Best RPM for Hole Saws when Cutting Any Material

You may think using a hole saw is simply a matter of chucking it up and drilling. While that may work in many cases, setting the proper drill speed—even if you only get close, will save you from burning out the blade and possibly even ruining the material. We thought it might be handy to create a guide for setting the best RPM for hole saws when cutting any material.

Many cordless drills operate on high and low speeds, and some have multiple modes or even software that controls the RPM (rotations per minute) of the drill chuck. Even if you need to throttle the drill by hand, however, speed is crucial. Understanding your drill’s speeds helps you drill more quickly and without ruining your hole saws. With a little practice, you can save a lot of money in the long run.

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Best RPM Speed for Using Carbide-tipped Hole Saws

Following is a table representing the best RPM speed for using carbide-tipped hole saws. It guides you through the optimal speeds for cutting through aluminum, stainless, fiberglass, ceramic tile, and even cast iron. As a general rule—the harder or more brittle the material, the slower you should cut.

Hole Saw Diameter (in)

Hole Saw Diameter (mm)

Recommended RPM
Aluminum Stainless Fiberglass Ceramic Tile Cast Iron
11/16 17.5 1800 690 270 550 240
3/4 19.1 1700 640 250 500 210
7/8 22.2 1500 550 210 430 180
1 25.4 1300 480 190 370 150
1-1/8 28.6 1100 420 170 330 140
1-1/4 31.8 1000 380 160 300 130
1-3/8 34.9 900 350 140 270 110
1-1/2 38.1 900 320 120 250 100
1-5/8 41.3 700 290 110 230 90
1-3/4 44.5 700 270 110 210 90
2 50.8 600 240 90 190 80
2-1/8 54 600 220 90 180 70
2-1/4 57.2 600 210 80 170 70
2-3/8 60.3 600 200 80 160 70
2-1/2 63.5 500 190 70 150 60
2-9/16 65.1 500 190 70 140 60
2-5/8 66.7 500 180 70 130 60
2-11/16 68.3 500 180 60 120 60
3 76.2 400 160 60 120 50
3-1/4 82.6 400 150 60 110 50
3-3/8 85.7 400 140 60 110 50
3-1/2 88.9 400 140 50 110 50
3-5/8 92.1 400 130 50 100 40
3-3/4 95.3 300 130 50 100 40
4 101.6 300 120 50 100 40
4-1/8 104.8 300 120 50 90 40
4-1/4 108 300 110 50 90 40
4-1/2 114.3 300 110 40 80 30
4-3/4 127 300 100 40 80 30
5 120.7 200 100 40 80 30
5-1/2 139.7 200 100 40 70 30
6 152.4 100 80 30 60 30

Best Cutting Speed for Using Bi-metal Hole Saws

Of course, we also had to include a table for setting the best RPM speed when using bi-metal hole saws. These hole saws seem much more prominent in the trades and cost less than their carbide-tipped brethren. Consider these the general speeds you want to use for optimal cutting through mild steel, stainless, cast iron, brass, and aluminum. You can use the highest speeds on aluminum and mild steel, while cast iron and stainless require a bit more patience.

Hole Saw Diameter (in)

Hole Saw Diameter (mm)

