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Hole Saws: A Guide to Choosing and Using

Posted by Katy | Toolstop on 21st Jun 2021

In our complete guide to hole saws, we explain exactly what they're used for, how to use one and which one to use and when.

a complete guide to hole saws

Hole saws are a versatile tool accessory that can be used to cut holes in a variety of materials, including wood, plastic, metal, and drywall. They are available in a wide range of sizes, so you can find the perfect one for your project.


What is a Hole Saw?

A hole saw is a circular saw blade with teeth on the outside edge. It is mounted on an arbor, which is a rod that fits into a drill chuck. When the drill is turned on, the hole saw rotates and cuts through the material.

Hole Saws Explained

A hole saw is capable of cutting holes with a much larger diameter than a standard drill bit. They create a hole in the workpiece without cutting up the core material.

Because the hole saw only cuts the perimeter of the material and not the core material itself, they are often a preferred choice for making larger holes. The same hole can be made much faster and using less power than with a standard or flat drill bit.

Holesaws come in many sizes and diameters and can be used to cut multiple materials. When buying a hole saw or hole saw set, it's important to think about the materials you're cutting and the finish you require. The diameter a hole saw can cut is determined by the diameter of the holesaw itself and how deeply it can cut is determined by the working length. Some may come supplied with a detachable arbor, some with a fixed arbor, and some without one at all. In this case you would need to purchase one seperately. Luckily, at Toolstop, we have a huge selection of hole saws, arbors and hole saw sets.

Bosch Hole Saw

Types of Hole Saw

There are two main types of hole saws: bi-metal and tungsten carbide.

Bi-metal hole saws are made of a combination of steel and high-speed steel. They are less expensive than tungsten carbide hole saws, but they are not as durable.

Tungsten carbide hole saws are made of a single piece of tungsten carbide. They are more expensive than bi-metal hole saws, but they are much more durable and can cut through harder materials.

Parts of a Hole Saw

The hole saw is made up of cutting teeth, slots, and sometimes a pilot drill and arbor (as explained above).

The teeth will either have a variable or constant tooth pitch and are usually set at a 60° angle to cut through the material easily. Variable pitch is when the distance between the teeth varies. This provides a smoother cut with reduced wear on the blade. A constant pitch is when the distance between those two points remains constant. They cut a little slower than variable pitch but make a finer cut.

Hole saws will come with differing TPI's (teeth per inch). The higher the TPI, the slower the cut but smoother the finish. The lower the TPI, the faster the cut but it will be less smooth.

It's handy to note that the higher the TPI, the less likely the hole saw is to tear your workpiece. The lower the TPI, the more likely this is. We typically advise that 1-4 teeth per inch equals a low TPI, whilst 10+ teeth per inch equals a high TPI.

You will notice that each hole saw contains slots in its sides. Their purpose is to allow chips and dust to escape.

parts of a hole saw

How to choose a Hole Saw

When choosing a hole saw, you will need to consider the following factors:

Material: The type of material you will be cutting will determine the type of hole saw you need. For example, if you are cutting wood, you will need a bi-metal hole saw. If you are cutting metal, you will need a tungsten carbide hole saw.

Size: Hole saws are available in a wide range of sizes. Choose the size that is the same diameter as the hole you need to cut.
Number of teeth: The number of teeth on a hole saw affects the quality of the cut. Hole saws with more teeth will make a smoother cut.

How to use a Hole Saw

Hole saws can be used for many applications. Typical ones include, but are not limited to, installing drainage pipes and making holes for pipework and wiring.

Once you have determined the size of hole you need to cut and have chosen a hole saw suitable for the material you're cutting, using one is actually pretty simple. Follow our steps below:

  1. Insert the arbor via the back of the hole saw
  2. Screw the hole saw onto the arbors thread until it is secure
  3. Insert the arbor into the drill chuck and tighten it until you get a secure hold
  4. If your arbor doesn't come with a pilot drill bit, you may want to drill a pilot hole yourself (although this isn't essential)
  5. Line your hole saw up with where you want to cut
  6. Start off by drilling slowly and gradually increase the speed of the drill
  7. Occasionally back the hole saw out of the hole to clear dust
  8. Once you have successfully drilled your required hole, remove the waste material from your hole saw
Teeth per inch explained
Teeth per inch explained

Hole saws are a versatile tool that can be used to cut holes in a variety of materials. With a little care and attention, you can use hole saws to create clean, accurate cuts.


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