What Is A Keyhole Saw Used For?

A keyhole saw or compass saw, is a handheld, thin-bladed saw. The blade tapers to a thin point from a single wooden or plastic handle to its point. There are so many helpful options when it comes to saws for your project. Each tool has a specific purpose and function that separates it from the others. I’ve researched through the internet and put together a quick summary on the keyhole saw.

What is a keyhole saw used for? The keyhole saw is a specialty saw used for cutting tight spaces and for making internal cuts. It’s primarily used is piercing material, cutting small shapes, cutting mortises, cutting drywall, make rough incisions, cutout holes for switch boxes, pipes, small openings, cutting squares and cutting handles.

Keep reading below to learn more about the Keyhole saw and what it can be used for.

Why Use A Keyhole Saw?

Power tools help do the work of cutting, drilling, and sanding. These near-magical inventions really shine in the workshop, but are they the right tool for every job?

 As we’ve discussed in other articles, woodworking is often about choosing the correct tool for each job. Power tools make things a lot easier in most instances, but there are times where handtools are best. This is especially true when working with softer woods.

Most often, the best tool for cutting holes in softer woods or even drywall is a keyhole saw.

What Is A Keyhole Saw?

A keyhole saw or, compass saw, is a handheld, thin-bladed saw. The blade tapers to a thin point from a single wooden or plastic handle to its point. The keyhole saw typically has a fixed blade that is anywhere from five to fifteen inches in length but can also have a retractable-blade. The facility to retract the blade often serves to limit the flexibility of the blade for tighter jobs and is fixed in place with one or two thumbscrews.   

Much like other handheld saws, the keyhole saw’s blade is typically replaceable.

How To Use A Keyhole Saw?

When cutting a square or rectangular hole in a piece of wood, you will first draw your template on the surface that you’re cutting. Next, you need to bore or drill starter holes in the wood so that you can get your blade into position. Without drilling the starter holes, your saw blade will not be able to reach the interior angle that you require. You may also open your holes and solidify the edge with a hammer chisel. Widening the holes may help make your work with saw go faster, but it is not necessary.

Once the holes are established, and your saw has a point of entry, insert the thin tip of the blade into the hole and begin sawing along the pre-drawn lines. Use a shorter blade when necessary. Be careful not to apply excess pressure while cutting, or the blade may become lodged or stuck in the wood. Before cutting, please make sure that your blade is firmly attached to the handle so that it does not come off during cutting.   

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Keyhole Saws Work Best With The Following Materials:

  • Softer Woods- The keyhole saw is ideal for making cutouts in smaller wood such as pine, fur, or spruce. This is a great hand tool for any small craft projects.
  • Drywall- The keyhole saw is crucial for making cuts in drywall, especially when cutting holes for switches or outlets. A shorter blade is best for these jobs. There are pocket knife sized versions that easily fit into a tool belt.
  • Carpet- When installing carpet, there are often times when you’ll have to make cuts to accommodate corners or even floor outlets. In these instances, a small keyhole saw is perfect for any on the spot alterations that need to be made.
  •  Rubber- A keyhole saw is useful when working hard rubbers when installing a seal on a door or box lid. Using your keyhole saw, you can easily make adjustments on the fly to make a precut piece fit better, or make initial cuts for the project.  
  • Plastics- While less common, the keyhole saw can also be used to make cuts in hard plastics. The process is similar to how you would make cuts in wood, and the finished product is much the same.  
  • Other Hard But Thin Materials

Why Is It Called A Keyhole Saw?

This handsaw got the name because of the smaller size of the long blade similar to the small size of a keyhole and is best for precision cutting.  You can insert the small thin blade into small holes similar to inserting a key to precising cut your design.

The keyhole saw is a handheld, single-handled blade that is used for cutting holes into softwoods and other building materials. It should not be used for cutting hardwoods, particleboard, or specialized drywalls used for soundproofing, which may contain concrete.

Reminder, a keyhole saw, is a tool with a specific purpose and is not meant to be used for large jobs. Take your time in setting up the starter holes for your projects and do not attempt to force the blade to move faster than is natural, or it may become stuck.

Sawing a Mortise With A Keyhole Saw


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How To Maintain A Keyhole Saw

To maintain a keyhole saw you start by ensuring the teeth are all pointing in the same direction. Next, you use a file to sharpen the teeth on the blade. Finally, you oil the blade to prevent rusting.

When using a keyhole saw, it is important to make sure that the blade is perpendicular to the surface that you’re cutting. If it’s not, the blade will bind in the cut and can break.

It’s also important to use a gentle back and forth motion when cutting, as pressing too hard can damage both the blade and the surface you’re cutting.

With proper care and maintenance, a keyhole saw can last for many years. By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your keyhole saw will be around for a long time to come.

Electric Keyhole Saw

An Electric Keyhole saw is a small, handheld power tool that is used for making precise, clean cuts in wood. Electric Keyhole saws are often used by carpenters and other tradesmen to cut doorways, windows, and other openings in walls and ceilings.

The blade of an Electric Keyhole saw is very thin and sharp, which allows it to make precise, clean cuts in wood. However, the blade is also very fragile and can easily break if it hits a hard object.

Electric Keyhole saws are usually powered by batteries, so they are very portable and can be used in any location.

