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Drilling Holes in Metal. The 15 Best Tips for Using 2 Inch Hole Saws

Why a Hole Saw is the Best Tool for Cutting Clean Holes

When it comes to cutting clean, precise holes in metal, a hole saw is hard to beat. Unlike knock-out punches or jigsaws, a hole saw neatly cores out the material, leaving smooth edges and virtually no burrs. This makes them ideal for drilling holes for electrical boxes, plumbing pipes, door knobs, or any other application where a clean opening is needed.

Hole saws come in a range of sizes, but the 2 inch diameter is one of the most useful and versatile. Here’s why:

Cuts Common Sized Openings

Many household and hardware items require a 2 inch diameter hole. For example, most door knobs, handles, and hinges use this size opening. Electrical boxes like switches, outlets, and junction boxes are also designed for 2 inch holes. So you’ll find yourself reaching for a 2 inch hole saw frequently when doing home repairs or installations.

Works with Most Household Materials

A 2 inch hole saw can cut openings in thin sheet metal, aluminum, wood, plastic, and even thicker steel plate (with patience and lubricant). The most common materials used around the house and garage are no match for a good hole saw. Just be sure to use the appropriate type of arbor and pilot drill for each material.

Compatible With Common Power Tools

Drilling Holes in Metal. The 15 Best Tips for Using 2 Inch Hole Saws

Standard electric drills, impact drivers, and right angle drills are usually suitable for driving a 2 inch hole saw. Just be sure the tool has enough amps and torque. Variable speed on cordless drills helps when starting the hole or breaking through. The average homeowner won’t need an overpowered drill press or magnetic base drill to use a 2 inch saw regularly.

Now that you know why a 2 inch hole saw is such a versatile tool, let’s get into the 15 best tips and techniques for using one to drill clean holes in metal:

Allow the Hole Saw Teeth to Cut

Don’t force or push too hard on the hole saw. Allow the teeth to cut at their own rate by applying just enough pressure. Pushing hard can overheat and dull the teeth quickly. Let the hole saw do the work.

Use Cutting Fluid for Lubrication

Adding some oil or cutting fluid helps the teeth cut smoothly by keeping them cool and lubricated. A few drops regularly applied during cutting can make a big difference in preventing wear.

Clamp Down Your Workpiece

Drilling Holes in Metal. The 15 Best Tips for Using 2 Inch Hole Saws

Using clamps or a vice to secure the material you are drilling into helps accuracy and control. This allows you to use both hands to operate the drill properly while the piece you are working on stays put.

Make Several Light Passes

Don’t try to cut the full depth in one pass. Go down a quarter depth, come back out, then repeat. Making several light passes reduces load on the hole saw and ensures a clean edge.

Start Drilling Slowly

When you first start into the material, begin drilling slowly with light pressure. This allows the teeth to score the surface and start the hole cleanly before going deeper.

Cool the Hole Saw Periodically

To prevent overheating of the teeth, stop periodically, back the hole saw out, and allow it cool for 30 seconds. Then continue drilling. This keeps the cutting edges sharp and prolongs life.

Drill a Pilot Hole in Thick Metal

For thicker or hardened steel, drill a pilot hole first using a carbide bit. This allows the hole saw teeth to guide into the pilot hole smoothly and not wander. It also reduces binding and drill torque.

Break Through Carefully

When the hole saw is about to cut through the back side, reduce pressure and speed. Breaking through roughly can cause burrs, chipping, or gouging of the exit hole edges.

Deburr the Edges

Use a file or deburring tool to clean up any small burrs left after drilling. Carefully rotate the hole saw backwards to flatten back down any raised edges of metal.

Extract Slug Carefully

The circular slug left in the hole saw can be tight and hard to remove. Use a knockout rod or pin to carefully extract it rather than prying it out roughly with a screwdriver.

Clean Out Teeth Regularly

Frequently back out the hole saw and clear any metal chips or debris caught between the teeth with a wire brush. Clogged teeth reduce cutting performance and lead to overheating.

Apply Feed Force Downward

Applying drill pressure directly downward instead of at an angle keeps the hole saw cutting straight and prevents any side-to-side wandering.

