Hole saws (hole cutters) are generally used to drill large holes in thin materials like metal, plastic, and wood. When drilling a hole, you want it to be large enough to fit the size of the object you’re putting through it. As such, you may want to know how thick of a metal a hole saw can cut before embarking on the work.
A hole saw can cut between 0.16 and 0.79 inches (4 and 20 millimeters) thick of metal. The thickness depends on the cutting depth (shallow or deep), and the type of hole saw. The deeper the cutting depth, the thicker the metal it can cut.
In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss the factors that affect the thickness of metal that can be cut by a hole saw. I’ll also discuss how to use hole saws effectively. Keep reading!
Factors That Affect the Cut Thickness
It’s common to have different metal thicknesses cut by a hole saw.
In most cases, the thickness ranges between 0.16 and 0.79 inches (4 and 20 millimeters).
The factors that determine these variations are cutting depth and the type of hole saw you’re using.
1. Cutting Depth
Hole saws have two cutting depths:
The depth at which the saw is set determines how thick of metal it can cut.
A shallow cutting depth is suitable for cutting thin metals like aluminum, brass, and copper.
It can also cut through softwoods.
On the other hand, a deep cutting depth is better suited for thicker metals like cast iron and stainless steel.
It can also be used to cut hardwoods.
Most hole saws assembled with a pilot drill and arbor have a deep cutting depth of up to 2 inches (51 mm).
Therefore, you can cut through thicker materials using such a hole saw.
2. Type of Hole Saw
Hole saws are available in different types, each designed for a specific application.
The kind of hole saw you use will determine how thick of metal it can cut.
Here are the most common types of hole saws and how they affect the cut thickness:
- Variable pitch Bi-metallic hole saws: These have high-speed hardened teeth that ensure smooth and fast cutting. They have a maximum cut depth of 1.18 inches (30 mm).
- Variable pitch Bi-metallic deep cut hole saws: Apart from the hardened and faster-cutting teeth, these options have a cutting depth of 1.67 inches (42.5 mm).
- Constant pitch smooth cut hole saws: They use 18-volts battery-operated power drills. These hole saws have a cutting depth of 0.51 inches (13 mm).
- Welded shank soffit cutter hole saws: These hole saws are identified by a non-detachable arbor on the base plate. They have a cutting depth of up to 1.85 inches (47 mm).
These hole saws have different cutting depths, which affects the thickness of metal they can cut.
Therefore, you should consider your metal thickness before buying a hole saw.
The thicker the metal, the more cutting depth you need.
A good rule of thumb is to get a hole saw with the deepest cutting depth.
How To Use a Hole Saw
In the 2007-08 calendar year, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 79,500 saw-related injuries. Saw operators were the primary victims of most of these injuries.
Such a high number of injuries from saws is due to the fact that they are powerful tools that require special handling.
The same goes for hole saws. These tools are designed to cut large holes in materials like wood, plastic, and metal.
They have a cutting depth of up to 2 inches (51 mm), which is deeper than most saws.
As such, you need to take extra care when using hole saws.
Here are some tips on how to use hole saws safely:
1. Set Up the Saw Properly
You must mount the correct hole-size saw in the arbor.
The arbor must also be mounted in the drill chuck according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Failure to do this might cause the hole saw to come off while in use and cause injuries.
Some hole saws have adjustable center bits.
If this is your case, ensure the center bit protrudes past the saw’s edge by at least 3/8 inches (9.53 mm).
Moreover, the flat spot on the bit’s shank should align with the set screw.
2. Wear Protective Gear
You should wear gloves, safety glasses, and hearing protection when using a hole saw.
The saw produces flying debris, loud noise, and heat when cutting.
These can cause injuries if you don’t wear the right gear.
Moreover, hole saws tend to vibrate a lot when in use.
The vibration might cause numbness in your hands if you don’t wear gloves.
3. Use the Right Drill
It’s advisable to use an electric drill with adjustable speed control when operating a hole saw.
A cordless drill is also a good option as it’s more maneuverable.
However, ensure the battery is fully charged before use.
When choosing a drill, you should also consider the size of your hole saw.
A small hole saw can be used with any type of drill, while a large one might require an industrial-grade drill.
These features ensure that the drill and the saw fit well to avoid slipping accidents.
The thickness of a metal cut by a hole saw is determined mainly by the type of saw.
Hole saws have different cutting depths, each designed for a specific application.
Thus, go for a saw with a deeper cutting depth if you intend to cut deeper metal thicknesses.