How to Cut Square Holes in Wood (4 Best Ways)

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Jacky C

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You will come through many times when a square hole is needed in your woodworking career. Sometimes it is a big square hole, and sometimes a smaller one. While the holes vary in size, it differs in depth too. Few projects need a see-through hole, while the others need a hole with a part of wood left behind like a mortise.

Cutting holes in wood is quite a simple task, but it gets complex with the requirements of a project.

Also, you need to have specific tools before hole-making in a wood. There are majorly two ways to do it. One is by hand tools, and the other is by power tools.

Hand tools can never surpass the efficiency and speediness of a power tool. Still, if you are a beginner or an enthusiast, we recommend that you begin hole-making with a hand tool because you can easily set your hand on woodworking art due to its short learning curve.

Moreover, if you are working on a budget, then hand tools are recommended.

Moving on to the techniques you can adopt for making a square hole in wood:

Also Read: 4 Sure-Fire Ways To Lighten Stained Wood

4 Ways to Cut Square Holes In Wood

  1. Using a chisel and hammer
  2. Using a drill 
  3. Using a jigsaw
  4. Using a router

Technique #1: Using a chisel and hammer

IRWIN Marples Chisel Set for Woodworking, 6-Piece (M444SB6N)
  • Slim, contoured handle for added control, precision and comfort
  • Design for use with a wooden mallet or the palm of the hand
  • High-carbon steel blade hardened to 58-HRC for improved edge retention
  • Ideal for traditional fine woodworking applications
  • Set includes 1/4", 3/8", 1/2", 5/8", 3/4", and 1" chisels, and wooden case

Making a square hole with a chisel and hammer is the simplest way. This technique is recommended only if you work with a thin sheet of wood, as it will take ample time and effort to finish this task.

Moreover, if you are a newbie interested in becoming a pro in wood crafting, then have some patience and learn the art of hole making through this classical method.

Steps to follow:

First, ensure that you use a sharp chisel, a sledgehammer, sandpaper, a framing square, and a pencil.

  1. Now measure the dimensions of the square hole you intend to make. Then take a framing square and a pencil to draw it on wood. Ensure that the opposite sides are parallel to each other.
  2. Then with the help of a chisel hammer and light to moderate taps, start removing the wood. Be warned that a single blow cannot accomplish this hole-making process. It is a gradual and slow process.
  3. With regular tappings of chisel and hammer, cut the whole periphery of the hole. 
  4. Afterward, take sandpaper and surface the edges to remove burrs and corners.

Suggested tool:

If you are wondering which tool to use for creating an affordable square hole, go to the link below and be happy-go-lucky!

IRWIN Marples Chisel Set for Woodworking, 6-Piece (M444SB6N) is a 6-piece set of chisels available at Amazon.

This set has six different sizes of chisels that are slim and precise. They are designed so that handling and plucking wood out of stock becomes easier.

This chisel set is made of a High-carbon steel blade, hardened to keep its edge sharp for multiple uses.

Moreover, you can easily attach it with a mallet or use it with your palm.

Technique #2: Using a drill

BLACK+DECKER 8V MAX* Cordless Drill + 43 pc. Home Decor Project Kit (BDCD8HDPK)
  • VERSATILE 43 PC. SET – Includes a level and a wide variety of bits and fasteners for drilling, decorating, and DIY tasks.
  • CORDLESS DRILL – Compact and lightweight for versatile use.
  • ERGONOMIC HANDLE – Provides balance and control.
  • KEYLESS CHUCK – For quick and easy bit changes.
  • MICRO USB CHARGER – Makes recharging the battery simple and convenient.

If you possess a drill, using it instead of a chisel is always favorable as it will give you the desired result more quickly and perfectly.

With the help of a drill, you can easily cut square holes in a thin to the moderate thickness of stock. 

The things which you will need with a drill are a framing square, sandpaper (or any circular buffing tool), a marker, and a chisel.

Steps to follow:

Make sure you have picked the correct type of bit. A cordless drill is highly recommended as it will encourage safe working without tipping over on long wires.

  1. First, mark the holes with the right dimension with the help of a framing square.
  2. Now drill in the center of the square. After this, drill on all four corners of the square.
  3. Afterward, using a chisel, remove the wood of a square, making it a see-through hole.
  4. Now with the help of sandpaper, rub all the corners and rough edges, finally making it a perfect square hole.

Suggested tool:

BLACK+DECKER 12V MAX Cordless Drill/Driver (BDCDD12C) is an amazon option for cordless drills available at Amazon.

It is affordable yet accurate. Its 550 rpm motor helps finish the task in a matter of minutes.

Especially newbies or enthusiasts who have opted for this passion to re-do their living spaces can buy this lightweight cordless drill along with the screwdriver and can tackle all their creative needs.

Moreover, the LED work light makes working in gloomy areas like garages or gardens easier. Even fences can be done with the help of their luminous glow. 

Its fast switching system makes the changeover of bits easier for even the starters.

