Cutting holes in wood is equally about choosing the appropriate tool as applying the right technique. Unfortunately, using the right technique with the wrong tool will not get you the desired results.

To this end, it helps to understand common tools used to cut holes in wood, how they work, and their ideal applications. Read on to discover the best tool to make holes in wood.

Which is the Best Tool to Make Holes in Wood?

The best way to cut a hole in wood is using a paddle bit or auger drill using a crank driver. However, you can also cut a hole in wood using a circular saw or jigsaw. It depends on the type and size of the hole and the type of wood.

Top 17 Tools to Make Holes in Wood

The following are the seventeen most effective methods to cut holes in wood, depending on your needs.

#1: Best Tools to Cut Large Round Holes in Wood: Hole saws

10-Piece Hole Saw Kit for Wood | Durable Carbon Steel Power...
  • GET THE COMPLETE HOLE SAW KIT: Upgrade your woodwork, craft and power drill equipment with this complete hole saw bundle that includes 8 high carbon steel hole saws, a mandrel, a hex key and case.
  • THE SIZES OF THE HOLE SAW SET: The diameters of the 8 hole saw cutters are 1", 1-1/4", 1-1/2", 1-3/4", 2", 2-1/8", 2-1/4", and 2-1/2", and they have a cutting depth of 1 inch.
  • FLAWLESS PRECISION DRILLING: Thanks to their high speed steel teeth and smooth cutting edges, these hole saws can cut through wood, PCV and plastic with high precision and create super clean cuts.

The hole saw, also known as a hole cutter, is one of the best tools to drill neat, clean, and smooth holes in wood. It is neither a saw nor a complete drill.

Instead, hole saws get their name from their circular blade, which resembles a saw, and the fact they’re designed purposely to cut holes in wood.

Hole saws are ideal for cutting thick wood. Simply use a deep throat that goes deep into the wood.


  • Hole saws don’t create wood chips and shavings
  • It makes borehole cleaning easier
  • It makes perfect, precise holes
  • It produces large diameter holes


  • It cannot make flat-bottomed holes
  • Hole saws are more expensive than spade bits and foster bits

#2: Best Tools to Drill Screw Holes: Pocket Hole Jigs

Massca Twin Pocket Hole Jig Kit – Adjustable & Easy to Use...
  • Simple Operation. Thanks to its unique, magnetic quick- adjust base system, the design of the Massca Pocket Hole Jig provides rapid and simple operation to make it one of the fastest and easiest jigs available.
  • Quality Design. No marking out is required when using this jig. It features an inbuilt workpiece thickness gauge, inbuilt drill depth setting gauge and inbuilt setup gauge for rapid checking of dimensions, fast operation and quick drilling of joints.
  • Reliable Construction. The Massca features a hardened drill guide to supply a long life, along with a clamping magnet for use with steel clamps. As such, this Twin Pocket Hole Jig is designed to allow the accurate drilling of side- by - side pocket holes.

If you’re trying to make angled holes in wood, perhaps to connect two or more wood pieces, a pocket hole jig would be ideal.

A pocket hole jig is affordable, ranging from $20 to $150. So, you can acquire one fairly easily. Moreover, you’ll use it in many applications in the future.

You can easily attach a precision angle drill guide to the pocket hole jig to drill perfectly angled holes in wood.

Still if you don’t want to use a drill, here are other ways of how to drill a hole in wood without a drill.


  • It’s ideal for cutting angled holes
  • Pocket hole jigs are inexpensive
  • They are very easy to use


  • Pocket hole jigs don’t cut large holes

#3: Best Tools to Cut to Cut Flat Bottom Holes: Forstner Bits

INTOO Hex Shank Forstner Bit Set 16 pcs Multi Sided Shank...
  • ①Specifications: 16 PCS includes 1/4" (6.3mm), 3/8" (9.5mm), 1/2" (12.7mm), 5/8" (15.8mm), 3/4" (19.0mm), 7/8" (22.2mm), 1" (25.4mm), 1-1/8" (28.5mm), 1-1/4" (31.7mm), 1-3/8" (34.9mm) ,1-1/2(38.1mm), 1-5/8(41.28mm), 1-3/4(44.45mm), 1-7/8(47.63mm), 2(50.8mm) and 2-1/8(53.98mm) forstner bits
  • ②Features: Hex Shank is easy to install and tighten ,prevent the bit from slipping. Extra sharp cutting spurs is especially designed for cutting through hard and soft wood or other materials smoothly and efficiently.
  • ③Great Performance: Easily make flat-bottomed and pocket holes with no chipping on any wood or wood products, plastic, polywood and other materials during processing or installation.

