How to Enlarge an Existing Hole in Wood

How to Enlarge an Existing Hole in Wood

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If for whatever reason, you drilled a hole into a piece of wood, but that hole is too small for whatever you are doing, then you will need to make it larger. You might need to insert connection pegs, pass cables through a wall, insert a chair leg into the base of the chair, or anything in between.

Of course, you are not the first person to have this issue, so yes, there are some pretty good solutions. What we’re here to do today is to talk about exactly how you can enlarge an existing hole in wood. What’s really great about this issue is that there are a whole lot of different solutions that you can go with.

When you have so much choice at your disposal, it definitely helps make life a bit easier.

Can You Enlarge a Hole in Wood?

If you can cut into wood and drill into the wood then it is only natural that you can also enlarge such a hole. There is absolutely no reason why you cannot enlarge an existing hole in a piece of wood, and in fact, as you are about to see below, there are at least six different ways of doing so, if not more.

6 Ways to Enlarge an Existing Hole in Wood

Now that we know that it is indeed possible to enlarge an existing hole in a piece of wood, let’s figure out exactly how to do it. As you can see from below, there are six different methods that we would like to discuss today, which is nice for you because you have a whole lot of choices at your disposal.

You can use one of the power tools or accessories that we discussed below to help make life a bit easier, or you could also go with a more manual and muscle-intensive method.

1. Hole Saw

Hole Saw for Enlarging Holes in Wood Perhaps one of the best ways of enlarging an existing hole is by using a hole saw. Technically speaking, a hole saw is actually just a very large bit that fits onto the front of your power drill, one designed to drill holes. Now, using a hole saw to enlarge a hole can be a challenge because there is nothing for the pilot bit to hold onto.

Therefore, you need to make a plug out of wood, one that is the same size as the existing hole, and then fit this over the pilot bit, right into where the guide of the hole saw bit is. Once you have created and fitted this rig, you can then use the drill and hole saw attachment to enlarge any existing hole. For an alternative approach, see how to use a hole saw without a pilot bit.

Just remember that the diameter of the hole saw bit should match the required diameter for your final application.

2. Jigsaw

Jigsaw If you have a jigsaw at your disposal and you have the ability to perform precise work, then this is always another option that you have at your disposal. First and foremost, you want to draw a circle where the enlarged hole should be.

All you then have to do is to turn the jigsaw on, insert it into the existing hole, and then cut out to the edge of the new hole that you wish to cut. When doing this, just make sure that you use a very fine and narrow jigsaw blade so you don’t end up cutting away too much of the material.

Once you reach the edge of the new hole you want to cut, simply cut along its diameter until the piece has been cut away. Just remember that jigsaws work very quickly, and you can only cut once, so you will need to be precise and exact when performing this task.

For more details on how to use a jigsaw, see this article.

3. File and Sandpaper

Enlarging Holes in Wood with a File If you don’t want to use any power tools at all, or you just don’t want to spend any more money, then something else you can try doing is using either a file or sandpaper. Both of these manual methods work just fine, but that said, they do of course require a good deal of muscle and time.

When it comes down to it, using a file is probably quicker than using sandpaper, but this of course means that you need to have a file handy.

If you don’t have a file handy, then your other option here is to wrap some coarse grit sandpaper around a wooden dowel that is smaller than the existing hole. You can then use that sandpaper-covered dowel to sand away the extra material until the hole reaches the size that you wish it could be.

4. Jab Saw

Jab Saw A jab saw may also be referred to as a drywall saw, an alligator saw, a pad saw, or a keyhole saw. The defining feature of a jab saw is that it makes cuts on both stroke directions. Now, in terms of enlarging a hole using a jab saw, the process is more or less the same as using a jigsaw.

All you have to do is to insert the saw blade through the existing hole, cut out to the outer edge of the new hole, and then cut out the diameter of that hole. This is perhaps one of the easiest ways of accomplishing this task, although it does of course also mean that you need to have a jab saw on hand.

5. Rotary Tool

Rotary Tool for Enlarging Holes Another very easy way of enlarging an existing hole in wood is by using a rotary tool or a Dremel. This is probably one of the easiest ways to enlarge an existing hole. All you have to do is to fit a coarse grinding this onto your rotary tool and then get to grinding away the whole until you have removed as much material as necessary.

In terms of both speed and precision, this is by far one of the best methods at your disposal.

6. Tapered Reamer

Tapered Reamer A tapered reamer is a special tool designed to remove burrs from metal holes, as well as to enlarge existing holes in a variety of materials. This is a manual tool made out of metal that you insert into the hole and then twist until as much material has been removed as is needed.

With that being said, do keep in mind that a tapered reamer will create a tapered hole, not a straight hole.

Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks

Finally, here are some additional tips to make the process smoother:

  • Although this is an old saying, it definitely holds true. Always measure twice and cut once.
  • When using any sort of power tool, always make sure to wear the appropriate eye and ear protection.
  • If you are going to use a file or sandpaper, make sure that the grit is very coarse or else it is going to take you forever to accomplish this task.
  • If you are going to use a hole saw to enlarge the existing hole, make sure that you make a plug for the pilot bit or else your whole will not end up being straight or on point.


There you have it folks, everything you need to know about how to enlarge an existing hole in wood using a variety of methods. You should definitely be able to find at least one method that works for you.