best hole saw for cutting thick metal

Best Hole Saw for Cutting Thick Metal of 2020: Complete Reviews With Comparisons

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Finding the best hole saw for cutting thick metal is a transformative experience, especially for contractors who need all of the right tools.

With these bits, you have the opportunity to make clean and precise cuts through a variety of materials, from steel to aluminum.

Below, you will find the five best hole saw kits and cutters that can help make your job much more natural and far more efficient.

Comparison Chart

Greenlee 648 Quick Change Carbide Cutter Set

Milwaukee Ice Hardened Hole Saw Kit

Bosch Bi-Metal Hole Saw Kit

EZARC Carbide Hole Cutter 

HSS Hole Saw Kits 

Best Hole Saw for Cutting Thick Metal: Brief Reviews

1. Greenlee Quick Change Carbide Cutter Set

With all of the bits that are included in this set, you can guarantee that you can work your way through any type of metal.

With nine individual pieces contained in a high-quality box, every contractor will want to get their hands on these high-quality pieces.

There are plenty of exciting features and highlights that you will want to consider with the Greenlee Carbide Cutter Set.

Product Highlights

You’ll surely appreciate the versatility of the set, as it comes with solutions for 2.5-inch conduits, making it substantially easier to fit your bits onto any piece of machinery you have.

Also, since the pieces are made from structured carbide, you’ll finally have the opportunity to make incredibly accurate holes in materials such as fiberglass, plastic, mild steel, stainless steel, brass, copper, iron, and aluminum.

With quick penetration and the elimination of walking thanks to the cobalt-steel pilot with a split point, you can drill your holes more effortlessly.

Instead of being stuck with a set of tools that take months to learn how to use, the quick-change arbor with this kit is incredibly useful.

Within a matter of seconds, you can switch cutter heads by pushing and turning them on and off.

You’ll also like how long the tools are made to last, as they are specially machined to produce less heat, torque, and friction.

What to Like About It

If you’re searching for a way to make shallow cuts, this set is what you need.

With a design that is superior for drilling knockouts and works perfectly with electrical enclosures, you’ll appreciate how it helps you to avoid critical electrical components.

As an added benefit, you’ll likely notice that this toolset is much more lightweight than other carbide tips on the market, making it easier to carry.

On average, you’re likely to use these bits for up to two years before any parts need replacing.

It is recommended that you choose the lowest setting, however, as this provides you with the most torque, so the bits are protected from damage.

What Not to Like About It

The main downfall of the Greenlea Quick Change Carbide Cutter Set is that it requires lubricant to make a hole.

If you’re working with fragile sheets of metal, it will perform much better; though, with thicker materials, you will need saw oil or some type of lubricant.

Some users have also experienced difficulty with keeping the bits inside of their power tools, as they may drop out frequently.

Although the cutters are quite shallow and fantastic for electrical work, this means that they aren’t the best option for getting into pipes or other in-depth projects.

PROS

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    Ideal for drilling knockouts
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    Variable speed settings
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    Fantastic for electrical enclosures
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    Has better longevity
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    Very lightweight

CONS

  • May require the use of lubricant
  • Drill bits fall out frequently
  • Quite shallow

2. Milwaukee Ice Hardened Hole Saw Kit

For some contractors, the more, the merrier, and with this Milwaukee Ice Hardened Hole Saw Kit, you will have 28 full pieces to use to your advantage at any given time.

As one of the most recognizable brands in the power tool industry, these easy-to-use pieces are ideal for beginners and veterans alike.

You’ll appreciate their durability, convenience, and even the heavy-duty carrying case they arrive in.

Product Highlights

This generation of hole saws is much newer than others on the market, as the manufacturer states their pieces last up to 50% longer than the competition.

Compared to other hole saws specially designed for metal, this kit is also highly adaptable to wood, which makes it perfect for electrical, plumbing, general maintenance, and HVAC projects.

The durability of the 28-piece set is also something to write home about, as each piece is made using a specialized process.

With the proprietary cryogenic hardening process from Milwaukee, each piece is machined to last longer and be more durable than those made with regular heat treating.

By hardening the pieces at their core, more hard metal is created than soft metal, which offers consistency, ease of use, and fantastic durability compared to others.

Another exciting feature about the longevity of this set is that they feature Matrix II bi-metal construction for optimal precision.

The rear of each piece features a particular radius that helps to reduce the amount of pressure the teeth experience with every cut, helping to improve their speed and reducing splinters and fractures.