A Forstner bit is a cylindrical drill bit used to bore flat, deep holes into wood. It was invented in the mid-1800s by Benjamin Forstner and comprised a cutting rim or teeth around the perimeter and a small spur at the center.

The Forstner bit is extremely popular among furniture makers who use it to drill large holes in wood. A major advantage of Forstner bits is that they make more precise holes than other bits.

For instance, the Forstner bit makes perfect overlapping holes without wobbling. More importantly, the Forstner bit cuts anything from hardwood to softwoods and plywood.


  • The Forstner drill bit is highly accurate
  • It provides clean and neat flat bottom holes
  • You can use it to create overlapping holes
  • It drills holes with no splinters


  • Forstner bits don’t drill complete holes
  • It has a slow material removal rate
  • It can break due to overheating

#4: Best Tool to Cut Small Holes in Wood: Bullet Point Drill Bits

BLACK+DECKER 19111 Bullet Drill Bit, 1/2-Inch
  • Premium bit optimizes performance and speed to complete the task
  • Cleanly drills through wood, metal and plastic
  • BULLET tip design prevents straying off your desired drill spot

A bullet point drill bit is a modified twisted drill (more on this shortly) with a long, sharp point at the tip. The “bullet” tip resembles a brad nail, which has led some people to call it the brad point drill.

This sharp tip helps position the drill correctly and prevents skating during drilling. The brad point has two spur cutting edges that produce clean holes with little tear-outs or splintering.

As a result, some people call it the spur drill. Most brad drills are made from carbon steel, high-speed steel, or carbide.


  • Ideal for making small holes in wood
  • They create cleaner holes
  • They have a long shelf life


  • It’s not ideal for enlarging/large holes
  • They are costly

#5: Best Tool to Make Medium-Sized Holes in Wood: Spade Bits

BOSCH DSB5013P 13-Piece Assorted Set Daredevil Spade Bits...
  • Features a full-cone threaded tip for fast and effortless drilling
  • Contoured paddle for fast chip removal
  • Hex shank power groove to reduce slippage

Spade bits, also known as paddle bits, feature a flat, wide blade that resembles a paddle (thus their name). The flat blade has a pilot point that digs into the material you’re working on for greater accuracy.

Of course, the pilot tip also helps with positioning. A typical paddle bit has a 1/4 inch hexagonal profile at the end and two pointed tips at the outer edges of the sharpened area.

These pointed tips dig into lumber as the bit rotates and helps remove waste out of the hole. Paddle and can work with quick-chuck impact drivers and many self-centering cordless drills.


  • It can easily drill large diameter holes
  • It has a pilot for increased precision
  • Spade bits drill fast


  • The resulting hole has a poor surface finish
  • Average chip removal

#6: Best Tool to Make Holes in Wood: Auger Wood Bit

TCBWFY Auger Drill Bit for Planting,1.6X9 inch Garden Auger,...
  • Suitable for growing flowers, growing potatoes, growing onions, and other plants that can be grown in the garden.
  • The size is: 1.6inchx9inch. The length makes you fit at work without bending over, reducing pain.
  • It is recommended to use any standard electric drill or cordless electric drill above 18v.

An auger bit is a spiral-shaped drill that you can use to cut holes in wood. The bit has a sharp, pointed tip at the center to help with positioning before you begin drilling.

However, unlike standard bits, the pointed tip is a screw thread that helps draw the bit shaft into the wood material. Auger bits are long and strong, thus ideal for drilling deep holes.

