How to Cut Square Holes the Right Way

How to Cut Square Holes the Right Way

Learning how to cut square holes in wood is a valuable lesson that every woodworker needs to learn in order to step their game. No matter how new or advanced you are, learning how to make square holes is something you’re going to have to learn at some point or another. Square holes are critical as they’re used for making window holes, children toys or some puzzles, or just to allow you to be more creative with your work in general.

Don’t be intimidated but this if you don’t already know how to do it as it is fairly simple. You’ll be employing all of the knowledge you already know when it comes to woodworking in general. However, it’s just a way to show you what can be one with these techniques. You can apply what’s in this article to do almost any shape you want.

So, without further ado, let us dive into the guide!

Here’s What You Will Need

Just as we said earlier, making square holes isn’t rocket science. We won’t be reinventing the wheel, so most of the power tools we’re going to list here are tools that you probably already own in your toolkit. Here is the list:

  • Oscillating tool
  • Jigsaw
  • Large drill bit
  • Power drill
  • Work gloves
  • Goggles
  • Carpenter’s marker/pencil
  • Framing square
  • Sandpaper (or file)

First Step: Taking Measures and Marking

To start off, you’re going to need to measure the square you’ll be going to cut. After that, you need to mark it on the piece of wood you’re going to use.

The level of precision you need for your measures will generally depend on the project you’re making. Some projects require pinpoint accuracy while others don’t require you to be so meticulous. With that said, it’s always recommended to be more precise as that will always yield better results, and even hone your skills as a woodworker, so take your time and aim to be as accurate as you can possibly be.

Start by mapping out our square’s dimensions, so you know how big the hole needs to be. If the hole you’re going to make is located on a specific spot on the piece of wood, then you’ll need to compensate for it and make the necessary adjustments to the dimensions.

After you finish mapping the dimensions, mark the wood with the carpenter’s pencil or marker using the square. Make sure that the line is clear. It needs to be dark and thick in order to facilitate the cutting process later on. In order to ensure this, you need to do more than one pass if you’re using a pencil. However, if you’re using a permanent marker, then you don’t need to worry about making several passes.

Second Step: Creating the Pilot Hole

After having done the first step, you can now move on to drilling. Use the drill in order to make a pilot hole in the wood. This is the hole from which you can begin cutting.

Don’t worry too much about which drill bit to use. The only thing that matters is that it’s big enough so you can fit the jigsaw blade through.

During the drilling process, make sure that the hole is in the markings you have made earlier. In order to minimize the risk of error, you can place the hole arbitrarily near the edge of the square you have traced. By doing this, you don’t have to worry about your pilot hole being way off the lines you’ve marked.

Third Step: Cutting Out the Square

After having drilled the pilot hole, you can finally start the cutting process.

However, before you start using the power saw you have to make sure that you’ve got the safety aspect of things done right. Remember, safety should be your number one priority when you’re doing anything of this sort. Make sure you’re wearing adequate safety gear. This is where the goggles and work gloves come into play.

When you have all of that setup, you can finally start the cutting process. Put the jigsaw blade on the pilot hole you previously drilled, then power on the machine and start following the line you’ve marked earlier.

Make sure you’re not cutting outside the line. You should be cutting on the inside. If you realize, later on, that the square you’ve marked is too small, you can just widen it by using some sandpaper, an oscillating tool, or a file. The problem with cutting outside of the line is the fact that you might end up with a square that’s too big. That case is much harder to fix than the other one. I most cases, you might even have to start from scratch.

If you follow along with these tips, then you should get a result that is satisfying. You should also have an easier time cutting the holes by manipulating the jigsaw in a better way.

Final Step: Cleaning Up the Work

When you’re done with the cutting process, it’s time to clean up any mess you might have made. If you’re crafty with the jigsaw, then your work will be dramatically less than that of someone who is sloppy. However, there is always room for improvement, and you can always find something that could use a bit of further refining.

For this, you’ll need to use a file to remove any rough spots inside the square cut.

If you find your work to be sloppy and not up to par, you can always use the oscillator tool. Something like a Dremel along with a sanding wheel to quickly fix any imperfections or spots you might have missed. Take your time in this process as you risk to sand out too much of the wood which is the last thing you would want.

Once you’re happy with the result, you can finish things off by using sandpaper in order to smooth things out. For this, you can start by using lower grit sandpaper, something like 100 grit sandpaper, then work your way up to higher grit sandpaper until you reach 320 grit. Once you’re done, then your work should be finally done!


There you have it. Now that you know how to cut square holes, you can produce some really great looking results. As you’ve seen, the process is quite simple and doesn’t require way any exotic tools. By following the steps mentioned in this article, you should be able to male square holes without much effort.

PS: if you want to take your skills to the next level, check our buying guides and reviews, where we cover everything you may ever need in your tool box, be it a Random Orbital Sander, Cordless Circular Saw, Sliding Compound Miter Saw, Tile Saw, Circular Saw Blade, Chainsaw Mill, Chainsaw Chaps, Cordless Tool Set, Table Saw, or even Chainsaw Under 200 bucks. We also like to compare power tool brands, such as DeWalt and Milwaukee.


  • Our own experience