Spade Bit vs Hole Saw

Spade Bit vs. Hole Saw – When to Use?

People use spade bit or hole saw to drill holes on the metallic or wooden surface. But many people get confused, wondering which tool to use for which application.

Getting the best result is confirmed in a woodworking task with a spade bit. While a hole saw is an ideal choice for both metal cutting and woodworking. This is a general highlight of both tools. Although both of them are used for drilling work, they have key differences.

We made this spade bit vs. hole saw article to let you understand which tool is ideal for which application. We will discuss the definition, key features, and major differences between them to make a precise decision.

Let’s begin.

What is a Spade Bit?

Back to Basics in Spade Bit vs Hole Saw 1

The other name of spade bit is paddle bit; it is called so due to their shape. Spade bits are the most suitable tool for boring holes on wooden surfaces. When your project requirement is to make a clean hole and speed is also an essential factor, a spade bit delivers the best result.

At the time of making a hole all the way through in a piece of wood, they splinter it when they reach the other side.

For example, when a cleaner finish is preferred, the hole is usually sprinkled on both sides by joining inside a piece of wood.

Generally, created holes by spade bits are larger compared to regular drill bits.

What is a Hole Saw?

Back to Basics in Spade Bit vs Hole Saw 2

As the name refers, hole saws are used for cutting or drilling a hole. More precisely, they perform a cutting hole task by rotating around their axis with a cutting drill. The truth is, a hole saw is a type of drill bits.

To be more specific, they have 2 components – the saw blade and a mandrel.

The saw blade is bent in a circle, and it is attached to the mandrel. The mandrel stays slightly away from the saw and leads the saw blade into the wood. Generally, a single mandrel can be accompanied by different sizes of saw blades.

From 1” to a few inches of hole saws are available in the stores. This means, picking any size without learning the project requirement will be a wrong decision.

Producing wood chips is not possible using a hole saw due to their design. As an alternative, producing a round plug is their characteristic. As a result, a hole saw is the best tool for making holes through a piece of wood.

Comparison Chart: Hole Saw vs. Spade Bit

Both tools are manufactured for a specific task. Let’s look at the below comparison chart of spade drill bit vs. hole saw to learn the key differences.

FeatureSpade BitHole Saw
Hole typeComplete and unfinished holeComplete hole
SpeedFaster than hole sawModest speed for cutting
Size¼” – ½”1” – 6”
CleanlinessIrregular and uneven holes due to the splintersCreated holes are fully neat and clean
Workpiece materialsWoodworking toolCan complete holes in wood, masonry materials or metal.
DesignSpade-shapedDrill-bit shaped

In-Depth Discussion: Paddle Bit vs. Hole Saw

Let’s look at the detailed discussion on the comparison between spade bit and hole saw.


Spade bit rotates faster and creates high torque when drilling. This way, making holes in the wood becomes easier. But holding the tool in position with a lot of pressure is necessary to do so. Spade bits contain a reduced cutting surface. This results in less friction. Due to this, spade bits don’t get overheated. So, using spade bits for an extended period is not an issue at all.

On the other hand, hole saws are less speedy than drill bits. It also comes with higher torque but less than spade bits. You can drill through wood or plastic surfaces with ease. Moreover, few models of hole saw can easily create holes in steel or iron.


Final outcome of spade bits is messier than a hole saw. When using spade bits, you will face a common problem. Splintering of wood will happen with these bits. But if the project requirement doesn’t need cleanliness, pick spade bits for drilling holes without any tension. Within the shortest possible time, creating several holes is much more comfortable with a spade bit. However, you will experience more fragments of wood when using them for making holes in hardwood. So, it is recommended to use spade bits with softwood.

While hole saws are cleaner than spade bits, with a right quality hole saw, splintering of wood can easily be avoided. Drilling from the “finish side” is advisable when using a hole saw. This way, a neat and clean finish is ensured. One piece of information needs to keep in mind, don’t use a hole saw to drill partial holes.

Hole Size and Depth

Different sizes of spade bits and hole saws are available in the market.

¼” to ½” is the standard size range of spade bits. It is about 10 mm – 36 mm. However, you will also find small spade bits as much as 6 mm. Thus, drilling the deepest hole can comfortably be made with spade bits.

1” – 6” is the range of hole saws. It is approximately 25 mm – 150 mm. Hole saws also deliver the deepest hole, similar to spade bits but not as efficient as spade bits.

Workpiece Materials

Spade bits are suitable for woodworking materials. As stated earlier, when drilling metal or any hard materials with spade bits, splintering will happen for sure. This is the reason many woodworkers prefer using spade bits when drilling through wood and soft materials.

On the flip side, a wide range of hole saw types are available in the market. However, hole saws are also commonly used for drilling wood, but they are specially designed for drilling through wood, masonry, tiles, metal, aluminum or even iron.


Like all other tools, both spade bits and hole saws come with various models, designs, and quality.

Due to these several options, it is quite challenging to tell which tool is cheapest than the other.

However, looking at the tools’ size and quality, spade bits are cheaper than hole saws.

The worth mentioning factor is – the price of the sets is more than individual tools.

Spade Bit or Hole Saw – Which one to Choose?

Both tools are unique in terms of their performance. Read the below points before picking between spade bits and hole saw.

  • Spade bits are often called paddle bits by many users. They are called spade bits because of their shape. They come with an affordable price tag and efficient in drilling rough holes in wood or other soft materials. Also, they work faster than the hole saw. So, when you are on a tight schedule and need to create several holes within a short time, choose spade bits.
  • In order to get precise and clean drilling results, don’t pick any other woodworking tools except hole saws. Their working process is quite different from spade bits. They cut the material without chipping it little by little. Hole saws are versatile, which means you can use them to drill both soft and hard materials.

It would be best to learn the project needs before you pick a tool. At the same time, choose a wallet-friendly device.


Can you use a spade bit in a drill press?

Yes, spade bits are compatible working with a drill press as well as a hand-held drill. Spade bits are much more useful than other bits in terms of boring larger and wider holes.

Can you use a hole saw without a pilot bit?

The specialized technique will allow you to use a hole saw without the pilot bit. Following a particular procedure is necessary because a pilot bit can break or create a crack in the material when boring, thin and fragile materials.

How can you tell the difference between concrete and wood drill bits?

Below are a few differences between concrete and wood drill bits.

  • Wood drill bits are designed only for the wooden surface. Concrete bits are best for drilling on concrete surfaces. Some models are also available which can bore metals.
  • Using wood drills on metallic surfaces is impossible. The drill can damage in this way. Alternatively, concrete drills can be used to drill holes in wood, but the correct amount of pressure is mandatory to avoid breakage.
  • Concrete drills are pricier than wood drills.

Wrap Up

In conclusion, the above information will help you to pick the ideal tool for your project. Most importantly, this write-up will help beginners a lot. Moreover, DIY enthusiasts will get the benefit too.

Both tools are manufactured to accomplish a specialized task. At some point, one device is better than the other. Additionally, advantages and disadvantages are also there. Before buying, it is significantly essential to learn the spade bit vs. hole saw differences.

Thank you for giving your valuable time.

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