Additionally, they are excellent at removing material from holes, thus reducing the risk of clogging or jamming. This quality makes auger bits ideal for running electrical lines in studs. Finally, you can use auger bits in hand tools or power tools.


  • They are excellent at removing wood chips
  • The pointed screw tip helps draw the bit into the wood
  • Auger bits are perfect for drilling deep narrow holes


  • A slow material removal rate can slow you down
  • Auger bits are not ideal for projects that require “finesse.”

#7: Best Tools for Drilling Large Holes in Wood: Step Drill Bits

COMOWARE Step Drill Bit - Titanium Coated, Double Cutting...
6,677 Reviews
COMOWARE Step Drill Bit - Titanium Coated, Double Cutting...
  • HSS Titanium Coating - High speed steel along with titanium coating ensures outstanding durability and sharpness, can reduces the friction, runs cooler.
  • Meet Your Demands - With the step drill bits we offered, you can process different kinds of diameter holes, which greatly saves you a lot of trouble.Great for steel sheets/ aluminum sheets/ copper/ plastic/ wood board and many other types of sheet metal with ease countersunk. Suitable for Home DIY, and General Building/ Engineering Use.
  • Design - The split point tip is at 118 degrees to increase the wear resistance. The two flute design provides a smoother cutting, allows the material particles escape easily for a much more clean drilling operation.

Step drill bits aren’t very common, especially among DIY woodworkers. Nevertheless, it’s one of the best tools for drilling large holes in wood.

It’s a unique drill that allows you to gradually increase the shaft diameter to make bigger holes as you cut deeper into the wood. Therefore, you can also use it to drill multiple-size holes without changing the bit.

That said, most people use it to enlarge existing holes. Typically, you need a punch hole/starter, though some step drills can start holes without starters.

To begin drilling, fix the bit onto an impact driver drill and secure it to the chunk of the drill. Then begin drilling as you’d do with any other drill.


  • It’s the perfect tool to drill large holes in wood
  • It can drill multiple hole sizes without changing the drill
  • Step drills excel at removing waste


  • It requires s starter/punch hole

#8: Best Wood for Cutting Irregular Holes: A Jigsaw

BOSCH JS260 120-Volt Top-Handle Jigsaw,Blue,6.0 Amp
  • STURDY 6.0 AMP MOTOR: delivers up to 3,100 strokes per minute
  • VARIABLE SPEED CONTROL: includes a dial for max speed and accelerator trigger to control operating speed
  • MULTIDIRECTIONAL BLADE CLAMP: for the superior grip of T-Shank blades (does not accept U-Shank blades)

The jigsaw is a moderately-sized handheld power tool with a reciprocating blade perpendicular to the main blade. So, some people call it a modified reciprocating saw.

Indeed, it works like a reciprocating saw – repeatedly pushing into and pulling out to cut the wood as you desire. The main difference is that jig saws can cut curves and other complex shapes, patterns, and templates.

For instance, a jigsaw makes excellent irregular holes in hardwood, floors, decks, and cabinets. Jigsaws are available in corded and cordless models.


  • It’s easier to use than a reciprocating saw
  • You can use it on other materials, such as plastic and ceramic
  • Jigsaws cut straight lines, angles, and even bevels with high accuracy


  • You need a flat, even surface for the base

#9: Best Tool for Driving Drill Bits: Self-Feed Drill Bit

Lenox Tools 1787506 Bi-Metal Self-Feed Bit Kit, 16 Piece
  • EXTREME DURABILITY, High speed steel cutting edge for superior durability in nail-embedded wood
  • LONGER LIFE, High speed steel screw tip increases wear resistance for extended life
  • FAST, EASY DRILLING, Unique parabolic screw tip pulls the bit through material quickly and effortlessly

Self-feed bits have outer teeth that can cut holes like hole saws and other radial blades that slice out the core of the hole. The result is usually very clean finishes.

They also boast screw-threaded tips to pull the shaft into the wood, reducing the effort needed to bore holes into a wood material. Most self-feed bits are designed to make it easy to sharpen the blade without removing it.

However, some manufacturers now make self-feed drill bits with removable blade edges, which you can remove to sharpen the blade.

