Arbored vs. Non-Arbored Hole Saw [Which Is Better?]

If you need to see holes in your projects, there’s no doubt that you will need a hole saw. In fact, there are two types of hole saws, and we are going to discuss arbored and non-arbored hole saws in this article.

So, which is better? The answer to this arbored vs. non-arbored hole saw question is straightforward. Both of them offer the same with slightly different required efforts and results.

If you want a stable and fast hole on your work project and do not need cutaway pieces, arbored hole saws are the better choice.

On the other hand, if you need the cutaway pieces and are prepared to spend extra effort setting up guiding plates, non-arbored hole saws are the answer.

Hole Saw Definition

Hole saws are also called hole cutters. They are saw blades of annular shape with annular kerfs creating holes in the workpiece without cutting the core material.

In addition, it is used in drills. Hole saws commonly have a pilot drill bit at the center to prevent the saw teeth from moving.


  1. Portable drills used should produce considerable torque at low speeds.
  2. Hole saws may bind if choked with dust and if allowed to go a bit far from the planned hole’s central axis.
  3. Powerful drills may become severe under a few conditions, and long side handles with 2 operators for big holes must be used
  4. The drills used to power hole saws should produce high torque levels because of the friction created by sawing holes into dense materials. You may not have enough power to cut consistently without the high torque levels.
  5. Core plugs can bind in the hole saw and should always be pried out for every hole cut. Prying can sometimes be difficult.


  1. The hole saw’s efficiency can cut little amounts of the total material, reducing the overall power requirement.
  2. Hole saws can cut various hole sizes, and there is a wide range of diameters being sold on the market, letting you cut with ease.
  3. Since it needs less power, you can save energy and prolong your portable power tool’s battery life.
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Arbored Hole Saw

Arbored hole saws have an arbor placed at the pilot drill center. A drill can do smaller holes on the surface first, while the hole saw creates the bigger hole.

This arbor helps keep the hole saw in the center, making it stable while creating holes.

Key Features:

  • Pilot drills guide the hole saw’s accuracy
  • Pilot drills help keep the stability of the hole saw when cutting
  • This is great for beginners and experts

Non-Arbored Hole Saw

Non-arbored hole saws have no central arbor. Only the saw drills directly on the surface.

Since they drill directly on the surface, the cutaway piece will be completely round without holes and scratches.

Lastly, non-arbored hole saws are perfect for cutting pieces intended for other works and projects.

Key Features:

  • Cutaway pieces are round and intact
  • No need for central drills or arbors
  • Can cut the surface directly
  • Experience is required for cutting accuracy

Arbored vs. Non Arbored Hole Saw

At this point, you probably now have ideas about what hole saws are in general. Now, let us talk about their differences.


Both hole saws have the same durability, assuming they are used properly. The difference is that when they are used on handheld drills with a guide plate, arbored saws with a pilot drill will last longer than without it.


You need to set the saw’s right arbor size and the right hole size on the drill starting to cut on the projector surface.

Meanwhile, non-arbored saws only need the right size hole to get started. It can save effort and time unscrewing and screwing the drills and saws.


The arbored hole saw is recommended for people with all experience levels because of the central arbor leading the hole saw. You will just need to know a few techniques.

Non-arbored hole saws are suitable for experienced users because there is no guiding drill. Because of that, amateurs are prone to making wrong cuts in the wrong spots.

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So, non-arbored drills need steady and expert hands to use them effectively.

Central Drill

Central drills are also called arbors, and they are important in arbored hole saw’s hole cutting. The central drill makes contact with the surface and then the pilot hole that will help it cut accurately.

Non-arbored hole saws do not need a central drill, and they can reach the surface directly without prior contact and then cut.


Arbored hole saws are more stable and can produce better cuts because of the center arbor and the guide drill.

Non-arbored hand saws start cutting directly with the stability fully dependent on the user’s hands. So, it can be less stable during operation.

Which One to Pick?

Non-arbored hole saws are for you to create holes in the surface to use what was cut out. It will create a smooth line and won’t have a center hole that may cause damage to the material removed.

On the other hand, if you don’t need the material to be removed, arbored hole saws with a pilot bit are the ones for you. It is because accuracy will be better with the integral shank and pilot drill.

How to Use a Hole Saw

YouTube video

In this video, two men demonstrate using a hole saw in several steps. They show different sizes of hole saws and are mounted to a mandrill in various sizes.

After locking the drill and hole saw completely, it will be inserted into the drill bit. It has to be very tight, so it won’t lose its position and never get off.

They discuss that larger center drills are more powerful and can get through pieces of wood, and it will jam up and fill the center drill holes. Drilling should be done at low and high speeds depending on the surface.

Lastly, they demonstrate the drill works and show results on the drilled surface.

