How to cut square holes in wood with different tools

Sometimes you’ll need to cut square holes in wood like a flat piece of plywood. You might be thinking about how to do it. Fortunately, it is easy, and with some tools, it becomes even easier. In this guide, you’ll see some of the best ways to cut a square hole in your wood with different tools that you may already have.

You can jump to a method that you like using the following links.

Safety first.

Woodworking safety first
Woodworking safety precautions

In woodcutting, you may face some unexpected situations. Because you’ll be dealing with different types of saws and tools to get the job done.

So, here I am mentioning some basic safety precautions that you should take before doing any wood cutting job.

  1. Wear a safety goggles pair, because, wood chips or dust may harm your eyes. So protect your eyes first.
  2. If possible, wear all other safety clothes, like dust mask, gloves, closed shoes, etc.
  3. It is better to work outdoor, or in a well ventilated area.
  4. Each Power tool has its own safety precautions. Follow them all.
  5. Ensure that your tool has a sharp blade. So it cuts the wood easily and smoothly.
  6. Correct measurement is key to success. OR, it’ll produce more issues along the way.
  7. And most importantly, never ever focus elsewhere.

Your focus is most important than any other precaution. So stay active during your woodworking. You should also pay extra attention when dealing with cutting tools.

Required tools (basic)

Required tools for woodworking

There are some basic tools that you’ll need to cut a square in a wood beside the actual cutting tools. These tools will be needed to assist in accurate wood cutting. While the other cutting tools will be needed according to the cutting method that you’ll be using.

  1. Pencil
  2. Measuring tape
  3. A framing square and a straightedge
  4. Sandpaper and oscillating tool for finishing up

Where to get the basic woodworking tools?

You can get these tools from the following URLs.

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How a square hole is cut in wood?

How to cut shapes in wood sheets
How to cut shapes in wood

A square hole cutting in wood is one of the basics of woodworking. It can be smaller that is used in wood joints or larger square hole that is used for window, frame, or countertop, etc. Cutting certain shapes into a sheet of wood is usually easier with certain tools.

For any type of square hole in wood, first, you’ll need to draw the required hole area on that wood. This will ensure your accuracy.

How to draw a perfect square on wood?

To perfectly draw a square on wood to cut. Follow the following tips.

  1. Measure the required area first.
  2. Determine the center point of the wood sheet, or lumber if you’re doing a small hole.
  3. Mark that point with your pencil.
  4. Use the framingsquare to draw the square on the wood surface.
  5. Check if dimensions are accurate.

After drawing what to cut out, move on to actually cutting the drawn shape out.

Pick your desired/available cutting tool, and make the cut

Cutting square holes in sheets of wood can be done on a chisel, a drill and saw, and a router. While you may only need a chisel or a drill for small square holes on lumber for joints.

Let’s see how to do it with each technique below.

How to cut a square hole in wood with a Jigsaw

How to cut square holes in wood sheets with a jigsaw
How to cut square holes in wood sheets with a jigsaw

One of the best power tools is a Jigsaw for woodworking. It is a lightweight tool that you can easily hold in your hand and work with it. It has a reciprocating thin blade that moves up and down very fast.

If you want to cut a square hole in a wood sheet, Jigsaw will be your easiest and fastest to work with.

Here are the steps to follow for making a square hole in wood sheets with a jigsaw.

Step 1: Measure the square hole area to cut out

The first thing that you should do, is to measure the square hole precisely. You can use the measuring tape and the framing square to get the perfect square area. The framing square will allow you to make a perfect square with a proper 90 degrees angle in each corner. You can then mark the measured area with a pencil or chalk.

Step 2: Make sure your wood sheet is secured

The next step is to secure your wood sheet to make it easier to cut a square hole in it. You can use sawhorses for this. Make sure the actual area that you’ll need to cut out should have enough space beneath it so the jigsaw blade could run smoothly through it.