You can also switch out old blades for new ones with ease. You can use a self-feed drill with a corded or cordless drill.


  • Works just like a hole saw
  • It’s straightforward to use
  • It works on any wood type


  • It’s not ideal for precision drilling
  • Requires significant torque

Read Also: Wood Building Kits for 12 Year Olds

#10: Best Tool for Controlling Depth and Position of Hole in Wood: Drill Press

WEN 4211 3.2-Amp 10-Inch 5-Speed Cast Iron Benchtop Drill...
  • Features a 3.2A induction motor, a 10-inch swing, and a 2-1/2-inch spindle travel
  • Includes a 1/2-inch keyless chuck for easy bit changes
  • Operates at 5 different speeds: 600, 1100, 1700, 2400, or 3100 RPM

A drill press is a stationary or benchtop power tool designed to bore precise holes in wood, metal, and metal. It uses various types of bits to make holes of varying diameters.

You can also countersink and counterbore holes with a drill press. A rotating handle controls the descent of a spinning mechanism within the drill known as a spindle, which moves vertically, boring clean, precise holes.

An added advantage of the drill press is that it lets you drill angled holes. Moreover, the drill press is fast and very powerful. Most people use it with a circle cutter.


  • It’s highly accurate
  • It is fast and powerful
  • The drill press is very efficient


  • It is not portable
  • It cannot work with very thick wood pieces

#11: Best Tool for Cutting Square or Rectangular Holes in Wood: Circular Saw

SKILSAW SPT77WML-01 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Lightweight Worm Drive...
  • Lightest magnesium construction reduces user fatigue for less down time
  • Cut-ready depth of cut system helps with quick, accurate depth measurements
  • 53° bevel allows users to complete a wider variety of cuts

A circular saw is a tool with a toothed or abrasive disc or blade used to cut different materials through rotary motion. It’s a very common tool among woodworkers and plumbers as it can cut many materials, from plastic to masonry and plastic.

Moreover, you can use it by hand or mount it onto a machine. Although primarily designed for cross and rip cuts, you can cut perfect square holes with a circular saw.

The only downside is that it splinters the wood facing up and only cuts clean on the downfacing surfaces.


  • Portable saws are portable and versatile
  • They are easy to use and maintain
  • They work on a variety of materials


  • They splinter up-facing wood surfaces
  • they can be dangerous if not properly handled

#12: CNC Milling Machines

FoxAlien Masuter 4040 CNC Router Machine, 3-Axis Engraving...
  • Masuter 4040 is a budget-friendly CNC router with large working area of 400 x 380 x 55mm (15.75” x 14.96” x 2.16”). It uses a 60W spindle and NEMA17 stepper motors. Max moving speed is 2000mm/min and spindle speed range is 0~10000.
  • The control board is equipped with an upgraded 32-bit chip which works more efficient and stable. It also supports add-ons such as offline controller, 300W spindle and power modules. (Add-ons sold separately)
  • Masuter 4040 is capable to engrave, cut and drill many kinds of material such as wood, MDF, acrylic and resin etc. Recommended settings: speed-1000mm/min; depth per pass-0.2mm; plunge rate-200mm/min.

CNC milling machines are rotary tools that help woodworkers cut away material with instructions from a CAD file. So, it’s an automated machine controlled by a computer. As a result, minimal human intervention is needed.

For instance, to cut a hole, you first feed the details, such as dimensions and location, into the computer software and click start.

A rotating spindle then begins to selectively remove material from the identified location until you have the desired hole.


  • CNC milling is 99% automated and 1% human work
  • This wood machine is highly accurate
  • They perform a wide range of functions


  • CNC milling machines are expensive
  • You need CAD knowledge to operate it

#13: Reciprocating Saw

DEWALT 20V MAX Reciprocating Saw, 3,000 Strokes Per Minute,...
  • 4-position blade clamp of DEWALT 20V reciprocating saw allows for flush cutting and increased positional versatility with tool-free blade changes
  • 1-1/8-inch stroke length delivers a fast cutting speed
  • Variable speed trigger with 0-3000 spm provides increased blade control and fast cutting speed

The reciprocating saw, better known as the Sawzall, is a mainstay in many woodworking workshops. It’s a machine-powered workhorse that you can use to make various cuts on various materials, from wood to metal and plaster.

