How to Make a Hole Bigger Without a Drill (5-Step Guide)


If you don’t have access to a power drill and you need to make a hole bigger, the good news is that there are several options available to you.

There are three types of tools that can be used to make a hole bigger without using a drill. To make a hole bigger, mark the size of the hole first with a pencil, and then use either sandpaper and a dowel, a hand file, or jab saw to enlarge the hole. Once you’ve finished, wipe away any dust.

Here is a list of the tools you need, along with a five-step guide on how to successfully enlarge a hole without using a drill.

1. Buy the necessary tools

If you need to make a hole bigger but don’t have a drill then you have three options available. The first thing you need to do is buy the tools that you’re going to need for the job.

If you’re able to, it’s a good idea to buy all three tools and return the items that you don’t use. Check with the store vendor on their return policy before making your purchase.

Sandpaper and dowel

The first option that you have available is to use sandpaper and a dowel. It’s not particularly difficult to make a hole bigger with these tools, but it can be time-consuming, so you need to have plenty of patience.

You will need some coarse sandpaper and a dowel that will fit into your existing hole with the sandpaper wrapped around it. The dowel needs to be of a sufficient length that you can hold onto it while sanding the hole with it.

A good trick to ensure you get the correct size of dowel is to measure the diameter of your hole and then purchase a dowel that is slightly smaller than the hole.

It’s important that you always get sandpaper and not a block. If you get a bigger sheet, then you can easily cut it to the size that you need. You should also make sure that you use the correct type of sandpaper for the job as it will make it much easier and quicker.

Coarse sandpaper is anything under #100, but look for #80 grit as it’s the best type to use. 3M is a top brand of sandpaper, and I recommend that you buy this #80 grit sandpaper in a 5-packOpens in a new tab. from Amazon, sized 9″ x 11″ (22cm x 27cm).

Hand rasp or file

As it can be quite time-consuming using sandpaper and a dowel to make a hole bigger, you can try using a hand file or rasp. These are used for several different materials, such as wood, PVC, metal, and tile, etc., so are a handy tool to have around for any other job you might decide to undertake.

There are several different types available, but for this job, you’ll need either a full circle file or one that is curved. I recommend that you purchase this mini file setOpens in a new tab., which is available as a multi-pack on Amazon.

Jab saw

A jab saw has teeth on it that go in two different directions and is often used for cutting drywall. A jab saw is more suitable for bigger holes, and this method takes the most effort. As the end of the blade is tapered, you can also use it on smaller holes, but it will be more difficult than in a bigger hole.

I recommend this particular jab sawOpens in a new tab., which is available on Amazon. It’s a great tool to buy as it is suitable for pretty much any sawing requirement you would have. A handy feature of it is that it folds away which makes storage safer, and it is just as strong as any saw that has a fixed blade.

Always remember to have some safety gloves available for when you are using a jab saw as it is extremely sharp.

2. Set up your work area

It’s always a good idea to set up your work area before you start working as there is guaranteed to be some mess created no matter which method you use, so you will need a few extra things.

  • Rag, sheet, or towel: Place underneath the area you are working to minimize any mess and make the clean-up easier.
  • Pencil: it’s helpful to draw where you plan to enlarge the hole so that you don’t end up making it too big.
  • Vacuum cleaner: to remove any wood shavings or dust that misses the dust sheet.
  • Tool of your choice: the required tools for whichever method you have chosen to use.
  • Protective equipment: gloves and safety goggles are a must.

3. Draw your new hole

It’s important to draw the new hole so that you don’t accidentally make it too big when you’re working on enlarging it. Your circle needs to be as accurate as possible, so it’s a good idea to use the item that you are going to insert into the hole as a template to draw around to make sure you get the exact right size and shape.

If you don’t have it to hand, then find something else that is the right size to use instead.

4. Make your hole

You’re now ready to enlarge your hole using the method you have chosen. Here is a guide for each of the three tools.

How to use sandpaper and a dowel

If you’re using this method, then the first thing to do is to secure the sandpaper to the dowel using either a staple gun, tape, or a rubber band. You need to make sure that it is fastened securely enough that it won’t just slide straight off as soon as you begin to use it in the hole.

Once you’ve done that, then you can begin. You should sand up and down until the hole is the required size as per the circle that you have drawn. Although it is time-consuming, it is the cheapest method to use.

How to use a hand rasp or file

If this is your chosen method, then you are good to go straight away as there is no further preparation needed. All you need to do is insert the rasp in the hole as far as you can and begin to enlarge the hole with it.

With this method, the more effort you put in, the quicker the hole will reach your desired size. Just make sure that you file the hole evenly so that it makes a neat circle.

How to use a jab saw

Before starting, you need to put on your safety gloves. This method isn’t quite as easy as the other two as a jab saw cuts into the wood, and with this method the jab saw will cut away pieces of wood and your hole can often look quite ragged as the wood will look as though it has been chopped. Therefore, it’s a good idea to smooth out the sides of your hole with some sandpaper once you’ve made it the size you require.

5. Clean up any mess

Finally, all you need to do now is tidy up any mess that you have created. Roll up the sheet or towel so that the dust or wood filings remain trapped inside and either shake it outside (so long as the debris in it is biodegradable) or over the trash. Now you can vacuum up any remaining mess and put your tools away in a safe place.

Thanks for reading!

Graham Walsh

I want to share everything I know about power tools in order to help you. Whether you're a home enthusiast or an industry professional, I have the information that you need.

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