You can use two rails underneath the wood sheet or use 2 tables edges or whatever available to you. The main point is to make sure the wood sheet doesn’t move freely while cutting, and there is some space under the cutting square area so the jigsaw blade can do its work.

Step 3: Make a starter hole with a drill

A jigsaw can start cutting from sides easily, but it can not cut from the interior of a wood sheet. Because its blade can’t drill a hole from above.

So to cut any shape that is inside a wood sheet, you need to make a starting hole so the jigsaw blade can start cutting from this point. The starter hole should be drilled on the exact line that you will have drawn. Make sure it doesn’t go outside that drawn line OR you should make a starting hole slightly into the area that you’ll cut out.

The starting hole should be large enough to accommodate the jigsaw blade.

Also, you should make these starting holes on all 4 corners of your cutting square area. Because jigsaw won’t be able to turn 90 degrees at corners. But if your required square hole has no sharp cut corners, you’ll be able to work with a jigsaw using only one starter hole.

Step 4: Start cutting the actual marked area with Jigsaw

Now it is the fun part. Put the jigsaw blade in the starter hole, power it up, and follow the exact line that you have drawn. It’ll cut it smoothly.

Sometimes, sawdust may hide the cut line. For this, you can attach a vacuum cleaner to your jigsaw if it has that feature, or manually clear the path ahead, or a jigsaw blade with downstroke teeth may also work.

Step 5: Finish up the cut by sanding

Although this part is optional and if you have used any good blade, it may have already done it up to some extent. But if you sand paper, it’ll make the cutline smoother.

So, if needed, use sandpaper or a power sander to remove any burrs that are left behind from the jigsaw blade.

Video of making a square hole in plywood using Jigsaw

In the following video, you’ll see how easy it is to make a square hole using a jigsaw and drilling 2 holes instead of 4.

How to drill square hole with plywood/Self interior

How to cut square holes in wood without a Jigsaw

If you don’t have any jigsaw with you, it is perfectly ok. Although, it is the best tool to perfectly cut square holes in wood sheets. But there are other tools as well that you can use to do the same job.

The tools that you can use to cut a square hole are

  1. A hand saw
  2. Chisel
  3. Dremel or handheld Router
  4. Angle Grinder

Let’s have a look at these tools that you can use to cut a square hole in your wood sheet without a need for a jigsaw.

How to cut square holes in wood using a Hand Saw

If you have a hand saw, you can make the same square hole in wood sheets. It is a little bit harder, but after some practice, it is absolutely doable.

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The process is also the same as cutting with a jigsaw. First, you’ll need to take measurements and draw the desired shape with a pencil, then you may need to secure the wood sheet.

Next, make starting holes in each corner of your square. Make sure the starter holes should be large enough to fit the hand saw in it + there should be some space to be able to move the hand saw up and down easily.

Now cut the actual area and you are done.

After using a hand saw, there might be more burrs left behind. So use sandpaper or a power sander to finish up the cut lines.

Pro Tip: Use a thin blade hand saw. A foxtail saw is going to be too broad or wide. So avoid it.

How to cut a square hole in wood using a Chisel

This is the most labored method out of all. But it doesn’t need any electricity. It requires some time, accuracy, and muscle power.

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In this method for cutting a perfect square in wood, you’ll need a hammer or a sledgehammer and a chisel. The rest of the process is somewhat the same. I.e. You first need to make the measurements and mark the area with a pencil or chalk. Then, secure the wood on a working table.

Unlike other methods, here you’ll need to make sure something is pushing the wood sheet from the bottom, so it doesn’t crack or split in unwanted ways while making cuts. Because you’ll be hitting it from the top.

Now, line up the chisel with the square cut line that you have drawn, and hit it from the top on a hammer or better a sledgehammer. A sledgehammer will be better because of its heavier weight.

Hit the chisel hard enough to penetrate it through the wood thickness. Make the cuts all the way that you have drawn and you’ll get a perfectly squared hole in the wood sheet.