So, it’s a great choice for cutting large holes in wood as well as straight lines and grooves. And it’s easy too. First, you must position the saw properly.

Then, once done, run the blade through the wood along the pre-marked hole lines. Unfortunately, it’s not for the faint-hearted, as the waggling blade can send chills down your spine.


  • It’s a powerful workhorse
  • You can use it for extra-large holes
  • The saw works on virtually any wood type


  • Achieving accuracy with a Sawzall is a nightmare
  • You must be very careful to prevent accidents

#14: Fluted Router Bits

Most router bits for hinges have one or two flutes, though a few have three or more. The flute consists of a cutting edge and a gullet. The cutting edge is the part that cuts into and removes the wood material.

Meanwhile, the gullet is an open area in front of the cutting edge where the waste material gathers, awaiting removal. These bits make cutting holes a breeze because you don’t have to worry about waste accumulation.

Moreover, they often create clean, accurate holes. But, you must choose carefully as the relief angle and shear angle directly impact the quality of the job.

For more in-depth guidance on rounding the edges of wood without the use of a router, we invite you to explore our comprehensive article dedicated to this specific woodworking technique.


  • They create very little tear-out
  • Great for cutting grooves with super crisp edges
  • The store sawdust properly, allowing for greater drilling accuracy


  • Choosing the right one is a tedious task

#15: Annular Cutter

An annular cutter is a more expensive and efficient alternative to spiral drill bits and standard hole saws.

It’s often used on metals but also for drilling, cutting, and tapping hardwood, chipboard, and plywood without predrilling or step drilling. Begin by positioning the cutter’s pilot pin over the area where you want to bore a hole.

Then begin drilling. As you drill, the pilot pin retracts, allowing the internal lubrication to reach the cutting teeth. The slug ejects automatically from the cutter once the hole is fully cut.


  • Clean hole (blur-free)
  • Less wear (long-lasting)
  • Efficient and time-saving


  • High upfront costs ($300 to $1,000)
  • It works best for blind holes

#16: Countersink Bits

FTG USA Countersink Drill Bit Set 5 Pc #4#6#8#10#12 Tapered...
  • FTG 2337P has Countersink Bits Secured with Pin. Drill bits designed as reliable wood drill bit set. Countersink drill bits for wood made to drill, countersink, and counter-bore in 1 step sink counter set. Countersink drill bit set for wood with tapered drill bit, 4 Flute cutter, 5 size woodworking drill bits sets with countersink bit set #4(7/64") #6(9/64") #8(11/64") #10(3/16") #12(7/32") 2 Stop Collar, 1 Allen Wrench. Counter-bore, and wood plugs size 3/8" and 1/2"
  • FTG BITS SECURED with Pin Never Come Loose from shank. Tapered drill bits pointed tip and wide flute for drilling fast, clean pilot hole, ensures tight fit for screws. Countersink hex quick change drill bit set with tapered drill bit can be replaced with FTG replacement taper drill bits countersink for extended wood bit. Countersink drill bits for wood made to drill, countersink, and counter-bore in 1 step sink counter set. Counter sink bits designed as to work as wood drill bits
  • DRILL PERFECT tapered hole drill bit every time. Wood drill bit set with counter bore chamfer angle 82-degree, smooth countersinking in hard and soft wood, tapered holes for screws. Adjustable countersink drill bit with quality-built depth adjustable counter bore attaches to flat on shank with 2 hex screws for controlled pilot hole depth. Best adjustable wood countersink drill bits set ideal for woodworking. Hex drill bit set tool made with tapered countersink bits for wood

Countersink bits are drill bits used to bore cone-shaped holes into wood, typically for flat head screws or other fasteners.

They are often contrasted with counterbore bits that create cylindrical holes with a flat bottom. Nevertheless, both are used primarily to create holes for fasteners.

