December 16, 2022

How to cut a square hole in wood without a jigsaw

Welcome to our guide on how to cut a square hole in wood without a jigsaw! If you do not have access to a jigsaw or are looking for an alternative way to cut a square hole in wood, this guide is for you. We will present several techniques to cut a clean and precise square hole without a jigsaw. These methods require additional tools and materials, but anyone can do them with a little time and patience. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced woodworker, we hope you’ll find this guide helpful and informative. Let us get started!

Advantages of using a jig for cutting square holes

  1. Jigs make the actual work of doing what you wanted to do more accurate.
  2. They also work towards simplicity. They make things simpler, and easier and make it possible for you to do the same thing many times. That is hard to achieve in woodworking applications. It may take more time to make the jig or set up the fixture than it takes to make whatever you are making, but spending time and attention increases your accuracy and your ability to do it multiple times with ease. Cutting the same thing in the same way at the same angle or length or width, or pattern more times than one reduces complications.
  3. Jigs ensure safety when working on dangerous projects. It manoeuvres with whatever tools are involved. Jigs and fixtures help users use tools’ full potential without endangering their bodies and without taxing their tools too much, with fewer chances of damage to the wood.

What to use instead of a jigsaw

Chisel

The chisel is an age-old woodworking tool for any workshop. It is also ideal for DIY projects and recreation jobs. Not much experience is needed to handle the cutting tool, and it is one of the safest cutting tools in the workshop for cutting square holes. 

To cut square holes in wood with a chisel, place the tip in one corner of the drawn square. Drive it through the wood using a sledgehammer. Keep the chisel straight. Keep hitting the chisel with the hammer until it goes through the entire wood thickness. Repeat for all four corners of the square hole. Cut out the square hole.

Drill and Hand Saw

A drill is a faster cutting tool to cut a square hole in a wood sheet. Using the drill alongside a hand saw yields the best results. The easiest way to use the two cutting tools to cut a square hole in wood is to drill the corners of the square and use the drill holes as starting points for sawing.

Position the drill’s pilot at one corner of the square and drill a hole through the wood to the other side. Repeat for all four sides of the square. Cut from one drill hole to the next using the hand saw. Remove the plank of food from the centre of the square. Smooth the rough sides with sandpaper.

Router

Routers are one of the best tools for cutting a notch in wood. They are powerful and fast. They can also get through any wood type and are small to standard thicknesses. It is accurate. The only major downside is that a router is a tad extensive.

To cut a hole in a wood piece with a router, use a drill to make a pilot hole in one corner of the wood sheet. Prepare a fence for the router and make sure the router aligns with the square hole. Switch on the router and allow it to run through the first line of the square. Pause the router, rotate the piece of wood, and switch on the router to cut the next length of the square. Repeat until you have cut all four sides.

Angle Grinder

Although an angle grinder is not for cutting holes in wood, it may be useful when you have no other option (Ronitools.com). Modify the machine by switching out the grinder disc for a sawing disc.

Mortising Machine

A mortising machine is a woodworking tool for cutting square and rectangular holes, mortises, or recesses into wood sheets. They work like drill presses. The difference between a mortising tool and a drill press is that mortising machines square the corners of the cut holes.

To use a mortising machine, set up the auger and chisel, set the depth of the mortise, and set up the fence. Set the hold-down and cut the mortise.

Circular Saw

Cutting holes with circular saws is almost like using a handsaw. Use a drill bit to make the starter holes. After creating the starter holes, cut the square hole without any problems.

Position the drill in one corner of the square sketch and drill through to the other side of the wood piece. Repeat the process to all four sides of the square sketch. Use the cordless circular saw to cut the wood from one drill hole to the next while following the pencil lines.

Drilling a pilot hole

  1. Mark the location of your intended hole with a pencil. Use a ruler to determine your location by measuring the distance from the edge of the material’s surface. Trace along the ruler with a pencil. Along the line, make a small mark with the pencil.
  2. Creating an indentation using a center punch, will help keep your drill bit from slipping when starting the pilot hole. Position the tip of the punch over your pencil mark, and then strike the punch with a hammer.
  3. Determine the size bit for drilling your pilot hole. Your pilot hole should be smaller than the diameter of your screw. That will remove as much material as possible, reducing the chances of splitting but leaving enough material for the screw’s threads to grip.
  4. Drill the pilot hole. After choosing a bit and fitting it into your drill, position the tip of the bit into the indentation you created with the center punch. Holding the bit at the angle, you want the screw as you drill the hole to a depth equal to the screw’s length. 
  5. Install the screw, once the pilot hole is drilled. Fit your drill with a screwdriver bit and position the screw’s tip into the pilot hole. Drive the screw in. Repeat this process for each screw used.

Sawing with a handsaw

  1. Clamp material.
  2. Mark the cut.
  3. Start cut.
  4. Cut deeper.
  5. Saw through.
  6. Finish cut.

Using a coping saw

  1. Press down on the handle to compress the frame. 
  2. Release tension and adjust the spigot.
  3. Place your material in a vise.
  4. Push the saw in a short stroke to start the cut. 
  5. Continue sawing perpendicular to the length of the piece.
  6. Turn the handle as you cut to follow your intended path.

Making a template

A template will determine the quality of the cutting result. Practice making templates using the router bits and template guides. Create a square dimension using a marker on the wooden sheet to make a layout for the template.

Using a jigsaw

  1. Draw out your desired size for your cut on top of some panel board or sheet wood. You can use a square to help guide you.
  2. Start cutting along the outline with a jigsaw. Do not go over your lines more than once, or you will end up with an irregular hole.
  3. Use a chisel to remove any excess wood from inside your square hole. 
  4. Attach your hardware or clips to the board.
David D. Hughes

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