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How to Use a Hole Saw

Ask This Old House general contractor Tom Silva explains the basics of using a hole saw.


1. Hole saws are typically installed on arbors or mandrels that attach to a drill driver to cut a clean hole in a material.
2. To mount a hole saw to a mandrel:
a. Insert the bit through the center hole.
b. Screw the mounting plate as tight as it goes.
c. Loosen up the mounting plate until the nubs on the plate line up with the holes in the hole saw.
d. Push the mounting plate up and into the holes.
e. Tighten the nut behind the mounting plate until the mandrel is secured to the hole saw.
3. Hole saws come in a variety of diameters and tooth sizes, so choose the right one for the right job.
4. Hole saws often get jammed up with wood pulp and other materials in between their teeth, so every now and then, pull the saw out and clean out between the teeth. The hole saw is likely to be hot, so be careful when doing this.
5. To cut with a hole saw, Tom recommends drilling at a lower speed to ensure the hole saw cuts in the correct spot and doesn’t wander. When the drill bit reaches through the other side of the material but the hole saw itself has not cut through yet, flip the material upside down, line up the drill bit with the hole, and finish the cut from the other side. This will prevent the material from blowing out.
6. Tom emphasizes that the drill and the hole saw should do the work and minimal speed or force should be applied by the user during the cut.


Tom demonstrated a variety of hole saws that can all be found at home centers.