Recommended RPM
Mild Steel Stainless Cast Iron Brass Aluminum
9/16 14.3 580 300 400 790 900
5/8 15.9 550 275 365 730 825
11/16 17.5 500 250 330 665 750
3/4 19.1 460 230 300 600 690
25/32 19.8 425 210 280 560 630
13/16 20.6 425 210 280 560 630
7/8 22.2 390 195 260 520 585
15/16 23.8 370 185 245 495 555
1 25.4 350 175 235 470 525
1-1/16 27 325 160 215 435 480
1-1/8 28.6 300 150 200 400 450
1-3/16 30.2 285 145 190 380 425
1-1/4 31.8 275 140 180 360 410
1-5/16 33.3 260 135 175 345 390
1-3/8 34.9 250 125 165 330 375
1-7/16 36.5 240 120 160 315 360
1-1/2 38.1 230 115 150 300 345
1-9/16 39.7 220 110 145 290 330
1-5/8 41.3 210 105 140 280 315
1-11/16 42.9 205 100 135 270 305
1-3/4 44.5 195 95 130 250 295
1-13/16 46 190 95 125 250 285
1-7/8 47.6 180 90 120 240 270
2 50.8 170 85 115 230 255
2-1/16 52.4 165 80 110 220 245
2-1/8 54 160 80 105 210 240
2-1/4 57.2 150 75 100 200 225
2-3/8 60.3 140 70 95 190 220
2-1/2 63.5 135 65 90 180 205
2-9/16 65.1 130 65 85 175 200
2-5/8 66.7 130 65 85 170 195
2-11/16 68.3 125 60 80 160 185
2-3/4 69.9 125 60 80 160 185
2-7/8 73 120 60 80 160 180
3 76.2 115 55 75 150 170
3-1/8 79.4 110 55 70 140 165
3-1/4 82.6 105 50 70 140 155
3-3/8 85.7 100 50 65 130 150
3-1/2 88.9 95 45 65 130 145
3-5/8 92.1 95 45 60 120 140
3-3/4 95.3 90 45 60 120 135
3-7/8 98.4 85 40 55 110 130
4 101.6 85 40 55 110 130
4-1/8 104.8 80 40 55 110 120
4-1/4 108 80 40 55 110 120
4-3/8 111.1 75 35 50 100 105
4-1/2 114.3 75 35 50 100 105
4-5/8 117.5 75 35 50 100 105
4-3/4 120.7 70 35 45 90 95
5 127 70 35 45 90 95
5-1/2 139.7 65 30 40 85 90
6 152.4 65 30 40 85 90

Slow Down? Seriously? Yes.

It may very well be that you can’t achieve these speeds using tools you have. In that case, just do your best. Be sure to use that variable trigger to lower speeds when cutting harder or more brittle materials. It takes patience, but these hole saws work best when used properly—and you may very well end up cutting through the material more quickly than if you run the tool at full speed. You will most certainly go through fewer blades!

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Methods to Set Lower RPMs

Method 1: Smart Connected Tools

Tools that use technology like Milwaukee One-Key or DeWalt Tool Connect can let you set different speed ranges for your drill. This lets you assign up to four different speed ranges—and more easily control your RPMs. While we don’t expect anyone will rush out to buy a smart tool just for use with hole saws, it may help if you already have one of these drills in your collection.

Milwaukee One-Key review

Method 2: Multi-speed Drills

It used to be that drills had one speed or gear. Now, they typically come with two—but some do better than that. If you happen to have a drill that has three or more speeds, get familiar with your settings. Manufacturers set those differing speeds at specific breakpoints. Knowing the top RPM for each mode will help you better understand how to feather the trigger to achieve the desired drilling speed.

After some practice, this should become second-nature to you.

Hilti SF 10W-A22 ATC 4-Speed Drill

Method 3: Set Your Gear Mode and Feather the Trigger

Obviously, if you don’t have an electronic way to control speed or a 3- or 4-speed drill, go manual. If you know your drill’s top speed, then feathering the trigger can at least get you in the ballpark RPM range. In any case, it will certainly do better than pulling the trigger all the way in High speed and burning up your bi-metal saw during its first cut!

Southwire Bi-Metal Holesaw drilling

Conclusion

The two charts above should give you a fairly definitive list of how to configure your drill speed for the optimal hole saw cutting. This keeps your blades sharp and stops the metal from heating up so much that it deforms the blade tips on the material. Once you lose that edge, you might as well rub a flat piece of steel across it—you’re done.

Sometimes, slow and steady does win the race!

Special thanks to Lenox Tools for providing specifications for both bi-metal and carbide-tipped hole saws.

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