Using Forstner bits instead of hole saws

by Chris Rogers   Last Updated August 04, 2019 09:21 AM

I have been having problems using hole saws when removing the plug of material after use. Looking at What is the right way to clear the drilled plug out of a hole saw? it is still awkward and I have considered spending the extra on buying Forstner bits as an alternative.

Forsner Bit

But then I am told they are not for drilling all the way through. Is it okay (or even safe or wise) to use Forstner bits in this way.

Tags : drill hole

Answers 4

I'm not sure why someone told you that you can't drill all the way though with a Forstner bit, but in my opinion, they are incorrect. These bits excel at creating a flat-bottomed hole but will also drill completely through the material just fine. I regularly use mine in a drill press but they can also be used in a handheld drill.

I find that they splinter the material much less than a spade-type bit does although they are significantly more expensive.

Here is what Rockler says about them:


What's so special about Forstner bits?

Unlike the standard twist bit, Forstner bits are optimized for woodworking applications and cut exceptionally precise, clean-edged holes in wood. Because they're designed to produce a minimum amount of tear-out when exiting the material, Forstner bits are the best bit for drilling through holes. Forstner bits drill a flat-bottomed hole, making them a necessary tool for many hardware installations where a precise depth of mortise is required. Forstner bits are guided by the wide outside rim of the bit, unlike most drill bits, which are guided by the tip. Because of that, they can be used along with a drill press to drill angled holes, holes that partially overlap, and holes on the edge of the material.

August 04, 2019 09:49 AM

I've always used hole saws before and yes, hard to get the plug out... extra trip to tool box for a screwdriver. Then I used a Forstner bit to install some hinges on cabinet doors. I loved them. They are fine for drilling through wood. They are much more expensive. They work better in a drill press, just like hole saws do but still work well with a standard drill.

August 04, 2019 11:03 AM

When drilling all the way through, a Forstner bit will splinter the back side considerably worse than a standard hole saw. (Of course, a spade bit is worst of all in this regard.)

Removing the "plug" in a hole saw can be tricky at times, but I usually have success by pushing it out with a nail or punch stuck through the holes in the bit. The arrangement of holes in the bit varies with size and design, however.

Hot Licks
Hot Licks
August 05, 2019 17:20 PM

I found that when using a forstner bit with my hand drill, it’s much more difficult to keep a straight line when making deep holes (ex: drilling 1/2” holes 2.5” deep). I find that they easily veer to another direction, even if your focused on keeping a steady hand. In these scenarios, I prefer a paddle bit since the pointed end does a little better at keeping straight.

However, on a drill press, forstner bits are a dream to use.

Christopher Setter
Christopher Setter
August 05, 2019 18:32 PM

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