Have you ever whipped out your cordless drill and bit set, only to realize you need to make a 1/2″ or larger hole, but don’t have the bit to do so?
Have you ever tried to use a jigsaw to make a perfect, 2″ hole? Didn’t turn out too circular, did it?
Want to make a corn hole game? The hole saw is your friend!
Thankfully, the evolution of power tools has brought upon us the ability to drill really big holes into wood, metal, foam and other materials using our drill. The amazing reality is that you can do this quickly, by yourself, and with the drill you already own.
Hole saws work by sinking a center bit into your material to line up the incoming saw, and keep your hole straight. Then, the saw come in and finishes the job!
Before you buy, there are a few very important specifications you need to look at. First, you must see if the bits you a looking at are designed for the material you are planning to cut. Most sets are rated for wood, but only some are useable on metal, and trust me, you don’t want to use a wood set on metal! It really stinks, and you may not even get your hole cut!
The second thing you must check is the bit size compared to your drill’s chuck size. Your home drill will probably have a 3/8″ or 1/2″ chuck, and it’s important to know that some sets only have a bit that fits a 1/2″ chuck!
When looking at these specialized bits, you need to first anticipate your needs. If you just need to cut a few holes, occasionally, you can save a lot of money by buying a cheap set. However, you need to know that inexpensive sets like these will quickly dull and not be as quick from the start. But, for about 1/4 of the cost, cheap saws like this are great for someone who just needs to cut a few holes, or who won’t use them often.
If you’re going to be using your saw a lot, I would highly suggest a set like this one by Irwin. I would venture to suggest you buy a more expensive set even if you don’t think you’ll need it. Hole saw drilling is really fun and you’ll come up with a billion project ideas once you use it the first few times.
Now that we’ve got you all set up with a great hole saw kit, let’s get to work. You’ll need to get out your power drill, cordless preferred, hole saw kit, adjustable wrench, and a flat head screwdriver.
First, determine what size hole you are going to cut, and get that saw out. Then, find the center bit that matches the size of your chuck. The bigger, the better, so choose the largest one that fits your drill.
Next, we want to place the center bit through the center hole in the saw, and line it up so that it notches in with the saw. The last step is to thread the nut on top, threads down and tighten it really tight with your adjustable wrench.
Grab your material, and make sure to mark the center point of the circle, as that will be your means of lining up the saw. Slowly sink the bit into the material, and then begin sinking the outer diameter hole saw into your material.
As you go along, you may find your sawdust smoking, or catching on fire. If this happens, just speed up your bit and slowly back out of the hole a little, so that some air gets circulated. If your wood project is being stained, you’ll see the burn marks, so be extra careful with this! If you have to pull your bit back, make sure you keep that center bit in the wood, so that you don’t get off alignment.
Once you make it all the way through the material, you’ve successfully drilled your first hole saw hole! Congradulations! If you are careful, pull your bit out right as you get through the material, and you won’t get a “donut” stuck in your bit. However, if you do, don’t fret. You can use your screwdriver and hands to gently spin the donut right off!
As I mentioned above, pretty much any drill can fit most hole saws, since many sets have a 3/8″ chuck option. The fact is, you can cut a hole in foam or thin laun with just about any drill- maybe even a cordless screwdriver.
However, if you want to cut through thicker woods, you’re going to need a more powerful drill. I’ve personally had great experience with the DeWalt DC970 Kit, while I haven’t had good experience with my cheap Black & Decker. While there are a lot of factors that go into hole saw readiness, a good rule of thumb is this: if it feels like the drill is getting extra hot, smells like burning or slows down considerably, you’re going to want a better drill. Anything over $60 should do the trick, unless you’re drilling a hole saw through something really dense and thick! In which case, get a bigger drill!