1. Make a pilot hole

The first thing to do is create a circular outline on the board and start drilling on the pilot hole. It’s because hole saws tend to wander until the drill bit gets into the wood.

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Remember that arbored hole saws only need an outline, not a pilot hole. For better accuracy, use a brad point drill bit with a sharp point to press into the wood over a mark.

2. Position the Hole Saw

Position the Hole Saw

After drilling the pilot hole, place the hole saw’s drill bit into the hole.

3. Cut the material

Cut the material

Start drilling and increase the bit’s speed while holding the driver/drill with both hands. One tip is to gently plunge the bit until the hole saw scuffs the wood’s surface for one second.

Plunging too fast can cause the hole saw a bit too hard and bind up. When the saw starts cutting, slowly plunge into the cut without pushing.

After the saw breaks through the other side, stop the driver/drill, wait for the bit to stop turning, and remove the saw out of the hole.

4. Extract the disc

For the final step, unplug the battery from the driver/drill, insert the screwdriver’s end into the hole on the saw’s sides, and then push the disc out.

Uses of Hole Saw

You can use hole saws for many applications, including cutting holes in leather and plastic. It’s a useful tool to keep in your house.


Hole saw metal cutters are usually more robust to withstand high temperatures produced from cutting through various metals like stainless steel.


Bi-metal hole saws are great for creating holes in typical wood and timber sheets.

Look for a brand with carbide-tipped teeth. These teeth are more effective and perform clean cutting of engineered woods like MDF.



Coated or toothless hole saws are an alternative hole cutter configuration in masonry, ceramic tiles, glass, and porcelain.

This type of hole saw features a smooth rim covered with an abrasive and rough material like carbide or diamond instead of having crenelated or jagged teeth on its cutting edge.

The advantage of being a fast-cut hole or toothless design enables finer, easier, and neater cuts with low chances of breaking or chipping in dense and hard surfaces.


Masonry hole saws are ideal for cutting concrete. Their teeth are widely spaced compared to wooden holes.

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Sometimes, they have diamond-tipped teeth for extra cutting strength and hardness. The wider spacing makes it more convenient for the material removed to fall off from the hole saw’s edge and prevent binding and clogging.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

How to center a hole saw?

In this video, the man demonstrates how to center a big hole saw with a small hole. It was challenging because the hole wasn’t big enough.

However, it becomes easy when using a hole saw because it comes with a central guide bit. He suggests a technique by grabbing a hole saw the same size as the hole you want to drill through.

Also, he shows how to go through a small hole saw that will allow you to drill bigger holes in the surface when there is an existing hole bigger than the auger’s drill bit. In the last part of the video, he finally shows how easily it was done.

YouTube video

Do you need a pilot hole when using an arbored hole saw?

The center drill in an arbored hole saw will initiate the cutting process by drilling at the desired cutting surface’s center.

Although it helps with cutting, it can result in cutaway pieces getting a small hole in the middle. So, they are not used in most cases.

Also, arbored hole saws start cutting the holes based on the outline. So, the worker will just have to draw the area and a mark on the center.

Then, the pilot drill will start to drill on the center mark while the hole saw will start cutting on the desired area.

What are diamond hole saws?

Diamond hole saws are also known as diamond core drill bits. They are laser-welded diamond drill bits that can be used in dry and wet drilling.

However, not the materials to be drilled are recommended for dry dilling. Lastly, diamond hole saws can drill through marble, tiles, granite, porcelain tiles, any lapidary material, and metals.

Is a hole saw better than a Forstner bit?

Forstner bits are better if you are to make small holes. Meanwhile, hole saws are better if you make bigger holes that need to punch through the surface and get it done faster.

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Choosing the better one for you will depend on your desire in terms of drilling holes into surfaces and materials. Note that the hole saw’s limitations are that the hole must go all the way.

Meanwhile, the Forstner bit, it is precise, can stop, and leave a flat-bottomed hole in the surface with a clean cut.

How do you take care of your hole saw?

Cleaning your hole saw regularly can extend its work life.

When using it, always remember to back the saw out of its hole often. It can help clear the teeth from sawdust and chipping, reduce the chances of tooth damage, and keep the blades cool.

Next is to use high-quality cutting oil when cutting metal to help clear chips. Also, cutting oil creates less friction while ensuring a smoother cutting action.

Lastly, store them in a dry and secure place to reduce the elements’ risk of getting damaged and corroded.

The Takeaway

We hope that our comparisons of arbored vs. non-arbored hole saws could clearly highlight their functionalities and features. Although they differ in applications, they function in almost the same way.

So, when you finally visit your local hardware shop, you are now more confident about which one to buy. Choose the hole saw that fits your needs and preferences.

Lastly, whichever you choose from the two, ensure that you practice first on scrap wood before starting your actual project!

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