When it comes time to remove the plugs, you can simply fit a slotted screwdriver underneath and pop it out, thanks to the specialized functional slot geometry.

Consistency is, by far, the most significant selling point of the Milwaukee Ice Hardened Hole Saw Kit.

What to Like About It

When you first open your new kit of tools, you’ll find that there are multiple sizes for any type of project you could dream of.

This point is especially true if you’re a fan of creating elegant and clean holes, as the teeth comfortably grip onto the material and saw through it like butter due to its robust nature.

If you work on wood frequently, you’ll find that these hole saws have far less blowout than other models that you can find.

As an added benefit, after several cuts, you’ll notice the teeth won’t show any signs of wear, which only speaks to the durability and longevity of this set.

What Not to Like About It

Even though the Milwaukee Ice Hardened Hole Saw Kit is rather well-rounded, there are a couple of disadvantages to note, as well.

Although there are many pieces that you will have, you may only need to use up to five, which means the rest of the kit will likely be left behind at the shop more often than not.

Also, when drilling, these saws require a lot of power, so you are sure to run out of battery faster, especially when using a cordless power tool.

When dealing with wood, be sure to select the appropriate speed setting, as you will want to ensure the drill doesn’t get stuck.

Some users noted the saw would bore its way into the material and then whip the drill out of their hand after getting caught in the wood.

PROS

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    Arrives with multiple sizes
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    Ideal for delicate work with clean holes
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    Less blowout
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    Very powerful
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    Teeth show no signs of wear
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    Slugs are very easy to remove

CONS

  • May get caught in the wood
  • Has too many pieces
  • Requires a lot of drill power

3. Bosch Master Bi-Metal Hole Saw Kit

When you visit most hardware stores, Bosch is one of the best brands you can get your hands on due to the quality of their craft and the easiness of their tools.

The Bosch Master Bi-Metal Hole Saw Kit is no different, as it comes with 25 different pieces, or you can opt for the 17- or 19-piece kits, depending on your needs.

Its convenience is incredible, regardless if you are a professional HVAC technician or if you’re doing moderate work around the house.

Product Highlights

Whether you work with metal or wood, this toolset is a fantastic kit to have for convenience.

You can opt to use the saws with quick-change or standard arbors, depending on your preference, as the pilot bits snap incredibly easily into mandrels for both metal and wood.

The precision of the bits is also something quite notable, as the saw cuts substantially faster and cleaner than other kits on the market.

With the help of the alternating sizes of the teeth in the saws, you’ll love how quickly it accurately tears through materials.

After your first use, you may also notice how smoothly it glides through wood and metal, as the pieces feature a threadless design.

Without any threads, there’s no need to worry about the mandrel seizing while in use.

The hole saw in this kit has incredible strength thanks to its reinforced shoulder.

It also offers better durability and longevity with the addition of the positive lock.

Another benefit of the positive lock is that there is far less wobbling when you’re making holes.

Not to mention, the bits are made from eight percent cobalt alloy, which speaks to the incredible longevity of the kit.

What to Like About It 

The convenience of the Bosch Master Bi-Metal Hole Saw Kit is impressive, especially as the cutters can easily snap and lock onto your power tools or be removed in seconds.

With each pass, they create a crisp cut, whether it’s through wood or thin metal, as many have suggested this set works best with thin metal.

Once you’ve finished cutting, removing the plugs is also substantially more accessible than with other hole saws on the market.

What Not to Like About It

There are a few significant concerns to be had with this hole saw kit, especially if you want bits that will chew through thick metal.

When faced with thick sheets, the bits may bend and inevitably break, which is quite challenging to deal with on top of the fact that they also rust very quickly.

People who regularly work with wood are going to want to invest in a lubricant, as the bits work incredibly slow and also heat up very quickly without lubrication.

Another inconvenience is that the connections for the hole saws are quite sloppy and don’t appear to be universal.

PROS

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    Cutters easily snap and lock on
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    Creates crisp cuts
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    Fantastic for thin metal
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    Easy to remove plugs

CONS

  • Parts rust easily
  • Cuts wood slowly
  • Bits need to cool regularly
  • Will require lubrication
  • Sloppy connections

4. EZARC Carbide Hole Cutter Set

Often, simplicity is the best choice, especially if you’re the type of person who doesn’t need an excessive number of pieces to cut through metal.

The EZARC Carbide Hole Cutter Set comes with six individual pieces, compared to 25 or 28, so you will easily be able to carry this kit with you anywhere.

