Hole saws make delightful scrap wood circles, reborn as wheels for wooden toys, knobs for drawers and hangers, rollers, hubs, and whatever a creative mind can imagine. Sand them nice and smooth, give them to kids and see what they come up with!
The tools for this are not expensive and I find I use mine quite often, so they are well worth the investment.
Step 1: Materials
But what kind? Be creative. Of course it depends on what your wheel has to do. Plywood is strong, but lower-quality plywood will have voids in it that could show up where you cut through it, which could be OK because you could fill them in with wood filler. Hardwood can be pretty, especially if you want to stain it. Any solid wood will resist bending better in some directions than in others.
Step 2: Tools
Step 3: Lay Out Your Circles
With no arbor, lay your hole saw down upside-down and trace the outside and the arbor-hole on the inside, especially the corners. Nest the circles to use your material more efficiently. With a straightedge, connect opposite corners of the arbor hole shape with straight lines. Now you have your centers!
Dimple the centers with a punch or nail to keep your drill from walking.
Step 4: Assemble the Hole Saw Onto Your Arbor
For larger hole saws, some kits come with a reinforcing adapter that has a couple of posts that engage the saw and the arbor, reducing wear on the arbor. When a large diameter hole saw beats up an arbor, it can start to round the corners and become loose. A wobbling saw messes up the hole it cuts and reduces the diameter of your wheel. If your kit doesn't come with such an adapter, another trick is to take the largest hole saw you are not using and put it on upside-down behind the saw you are using, Then use nuts and bolts to hold the two together. This provides twice the contact area in the direction of rotation, reducing stress and wear on the arbor.
Step 5: Cut Holes (wheels)
Practice woodworking safety! For some tips on working with tools, check out this article.
Put scrap wood under your stock to prevent tearouts where the drill point exits the material. If your stock is thicker than 3/8", I suggest drilling a pilot hole. If using a hand-held drill, I suggest this method.
Drill each of your wheels about halfway through the thickness of your stock, then flip the stock over and finish drilling them from the other side. This leaves a burr at the middle, which we will remove, and leaves nice clean edges on both faces.
If your stock is thick enough to grab with a gloved hand, you can twist it out of the saw. If not, there are often holes you can push through with a small screw driver. If you find it especially hard to remove the wheel, you can disassemble the saw from the arbor.
Step 6: Sand Smooth
Thread your wheel onto the bolt mentioned in step 2. Chuck the bolt in your drill. Clamp 80 or 100-grit sandpaper down to a flat surface, rough side up.
With light pressure, spin the wheel with your drill while holding the outer edge square to the paper and rub around all over the surface of the paper to smooth the outer diameter. To make sure you're getting the whole outer cylindrical surface, mark the circumference with a pencil near each face and watch the sandpaper remove the marks. Then take the sharp outer edge off both faces.
For a smoother finish, work your way up to higher grits of sandpaper as desired.
Remove the bolt and you're done!
Step 7: P.S.
You can use a drill press for all these steps instead of a hand-held drill. For sanding, chuck the bolt the same way, and hold a sanding block up against it.
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