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Using Hole Saw to Indent a Table (Not Cut Thru to Make a Hole)

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Forum topic by Boba8523 posted 10-23-2020 06:44 PM 1491 views 0 times favorited 31 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Boba8523

6 posts in 35 days


10-23-2020 06:44 PM

Hi Everyone,

I’m looking to attach one of those wireless charger pads for charging my phone onto the other end of a table top, so I would need to bore a circle underneath the table top and place the charging pad there.

I know that hole saws are used to make holes, but I’m looking to use it to make just an indentation as I do not want to make an actual hole. I know that a router is probably better but I do not have that tool.

I’m wondering if anyone can guide me on how to do this properly. Here is a YouTube video of someone doing this, but I’ve never worked with hole saws before and a video doesn’t tell a whole lot….

Need advice from the experts please!


31 replies so far

View northwoodsman's profile

northwoodsman

412 posts in 4660 days


#1 posted 10-23-2020 07:44 PM

Use a forstner bit.

-- NorthWoodsMan

View SMP's profile

SMP

2858 posts in 819 days


#2 posted 10-23-2020 07:48 PM


Use a forstner bit.

- northwoodsman

Yeah forstner bit in a drill press would be my choice. But the charging pads i have seen are too big to economically get a forstner bit for. What is the diameter of your charger?

View ibewjon's profile

ibewjon

2136 posts in 3707 days


#3 posted 10-23-2020 08:25 PM

The hole saw pilot bit may drill all the way through the table before you get the depth you need. A fortune bit is best, but you could drill several holes close together with a smaller forster bit, or a spade bit. It won’t be the nearest, but if you won’t be seeing it, it would do the job. Scrape out the remaining wood with a chisel. You could possibly overlap the holes for less handwork. The sketch is rough, but shows the idea.

View Loren's profile

Loren

10785 posts in 4561 days


#4 posted 10-23-2020 08:54 PM

A forstner bit would be the tool to use, or a carving burr chucked in your drill could work.

An unfortunate fact of woodworking is that doing a lot of these specialized tasks involves tools beginners won’t tend to have on hand.

A hammer and chisel could do the job as well, as long as the chisel is sharp enough.

View LittleBlackDuck's profile

LittleBlackDuck

5954 posts in 1734 days


#5 posted 10-23-2020 10:04 PM

Welcome to LJ Boba... Thought I’d get past the formalities in case you get offended by my reply.

Looking at the video and the mess made of the hole, you did well by coming here for advice… unfortunately, you did bad by me reading it and making a comment.

Like Loren said, I’m guessing your selection of tools (and experience) may be a tad limited.

If you don’t care about the looks do what Ibewjon suggested with a good forstner bit, though manual depth control will be a challenge. Just be advised, not all forstner bits are the same, some are better than others for “overlaying” holes.
SO… Go out and buy one and don’t bother to read the crap I wrote that follows… OR -

Buy a router/trimmer… You plan to mount a charger… maybe for an iPhone that cost $1,000+ (at least in Australia), so don’t be an absolute tight arse… and don’t use the excuse ”After that bloody phone, I can’t even afford a cup of coffee!” You will find many other uses for the router/trimmer in the future and will thank yourself for the “extravagance”. If your still on the cheap path, depending on the drill you have (assuming it’s cordless), it should have a complimentary trimmer skin in the range so you can share batteries. If that doesn’t ring bells, consider some bargain basement Ryobi 18V range (or whatever “equivalent” is available in your neck of the woods). For once, I won’t recommend Fe$tool… (sorry, just being a tool).

Use a holes saw a tad greater than the diameter you need… Holesaws, especially larger ones should be limited to drill presses, however, you may be able to wing it through 3mm MDF/ply with the pilot drill keeping it steady.

Then use the router with a following template on the MDF hole to progressively plunge to the desired depth… If you can’t clamp the template use double sided tape.

If the base of the trimmer is small and may fall into the hole you are routing, you could easily make up a temporary larger replacement base to substitute for the (probably) see through perspex one… just make sure the hole in the temporary base is large enough not to impede visibility.

May be a lot of stuffing around but after you’ve finished you’ll proudly sit back and enjoy a glass or two of beer or vino at your achievement.

Goold luck.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

3827 posts in 2408 days


#6 posted 10-23-2020 10:53 PM

Welcome to LumberJocks!

IME – Will need a very precise hole depth to ensure thinnest layer of wood is left between phone and pad.

The reason the video worked is the only barrier left behind was thickness of laminate or less than 1/8”.

The more distance between the phone and wireless charger, the more sensitive it becomes to position; if it works at all. Try putting different board thicknesses between your phone and the charging pad to see for yourself. Most phones won’t wireless charge through thick armor case or wallet case; so be sure to include any case you regularly use in the testing.

To achieve tight control on hole depth, suggest using a router with hole template and plunge router bit with bearing.
Hole saw or forstner bit has center point that cuts deeper than sides; and will increase your depth to avoid punching through the top.

As always YMMV, and Best Luck.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View ibewjon's profile

ibewjon

2136 posts in 3707 days


#7 posted 10-24-2020 12:44 AM

Another option with a hole saw is to start the saw with the pilot bit. After the saw has about a 1/4” deep groove, remove the pilot bit and continue to depth with the saw alone. Of course you will need to remove the center with a chisel, leaving the thin skin you desire. Good luck.

