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Homework: Create a perfect circle

Hole saw bit, 1.25

Hole saw bit, 1.25" Credit: Wikimedia Commons

You've decided to build that bean bag toss game for your upcoming summer picnics, or maybe you want to make a great spray-paint-can holder shelf for your pegboard, or perhaps you want to make a birdhouse for a large bird.

You're going to need a hole saw, which, after some practice, will allow you to cut perfect circles from just about any material -- wood, drywall, plywood or plastic. Watch a video of a hole saw in use if you don't believe me:


Take time to familiarize yourself with the different hole saws. Not all are the same. They come in many sizes. Some kits allow you to interchange the hole saw while the pilot bit stays in place in the drill. The quick interchange feature of some hole saws saves time.


Be sure you're aware of the effective cutting depth of the hole saw. If you need to create a perfect circular cut in a thick material, use the hole saw that allows you to go the distance.


If cutting wood with a hole saw, be sure you match the drill to the task at hand. If you're trying to drill a 4-inch-diameter hole in oak or Southern yellow pine, you'll need a powerful drill. The hole saw will create lots of drag that could burn up a cheap or inexpensive drill.


Multispeed drills that have a high-torque, lower-speed setting are ideal to pair up with hole saws. This low-speed setting allows the hole saw to slowly chew through the material you're cutting and gives you excellent control at the same time.


Inspect the back of the object you're drilling through. You don't want your hole saw to cut into a wire, cable, water line, PVC drain line, TV cable, etc.


If drilling a large hole in a floor joist or wall stud, be aware of your local building code requirements with respect to the hole location and its maximum allowable diameter. Stop by your building department and ask for a copy of the pages of the building code that deal with hole sizes in structural members.


Before using the hole saw for the first time, do two things. Test drill a few holes using the smallest hole saw in the set. Drill into and through some scrap material. Get a feel for how the drill works and what kind of pressure you must apply to get a clean cut.


Moderate and even pressure almost always delivers the best results when using a hole saw. Be sure the drill is perpendicular to the material being cut so the hole is not slanted. Wear goggles, not safety glasses, if drilling above your head.

SUMMARY Hole saws have been around for years. Keep in mind the more expensive ones are probably made with better materials that will stay sharper for a longer time.

Two hammers out of five

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