Hole saws are one of my favorite tool accessories to hate. They’re slow, cumbersome, and the cores are simply a pain in the butt to get out. They chew up batteries on my cordless drills faster than I can recharge them. Spyder came out with their Rapid Core Eject Hole Saw System that we reviewed a couple of months ago. The innovation that they brought to these accessories was a breath of fresh air. A whole new system of hole saw installation and core removal brought life back into the hole saw market.
Now we get to take a look at the Diablo Snap Lock Hole Saw System. This also has some fresh innovation and promises greater cutting depth, faster cuts with less vibration, tool free core ejection, fast hole saw changes, and of course, technology adding to Diablo’s well known increased lifespan. Diablo has taken their innovation in a slightly different direction than Spyder did. However, with Diablo not used to coming in second place to anyone in performance, I’m pretty excited to see what this system has to offer.
Getting to Know the Diablo Snap Lock Hole Saw System
Diablo Bi-Metal Hole Saws
Diablo did some outside the box thinking when they developed their new hole saw lineup. The first thing that you’ll notice when you pick up one of the Diablo Snap Lock Hole Saws is the length. These saws are 60 mm (2.36 inches) compared to the 40 mm standard of others. This length should be enough to cut through 2x material that’s already fastened to sheet material without having to switch sides to complete the cut.
Variable tooth geometry is one of Diablo’s specialties. I love the fact that the engineers aren’t just playing with material, but also the angle of the teeth and the combination of angles that can lead to faster cutting and reduced vibration. These HSS (High Speed Steel) bi-metal blades come in diameters of 5/8″ to 6″ and are rated to cut through a variety of materials:
- Wood: Max 2400 RPM
- Aluminum: Max 345 RPM
- General Metals: Max 230 RPM
- Stainless Steel: Max RPM 115
You’ll also notice that the slots on the Diablo Snap Lock Hole Saws are much more prominent than others. This should result in better cooling, aid in dust removal, and help get out a jammed core. While I don’t think you’ll run into the issue often, it is possible for the core to swell inside the hole saw if you’re cutting wet lumber and the saw gets hot enough to make it expand.
Diablo Snap Lock Mandrel
The Diablo Snap Lock Mandrel is simply brilliant. The replaceable pilot bit is installed by pushing it into the arbor collet. This collet is designed exactly like an impact driver’s, so the bit locks into place. There’s no need to pull down on the mechanism to install it as some collets require. The same action is true for installing the hole saw. Just pull it down until the saw snaps into place. Just like your impact driver collet, you’ll remove the hole saw and/or replace the pilot bit by pulling down on the collet mechanism.
Diablo very thoughtfully includes a pair of hole saw adapters with the Snap Lock Mandrel. These come in 1/2″ and 3/8″ sizes and should allow you to use most other hole saws on the market if you wish. While I’d love to tell you that there’s really no reason for this, that wouldn’t exactly be accurate. More on that later though.
Aside from fast hole saw changes, the other purported advantage of the Diablo Snap Lock Mandrel is faster core ejection. Theoretically, you should be able to eject the saw, core and all, then use the pilot bit at an angle to poke the core out. We’ll absolutely be taking a closer look at that.
The Diablo Snap Lock Hole Saw System at Work
I love, love, LOVE installing hole saws on this system! Simply snap the required size onto to the mandrel and you’re ready to go. Every other hole saw that I have used requires you to screw it on the mandrel. Spyder’s system will lock it into place as it screws on, whereas other force you to secure it by tightening the saw down on both ends. The Diablo Snap Lock Hole Saw System gets a huge head start in time before you’ve even begun to drill. Likewise, changing hole saws is incredibly easy. I got may hands on 4 diameters of hole saw to test, and it take less than 10 seconds to rotate between all four sizes. Of course, this is with no core to remove, but it’s still crazy fast!
I decided to test the Diablo Snap Lock Hole Saw System against 2x pressure treated lumber fastened to a sheet of OSB. This is fairly typical application that can double cutting time thanks to the fact that most hole saws won’t make it through both pieces of wood. Diablo’s 60 mm height made it through both pieces with a little bit of room to spare.
What about the cutting speed? It was solid. In just cutting through the pressure treated lumber, it was slightly faster than other high performance hole saws that I’ve used. Of course, the real advantage came when I hit the sheet of OSB. Every other hole saw I have tested would have required me to stop, remove the core, and continue drilling. I did notice that the slots did a fantastic job of helping remove the saw dust created by the cutting process. I seemed to run cooler than at the start of the cut than others, but it definitely started smoking. I even had some pretty thorough burn marks on the OSB in one test.
Core removal became interesting. Spyder came out with their Core Eject System a few months back, and it worked pretty well for the most part. The Diablo Snap Lock Hole Saw System differs a bit. Spyder’s system allows you to pull the hole saw down, exposing the core. Then you simply pull the core off of the pilot bit. Diablo’s Snap Lock System instead has you separate the hole saw from the mandrel. From there, you are able to push up on the core with the pilot bit and pull it off with your hand. On paper, Spyder’s system seems a little cleaner. In reality, both methods are pretty close when it comes to how fast I could consistently remove the core. I’m not sure that I could definitively say that one is better than the other at this point.
Where things got interesting was that the retention bearing that holds the pilot bit in place failed on me. Since you need the bit to stay in place, having it easily be able to slide out during core removal is more than just a little inconvenient. I chatted with the folks from Freud about this and my experience was the first they’d heard of it. After receiving a pair of replacement mandrels, I tested the living daylights out of them and could not replicate the failure. I’m chalking that one up as an isolated incident.
The Last Word on the Diablo Snap Lock Hole Saw System
I was excited to see the additional hole saw adapter nuts that came with the mandrel. It meant that I could use my tungsten carbide tipped hole saws with Diablo’s mandrel that cut through wood at lightning speed. While it’s still a great idea, a word of caution. The torque that drilling with hole saws can deliver, especially with larger diameters, can get that nut very tight against the hole saw. I still haven’t worked it loose yet, though I am being somewhat gentle so as not to damage the hole saw cutting teeth.
Do they work the way that Diablo says they do? Sure looks like it to me. These have the absolute fastest installation and hole saw changes I’ve ever put my hands on. Core removal is a huge step ahead of having to pry from the side slots and is on par with Spyder. Cutting speed is right there with other high performance hole saws. The ability to cut through 2x material plus a piece of sheet material is a big win for Diablo. There’s also the fact that the Permashield allows it to cut that deep without binding up the drill.
This is absolutely a system that I would recommend for professionals. The only (and very slightest) bit of hesitation that I have is just to see if that retention bearing issue shows up again. I don’t think that it will, however, it would prudent to keep your eyes open to other user reviews. The Diablo Snap Lock Hole Saw System hasn’t found its way to stores just yet, but a handful of online retailers claim to have them in stock. As usual with Diablo products, there’s going to be a premium price attached. Online prices that I saw (which don’t always reflect what brick and mortar stores will sell them for) ranged from just under $6 for the 5/8″ to about $25 for the 6″ hole saws. Personally, I’d wait until they are more readily available before pulling the trigger and see where that price settles to.
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