Allow Motor to Get to Full Speed

Drilling Holes in Metal. The 15 Best Tips for Using 2 Inch Hole Saws

Before starting into the material, allow the drill to come to full operating speed. This prevents bogging down the motor under load during start-up.

Use Backing Board Under Thin Metal

For thin sheets that deform easily, place a wooden backing board underneath. This prevents bend and distortion as the hole saw breaks through.

Periodically Sharpen and Replace

Inspect and care for your hole saws regularly. Touch up the teeth with a file or replace worn saws so they continue cutting cleanly. Follow these tips and your 2 inch hole saw for metal will deliver years of smooth, burr-free holes.

Understanding Hole Saw Sizes – Why 2 Inch is So Useful

Hole saws come in a wide range of diameters, typically ranging from 1/4 inch all the way up to 6 inches for common models. So why is the 2 inch size one of the most versatile and useful? Here’s a closer look at why this particular hole saw dimension stands above the rest:

Accommodates Most Door Hardware

Drilling Holes in Metal. The 15 Best Tips for Using 2 Inch Hole Saws

As mentioned earlier, most standard door knobs, levers, latches, hinges, and deadbolts require a 2 inch diameter mounting hole. This makes the 2 inch hole saw ideal for installing and replacing doors and hardware around the home. No other size would be as useful when working on doors.

Fits Common Electrical Boxes

Electrical boxes like receptacles, switches, and junction boxes are designed to be mounted with a 2 inch knock-out hole. So electricians grab for a 2 inch hole saw frequently when dealing with electrical wiring projects. The fit and function just can’t be beat.

Works for Plumbing Fittings

Many common plumbing joints and connections also use 2 inch openings. For example, this is the right size hole for installing pipe clamps, toilet supply lines, drain adapters, and other fittings. A 2 inch saw comes in very handy for homeowners doing DIY plumbing jobs.

Cuts Other Useful Sized Holes

In addition to the most common 2 inch holes, this size saw can often be used creatively for related holes: 1-3/4 inch holes for electrical boxes just need a bit of filing to open them up. A 2-1/8 inch hole for door latches can be bored out slightly larger. The 2 inch is a great starting point for custom sizing.

Multi-Purpose for Thin Materials

When working with thin sheet metal, plastic, or laminate materials, a 2 inch hole often provides just the right opening size for grommets, guards, partitions, or other hardware. It leaves enough material for strength while removing most of the unneeded area.

Safer on Power Tools

Larger diameter hole saws require more torque and amperage to drive effectively. They can bog down smaller power drills. The 2 inch size still allows sufficient cutting power without overloading most common cordless tools.

Cuts Quickly With Less Load

A 2 inch hole generally can be cut fairly quickly through thinner materials with minimal tool strain. Large saws upwards of 4 inches or more might cut slowly under heavy load and be prone to binding up.

Leaves a Manageable Slug

The round slug left in the center of the hole saw after drilling out a 2 inch hole is a reasonable size and weight to handle safely. Larger diameter slugs can be very bulky, heavy, and hard to knock out.

Maneuverability in Tight Spots

Drilling Holes in Metal. The 15 Best Tips for Using 2 Inch Hole Saws

A 2 inch diameter allows the hole saw to fit into and cut openings in confined areas a larger saw couldn’t reach. Tight spots around existing walls, studs, or components become accessible.

Cost Effective and Available

Due to the popularity of the 2 inch size for both home and industrial uses, these hole saws are economical to buy and widely available. The low cost makes them a great budget addition to any toolbox.

While hole saws come in many sizes for different specialized applications, few are as conveniently versatile around the house as the 2 inch. It conveniently fits common hardware sizes, can handle most household materials, is safer on the tools used, and provides cost effective, useful openings time after time.

Now let’s look closer at some of the differences in hole saw types, tooth configurations, and finding the right arbor size…

Pick the Right Tooth Design and TPI for Your Project

Hole saws come in a variety of tooth configurations for optimal cutting in different materials. The right design and tooth per inch (TPI) count allows clean, efficient holes. Here’s an overview of the most common options:

Standard Tooth

Drilling Holes in Metal. The 15 Best Tips for Using 2 Inch Hole Saws

This is the most common design, with triangular teeth pointing outward around the perimeter of the saw cup. The teeth act like a series of small chisels cutting the material. Standard patterns typically range from 14 to 44 TPI.