Some of the advantages of using an Electric Keyhole Saw include:

-They are very precise and can make clean cuts in wood.

-They are lightweight and portable, so they can be used in any location.

-They are relatively inexpensive.

Some of the disadvantages of using an Electric Keyhole Saw include:

-The blade is very fragile and can break easily.

-They can be difficult to control, so they are not suitable for all types of cuts.

-They are not as powerful as some other types of saws, so they may not be able to cut through very thick pieces of wood.

If you need to make a precise, clean cut in wood, then an Electric Keyhole Saw is a good option. However, if you are looking for a more powerful saw that can handle thicker pieces of wood, then you may want to consider a different type of saw.

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How Do Keyhole And Compass Saws Differ?

The difference between the two saws is the size of their blades. Keyhole saws have very small, delicate blades while compass saws have much larger, sturdier blades. Keyhole saws are used for making precise cuts in small areas while compass saws are better suited for large, rough cuts.

Another difference between the two types of saws is the way they are held. Keyhole saws are typically held with two hands, one on the handle and one on the blade. Compass saws, on the other hand, are only held with one hand on the handle as they have a large, circular blade that protrudes from the side of the saw. This makes compass saws more difficult to control than keyhole saws.

Keyhole saws are also known as jeweler’s saws or watchmaker’s saws. They are used for cutting small, intricate shapes in wood, metal, or other materials. Keyhole saws have very thin blades that can make precise, clean cuts. The blades of keyhole saws are also replaceable, which is a big advantage over other types of saws.

Compass saws, on the other hand, are much larger and more powerful than keyhole saws. They are used for cutting large pieces of wood or metal. Compass saws have a large, circular blade that protrudes from the side of the saw. This makes them more difficult to control than keyhole saws, but they can make much larger and rougher cuts.

How Should You Start A Cut With A Keyhole Saw?

Start the cut with the Keyhole saw by first drilling a pilot hole. After the pilot hole is drilled, insert the Keyhole saw into the pilot hole and begin slowly cutting through the material.

Be sure to use gentle back and forth motions while cutting to avoid damaging the Keyhole saw blade. If you are having difficulty starting the cut, try using a larger drill bit to create the pilot hole.

Keyhole saws are great for making precise, clean cuts in a variety of materials such as wood, drywall, and plastic. With the right technique, you can use a Keyhole saw to make professional-looking cuts in your projects.

Can I Use A Keyhole Saw On Wood?

Yes, you can use a keyhole saw on wood. Keyhole saws are great for making precise, clean cuts in wood. Keyhole saws have sharp teeth that make them ideal for cutting through tough materials like wood. Keyhole saws are also relatively small and compact, making them easy to maneuver and control.

When cutting with a keyhole saw, it is important to use a light touch. Keyhole saws are designed to cut through materials quickly and easily, but if you apply too much pressure, the teeth can get bogged down and the blade can break.

When cutting wood with a keyhole saw, make sure to use a sharp blade and take your time. With a little practice, you’ll be able to make clean, precise cuts with your keyhole saw.

Can A Keyhole Saw Cut Metal?

Yes, a keyhole saw can cut metal. Keyhole saws are great for cutting through thin pieces of metal, like sheet metal or flashing.

They can also be used to cut thicker metals, like pipes or rebar, but it will take more time and effort. If you’re planning on cutting through thick metal, it’s best to use a different type of saw, like a circular saw. Keyhole saws are also good for cutting through drywall and plaster.

Keyhole Saw For Metal

The best keyhole saw for cutting metal is a high-carbon steel keyhole saw. This type of keyhole saw is able to withstand the high temperatures generated when cutting through metal. Keyhole saws are also available in stainless steel, but these are not as effective at cutting through metal.

When choosing a keyhole saw, it is important to select one that has a comfortable handle. The handle should be large enough to allow for a good grip, but not so large that it is uncomfortable to use. Keyhole saws are also available with a variety of blade sizes. It is important to select a blade size that is appropriate for the thickness of metal being cut.

Most keyhole saws have a pointed tip that can be used to start a cut. However, some keyhole saws have a blunt tip that is better suited for cutting through thicker metal. Keyhole saws are also available with different teeth configurations. The most common types of keyhole saws have either straight or curved teeth.

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Will A Keyhole Saw Cut Drywall?

Yes, a keyhole saw can be used to cut drywall. The blade on a keyhole saw is very sharp and can easily cut through drywall.

If you are cutting drywall, it is important to use a straight edge to guide the keyhole saw. This will help you make straight cuts. You can use a tape measure or a level to help you make straight cuts.

When cutting drywall, you will want to wear gloves and a dust mask. This will protect your hands and lungs from the dust that is created when cutting drywall.

If you are looking for a keyhole saw, you can find them at most hardware stores. You can also find them online. Keyhole saws come in different sizes, so it is important to choose the right size for your project.

Drywall Keyhole Saw

The best keyhole saw for cutting drywall is a fine-toothed, sharp blade. Keyhole saws have many different uses and can be very useful when installed properly.

Kevin Nelson

I will always have a special place in my heart for woodworking. I have such fond memories working on projects with my parents on the weekends in the garage growing up. We built tables, shelves, a backyard shed, 10' base for a water slide into the pool, 2 story fort playhouse with a fire pole, and so much more. This woodworking blog allows me to write helpful articles so others can enjoy woodworking as much as we have.

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