View Loren's profile

Loren

10785 posts in 4561 days


#8 posted 10-24-2020 12:56 AM

I looked at the video. Pretty ghetto but if you’re willing to risk ruining your table using the hole saw a saw carving tool without the drill in the center you can give it a go.

You’d have to retract the drill bit into the hole saw to make it work.

View Boba8523's profile

Boba8523

6 posts in 35 days


#9 posted 10-24-2020 01:02 AM

Thanks for all the replies everyone.

I’d like to add that the thickness of the table is maybe 1.5” and I need to bore into the table top so that only about 7mm is left, which is pretty thin. The wood is beech so it’s supposedly pretty solid.

Spade bits may not work because it’d puncture the wood before it starts making a hole..

Forestner bits are pretty expensive so I’d like to keep that as plan B if possible.

What do you guys think of just using a drill bit to drill multiple smaller holes like what ibewjon suggested and attaching a drill stop collar to the bit so I can control the depth? Once I have the depth I need and a circle that’s wide enough, I can use a rotary rasp with drill bit stopper to start enlarging the circle?

View northwoodsman's profile

northwoodsman

412 posts in 4660 days


#10 posted 10-24-2020 02:32 AM

Even a forstner bit will have a centering nib of around 5mm which leaves a very little margin of error. Without a drill press this would be difficult at best. If you need to get to a 7mm thickness the router is by far the best tool for the job. The risk of cutting through is great.

-- NorthWoodsMan

View Boba8523's profile

Boba8523

6 posts in 35 days


#11 posted 10-24-2020 02:34 AM



Even a forstner bit will have a centering nib of around 5mm which leaves a very little margin of error. Without a drill press this would be difficult at best. If you need to get to a 7mm thickness the router is by far the best tool for the job. The risk of cutting through is great.

- northwoodsman

Thanks for the reply. With a drill bit stop collar attached, doesn’t that control the depth and minimizes the chance of cutting through the wood?

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

3827 posts in 2408 days


#12 posted 10-24-2020 03:07 AM

.....
What do you guys think of just using a drill bit to drill multiple smaller holes like what ibewjon suggested
- Boba8523

Drilling the holes might work, assuming the spacing is far enough apart that any tear out from other holes does not change surface height where you rest the stop collar for next hole?
Stop collar won’t work for rasp enlarging the holes.

Suggest you stop guessing. Practice making circle of holes with drill on practice poplar of same thickness, so you don’t ruin your table while you figure out best method for YOUR shop.

IMHO – The proper method is using a router. A plunge router with support base 2.1x larger than hole size ensures an accurate depth with zero fuss. Having used a plunge router many times in my shop; know I could make the hole proper depth repeatedly if needed.

In case you are new to using a plunge router, here is one reference:
https://www.woodmagazine.com/woodworking-tips/techniques/routing/plunge-router?mode=step_by_step

YMMV

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View LittleBlackDuck's profile

LittleBlackDuck

5954 posts in 1734 days


#13 posted 10-24-2020 03:12 AM

Another attempt Boba, but it would still cost you a trimmer.

Cut all the way through, recess a rim on top (with router/trimmer) and inlay a 1/8” contrasting circular piece. A rectangular inset will remove the need to cut a circle without a hole in the middle (unless you plug that hole with s dowel) and two sizes of hole cutters… You can call that “inlay” as a feature and it’d mark the “hot spot”...

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View Sark's profile

Sark

352 posts in 1274 days


#14 posted 10-24-2020 04:02 AM

Another thought on how to do this: First, using the large hole saw, drill a hole through a 3/4” piece of plywood. Then screw down that piece of plywood with the hole exactly where you want it. This hole will keep your cutter from wandering.

Next, retract the drill that’s in the center of the big cutter, so you can cut without making a hole in your table, as shown in the youtube video. The plywood will keep the cutter from wandering, and you’ll be able to get a clean scored circle. I would not try to make this cut without a guide. Beech is hard wood, and you’ll have a hard time controlling the cut without a guide.

The next step is to improvise a ‘poor-man’s router’ using your drill. First, get another piece of plywood, and drill a hole in it with the same drill you’ll use to hollow out the indentation. Then put a stop collar on the drill, and adjust it so that you are drilling shallow holes, say 1/4” or 1/2”. Then start drilling away, sliding the plywood over the hole to the new position, till you’ve drilled as much as possible. The plywood is functioning as a router base, the stop collar is controlling the depth. The plywood must be twice as wide as the indentation you are trying to hollow out, otherwise one end of the base could dip into the hole and the drill puncture the table.

Next, to flatten the indentation, you need to repeat this step with the rotary rasp. The rasp may not be long enough for the stop collar treatment, but you’ll need to get creative. The depth of cut must be controlled, and I don’t think doing it by hand will work.

You might be able to do the cut without a rotary rasp, just a drill bit. Just make the cuts extra shallow, like 1/8” and after drilling all those shallow holes, try sliding the drill sideways and see if you can smooth out the bottom.

Regardless of your method, do not try to hog out all the wood in one pass! Go slow, and by the time you’re getting close to the other side, you’ll have a lot more control.

View SMP's profile

SMP

2858 posts in 819 days


#15 posted 10-24-2020 04:12 AM

I’d actually be more impressed by making a really nice box that wraps the charger, contrasting colors to the desk. You can buy some really exotic 1/8” species at rockler. Your desk is intact so when the next gen of chargers comes out you don’t have this legacy random hole.

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