Featuring industrial-grade metal, these hole cutters may just outperform some of the best hole cutters you’ve had your hands on in the past.

Product Highlights

As mentioned, the pieces in this hole cutter set are made from industrial-grade carbide, which makes it substantially stronger than bi-metal hole saws.

These bits are surely made for the contractor who needs serious power to bore holes through some of the thickest sheets of metal.

You’ll also love how the heavy-duty metal has the potential to last 10 times longer than any other hole saws on the market.

You won’t need to worry about teeth breaking with each cut, as they feature tungsten carbide technology.

With the ability to push itself through plenty of metals, such as cast iron, sheet metal, aluminum, and stainless steel, no job will be too large for your new hole cutters.

Not to mention, you’ll also experience far more precision and smoothness with each cut.

What to Like About It 

Overall, the EZARC Carbide Hole Cutter Set is rather simplistic and gets the job done, which is perfect for contractors and general handymen.

The pieces are incredibly sharp and cut through many types of materials like butter, making them quite simple to use even if you’ve never had a hole saw before.

They also cut quite quickly, so you can get the job done faster than with competing brands.

What Not to Like About It

When it comes to the center bits in each piece, you may find that they are likely to break without a lot of experience using hole saws.

Also, it can be challenging to find replacement center bits unless you directly contact the manufacturer.

You may also notice these pieces are prone to rusting as they are not stainless steel, so you will have to take care to store them in a dry and cool area when not in use.

PROS

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    Incredibly sharp
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    Very easy to use
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    Can cut quickly

CONS

  • May rust quickly
  • Pilot bits are slightly poor
  • The case opens too easily

5. HSS Hole Saw Kit

With 13 individual pieces for you to put to good use, the HSS Hole Saw Kit comes with everything you need to work with metals, such as copper, stainless steel, and iron.

Each piece is made from high-quality materials, which should ensure their durability and longevity even after several months of regular use.

Also, you’ll be glad to know that this set can be used on wood, as well.

Product Highlights

One of the most exciting highlights of the HSS Hole Saw Kit is that it can be used with both wood and metal, though this is a common trait with most other kits.

You’ll appreciate its versatility and heavy-duty nature, as the gears feature exceptional rigidity that protects the interior drill bit.

The teeth on the outside of the saws are quite impressive, as well, as they give you the ability to create quick, clean, and perfectly round holes.

The versatility of this kit is also something to make a note of, as you can easily use these bits in an electric drill, stand drill, or magnetic drill.

With the opportunity to work through mild steel, iron, brass, and stainless steel efficiently, everything that you need is found within these 13 pieces.

What to Like About It 

These incredibly sharp bits are quite impressive when you use them for the first time; they cut through materials like butter with minimal burring.

You’ll especially love using the kit on metal, such as stainless steel, as it doesn’t overheat nor discolor the material you’re working on.

As an added benefit, there are multiple arbors that you’ll receive, and depending on how often you use the kit, it’s likely you’ll have extras leftover.

What Not to Like About It

The main disadvantage to the HSS Hole Saw Kit is that it is very shallow, which seems to be an issue with a lot of hole saw pieces.

As such, you won’t be able to work through deep wood or very thick sheets of metal.

Also, each of the pieces features metric sizing, so you may want to consider mapping out your sizes so you know which bit is which for easier access.

PROS

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    Incredibly sharp
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    Has multiple arbors
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    Minimal burring
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    Spring ejection when cutting
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    Doesn’t discolor stainless steel

CONS

  • Arrives with metric sizing
  • Stems may get stuck on the arbor
  • Quite shallow

Buyer’s Guide

Once you start shopping around for hole saws, you’ll want to make sure you’re choosing a set that will outperform your wildest expectations.

Not only is performance essential to consider, but you’ll want to make sure the bits will last over years of use.

With the help of this buyer’s guide, you’ll know what to look for so that you can make a perfect choice the first time around.

1. Materials

Hole saws are made from several different materials, including:

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel hole saws are the most common and the most affordable, as they allow you to cut through soft sheet metal, wood, plastic, and plasterboard.

These bits are going to be very flexible and adaptable; however, they are easily damaged from heat and will show signs of wear the fastest.

Bi-Metal

The body of these saws is made from carbon steel, while the teeth are created out of steel for better durability than plain carbon steel.

You can typically work with a wide variety of materials, including plastic, cast iron, wood, and steel.

Tungsten Carbide Teeth (TCT)

TCT hole saws are handy if you’re working with cement and wood, as they cut substantially faster than carbon steel variants.

