|A traditional hole saw (left) can be a slow and frustrating experience compared to the latest tungsten carbide hole-cutters.
Years ago, probably on a farm, someone was struggling with a keyhole saw, trying to cut a circular hole in a wall, stall or board.
And as the tool balked and bucked, frustration mounted. Finally, the saw user burst out with a stream of invective: “Land sakes, this gosh-darn saw is making me madder than H-E-double hockey sticks!”
After this foul outburst, it probably took a while to revive the womenfolk. And then this enterprising person retired to his workshop, where he removed the blade from an old saw and heated and hammered it until he’d bent that blade into a circle. Then, after affixing the unit to his hand drill, he was able to make circular cuts faster and with way less vulgar language.
Hole ball of wax
Many of today’s hole saws are sorely unevolved from the original concept. They’re what amounts to a cylinder with teeth. So when you need to cut a hole in your ceiling for a new light fixture, or a hole in a door for a new lock set, or a hole in your desk to channel all of your computer and peripheral cables, or a hole in the back of your entertainment center to bring coaxial cable and power in to the components, you’re looking at a host of potential misfires:
• The blade isn’t very aggressive and it takes ages to complete cuts, especially in tough materials
• The blade tends to bind and overheat
• The blade’s grabby teeth and large surface area create friction that results in a rough ride for the operator
• Your cut circle will be stuck in the saw bit; prying it out takes longer than cutting the hole
• When the blade completes the cut through the bottom surface of the material, the teeth create “tear-out” – especially in wood fibres, which tend to explode away from the approaching blade, leaving a hacked-up edge
• The blade gets dull – quickly
There is new relief for those of us who need holes. Dramatic improvements in hole saw technology resolve the preceding list of problems:
• New ultra-hard tungsten carbide teeth easily and smoothly cut through a huge selection of materials including wood, laminates, plaster, cement board, oriented strand board (OSB), medium density fiberboard (MDF), fiberglass, sheetrock and porcelain
• There’s negligible friction and the tungsten carbide teeth never bind
• The blade gives you a “like buttah” ride
• The teeth extend slightly beyond the dimension of the cylinder, so the cut circle literally drops out
• There’s no tear-out because the sharp carbide teeth score the lower edge of the material cleanly before breaking through
• You can cut holes 10 times faster and get 40 times more cuts out of a single battery charge
• The teeth have amazing durability and retain their sharpness after months of daily use
My BlueBoar TUH14 Universal Super Duty kit (from Hole Pro) contains eight hole-cutters in diameters ranging from 1 inch to 2-1/2 inches.
The BlueBoar kit also includes the arbor (which secures the hole-cutter and pilot bit snugly in your drill) plus four pilot bits – high-speed steel, masonry, wood and a spade bit for porcelain. The components are packed into a compact, sturdy plastic kit that retails for just over $200 (or you can buy a single size to try before committing to a kit).
And if you’re into heavy metal, BlueBoar has just come out with hole-cutters for stainless steel and other metals up to 5/16-inch thick.
TIP: Don’t use tungsten carbide hole cutters on material with nails embedded in it; nails will rip the tungsten carbide teeth off, and you may cuss!
Mag Ruffman appears weekdays on Real Life on CTS. Visit her online at ToolGirl.com.