Workaround: Make Any Size Hole

I know circle cutters aren’t a lot of money. But the thought of a steel arm swinging around at face level with a knife makes me nervous. Besides, that single blade tends to tear up the grain around the hole.

Buying a dedicated hole saw for every size you may need is an expensive proposition. Instead, I grab a spade bit, my rabbeting bit, bearings and a pattern cutting bit to make just about any size hole I want.

Here’s how it’s done:

Make any size holeDrill A Large Hole. First punch a hole large enough for your rabbeting bit to easily fit through.

Make any size holeCut The First Rabbet. Rout the first rabbet using the edge of the hole as a guide. You’ll use the different sized bearings to adjust the size of your hole on the last cut. In the meantime, to enlarge this hole as fast as possible I fit the router bit with the smallest bearing to produce the largest rabbet.

Make any size holeCut The Second Rabbet. Flip the board over and cut the second rabbet. Using the edge of the first rabbet as a guide.

Make any size holeCut The Third Rabbet. Get the idea? Keep flipping and cutting until you get close to the desired hole size. Measure what you need to complete the hole and fit your rabbeting bit with the appropriate sized bearing.

Make any size holeMake The Final Cut. Make the final cut with a pattern cutting router bit. There you have it; a big and easy hole.

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8 Responses to “Workaround: Make Any Size Hole”

  1. Tom

    This worked great! Started with a two-inch hole saw, then several alternating cuts with a 3/8" rabbeting bit, finished with a flush trim bit for a perfect 5" diameter hole! Finished the edges with a 1/8" round over bit. Genius! Been trying to think of a way to do this without making a circle cutting jig all week!

  2. Laurentiu G

    I cannot open pictures ! How to do it ?

  3. debbie donovan

    need to make 1/4" circles in plywood, what tools do i need or what is cheapest way to accomplish this? thank you for your time!

  4. Pär

    That's Genius!

  5. Arvin

    So how can I make such a hole if I don't have access to a router?

  6. Dan

    Thank you. A great trick. Used it to make 3.25" hole to hang a shelf on my drill press.

  7. ALAA


  8. George

    Awesome! I wanted to learn how to better use my router anyway. Thanks.