Technique #3: Using a jigsaw

BLACK+DECKER Jig Saw, Smart Select, 5.0-Amp (BDEJS600C)
  • HIGH PERFORMANCE ELECTRIC JIG SAW - 5 amp electric jig saw with a 3⁄4” blade orbital action for increased precision
  • CURVE CONTROL TECHNOLOGY - Four curve settings for maximum control over rounded cuts
  • BEVELED CUTS - Makes beveled cuts up to 45 degrees
  • HIGH POWER - Variable-speed motor generates up to 3,000 SPM of cutting power
  • ADJUSTABLE SHOE - Adjustable shoe with wire guard for enhanced stability and line of site

Jigsaw is one of the most unique and straightforward tools to work out your holes in woodworking. It is economically feasible, quick, and follows a simple learning curve.

You need to hold the jigsaw in your hand, and its reciprocating blade will self-cut a satisfying hole within minutes.

Just follow these easy steps in case you are a starter.

Steps to follow:

  1. Measure the square hole to be cut with the help of a framing square and draw the boundaries precisely with a pencil or chalk. The framing square will help you create perfect right-angled corners.
  2. Secure the wooden sheet to be cut but leave enough space beneath the sheet so that the jigsaw blade can move freely.
  3. As the jigsaw blade doesn’t tend to drill the interiors of the wood, so you have to drill the pilot hole with a drill enough for a jigsaw blade to enter. If you need sharp 90° edges, make drilling holes on all four square ends.
  4. Now start working with your jigsaw. Beginning with the pilot hole and returning to the same point after working through all four sides of the square.
  5. Lastly, finish the edges with sanding paper or a power sander to give it a nice look. You can skip this step if you don’t need smooth edges, and burrs are not an issue.

Suggested tool:

If you are struggling to find the best-suited jigsaw for you that is available online and at economical prices, then go to the link below and get your queries answered.

BLACK+DECKER Jig Saw, Smart Select, 5.0-Amp (BDEJS600C) is an incredible tool that is smart, quick, and accurate.

For people who need their square holes to be created in seconds can go for this jigsaw by Black and Decker that has guaranteed high performance.

Furthermore, it has a unique Curve control technology that can efficiently work on rounded corners.

Also, it can make beveled cuts up to 45 degrees.

Learn more: 30 Types of Saws Every Beginner Woodworker Should Know

Technique #4: Using a router

DEWALT Router, Fixed/Plunge Base Kit, Variable Speed, Soft Start, 2-1/4-HP (DW618PKB)
  • 2-1/4 HP (maximum motor HP), 12.0 amp electronic variable speed motor of DEWALT router provides the power to rout smoothly through...
  • DEWALT plunge router features electronic variable speed with full feedback control for constant speed under load from 8,000-24,000...
  • Micro-fine, depth-adjustment ring provides precise depth adjustments in 1/64-inch increments and adjusts vertically for a constant...
  • Adjustable, tool-free, steel motor cam lock makes depth adjustment and base changes quick and solid-locking
  • Integral, through-the-column dust collection collects 95% of the dust and provides superior bit visibility

Using a router is mainly recommended if you are working with a thick sheet of wood and want a smooth and precise hole in less time but be warned, we do not recommend you use a router if you are a newbie. Routers are only recommended to experienced woodworkers.

For the information of, newbies, using a router is complicated and requires extensive practice, so if you have enough time to set your hand onto it, then only you should use this power tool.

Follow the steps below to achieve a cleaner hole in the safest way possible.

Steps to follow:

  1. Creating a precise template is essential while making holes with a router. You can do this by using template guides and router bits.
  2. Measure out the hole and make clean lines on the wood with the help of a pencil, marker, or chalk. Do add 0.35 inches to each line of the template.
  3. Next, build a pilot hole using a drill in one square corner.
  4. Then set your fence on the wooden sheet perfectly aligned with the square hole.
  5. Now start working with the router. When you finish the first line, put your fence on the next one and start working on it. This will help you create a precise and delicate hole.
  6. You will get a clean and accurate hole cut on the wooden sheet by the end.

Suggested tool:

The router might not be an affordable option for some of you, but if you save your pocket money for 3 to 4 months, you can easily buy this efficient tool which will come to last.

DEWALT Router, Fixed/Plunge Base Kit, Variable Speed, Soft Start, 2-1/4-HP (DW618PKB) is a superb option if you love to work smoothly even harder in woods. Its micro-fine depth-adjustment ring takes care of the depth of the square hole.

The incredible thing is that this router set comes with a dust sucker that helps maintain 95% of bit visibility. 

This DEWALT router encourages easy changeovers and guarantees the smooth routing of even tougher woods.

Wrap up

Undoubtedly woodworking is an engaging art. Although some operations might require extra effort or time, the result would be enough to satisfy your leisure needs and nudge you for the next adventure.

If you are a starter, you need to keep a few things in mind before beginning your project, like picking up the correct technique depending upon the thickness of the sheet, tools you can access, your skill level, and of course, the time you have.

Moreover, keep in mind that working with wood can create a lot of safety hazards, so adopt all the precautions before starting up, like wearing goggles, safety boots, dust masks, and protective gloves. Try to engage a vacuum machine that can suck all the sawdust while working as it can cause respiratory issues if left as it is. 

Finally, we leave you here with your project to be worked on till then.


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