Abrasive Tooth

Abrasive hole saws use abrasive grit bonded to the tips of the teeth instead of sharpened edges. These work well on very hard or abrasive materials like tile, stone, and masonry where steel teeth may wear quickly.

Diamond Grit

Similar to abrasive, diamond grit hole saws have small industrial diamond particles embedded in the tooth tips. This allows extremely hard and durable teeth to cut through tough materials like stainless steel, ceramics, and glass.

Carbide Tooth

Carbide teeth dramatically increase hardness and edge life when cutting through heavy sheet metal, steel plate, cast iron, and other very dense materials. They withstand high heat and abrasion resistance.

High Speed Steel

Standard HSS steel teeth offer good strength and ease of sharpening. They strike a balance between carbide’s hardness and the faster cutting but softer high carbon steel.

Variable Pitch Tooth

This uncommon design uses variable spacing between the teeth. This results in improved chip ejection and smoother cutting, especially in layered or laminated materials.

Relieved Tooth

Relieved tooth hole saws angle every other tooth slightly outward. This design clears chips and coolant better when making deep cuts into solid materials.

So which TPI count and tooth style works best for a 2 inch hole saw cutting metal? Here are some recommendations:

32-44 TPI Standard Tooth

Higher TPI in the 32-44 range provides a smoother cut in thin sheet metals and plastic. Low TPI saws have a higher tendency to grab and chatter in thin stock.

14-24 TPI Standard Tooth

For cutting thicker steel plate, lower TPI in the 14-24 range allows for faster chip ejection from the teeth gullets. This reduces binding and overheating of the saw.

Abrasive for Stainless Steel

The hardness of stainless steel quickly dulls standard teeth. Abrasive or diamond grit hole saws prevent wear and extend blade life in this material.

Carbide for Cast Iron

Drilling Holes in Metal. The 15 Best Tips for Using 2 Inch Hole Saws

Carbide tooth hole saws make quick work of stubborn cast iron and other very hard metals without excessive dulling during the cut.

In summary, higher TPI is better for thin or soft metals, while lower TPI allows faster drilling in thick and hard materials. Consider abrasive or carbide tooth designs when appropriate to maintain sharp cutting edges and smooth holes.

Next we’ll discuss the importance of selecting the proper arbor size and pilot drill for your hole saw…

Get the Proper Arbor Size to Fit Your Drill

The arbor is the shank that connects the hole saw to the drill. Choosing the right diameter arbor is critical for proper fit, minimizing runout, and preventing slippage during cutting. Here are some tips on selecting the best size:

Match Drill Chuck Capacity

Review your drill’s chuck size and capacity. Most common cordless drills have 3/8″ or larger chucks that accept 1/4″ or 3/8″ arbors. Smaller chucks may require 1/4″ shank hole saws.

Use Reducing Adapters if Needed

Drilling Holes in Metal. The 15 Best Tips for Using 2 Inch Hole Saws

Reducing adapters allow using a smaller arbor in a larger chuck. For example, a 1/4″ to 3/8″ reducer lets you fit a 1/4″ arbor saw in a 3/8″ drill chuck.

Larger is Better for Stability

When possible, choose the largest arbor diameter the chuck can accept. The additional stability prevents vibration, wobble, and potential breaking of smaller shanks.

Long Arbors Aid in Depth

Longer arbors allow deeper drilling depths to be reached without bottoming out the chuck on the workpiece. Extensions are available if more length is needed.

Consider Speed Ratings

Smaller arbors often have lower RPM limits than larger diameters. Make sure the arbor’s max speed meets drill requirements, especially for high speed cutting.

Setscrews Should Tighten Securely

The setscrew that locks the arbor in the chuck should fully seat on the flat section of the shank. This prevents slipping under load when drilling.

Minimize Runout

Any wobble or runout between the arbor and chuck can cause vibration and poor hole quality. Tight manufacturing tolerances ensure concentricity.

Use Arbor Bushings Properly

When provided, rubber or metal bushings that fit between the arbor and chuck can damp vibration and enhance fit. But improper use can increase runout.

Lubricate Shank and Chuck

A light coating of oil or grease on the arbor shank and inside the drill chuck helps provide smooth, slip-free power transfer during cutting.

