What Tools to Use for Cutting Square Hole in Wood?

tool to cut square holes in wood

There are many things to learn when you start out in woodworking.

One of them is learning how to cut a square hole into a piece of wood.

It’s an important part of woodworking as it helps you make proper joints.

What follows is a simple guide on how to make the right cuts properly.

How to Make the Square Cut in Wood?

Before you proceed with anything remember to be safe.

Safety should be the first step in any woodworking project that you do.

Always consider what you need first to protect yourself from the sharp blade and splinters that may be generated.

  • Wear Safety Goggles
  • Put on Protective Clothing
  • Follow All Instructions
  • Employ Good Ventilation
  • Sharpen All Blades

Dull blades can slip, so sharpen them thoroughly.

In addition, remove any distractions that might turn your focus away from your work.

In addition to the safety concerns, watch what you are doing so that you get the measurements rights.

Measure twice and cut once is a good tip to follow.

Basic Tools

To create a square hole, you will need the right set of tools to do the job.

Some of the tools are quite basic, but you will need them to do the job right.

  • Pencil & Measuring Tape
  • Straightedge & Framing Square
  • Sandpaper & Oscillating Tool

Now that you have the safety equipment and tools, the next step is to make the cut.

The key to creating the best square cuts is understanding what mortise and tenon joints are.

The first step is to draw the perfect square. This starts by finding the center point.

Be sure to mark that point with your pencil.

Now you need the framing square to draw the area that will be cut.

Once you make the drawing, check the dimensions again to ensure their accuracy.

Now that you have the shape, you are ready for the next steps.

How to Cut Square Hole in Wood?

Woodworking Tools

Making the cut will depend on the type of tool that you will want to use.

There are several types of tools that may be used, so here is how to use the most common types for cutting square holes into wood.

1- With a Chisel

The chisel is the most basic tool to use in cutting wood.

As you might suspect, it takes some time and effort to make the proper cut.

You’ll also need to practice before starting, so you can get a better idea of how the chisel will work.

Use some scrap wood first as practice material before making the cut into the wood.

The chisel is best used on small or thin pieces of wood that might otherwise be damaged by larger tools.

But how you can cut the hole into the wood using the chisel – let’s take a look…

  • Place the tip of the chisel just inside a corner of the square
  • Tap the chisel with a hammer. Using harder taps until it cuts into the wood
  • Keep tapping until you cut through the wood itself
  • Repeat for each corner

With all four corners out, that should clear the hole. If not, then chisel away the excess on the sides.

2- Using a Drill or Saw

Either the drill or the saw can be used with the following instructions.

This assumes you are using a cordless circular saw.

This method is perfect for larger pieces of wood, especially large surfaces for big woodworking items that you are creating.

Whether the wood is thick or thin, either tool works well to cut a square.

The drill is almost self-explanatory, but the saw does require a bit more technique to make a proper cut.

Start by using the drill with a proper drill bit. Just like the chisel, place the drill in one corner of the square.

Drill through the wood and repeat the process for each corner.

Now, use the saw to cut away the remaining material along the reference lines.

3- Using a Router

The router is not the ideal power tool for cutting out squares, but it can work if you have no other tools available.

This will require some experience on your part in terms of working with the router.

A router is best on thick sheets of wood and can actually save you time compared to other tools in this regard.

Precision is the order of the day, so the first step is to create a template using the guide and the right router bits.

Next, the square dimensions should be used as the layout for the template.

Next is the tricky part as you will need to add 0.35” in each line of the template to account for the drill bit.

Now, drill a pilot hole in one corner of the square which will serve as the starting point.

Now, you are ready for the router. Turn it on and place it in the hole, then move it along the lines of the square.

When you reach the first corner, rotate the wood so the next line is straight up, and then move the router along that line.

Repeat the process until you have cut out the entire square.

If you are experienced with a router, this may be the best method for cutting square holes into thick pieces of wood.

Finishing-up the Job

Although you have cut out the square, your job is not finished yet.

You can use another tool such as the jigsaw to finish out the hole. But there are other methods as well if you do not have access to a jigsaw.

The best is to use sandpaper to smooth out the edges.

This will get rid of any imperfections, so you wind up with smooth sides to your square hole.

Start with low-grit sandpaper and then work your way up to the higher grit versions for the best results.

One tip is to use an oscillating tool if the edges are too rough for even the sandpaper to smooth out.

Use the oscillating tool, then switch to the sandpaper.

Once you have cut a few square holes, the process will become second nature.

Just remember to always wear your safety equipment when performing the work.

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