywood scraps and a clamp. Just clamp a 1/4" to 1/2"-thick piece of plywood over the existing hole. Mark the new hole’s center point on the plywood, align your saw’s pilot bit with the center-mark, and complete the hole cut as usual. If you’re going to be boring through a door or similar object, attach a second piece of plywood to the back as well: it will prevent splintering when the saw emerges on the opposite side.
How can I prevent my hole saw from becoming clogged with sawdust?
There’s nothing like a sawdust clog to slow down a hole saw. When you’re cutting through wood, it’s easy for particles to build up in your saw’s teeth, causing it to overheat, work less efficiently, and potentially burn out. Providing your hole saw with sawdust-relief will not only prolong its life, but also ensures cleaner, neater cuts.
The easiest way to clear excess sawdust is to simply slow down your hole saw and draw it back every so often, which cools the saw and allows cutting-debris to spin off. If your project calls for more drastic dust-removal measures, try the following trick.
After drilling a pilot hole for your cut, use the hole saw to very lightly score the wood’s surface. When the scoring is complete, remove the hole saw and set aside. Next, drill several 1/4" holes along the inner edge of the score line (keeping them within the circle, and spacing them out around the perimeter). Make sure that these holes penetrate completely through the work piece. At this point, you can pick up where you left off with the hole saw… you’ll be able to make a complete hole cut, and all of the sawdust will automatically clear out through the ventilation holes.