Match Arbor and Saw Pin Sizes

The through-hole on the hole saw must match the diameter of the driving pin on the arbor. A loose fit can allow the saw to slip independently of the arbor.

While most quality hole saw kits include matched arbors, buying individual components requires checking for proper pairings. Taking the time to get the right arbor enhances performance and safety when drilling holes, especially on tough metals.

In addition to the correct arbor, the proper pilot drill and cut lubricants also play key roles in hole saw success…

Use Cutting Oil or Lubricant for Smoother Cuts

Applying some sort of cutting oil or lubricant when drilling holes with a hole saw improves performance and extends saw life. The oil serves several beneficial purposes:

Cooling

Drilling Holes in Metal. The 15 Best Tips for Using 2 Inch Hole Saws

Frictional heat generated during cutting dissipates into the oil, keeping the saw teeth and workpiece cooler. This prevents overheating damage to the hole saw and helps the cutting edges stay sharper longer.

Lubrication

The oil lubricates the chip-tooth interface, allowing the teeth to cut freer and easier. This reduces wear, requires less drill pressure, and improves hole quality.

Chip Removal

Metal chips and swarf can stick or clog the hole saw gullets. Oil floats away debris so cutting remains unimpeded.

Rust Prevention

Applying a protective layer of oil after drilling prevents freshly exposed metal surfaces around the hole from rusting. This enhances corrosion resistance.

Types of Cutting Oils

Common options for hole saw lubrication include:

  • Cutting oil – Designed for machining, offers good lubricity and rust prevention.
  • 3-in-1 oil – Multi-purpose light oil suitable for low to medium duty cutting.
  • WD-40 – Provides mild lubrication and corrosion protection.
  • Motor oil – Heavier oil works well but can leave residue.
  • Lard or grease – Homemade options in a pinch provide some lubrication.

How to Apply Oil

Drilling Holes in Metal. The 15 Best Tips for Using 2 Inch Hole Saws

There are several effective methods to get cutting oil into the cut:

  • Drop directly into the hole periodically during drilling.
  • Use an oil can to spray into the cut as needed.
  • Dip saw into tray of oil before starting hole.
  • Place small piece of sponge soaked in oil against cut.
  • For deep holes, insert tube down hole to deliver oil internally.

Let Oil Drain From Saw

After drilling holes, allow any excess oil to fully drain out of the gullets before retracting the saw. This prevents unnecessary drips and spills.

Properly applied cutting oil is critical to hole saw success when drilling metal. The right lubrication minimizes friction and heat while maximizing tool life. Try these tips for getting oil into the cut and see the difference it makes!

Next let’s review some best practices for extending your hole saw’s longevity…

Let the Hole Saw Do the Work – Don’t Push Too Hard

It can be tempting to force a hole saw through the workpiece by pushing very hard on the drill. However, excessive feed pressure can cause a number of problems:

Premature Teeth Dulling

Too much pressure loads up the teeth and creates excess friction against the metal. This can quickly overheat and dull the cutting edges of the teeth.

Inaccurate Holes

Pushing hard can deflect thinner materials or cause the hole saw to wander. This affects hole position and roundness.

Drill Stalling

The added force and torque required can bog down the drill motor, causing it to periodically stall or bind up.

Hole Saw Breakage

Excessive radial loads can literally crack and break the thin metal cup of the hole saw if it binds up.

How Much Pressure is Enough?

Instead of forcing the hole saw, use these gauges for optimal feed pressure:

  • Allow the weight of drill to provide pressure.
  • Add just enough force that teeth cut smoothly.
  • If drill labors, lighten up on pressure.
  • Adjust pressure if hole wanders from position.
  • Let the hole saw do the cutting – don’t push too hard!

Cutting Oil Reduces Needed Pressure

Drilling Holes in Metal. The 15 Best Tips for Using 2 Inch Hole Saws

Proper lubrication of the cut itself allows the teeth to cut with less resistance. This means less push is required.

Sharper Teeth Need Less Pressure

Keeping the teeth in top condition reduces cutting forces needed. As teeth dull, more pressure tends to be applied.

Peck Drill to Clear Chips

Periodically retract the hole saw to eject chips instead of forcing through a packed cut. Built-up debris increases cutting resistance.

