Drillly is audience-supported. When you buy through links on this site, we may earn an affiliate commission that we use for site maintenance. Learn more


Arbored vs Non-Arbored Hole Saw: A Quick Comparison!

Arbored vs Non-Arbored Hole Saw
Written by Willie Osgood
Last Update: May 3, 2023

The hole saw is quite popular, as it can create holes of varying sizes in materials for various applications.

Hole saws are easily recognizable, but they come in two major varieties, each with its unique uses. For example, a hole saw with or without an arbor has some similarities but is different in other ways.

Here we will show you how they differ from all angles so you can make an informed decision.

What’s an Arbored Hole Saw?

About arbored hole saw

The arbor is at the center of arbored hole saws, also called a pilot drill. The drill bit makes an initial little hole and the bigger hole is made by the hole saw.

Using the arbor, the hole saw remains in its center that makes it more stable while drilling.

Key features of arbored hole saw

  • An arbor, also known as the drill
  • The pilot drill guide creates accuracy
  • Pilot drill works to ensure the saw is stable when cutting
  • Suitable for people of all levels of experience

What Is a Non-arbored Hole Saw?

What Is a Non-arbored Hole Saw

No arbor is present in non-arbored hole saws. You only have the saw that drills directly in the material.

The hole saw begins drilling directly into the surface without a pilot drill, leaving a round cutaway piece with no holes. If your goal is to use the cut piece for another project, the non-arbored saw works perfectly.

Key features of non-arbored hole saw

  • No central drill or arbor
  • Cuts straight onto the top
  • The cutaway bits are whole and circular

Arbored vs Non-arbored Hole Saw: How They Differ

Arbored vs Non-arbored Hole Saw


Major differences at a glance

Comparing points  Arbored  Non-arbored 
Arbor  Present  Absent 
Working stability  More stable  Less stable
Working accuracy  Gives more accurate result  Can give less accurate results 
Working method  Drills a pilot hole first  Cuts directly onto the surface 
Guide plates  Needed  Generally not needed 
Efficiency  Low  High 
Usability  Anyone can use this with correct techniques Needs some experience to work with 
Price  Expensive  Affordable

Central drill

  • Arbored

An arbor, also known as the central drill, is crucial when cutting holes with a hole saw. With an arbored hole saw, the central drill gets to the top first and drills a pilot hole that enables the saw to cut with greater precision.

  • Non-Arbored

Non-arbored hole saw does not have a central drill or arbor, therefore the saw reaches the surface without being in contact beforehand and cuts directly.

Guiding plate

  • Arbored

Arbored hole saws begin cutting holes from the drawing. Simply mark the designated area and the center, a pilot drill will then start to drill in the center, while the hole saw will start cutting on the designated area. Guide plates are generally not needed.

  • Non-arbored

For non-arbored hole saws, guiding plates are necessary to produce accurate cuts at the desired location.

On the work surface, the guide plate sits to assist the user in cutting in the guided areas with accuracy.

Pilot hole

The center drill in an arbored saws drills through the surface of the cutting surface to begin the cutting process.

Unfortunately, while cutting is made easier, this also causes a hole at the center of the cutaway pieces. The pieces cannot be used in any other way.

  • Non-arbored

In non-aborted hole saws, no pilot hole is made, so the cutaway piece is unaffected. In most cases, non-arbored hole saws are designed to leave the cutaway piece completely intact.


  • Arbored

Ensure that the drill arbor size is correct and that the hole saw is the right size before cutting a surface.

  • Non-arbored

Those with non-arbored saws just need to choose the correct saw size. Saving effort and time in removing the drills and saws.


  • Arbored

As a result of the center arbor, the arbored hole saw is stable, and cutting is more accurate thanks to the guide drill.

  • Non-arbored

The saws without arbors cut directly, leaving a lot of stability up to the operator, which results in less stability during operation.


  • Arbored

With the arbor in the middle that leads the saw, this type is best suited for any experience level. Anyone can use these with correct techniques.

  • Non-arbored

Experienced workers should only use non-arbored hole saws. Due to the lack of a guiding drill, novices are more likely to cut the wrong way or in an unintended place. This tool is best suited to those with steady hands.

Pros and Cons of Arbored Hole Saw


  • Makes an accurate hole
  • Completes true circularity
  • Clean hole
  • Expensive


  • Pilot hole in the middle
  • May drift when drilling

Pros and Cons of Non-arbored Hole Saw


  • Affordable
  • Easy to store


  • Prone to error
  • Less accurate
  • More complex to use

Arbored vs. Non-arbored Hole Saw: Which One Should You Choose?


You should use an arbored hole saw whenever you need to drill a hole quickly and securely and do not need the cutaway pieces.


You can use the non-arbored hole saw if you want to keep the leftover bits, and you are happy to spend time and effort in setting up your guiding plate.

Hole Saw With or Without Pilot: Is There Any Change?

Ease of use

The hole saw is suitable for people of all experience levels, including beginners. A pilot bit is used in drilling into materials to prevent the hole saw from moving, which results in an accurately sized hole. Without it you risk an incorrect hole size.

Tool durability

The two-hole saw types are about the same in terms of durability when used right. The difference is when these are used on drills with no guide plate, the saw with the pilot drill will last much longer than the other. without it.

Speed and accuracy

If you require the hole to be precisely positioned, drill a center hole first with a center punch to mark the location. It can be a longer process if you need accuracy in the material.

You do not need a drilling press or a guiding plate as you will with a pilotless saw. The process is faster but lacks accuracy.

Purpose of the use

It is desirable to have a hole saw that does not require a pilot bit, for when you want to use the leftovers afterwards without a hole in the middle.


1. Can I use a hole saw without an arbor?

Ans. Yes, a hole saw can be used without a pilot bit for drilling holes in wood, steel, or whatever material you choose without an arbor.

2. Will a diamond hole saw cut steel?

Ans. No, you should not use a diamond hole saw to cut steel and the same goes for other materials like aluminum, cutting wood, and brass. You can use diamond hole saws to cut fiber cement although the preferred one for this task is carbide tipped hole saws.

About the author

Willie Osgood

An Avid Metalworker

Willie doesn’t really consider himself an artist, rather a craftsman involved in practical trades. Yet, most of his projects require him to make interesting and fine objects. Being the eldest son of a carpenter, his background is 100 percent rooted in crafting. He found the art of blacksmithing quite appealing since his teenage years… that fire, the sound of swinging hammers, and those long and shiny blades that came out as a finished product. Soon he literally became obsessed with metal – the way it moved, worked, and changed when heated or cooled.

Leave a Comment