I love tools. Big tools, small tools, power tools, hand tools, you name it—but I didn’t realize I had such an obsession with tools until I started receiving them in the mail to review. It brought me right back to my childhood…opening Christmas presents and the anticipation of tearing through the wrapping not knowing what was inside. However, when I received the Lenox 17 Piece Plumbers Hole Saw Kit in the mail, my heart kind of sank into my stomach like it does when you open a Christmas sweater from grandma. Where’s the toys? Where’s the power tools? Where’s the fun stuff? The reason I felt this way is because of my past experience with hole saws. As I said earlier, I love tools, but I do have a few on my list that I could live without. It’s not because of the job that requires them, but because of poor design and functionality. When I saw the 17 piece Plumber’s Hole Saw Kit by Lenox, I immediately had flashbacks of the last job I did where I had to cut a 2-¼” hole through an MDF cabinet for a kitchen drain line. I distinctly remember trying to attach the arbor and forgetting to grab an extra pair of pliers to lock it in. I remember the smell of smoke coming from the wood as I said to myself, “Surely I’m almost through, just 10 more seconds…just 30 more seconds…just…oh forget it, I’m gonna use a hammer to get the rest out!”
Once the hole is finally cut, then the fun really begins. It takes me twice as long to get the plug out as it did to cut the hole in the first place. Is this sounding familiar to you? Have you ever left the scrap of wood in the bit, hoping that someone else uses it and removes it before you need it again? I wish I were joking as I write this, but everyone I talk to seems to have a similar experience with traditional hole saws.
Luckily for Lenox, I’m a big fan of their tools and was hopeful to build some new memories. Before I even opened the box, I noticed a new feature on the packaging they were highlighting called the “Speed Slot.” Each bit has 3 leverage points for your screwdriver, with notched out steps to help remove the plug of wood. I still wasn’t impressed—especially after seeing the price tag on this kit. I’ve seen notches before, but I’ve never gotten the plug out in one piece—ever. I always seem to be digging the wood out one little splinter at a time. I know it says “17 piece kit” on the outside, but I was really surprised how many tools were in the case when I opened it up. It’s important to note that there are not 17 hole saws, but 12 hole saws ranging from ¾” up to 4-½”. To get to 17, they also include two arbors and three pilot bits. Lenox managed to fit them comfortably into the same size as the 10 piece kits by placing some of the bits on top of each other. I tend to be a stickler for tool cases, especially when they are poorly designed or too small, but I think this was a good choice on their end to keep the size down. I did cut my finger the first time I tried to get the 4” bit out, so you need to be careful when removing the bits which are stacked on top of each other.
I also noticed right away that this Lenox 17 Piece Plumbers Hole Saw Kit comes with the “quick change” arbors. If you haven’t used these before, then let me tell you they are a snap to use…literally. Instead of tightening down the saw bits on threads with pliers, they have a sliding arbor that lifts and turns into place, locking the bit with two pins and—best of all—no tools. The 3 smallest bits use a similar design that catches two flattened grooves instead of the 2 pins. Because Lenox used an arbor that relies on the pins to drive the bit rather than the threads, you no longer need to worry about stripping them. Already, I’m getting excited about testing these out—and for me, that’s saying a lot. The first hole we cut was a standard 2-¼” hole, typically used for running 1-½ ” ABS pipe for a sink drain. A lot of times, especially in new construction, you need to cut through several 2×4’s in a row to run a length of pipe. The key to a frustration-free job is keeping your blade from overheating (which causes it to dull faster) and keeping it unclogged (which I complained about extensively earlier). I can’t say I was too surprised at how quickly the 2-¼” bit made it through the first 2×4. If you’ve used Lenox blades before, then you know they make good quality tools. The bit performed as well as I had expected and made it through the 2×4 in approximately 15 seconds.
I also noticed that I didn’t see the usual smoke plume I’m accustomed to with my other kits. Could it be because it’s a brand new blade, or that this company has figured out something in their design others haven’t? According to Lenox, the reason they are able to cut twice as fast and last twice as long is because they used an “enhanced tooth geometry” (whatever that means) and a thin kerf design. Thin kerf blades tend to really maximize the power of the associated tool, mostly because they have less material to remove throughout the duration of the cut.
When it came time to remove the plug, I was waiting to criticize the speed slot and lump this tool in with the other failed design attempts. Even though the saw is supposed to be 10% taller to help eject the plug, I was not able to use the first step because the plug was all the way at the bottom of the bit. But, Lenox was smart enough to add some holes to the underside of the blade in case this happened so that you can push from the bottom to get it started. I used a screwdriver to get the plug up higher so I could test the speed slots.
And then it happened…something I’ve never seen before…something I heard about in legends, but never saw with my own eyes. I turned the bit upside down to begin, and the 2×4 plug slid right out without even using the screwdriver! The thin kerf design seems to allow the expansion of the metal to aid in plug removal in a way that isn’t possible on thicker designs. I’ve used this kit on 3 jobs and haven’t needed to use the speed slots once. I literally turn the blade upside down and the plug slides right out. No hassle, no wasted time, no splinters and no problems.