They are also ideal for materials that are dense, such as reinforced plastics, fiberglass, and steel.

High-Speed Steel (HSS)

When dealing with steel and alloy sheets, you’ll find HSS hole saws to be preferable, as they’re made from pure steel and offer substantially higher speeds than other saws.

With heightened durability as carbon steel, they’re best for professionals, such as electricians.

Diamond Grit

Diamond grit hole saws are the best choice for when you need to drill through very tough materials, such as fibro cement, ceramic, and hard plastics.

The downside to this design is that it needs to be fed water regularly to prevent heat damage.

2. Size

You can guarantee there is an exceptional number of sizes to choose from when it comes to selecting hole saws.

It might be easier to opt for a kit that arrives with multiple sizes, as they are very versatile and well-rounded.

Most of these saws are available in sizes ranging from 5/8” to 4 3/8”.

3. Arbor Shank Size

If you decide to invest in a hole saw kit, you’ll receive all of the arbors you need to use the saws right out of the box.

Most are designed in two different sizes: large and small.

Small arbor shanks are best used with saws ranging from 14mm to 30mm, or 1/2 to one inch in size.

On the other end of the spectrum, large arbor shanks are best to be used with hole saws that are one to eight inches in size.

To get the measurements for an arbor shank, it’s measured based on diameter across the flats, which is the space between one flat surface to the other.

4. Durability

The durability of your hole saws will significantly depend on the materials they are made of, as not all are necessary for every job.

If you have to make a couple of quick cuts through wood, you can easily afford carbon steel saws, as they’re the most available and least expensive.

However, when it comes to durability, they are quite lackluster compared to diamond grit saws, for example.

Our recommendation for finding affordable, durable, and versatile hole saws is to consider bi-metal or ones with tungsten carbide teeth.

With that, you’ll easily be able to work with multiple types of metal, as well as wood, without wearing away the teeth as quickly as you would with the cheaper variations.

5. Cost

Another factor that is affected by the material used to make the hole saws is their cost.

The more expensive you go, the higher the quality the bits will be, but they might not be necessary for the type of work you’re doing.

On average, you can expect to spend anywhere from $60 to $140 for a set of good hole saws from name-brand companies that you can trust.

FAQs

1. Can you use a hole saw on metal?

You can certainly use a hole saw on metal, especially as many versions are specifically designed for that purpose.

You must select saws that explicitly state they can be used with metal, as well as take a look at the type of metal they are recommended for.

Some pieces are best used with thin sheets, whereas others are fantastic for thicker alloys.

2. How do you drill a hole in metal?

Drilling a hole in metal is easily accomplished with the right hole saw, as they feature specialized teeth that grip onto thick materials and bore their way through with power and accuracy.

From HVAC technicians to electricians, there are plenty of different types of hole saws that will suit your needs perfectly.

Ideally, you’ll want to choose a design that will work with metal without burning or discoloring the material while it is being sawed through.

3. How do you cut metal?

If you’re looking to cut metal instead of drill a hole through the material, you’ll want to look for more traditional metal cutting tools.

Most contractors prefer using high-powered equipment, such as a circular saw, reciprocating saw, or a miter saw.

Similar to selecting the right materials for your hole saw, the saw blades you choose for cutting metal should be able to slice through your desired materials like butter.

4. Will a diamond hole saw cut steel?

Even though diamond hole saws are some of the most hardened bits on the market, they are only recommended for certain materials, such as ceramic.

You surely wouldn’t want to burn out your new saw after your first use, especially with the price tag attached to diamond versions.

When you use a diamond hole saw on steel, for example, it will clog the entire bit, causing it to overheat.

Within a matter of minutes, the bit is prone to fail, and you’ll have to replace the entire piece, which is a costly mistake to make.

5. Can you use a hole saw without pilot bit?

There are certain instances when you might prefer to avoid using a pilot bit when operating a hole saw, especially if you’re working with brittle material.

With that said, trying to drill freehand without a pilot bit can be relatively impossible, so you’re going to want to use a guide plate.

A guide plate gives you the ability to fit the hole saw into a sleeve for optimal stability so that it can push its way through the metal.

Final Verdict

If you’re in the market for the best hole saw for cutting thick metals and provide accurate holes, we recommend the HSS Hole Saw Kit.

Its unique design makes it substantially more comfortable to work with thick materials without the worry of discoloration.

The bits are also quite user-friendly and high-quality, so you won’t have to worry about a loss of durability, even as a beginner.

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