Next Day Delivery on 1000s of products

What is a hole saw and how do you use one?

What is a hole saw and how do you use one?
22 February 2023 809 view(s)

What is a hole saw?

Hole saw

A hole saw is a small cylindrical blade that can be mounted onto a drill, allowing holes to be cut accurately into a varied range of materials. Hole saws are generally mounted onto a drill via an arbor, which is designed to connect a hole saw to a drill chuck.

The circular holes which you can create with a hole saw are often created for the installation of lights, pipes, plumbing and other applications

What is a hole saw used for?

Hole saws tend to be used for cutting holes with a larger diameter than your standard drill bit. The hole they create is clean and avoids cutting up your core material in your workpiece.

The main advantage of using a hole saw over a standard drill bit is the overall efficiency and accuracy.

What kind of drill do you need for a hole saw?

Drawing of a drill

Most hole saws can be attached to standard handheld drills. However, if you are sawing a larger hole, ensure you are using a more powerful drill such as a drill press.

Your working conditions will ultimately influence your drill preference.

What is an arbor?


An arbor (also known as a ‘mandrel’ or ‘mandril’) is designed to connect a hole saw to a drill chuck and hold the pilot bit.

How to attach a hole saw onto a drill?

Arbor and hole saw

  • When selecting the correct hole saw needed for your project ensure you have the correct size, that it is the correct diameter and it can cut through the intended workpiece. Note: If you are cutting through metal ensure you have a bottle of cutting oil or lubricant to hand to ensure the saw can run more smoothly through the material.
  • Make sure you select the correct arbor for your hole saw. Typically there are two different types of arbor; 14mm-30mm for smaller holes and 32mm-210mm for larger holes. Ensure your arbor will fit into a 3/8” or 1/2” chuck, depending on what is compatible with your drill.
  • Insert the arbor through the back of the hole saw. Ensure that your hole saw has a tight grip upon the arbor, to prevent any unnecessary movement.
  • Attach the hole saw screw onto the arbors thread until taut. If you are using an adjustable drill bit ensure it protrudes past the hole saw by 3/8” (by doing this you are ensuring you can bore your pilot hole) and tighten it with a screw set.
  • To ensure the hole saw is attached properly, use an open-end spanner to tighten the arbor onto the hole saw. Note: Damage can be caused to the workpiece you are cutting if there is a movement from the drill.
  • Place the arbor shank into your drill chuck and tighten.

Safety tips whilst sawing

When sawing with a hole saw here are a few safety tips to keep in mind -

  • Make sure your workpiece is stable
  • When possible, use two hands on the drill
  • Start easy – don’t jam the teeth into the wood

How to use a hole saw?

Drill with hole saw attached

Once you have attached the hole saw correctly onto your drill you can start cutting.

  • Start with drilling your pilot hole in the centre of where you intend to cut out. The pilot hole will act as a guide to keep the hole saw straight and centered as you cut. Note: if your workpiece is free-standing, ensure it is secured before cutting, as this will prevent movement such as spinning whilst drilling.
  • Align the arbor’s drill bit into the pilot hole, which will help align the hole saw. When you start drilling the teeth on the hole show saw should contact the workpiece evenly. Note: if you are cutting metal this is when you should add a couple of drops of cutting oil or lubricant onto the blade of the hole saw.
  • Slowly and steadily start drilling, and start increasing your speed and pressure. Throughout drilling ensure you are keeping the hole saw level, occasionally pausing and withdrawing the tool to clear out any dust or debris. This process will also help to keep the hole saw blade cooler.
  • To avoid splinters appearing in your workpiece, it is recommended that you finish by cutting from the opposite side of the material as well.
  • Once you have completely drilled through your workpiece remove your hole saw.
  • Finally, remove the slug of waste debris that you might find inside your hole saw. If the arbor you have used has an ejector spring, your slug should easily pop out after use.

How to avoid the hole saw over-heating whilst sawing?

Hole saws can produce a lot of friction, so here are a couple tips to ensure you don’t burn yourself, your workpiece or your hole saw.

  • When using a handheld drill start and stop a lot.
  • Pull the saw out of the wood occasionally, as this will help keep the temperature of the blade down.
  • If you smell something burning or see burn marks you are letting the drill get too hot, so slow down and take more time.

Check out our website to see the extensive range of arbors, hole saws and hole saw sets we have on offer.

Related posts