Finding the optimal feed pressure takes experience and a delicate touch. Let the sharp cutting edges do their job without being aggressive. Both you and your hole saw will benefit from a light touch!

Next let’s look at recommendations for making multiple, incremental passes…

Take Your Time and Make Several Light Passes

Instead of forcing a hole saw through thick material in one pass, much better results can be achieved by taking multiple light passes to reach full depth. There are several advantages to this approach:

Minimizes Heat Buildup

Drilling Holes in Metal. The 15 Best Tips for Using 2 Inch Hole Saws

Taking frequent breaks allows the saw and material to cool compared to continuous cutting. This greatly reduces the risk of overheating.

Prevents Tool Binding

Incremental cuts with partial retractions help prevent the hole saw from seizing up or binding in the hole. Friction is reduced.

Improves Hole Accuracy

Light passes give better control over hole position without excessive wandering. The exit hole location can be fine tuned.

Reduces Burring

Partial exits on each pass limits material deformation and burring as the saw finally cuts through. The exit hole edges stay flat and smooth.

How Deep per Pass?

As a general rule of thumb:

  • For thin sheet metal, a single pass is fine.
  • For plate steel, take 2-4 passes.
  • On hardened tool steel, 5 or more passes.

Let the Saw Cut at Its Own Rate

Don’t force or rush the increments. Allow enough time per pass for clean cutting and debris ejection.

Retract Frequently to Clear Chips

Regularly back the saw out to remove waste material and spent cutting oil or lubricant.

Be Patient and Keep Coolant Handy

Stay nearby to reapply coolant between passes and give the saw time to work.

Rushing through material too quickly causes problems. By taking light finish passes, hole quality and accuracy are vastly improved. The extra time pays dividends through cleanly drilled holes and extended hole saw life.

Next up – starting holes properly by beginning slowly at first…

Clamp Down Your Workpiece for Maximum Control

For best accuracy and control when hole sawing, the workpiece being drilled should be firmly clamped or held in place. A loose or moving workpiece can lead to problems:

Inaccurate Hole Placement

If the material shifts around, the hole can end up off target or misaligned. Precise positioning is difficult.

Rough Cut Edges

Unwanted vibration or movement while cutting can leave burrs, rough sections, or irregularities around the hole.

Wandering Holes

Drilling Holes in Metal. The 15 Best Tips for Using 2 Inch Hole Saws

The hole saw may walk or drift across loose material, leaving an uneven, oblong shaped hole.

Safety Hazards

Spinning loose material can be dangerous. Proper fixturing protects both the operator and workpiece.

Methods of Clamping Material

Common workholding options include:

  • Bench vise – A basic anchor point for small items.
  • C-clamps – Good for clamping larger stock to a benchtop.
  • Bar clamps – Spread even pressure over wider surfaces.
  • Locking pliers – Quick grip smaller pieces in place.
  • Hold down clamps – Help weigh material flat to the bench.
  • Specialty fixtures – Custom jigs tailored for an application.

Use Proper Support Backing

Thin materials may need a sacrificial wood backing board to prevent distortion while drilling through.

Take Your Time Clamping Down

Don’t rush the setup – take time to properly secure the material for the best possible hole saw cut.

While it takes a few extra minutes, properly immobilizing the workpiece pays off through safer operation, reduced tool wear, and accurate finished holes. Securely clamped material is vital for success!

Next we’ll look at best practices for starting the hole off smoothly…

Start Drilling Slowly to Score the Surface

Drilling Holes in Metal. The 15 Best Tips for Using 2 Inch Hole Saws

When beginning a hole with a hole saw, don’t just plunge straight down into the material at full speed. Starting off slowly helps create a clean entry point:

Allows Teeth to Align

Gently ramping into the cut gives the teeth time to find their bite and evenly engage the surface without hopping or skating.

Prevents Wandering

Abrupt starting can cause the teeth to grab erratically and potentially walk the hole off target. Slow entry minimizes wandering.

Reduces Chipping

Careful contact at the start avoids chipping the surface around the hole as the teeth dig in.

Score the Surface First

Let the teeth lightly scratch the finish into a circular groove before attempting to cut deeper. This groove guides the saw.

Gradually Increase Pressure

Start with only the weight of the drill, slowly adding downward force as the teeth penetrate deeper into the initial pass.