When to use a chisel?

You can use the chisel for many things, but it is more appropriate for the following.

  • Cutting a thin wood sheet and you don’t have any jigsaw or electricity.
  • Cutting mortises and tenons.
  • Shaving rough surfaces.
  • Chop out corners.
  • Scrape off glue.

Cutting a square hole using a Dremel or Handheld Router

Dremel and handheld Router are both rotary power tools. That’s why these are grouped into one category. Both a Dremel and a handheld Router can handle various bits in the front. However, a handheld Router bit is the most commonly used bit. But at the same time, a Dremel also has special bits.

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You can insert small circular blades into the chuck of both these rotary tools, making them small handheld circular saws.

To cut square holes in wood with a Dremel or handheld router, follow the same basic process. I.e. Measure the area, mark and draw the area with a pencil or chalk, and secure the wood sheet so it doesn’t freely move while doing cuts.

Start your Dremel or handheld router, speed it up, and start sawing the drawn square hole.

Cutting shapes in wood sheets using these routery tools is the 2nd easy way after using a jigsaw.

Making square holes in wood using an Angle Grinder

The other method of cutting a square hole in wood sheets is by using an Angle Grinder. For this to work, you’ll need to replace the actual disc with fine teeth, made for wood, sawing disc.

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The other process is the same. I.e.

  1. Measure the required square hole area.
  2. Mark and draw the cutting area with a pencil or chalk.
  3. Secure the wood piece with 2 sawhorses.
  4. Start up the angle grinder, speed it up, and start cutting the drawn shape by moving it along the drawn lines.
  5. Use a sandpaper or a power sander to remove the roughness from edges.

Some tips to follow

Lets’ see some pro tips to follow to avoid any unexpected situation and do your job the way it should be.

  • Always pay close attention to what you are doing. Never focus anywhere else.
  • Always wear tight clothes. I.e. tight gloves and shirt. Never use loose fitting clothes. If you have long hairs, tie them up. These are necessary for working with any saw tool.
  • Wear safety goggles when working. Especially when working with chisel and any other saw that produce sawdust or wood chips.
  • Whatever power saw you have, use a blade that is designed for the material you are cutting. Chosing and using an appropriate blade is said to be half the battle.
  • Use a pencil or chalk for marking and drawing your desired shape. So, if you made a mistake, you can easily erase it. Never use any pen or other permanent marker.
  • Use appropriate measurement tools. OR, you’ll end up making more mistakes along the way, while still your final result may not accurate.
  • If the lines that you cut with your desired power tool like jigsaw are too jagged. Use an oscillating tool to fix that before using the sandpaper.
  • Whatever power tool you use, never touch work peice unless it has sped up.


You can cut any shape in wood sheet or lumber using many tools. But the easiest is using a drill and jigsaw power tools. You can even use the drill itself to cut shapes in wood.

For any carpenter, DIY guy, or homeowner, it is necessary to learn how to cut square holes, other shapes, mortises, and tenons, etc. These are some of the basic skills required to get any woodworking job done.

Also, don’t forget to use safety precautions to avoid any possible injuries.

With practice, you’ll be able to cut any shape in any material you want, especially in wood sheets.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to cut a square hole in wood by hand

Cutting square holes in wood by a hand saw is known as cutting it by hand. It is because it involves a lot of labor.

Can you drill a square hole in wood?

Yes, you can drill a square hole with a round bit. Like all drill bits, the auger bit bores a hole and ejects the chips. Meanwhile, the four sharp edges of the chisel pare the wood around the bored hole into a square shape. The auger bit removes this waste, as well, through a chip ejection slot in the chisel.

What tool do I use to cut a hole in wood?

There are a lot of tools to cut square holes in wood. But the commonly used ones have been mentioned in this article.

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Last update on 2024-06-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. Note: Jigsaw Expert may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

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