Top three hole saw hacks for cleaner, easier cutting

Published:  22 February, 2017

Materials in our homes and commercial buildings are advancing rapidly. While this is great news for designers and engineers, it poses challenges for tradespeople responsible for fitting new projects and refurbishing existing buildings. Here John Cove looks at the top three hole saw hacks that can make these jobs a breeze.

Whether you're a plumber, an electrician or a carpenter you will be familiar with the challenges involved in cutting and fitting various materials. Surfaces made of metal, timber, engineered wood, plastic, glass, porcelain and masonry, among others, can all require different approaches to create a clean hole.

However, making some simple changes in choosing the right tool for the job can increase productivity and improve finished results:

1. Cutting porcelain tiles

Advancements in production techniques have made porcelain tiles more popular than ever. Although ceramic tiles are made from a soft mineral clay substrate topped with a glaze, porcelain tiles are fired at higher temperatures and pressures. This liquefies the mineral into solid glass, so the tile itself is much harder and denser, making it ideal for a wide variety of applications. However, this makes it very difficult to cut using a simple tile cutter, and porcelain tiles are also more prone to chipping during the cutting process.

When a job requires cutting holes to fit tile around cables and pipes, or fittings need to be attached to a tiled surface, always use a hole saw with a diamond-grit coated tip. The diamond coating will easily cut through porcelain, glass, ceramics, brick and stone without chipping or breaking.

2. Cutting thick steel

There’s nothing more frustrating than when a tool breaks unexpectedly. Cutting steel is a perfect example of something that can cause this. Although regular hole saws will do the job, cutting thicker steel can cause the tool to become hot, quickly increasing wear on the cutting surface and significantly reducing product life.

When cutting thicker steel, consider using a carbide tipped hole saw designed specifically for deep cutting of steel up to 25mm thick. This operates at a higher speed for a faster cut, preventing the saw from getting hot and wearing down. By taking such precautions contractors can increase the lifespan of their power tool accessories and deliver a higher return on investment.

3. Cut out unpleasant fumes

Composite and engineered wood, including medium-density fibreboard (MDF), might provide a versatile, lightweight and strong building material for a variety of applications — from cabinets, desks and flooring — however, cutting it can produce unpleasant fumes.

To overcome this and speed up the cut, some contractors will drill numerous pilot holes around the circumference of the hole and then use a hole saw to finish the job. However, this method is time consuming and doesn’t result in a perfect, clean cut.

When drilling MDF, engineered and composite woods that contain adhesives, as well as plastics and plasterboard, consider using a tungsten carbide tipped multipurpose hole saw. This will deliver cutting speeds that are up to five times faster than a typical bi-metal hole saw and the rapid cut will build up less residual heat, giving less time for the adhesive to reach melting temperature.

Get the job done

There is no reason for advances in materials to get in the way of tradespeople achieving perfection. With a little ingenuity and the help of a few specialised tools, people of all trades can stay ahead of the curve and get the job done without hassle.

John Cove is marketing manager at Starrett

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