Establish a Stable Cutting Platform

The first score cuts leave a flat, level base for the hole saw to build downward momentum.

Be Patient

Allow time for the teeth to find their ideal cutting rhythm before aggressive drilling.

A few seconds spent at the start of the hole lets the teeth properly engage the material for a controlled cut. Rushing the entry risks wandering, chipping, or leaving an uneven surface. Take it slow to begin smooth holes!

Next let’s look at techniques for neatly exiting the bottom of a hole…

Go Easy When Breaking Through to Avoid Chipping

As a hole saw nears the exit point of a hole, special care is required to avoid quality problems:

Reduce Feeding Pressure

Lighten up on drill pressure as the saw teeth approach the underside of the material to avoid forceful break through.

Slow Down Drilling Speed

Reducing RPM at exit reduces inertia and impact when the hole opens up.

Pause Just Before Breakthrough

Stopping briefly just shy of full cut-through allows cutting momentum to dissipate.

Retract to Realign Hole Saw

Drilling Holes in Metal. The 15 Best Tips for Using 2 Inch Hole Saws

Backing out part way realigns the saw if it shifted off-center when near completion.

Carefully Re-enter the Hole

Gently re-drilling avoids heavy re-engagement of the teeth against the nearly completed hole walls.

Use a Sacrificial Wood Backer

Wood backing beneath thin metal prevents deformation as the hole forms.

Check Underside for Burrs

Inspect the exit hole for quality and deburr as needed for clean edges.

Rushing through the last fraction of an opening risks cosmetic gouging, tear-out, or an off-center exit hole. Exercising control and care when breaking through maintains quality all the way through the cut.

Next we’ll discuss dealing with the round plugs cut free by the hole saw…

Let the Hole Saw Cool Periodically to Prevent Overheating

Frictional heat generated during drilling can be damaging to a hole saw. Taking breaks allows heat to dissipate:

Extends Tool Life

Keeping saws from overheating preserves the temper and cutting edges of the teeth much longer.

Maintains Cutting Performance

Drilling Holes in Metal. The 15 Best Tips for Using 2 Inch Hole Saws

Excessive heat degrades cutting ability. Allowing cooling restores tooth sharpness.

Prevents Premature Wear

Heat accelerates abrasion and erosion of the teeth over time. Running too hot ruins hole saws quicker.

Reduces Dimensional Accuracy

Heat build up causes expansion in both the hole saw and workpiece, throwing off precision.

How Often to Cool?

Duration depends on factors like material, depth, speed, etc. General guidelines include:

  • At least every 1-2 inches depth into thin metal
  • After each incremental pass through steel plate
  • Whenever smoke or discoloration appears
  • If hole saw is uncomfortable to touch

Effective Cooling Methods

To cool hole saws, try:

  • Pausing for 1 minute air cool down
  • Applying cutting fluid liberally
  • Submerging saw in water for 3-5 minutes
  • Placing on heat sink, like cold steel plate

Monitoring temperature and allowing cooling periods as needed keeps hole saws running in their ideal temp range for maximum life.

Next, we’ll look at pointers for drilling starter holes before sawing…

For Thicker Materials, Drill a Pilot Hole First

For deep holes or sawing through thicker metal stock, starting with a pilot hole can improve performance:

Guides the Hole Saw

The pilot hole centers the hole saw bit and provides initial guidance to prevent wandering.

Reduces Binding

The clearance of the pilot hole allows waste chips an escape path up through the teeth gullets.

Lowers Required Torque

Much less tool torque is required since the pilot bore removes material first before the hole saw even starts cutting.

When is a Pilot Hole Necessary?

General rules of thumb for pilot holes:

  • For sheet metal, usually not needed
  • For plate steel over 3/16″, optional
  • For plate steel over 1/2″, highly recommended

Proper Pilot Hole Size

The pilot should be roughly centered and 50-60% the diameter of the hole saw itself. So for a 2″ saw, drill a 1″ pilot.

Match Pilot and Arbor Diameters

Arbors are often designed around standard pilot bit sizes like 3/8″ or 1/2″ for easy pairing.

Use High Quality Bits

Drilling Holes in Metal. The 15 Best Tips for Using 2 Inch Hole Saws

Invest in good cobalt or carbide-tipped bits for clean starter holes and minimal hole saw wobble.

