How to Unstick a Hole Saw?

Anyone who’s spent any time using a hole saw knows the frustration of getting the saw stuck to the arbor. This can happen no matter how careful you are not to overtighten the saw.

The nature of most basic arbor designs means the hole saw will tighten to the arbor the more you use it. Then when you want to switch out the hole saw for a different size, lo and behold the saw is seized to the arbor.

This can be a major pain when you’re working on a project and need to repeatedly swap out the hole saw for a different size. Instead of quickly changing from one size to another, you’ll be stuck monkeying around with wrenches trying to separate the two.

I’ll break down some of the better ways to unstick a hole saw, and how to avoid running into this issue in the future.

Tools & Materials

  • Long shaft screwdriver
  • Pipe wrench
  • Socket wrench
  • Impact wrench
  • Vise

Unsticking a Hole Saw – Guide

Method 1: Long Screwdriver

This method involves inserting a long screwdriver through the cutouts in the sides of the hole saw.

Then, secure the shaft of the arbor inside a vise and crank on the screwdriver until the hole saw comes loose. A few taps with a hammer may be necessary if the saw isn’t coming loose.

You can also do this with the arbor still in the drill’s chuck, but if the hole saw is seriously stuck then a bench vise is preferred. That way you won’t risk damaging your drill as you crank away.

unsticking hole saw with long screwdriver
Unsticking hole saw with a long screwdriver.

Another way to do this is securing your screwdriver through the saw’s slots, and then attaching a wrench to the arbor. Then try to hand loosen the stuck hole saw.

Keep in mind that this method will only work if your hole saw has cutouts, and those cutouts are able to accommodate a long screwdriver or some other long sturdy item.

You may find that you’ll have to remove the arbor’s pilot bit in order to get your screwdriver through the cutouts. Most hole saw arbors have a small nut located on the collar that loosens and tightens the pilot bit. Use a small hex key to loosen this nut and the pilot bit should slide right out.

loosening pilot bit with hex key
Loosening the pilot bit with a hex key.

Sometimes loosening this nut will actually create a little space in the arbor and make the hole saw easier to unstick.

Method 2: Vise and Impact Wrench

This method works well for stubborn hole saws, or for saws that don’t have cutouts in their sides.

First, secure the hole saw end into a vise. Be careful when doing this, as you can deform the saw if you apply too much pressure with the vise.

Then, use an impact wrench with a bit that matches the arbor’s shaft to loosen the arbor from the hole saw. If you don’t have an impact wrench you can also loosen it by hand using pliers, vise grips, or a pipe wrench.

How to stop your hole saw from sticking in the first place?

Now that you’ve got a few ideas on how to unstick a hole saw, you’re probably wondering how to prevent this from happening in the first place.

One simple way is to get yourself an arbor with two locking pins designed to fit in the corresponding holes in the hole saw base. You’ll typically find this type of arbor bundled with larger hole saws, as well as more premium brands.

These arbors essentially never get seized if you use them correctly, as the pins prevent the saw from over-tightening on the arbor.

Another option is quick-change arbors like the Freud Diablo 3/8″ Quick Change Mandrel. These arbors allow you to detach the hole saw from the arbor with the touch of a button. These arbors are also handy when you need to remove a wood plug stuck inside the saw.

Denis Gardner

I've loved tinkering and fixing things for as long as I can remember. So, naturally, I gravitated towards DIY and home improvement when I bought my first home. Nowadays you can find me writing about my passions or messing around with my newest tool!

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