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~ The challenges tradespeople face and how to overcome them ~
Materials in our homes and commercial buildings are advancing rapidly. While this is great news for designers and engineers, it poses challenges for tradespeople responsible for fitting new projects and refurbishing existing buildings. Here John Cove, marketing manager at power tool accessories and hand tool specialist, Starrett, looks at the top five hole saw hacks that can make these jobs a breeze.
Whether you're a plumber, an electrician or a carpenter you will be familiar with the challenges involved in cutting and fitting various materials. Surfaces made of metal, timber, engineered wood, plastic, glass, porcelain and masonry, among others, can all require different approaches to create a clean hole.
However, making some simple changes choosing the right tool for the job can increaseproductivity and improve finished results. Here are our top five hole saw hacks to help you do just that.
1. Cutting porcelain tiles
Advancements in production techniques have made porcelain tiles more popular than ever. Although ceramic tiles are made from a soft mineral clay substrate topped with a glaze, porcelain tiles are fired at higher temperatures and pressures. This liquefies the mineral into solid glass, so the tile itself is much harder and denser, making it ideal for a wide variety of applications. However, this makes it very difficult to cut using a simple tile cutter, and porcelain tiles are also more prone to chipping during the cutting process.
When a job requires cutting holes to fit tile around cables and pipes, or fittings need to be attached to a tiled surface, always use a hole saw with a diamond-grit coated tip. The diamond coating will easily cut through porcelain, glass, ceramics, brick and stone without chipping or breaking.
2. Hole enlargement
Arriving to a job fitting downlights and realising that the 75mm super low voltage spotlights the customer has specified need to fit into the 50mm holes left by previous lights can stop you in your tracks. Where it would normally be suitable to drill a 75mm hole to fit the light, here there is no obvious way to pilot the 75mm hole saw.
Consider replacing the pilot drill with a hole enlargement arbor. The arbor can be fitted with a hole saw with the same diameter as the existing hole — this acts as the pilot — as well as a larger diameter hole saw, allowing the larger diameter to be cut in one single motion.
3. Cutting thick steel
There’s nothing more frustrating than when a tool breaks unexpectedly. Cutting steel is a perfect example of something that can cause this. Although regular hole saws will do the job, cutting thicker steel can cause the tool to become hot, quickly increasing wear on the cutting surface and significantly reducing product life.
When cutting thicker steel, consider using a carbide tipped hole saw designed specifically for deep cutting of steel up to 25mm thick. This operates at a higher speed for a faster cut, preventing the saw from getting hot and wearing down. By taking such precautionscontractors can increase the lifespan of their power tool accessories and deliver a higher return on investment.
4. Cut out unpleasant fumes
Composite and engineered wood, including medium-density fibreboard (MDF), might provide a versatile, lightweight and strong building material for a variety of applications — from cabinets, desks and flooring — however, cutting it can produce unpleasant fumes.
To overcome this and speed up the cut, some contractors will drill numerous pilot holes around the circumference of the hole and then use a hole saw to finish the job. However, this method is time consuming and doesn’t result in a perfect, clean cut.
When drilling MDF, engineered and composite woods that contain adhesives, as well as plastics and plasterboard, consider using a tungsten carbide tipped multipurpose hole saw. This will deliver cutting speeds that are up to five times faster than a typical bi-metal hole saw and the rapid cut will build up less residual heat, giving less time for the adhesive to reach melting temperature.
5. Dust and debris
Although maintaining a clean working environment is a habit of all good tradespeople, it is inevitable that most jobs will produce excess dust and debris.
Many fixes have been tried and tested, including shoe boxes with holes drilled in them and various arrangements involving vacuum cleaners. Ideas like these might work for simple tasks or one off jobs, but it can become dangerous for more complex or hard to reach areas where ladders might be involved.
When sawing or cutting using a hand held power tool, a debris collector attachment that catches dust and debris ready for easy disposal can make things much simpler. Not only is this quicker, with time saved on clean up, it also eliminates the need to mask high-risk areas prior to sawing or cutting, as well as preventing the ingress of dust and debris into your power tool's motor housing.
Get the job done
There is no reason for advances in materials to get in the way of tradespeople achieving perfection. With a little ingenuity and the help of a few specialised tools, people of all trades can stay ahead of the curve and get the job done without hassle.