Letting a pilot bit do some of the early work reduces unnecessary load on the hole saw while improving cut quality in thick materials.

Next, let’s go over some finishing touches for holes…

Apply Backward Pressure at End to Deburr the Hole

After drilling all the way through a hole with a hole saw, a light chamfering pass can refine the edges:

Removes Top Burrs

Rotating the saw backward flattens and cleans up any burrs left around the entry hole.

Blends Exit Imperfections

Likewise, back-reaming smoothes out the underside exit burr and and rounding from break through.

Produces Flat, Even Edges

The reversed hole saw lightly skims the surface for a flat diameter edge.

How to Deburr

  • Clear chips from hole saw gullets
  • Carefully rotate drill in reverse
  • Use light pressure at low RPM
  • Make quick 5-10 second pass
  • Check edges and repeat if needed

Consider Hole Purpose

Drilling Holes in Metal. The 15 Best Tips for Using 2 Inch Hole Saws

For clearance holes, deburring is often beneficial. For threaded holes, some burrs aid nut engagement.

Use Filers and Stones for Additional Refinement

For precision applications, hand filing or surface grinding removes any lingering defects.

A quick backwards hole sawing rotation ensures a smooth, even hole edge, prevents torn metal, and improves overall appearance.

For the final step, let’s discuss removing those drilled-out slugs…

How to Remove Plug Slugs and Clean the Hole Saw

When using a hole saw to drill holes in metal, one common frustration is dealing with the circular “plug slug” of material that gets trapped inside the hole saw after each hole. Removing these plugs and keeping the hole saw clean is an essential part of the process if you want to maximize the tool’s lifespan and drilling performance.

In this article, we’ll walk through a step-by-step process for removing plug slugs and cleaning 2 inch hole saws being used to drill holes in metal. We’ll also cover 15 helpful tips and best practices for getting the most out of your hole saw.

Step 1 – Extract the Plug Slug

After drilling each hole, the first step is to extract the plug slug trapped inside the hole saw. Give the drill a few quick bursts in reverse to try and dislodge the plug. This helps break the friction holding it in place.

Next, lock the chuck in place so the hole saw is stationary. Lay the hole saw face down and give it a few taps with a hammer or mallet to knock the plug slug out. You can also use a pair of pliers or channel locks to remove stubborn slugs by gripping and wiggling them free.

Step 2 – Clear Debris from Teeth

With the slug removed, inspect and clear any debris from the hole saw teeth. Chips and shavings can build up around the teeth edges – scrape and brush these away. Soaking in solvent helps dissolve stuck grime.

Proper tooth cleaning prevents unnecessary friction and overheating as you cut, improving cut accuracy and extending the saw’s lifespan.

Step 3 – Flush with Cutting Fluid

For optimal cleaning, flush the interior and teeth of the hole saw with cutting fluid or mineral spirits. This dissolves any lingering grease, chips or swarf.

Let the hole saw fully dry or wipe it down before reusing. Built up fluid and grime can hamper cutting performance.

Step 4 – Inspect for Wear and Damage

Drilling Holes in Metal. The 15 Best Tips for Using 2 Inch Hole Saws

While cleaning the hole saw, inspect it closely for signs of wear and tear. Look for:

  • Missing, broken, or dull teeth
  • Cracks or damage around the arbor hole
  • Warping and wobbling, indicating loss of circularity

Damaged or worn out hole saws should be replaced for best results. Regular inspection ensures you recognize when it’s time for a new saw.

15 Tips for Using 2 Inch Hole Saws on Metal

Beyond proper cleaning, there are many tips that can help maximize your hole saw’s effectiveness and longevity when drilling metal:

  1. Use light feed pressure – Let the hole saw do the work without forcing it.
  2. Back the saw out repeatedly to extract chips and cool the teeth.
  3. Lubricate the cutting area with oil or cutting fluid.
  4. Peck drill shallow intervals if the saw starts to lag or grind.
  5. Choose variable speed or adjustable clutch tools for optimum RPM.
  6. Use a center punch to create a starter divot.
  7. Clamp workpieces or brace them against a backer board.
  8. Apply cutting wax or lubricant to the slug sidewalls.
  9. Utilize backup boards when drilling thin material.
  10. Let the tool stop completely before removing slugs.
  11. Aim for 80-100 SFMP (Surface Feet per Minute) based on saw diameter.
  12. Replace worn sets – Don’t redress or sharpen dull teeth.
  13. Select saws with cobalt or titanium coatings for extended life.
  14. Use hole saws and arbors from the same brand for optimal stability.
  15. Pick tooth counts suited for the material – higher for hard metals like stainless steel.