Therefore, the first thing to consider when boring holes with a countersink bit is the size of the fastener. You must match the size of the screw with the hole.

Otherwise, the hole will swallow the screw head. Conversely, the screw may not fit if the countersink hole is too small. Fortunately, it’s easy to adjust countersink settings for the correct hole width and depth.


  • The bits come in many sizes
  • They are easy to use
  • They make clean holes


  • Overdrilling is a common challenge

#17: Twist Drill Bit

DEWALT Drill Bit Set, 21-Piece, 135 Degree Split Point, 31...
  • DEWALT 21-pack black oxide twist drill bit set is ideal for general-purpose drilling materials like metal, hardwood, softwood, PVC and fiberglass
  • Parabolic flute design increases chip ejection in metal and wood drilling applications
  • Black oxide coating helps resist corrosion and increase durability, so your drill bits last longer

The twist drill bit is the final tool to consider for cutting holes into wood. The term technically refers to any drill with a tristed drill shaft.

However, the standard twist drill bit has a cylindrical shape with deep helical grooves grinning lengthwise across the shaft. It’s important to pick the right drill point when shopping for a twisted drill bit.

Even though the variations are minor, long cutting edges outperform shorter edges. Similarly, ensure to choose the right materials.

The best materials are carbon steel, high-speed steel (HSS), carbide, and cobalt. For durability, the drill bits are often covered in a bright finish or black oxide.


  • Twist drills are very efficient
  • A higher speed and feed rate means faster progress
  • It takes less power to use a twist drill
  • The unwanted material comes out more easily


  • Smaller diameter twist drills are prone to breaking
  • Overheating is a common challenge

Additional Resources: Best Electronic Wood Carving Tools


What Tools Do You Use to Make Pilot Holes?

The best tool to make pilot holes in wood is a punch. A punch is a small, slender tool with a pointed end that you can use to make a small indentation on the wood surface. Position the punch tip over the pencil mark and strike it gently with a hammer to create an indentation. Drilling a hole in the indented spot is very easy.

How Do You Make a Drill Guide?

Making an accurate guide for drilling holes with a handheld drill is easy. All you need are a few pieces of scrap wood. For instance, waste plywood will do the job very well. Begin by finding the drilling axis of the perpendicular still. Then mark that point at the end of the drill and build the frame.

How Do You Make a Recessed Hole in Wood?

The easiest way to cut any type of hole in wood, regular or irregular, is using a jig saw. The only downside is that the saw can drift while you’re cutting. Alternatively, consider spade bits. Better known as paddle bits, spade bits cut flat bottomed holes quickly. But, unfortunately, they don’t cut smooth holes.

How Do You Make a Pilot Hole Without a Drill?

The best way to drill a pilot hole without a drill bit is to take a nail or an awl and gently hammer it into the material. Then remove the buried nail from wood or awl and use the hole as intended. Alternatively, use self-driving screws or a chisel + hammer to create a dent in the wood. However, make sure to use a small chisel. Otherwise, you may damage the wood.

How Do You Drill a Large Hole in Wood?

The easiest way to drill large holes in wood is using spade or paddle bits. The spade bit is a wide, flat blade with a pilot attached to a 1/4-inch diameter shank. Begin by marking the center point of the hole you wish to drill. Then chuck the bit’s shank into the drill, align it on the wood and begin drilling. Spade bits are available in many sizes.

Read also: How to take out screw with no head.

How Do You Cut a Hole in Wood By Hand?

There are more than a dozen ways to cut holes in wood without power tools. For instance, hole saws cut holes in the wood from one to six inches and are some of the best tools for cutting the popular corn hole board holes. Other hand tools that you can use to make holes in wood include push drills, bow drills, palm drills, and awls.

Don’t forget to consider an apron when drilling wood holes; they are invaluable for safeguarding your clothing. Here are some top woodworking aprons to consider.


There are dozens of ways to cut holes into wood. It depends on the type of hole (circular, square, or irregular), size of the hole (including the depth), and type of wood (including the thickness), among other factors.

We’re always willing to offer some advice in case you need help. 

Read: The best hand tool manufacturers

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