How To Use A Hole Saw ( 5 Step Guide)

Are you trying to figure out exactly how to use a hole saw?

Fantastic. You have landed in the right place!

In This blog, I will show you:

  • Key things to consider
  • Step by Step Guide
  • Equipment required
  • And So Much More
how to use a hole saw

Before we carry one, and I show you how to use a hole saw, have a read of the table below.

What You Need To Know About How To Use A Hole Saw

Before we get into the actual steps required on how to effectively use a hole saw, you will need to understand the basics of this often misunderstood specialty saw. Let’s dive in.

how to use hole saw

The first and most easily recognizable feature of a hole saw is it’s diameter. It typically come in a set, with diameters ranging anything from ¼ inch all the way up to 3 or 4 inches.

In fact you will often find that electrical contractors of plumbers use much larger hole saws for their own special needs be it lighting fixtures of drilling a hole to install an extractor.

Do not be intimidated by this, I like to think of a this tool as a saw that has been bend around into a circle.

Understanding The Teeth

how to use a hole saw

When looking at a hole saw you will notice different kinds of teeth including their shapes and configurations.

I want to highlight that for different material, you would use a hole saw with different teeth.

For example when cutting through wood (either timber or sheets of plywood), you would use a tool of the universal/bi-metal type. This is the most common type on the market.

It has straight like jagged edges suited perfectly for cutting smoothly through wooden surfaces.

If you are going to be cutting circular holes through harder material such as metal you would rather use a carbide toothed tool.

The reason for this again is quite simple the carbide teeth are designed to be more rugged and due to their chemical makeup are able to withstand much higher degrees of heat.

This tool will typically experience this as you are trying to fight through the frictional forces and cut through the metal.

If you are cutting through concrete however you will need a diamond tipped teeth tool.

Again due to the hard and often uneven molecular structure of concrete to cut solid circular holes will require a hole saw designed for extra hardness.

Lastly you may be surprised to know that you can also use certain holes saws to cut through sensitive materials such as porcelain and glass as well.

This again is dependent on the type of teeth that you use.

In the case of glass and ceramics the teeth are gulleted or square type. This configuration ensures that the force goes directly to the cutting area as these material are high risk for microcracks.

Read More:>>> Find quality saw horses for your workshop

Understanding the Mandrel

The mandrel, also often referred to as the arbor, and is a critical component in the entire process.

This piece of equipment basically serves the function of connecting the hole saw drill bit to the chuck of the drill.

It’s overall construction is not very difficult to understand and I will break it down for you here below

manderel hole saw

Source: ereplacement 

There are a couple of key structural components, these are the arbor shaft, the collar and the overall collar base.

They serve as the primary housing of the entire mandrel.

The arbor shaft’s role is simply to attach to a drill’s chuck.

The collar has the purpose of housing the internal mechanics of the mandrel, it also serves as a rugged protective cover to ensure that the sensitive components internal housing is not interfered with.

I like to think of it as the rib cage to the lungs and the heart. The collar performs the same function.

The top part of the mandrel consists of the drive pins, your collar screws and an insertion opening for the pilot bit.

As I have said before, the pilot bit will bulge out slightly just above the hole saw to ensure that the pilot hole is drilled and that the opening is crafted out.


When working with any sort of drilling or sawing mechanism, I would always encourage you to wear all the personal protective gear. 

This is necessary to ensure that you are able to work effectively and safely. These generally include at minimum:

Protective gloves, these will definitely help especially when you need to remove the saw dust from the edges of the blades, which is very common when using your hole saw.

Also, as you will soon realize, the actual hole saw can heat up quite considerable depending on what you are trying to cut through.

Protective gloves can definitely help when it comes to protecting your hands from potential burns.

Safety glasses, when you are going to perform a cutting operation, what you will typically find is that splinter or saw dust can fly throughout the room.

You will want to make sure that you have your eye sight thoroughly protected.

Equipment You’ll Need To Learn How To Use A Hole Saw

To perform a clean hole saw cut you will need a couple of equipment I will describe these in more detail.


You will need to use a powerful cordless drill that is at least 18V, or in the case you do not have such a drill, you will then need to use a corded drill.

The reasoning behind this is purely because this is more an exercise in torque and control than purely speed, you need a drill that can handle the torque that will be required by the hole saw.

Hole Saw and Mandrel combination

This goes without saying, but you will need to ensure that you have a hole saw that is compatible with the material through which you are trying to cut.

When going for a mandrel, I would recommend that you go for the quick release type.

You will avoid the headaches that come with tightened screws and bolts post drilling because you have the manual option. It also helps you to work much faster.

Table clamps

You will need a good set of clamps to fasten your stock material (i.e. plywood etc) to a flat surface so that you can perform your drilling operations without needing to worry about your stock material moving throughout your sawing.

Read More:>>> Cutting rock with a tile saw

5 Step Guide On How To Use A Hole Saw

Let’s look at the steps you need to take to make sure you create the best saw possible. If you are in a rush absolutely no problem watch this video below. It is thoroughly explained here.

Step 1: Configure mandrel and hole saw

Take the mandrel and connect it to your hole saw, for the best results use a mandrel that is of the quick release type.

Make sure that the pilot holes align squarely with the hole saw, fasten the bolt correctly to ensure solid fit.

Step 2: Setup drilling area and ensure safety gear

Now that you have fastened the mandrel onto the hole saw make sure your work space is clean and well clear of obstacles.

Take your stock material and tie it to a flat surface such as a bench or drill press table using your clamps.

Step 3: Create Pilot Hole

With your hole saw already attached to your drill, start slowly ramping up your pace and create a small pilot hole incision.

This will help keep the teeth of the hole saw in place before you start drilling fully.

Step 4: Drill 

Use your corded or powerful cordless drill and cut through your stock material, do this until the pilot bit points out through the other end, slowly remove the hole saw from the material whilst maintaining the RPM speed.

Clean the edges of the hole saw from any saw dust or debris (obviously with your gloves on – safety first always!!)

Step 5: Flip Board And Finish Up Hole

In this step untie the clamps, flip your stock material upside down and use the hole as a guide to finish up drilling the remainder of the hole.

Worth remembering is that you should drill perpendicularly to the direction of the board.

This is a mistake that DIYer’s and weekend warriors make.

Cut right through until your circular piece of wood or stock material comes out, with this then you know you have just used your hole saw successfully.

Read More:>>> Learn how to cut without a wet saw

Final Thoughts On How To Use A Hole Saw

As you can see, using a hole saw is not particularly difficult. You can easily achieve precise cuts in absolutely no time. Making your task so much easier overall.

I hope this guide has helped you learn how best to use your hole saw.

Mogale Modisane, PrEng

Mogale Modisane, PrEng

Mogale is a professional engineer (PrEng). With experience working on large-scale Solar, Wind, and Hybrid Projects. He has been exposed to multiple tools throughout his career and has a keen interest in breaking down the often murky world of power tools, machines, and measurement equipment making them more accessible and understandable to everyone.

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Mogale Modisane, PrEng

Mogale Modisane, PrEng

Mogale is a professional engineer (PrEng). With experience working on large-scale Solar, Wind, and Hybrid Projects. He has been exposed to multiple tools throughout his career and has a keen interest in breaking down the often murky world of power tools, machines, and measurement equipment making them more accessible and understandable to everyone.

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