By keeping your 2 inch hole saw clean and following these best practices, you’ll get the cleanest cuts and maximum hole count when drilling metal. Slow feeds, proper lubrication, and frequent slug removal go a long way.

Investing in quality hole saws designed for metal, like those with cobalt or titanium coatings, also improves performance and tool life. But no saw lasts forever – stay vigilant in inspecting for wear and replacing damaged or underperforming sets.

Drilling clean, precise, uniform holes in metal is satisfying but takes patience and technique. We hope these hole saw cleaning steps and tips will help you work more efficiently and get the most out of your tools.

Extending Your Hole Saw’s Life with Proper Care

Drilling Holes in Metal. The 15 Best Tips for Using 2 Inch Hole Saws

Hole saws are invaluable for drilling clean, uniform holes in metal, but like any tool they require proper care and maintenance. With the right techniques, you can maximize your hole saw’s lifespan and performance when cutting metal.

In this article, we’ll outline steps for cleaning 2 inch hole saws after use as well as share 15 tips to extend the working life of your tool. Proper slug removal, tooth cleaning, inspection, and lubrication go a long way!

Post-Drilling Cleaning Steps

After each hole, be sure to follow these cleaning steps:

  1. Extract Plug Slug: Reverse the drill and tap the saw to remove the slug trapped inside.
  2. Clear Teeth: Brush and pick away any debris around the teeth.
  3. Flush with Fluid: Use cutting fluid or mineral spirits to dissolve built-up grime.
  4. Inspect for Damage: Check for worn, broken, or missing teeth and other issues.

Proper cleaning removes cut material and lubricates the saw, preventing overheating and premature wear.

15 Tips for Extending Hole Saw Life

In addition to cleaning, utilizing these best practices will prolong your hole saw’s lifespan:

  1. Use light feed pressure – don’t force the saw.
  2. Frequently back the tool out to clear chips.
  3. Apply cutting fluid or oil as lubrication.
  4. Peck drill in intervals if the saw starts grinding.
  5. Choose optimal RPM variablespeed tools.
  6. Make a starter divot with a center punch.
  7. Clamp down workpieces for stability.
  8. Coat slug sidewalls with wax or lubricant.
  9. Use backup boards for thin materials.
  10. Let the saw stop fully before removing slugs.
  11. Target 80-100 SFMP based on saw diameter.
  12. Replace dull sets instead of sharpening.
  13. Select coated saws (cobalt, titanium) for longevity.
  14. Use matching saw and arbor sets.
  15. Choose proper tooth count for the metal.

High tooth count hole saws are ideal for hard metals like stainless steel. Allowing adequate lubrication and avoiding forceful pressure reduces friction and overheating that can damage the teeth.

While cleaning and care promote long life, inspection is critical for identifying when a hole saw should be replaced. Telltale signs include missing, broken, or dull teeth, cracks or warping, and loss of circularity.

The Importance of Quality Hole Saws

Drilling Holes in Metal. The 15 Best Tips for Using 2 Inch Hole Saws

Investing in quality cobalt or titanium coated hole saws designed for cutting metal can also extend service life. Poor quality or incorrect saws lead to premature failure.

Matching your hole saw with an arbor from the same brand ensures stability and concentricity when cutting. This reduces wobble that can damage teeth.

Even with proper care, hole saws eventually require replacement. But following these cleaning, maintenance, and selection tips will help you drill many more holes before your saw wears out.

Keep Your Hole Saws Cutting Smoothly

Drilling repeated holes in metal is made much simpler when you keep your hole saws properly maintained. We hope these cleaning steps, usage tips, and saw selection advice arm you with the knowledge for maximizing performance.

A little effort goes a long way to improve hole quality, speed, and tool longevity. Implementing these best practices will have you drilling smooth, burr-free holes for years to come!