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Recently we were testing some hole saws in the Toolmonger shop, and we managed to get a giant, circular hunk of two-by-four stuck in a saw. After some thought we ended up removing the chunk with a small drill bit and a large common screwdriver, but we started wondering if any of you have a better solution.

I found some interesting tools that could’ve helped — a slug ejector for $12 and a hole saw hook for $5 — but waiting for a tool to ship would’ve been downtime with no hole saw.

What would you have done? Let us know in comments.

Macro Hole Saw [Flickr]
Slug Ejector [Qk-Saw Store]
Hole Saw Hook [mytoolstore.com]


21 Responses to Hole Saw Slug Problem

  1. Vody says:

    This has happened to me 3 times in the past 2 months. The first time I heated up the hole saw really quickly with a cigarette lighter and the chunk fell out. This left burn marks all over the hole saw.

    The second and third times I drilled two holes in the face of the chunk, angled Allen wrenches into the holes vise gripped the allen wrenches and pulled it out .

  2. JakeSter says:

    Use a Quick-Release Hole Saw Arbor. The arbor releases and you push the disk out of the hole saw. Slide it off and it snaps back into place.


  3. Tim B. says:

    I’ve encountered this MANY times… Absolute easiest way I’ve found (which, I know, sounds like a total hack technique) is to drill (2) long self-tapping screws (longer than the length of the collet bit – 3″ sheetrock screws normally work nicely) adjacent to the collet bit, use a beefy screwdriver (or other lever, strong tool, rod, etc) between the screws (like this: O / O ), and slowly run the drill in reverse (or chuck the holesaw into a vise) and use the lever to back the bound up chunk of wood out of the holesaw =)

    Hope that made sense! Works every time for me…

  4. Mike says:

    I do a version of the allen wrench technique. My bigger hole saws are in the drill press, making toy wheels and such. There’s usually two holes in the back of the hole saw blade, and I push a pair of allen keys into these holes to drive the plug out.

  5. MikeT says:

    I second what the other Mike says. My hole saws have a pair of little holes in the back, presumably for this problem.

  6. fred says:

    For lightly-held pieces of things like siding and sheet metal we fabricated some pullers out of rod-stock that is just a bit smaller in diameter than the slots on the hole-saw sides. The rod in bent into a sprung-apart U-shape and the 2 ends are bent around facing inward into a small “V”. To use it you hook the back of the thin plug on 2 sides and pull.

    Another jig is nothing more than 2 1/4-20 flat-head bolts set into tapped and countersunk holes in piece of 1/4 plate (we use aluminum – but wood might do) The bolts are spaced apart on the same centerlines as the holes located on the back of your hole saws (for all but the smallest sizes this is a standard dimension) The bolts need to be just long enough to push out the plug from the rear.

    When we do rough-in work we generally avoid the problem entirely by using Selfeed Bits.

  7. fred says:

    I had not looked at your links before when I talked about the bent rod pullers we cobble together. It looks like our pullers may infringe on someone else’s design.

    BTW we bought a set of Bosch sheet metal hole saws and they come with springs (old Crain Tile hole saws had the same idea) to eject the slug. They also have a neat rear rim to prevent the saw from blowing through the hole.

  8. PutnamEco says:

    How about a holesaws that doesn’t get the plug stuck?

    Lenox one tooth

    Or just use an appropriate self feed bit, I like Milwaukees offering, You can get them in 1″ to 4 5/8″

  9. Frank Townend says:

    Nice tip Tim B. Thank you.

  10. darksabbat says:

    I have just taken saw off the collar and pushed it out. I work in a door shop using hole saws for 1.75″ doors and it happens almost every time I use it.

  11. Rob says:

    just run 2 wood screws into the plug and pull it out with them thats
    what most of the plumbers that I have worked with do
    seems to work pretty good evey time I have needed to do it

  12. Mac says:

    Seems to me an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I very rarely have this problem, and when I do, I can typically pry the slug out with a flat-head screwdriver stuck through the holes that are on the sides of nearly every hole saw I’ve ever seen. What I do to prevent this problem from occurring in the first place is wobble the drill a little about every 3 to 5 seconds while I’m cutting. Doesn’t leave the hole perceptibly deformed, but works wonders to make that slug just a tiny bit smaller than the saw and drop right out on its own.

  13. Tim B. says:

    Well — like everyone says, alot of hole saws DO have holes in the base to ease pushing out the slugs… but if you’re a ‘on-a-budget’ type of guy, you’ll often find the cheapest ones (*coughHFcough*) don’t always have ’em…. Though actually, the last set I bought from there DID actually have them on all but the smallest of the saws..

  14. Jeff says:

    If you use some vice grips to bend 1 tooth on either side of the hole saw inward to increase the saw kerf on the inside the pieces come out easily.


  15. FREE, Simple, Easy says:

    I’ve tried most of the suggestions posted here and this is what I recommend:

    1. Take your clogged hole saw off of your drill.
    2. Put on a phillips or drywall driver.
    3. Take a long, coarse thread drywall screw and drill it through the slug. Once it hits the back of the hole saw keep driving the screw and it’ll pull the slug up and out of the saw.

    It’s that easy.

  16. Mike says:

    I don’t know, but thanks for using my pic and linking back to flickr. Cheers!

  17. Art says:

    I encountered two hole saws in my tool bag that wobbled, in the middle of a job. I took the pilot bits out and watched as I rolled them on a level surface and saw that they were bowed. There was nothing wrong with the rest of the hole saw assembly. I tried to figure out what happened and came up with 3 possibilities which could be in combination: drilling into too many industrial steel doors, as in a machine shop(not residential), struggling to remove plugs while the drill and hole saw are still hot, or cheap pilot drills. I got some good techniques from this article. I have drilled holes in the plug and been able to pull the plug out with a screwdriver through the slots in the hole saw, or broken them up with a 1/4 inch chisel. I think some of the ways in your article are better. Also, as the owner of the lock company advised, I drill a little at a time and chip out smaller plugs before they lodge in the saw.

  18. Art says:

    One more issue. In my last job where I was replacing doorknobs I encountered doors with smaller holes than the now standard 2 1/8 inch diameter. These were of assorted sizes and shapes. I have only a few sizes of hole saws, none of which matched the old hole. If I had had a wide assortment I could have found a match, and if correctly centered, removed the pilot drill bit of the right hole saw for the new hole, attached the hole saw that fit the old hole and reattached the pilot bit to the mandrel, at least for the old holes that were round. I could also have used a jig but the jig in the van was too narrow for the thickness of the doors. I ended up using a rasping bit. Are there any other suggestions?

  19. Scott says:

    To Art:

    Make a plug or wedge to fill in the center of the too small hole. The pilot bit of the correct sized holesaw can bite into the plug and center the saw.

  20. James ( Bear ) Riley says:

    A quick thought I had , was to put a piece of foam insulation in the bottom of the bit. so that the plug does not wedge against the bit itself.

  21. Rick Warner says:

    Try the SR slug Ejector, 30 day guarantee of satisfaction.One year warranty.

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