Checked and updated on March 9, 2021 by Aaron Barnett
Knowing how to cut a square hole in wood only takes a few moments and tools depending on the size of the hole you want to cut out. If you want to cut a hole in thick material it’s best to use an electric or cordless jigsaw.
For thinner materials, you can just use a coping saw. Before you start you will need to first pre-drill a hole using an electric drill with a half-inch drill bit to feed-in your coping saw, or jigsaw blade.
Determine the square hole size and cutting method
1. Use a “square hole drill bit”
Do you know how to make a square hole in wood fast again-and-again? You can cut many repetitive holes in wood in only a few seconds using a square hole drill bit designed to do just that. Fit the drill bit known as a square hole cutter into a drill press or a mortiser drill and start drilling with your square drill bit.
With pressure or a strong hammering function from a mortiser drill, the sharp blades on the corners of the drill bits will finish with a square hole instead of a circular hole.
2. How to cut a hole in wood by hand
If you haven’t yet invested in power tools for your DIY work yet, or if the hole you intend to cut is relatively small and you want to know how to cut a square notch in wood; then you can use a wooden mallet and a sharp chisel to carve into your wood and finish with a square hole.
Take note to carve the final edge separately on both sides of the hole to stop the wood chipping on the edges.
And make sure you have a quality sharp chisel.
You will properly also like my guide on how to cut metal without power tools.
3. Use power tools to cut a hole in wood
The real DIY’ers method for a decent-sized square hole in thin wood like plywood is to use a corded or cordless jigsaw like the cordless jigsaws available here.
As you can fast and conveniently cut into the corner edges.
If the hole you intend to cut is larger than a circular saw blade or thicker than an Inch its better to use a circular saw for a nice straight cut, then using a jigsaw tool to cut into the corners at the end, just be careful on short cuts when you are lowering the blade into your cut avoid kickback.
Jigsaw tools are much easier to use here.
How to cut a square hole in wood with a router
Using a jigsaw to cut out a square hole.
4. Cut a square hole using an osculating tool
Osculating tools are great when you need to cut into difficult spots, like into an existing wall, or into the wall framing. The blade vibrates so quickly that you just need to push the tool into what you want to cut using for example; a Makita oscillating tool.
However, the cutting motion is a lot slower than a jigsaw. But its ability to get into tight spaces is competitive for many other tools to keep up with.
Tidy up your cut for smooth edges
No matter what tool you decide to use to achieve your desired result, any hole you do might need some extra attention to reach that level of smoothness that you consider tidy and noteworthy.
Consider first using sand-paper on the back edge of your chisel for fast flat sand.
Second, if you’re after speed and power for a larger job consider using a file sander, these sanders are made especially for reaching in tight holes and taking away what’s not needed.
Sometimes there not much a chisel cant do, but with patients and the right branded gear you can get a relatively smooth cut in the first place.
More info on this Makita finger sander here.
There you have it, the tools and methods needed so know how to cut a square hole in wood. Whether you choose to tackle the job by hand using a coping saw, or a square dill bit for efficiency, you still can’t beat a jigsaw tool.
No matter your chosen method is you want the right sized carving chisel handy, and some medium and low grit sandpaper.
Remember to keep your squares square.
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My name is Aaron, and welcome to Bangingtoolbox.
As a qualified builder and DIY’er, my goal with Banging Toolbox is to provide the #1 building and DIY resource on the internet for my readers.
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