I need to cut one 6" hole for a can light into a plaster ceiling and don't want to spend the money on a hole saw. What are my best options?

  • lot of dremel bits will work to "cut" drywall. i think they even make a specific drywall bit. You can use the bit in a non-dremel drill, it's just a bit slower. a rat-tail file can also work in a pinch.
    – dandavis
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 4:33
  • 1
    I would really "not" recommend a spiral saw (dremel) for this. Its actually more work and (a lot) more mess compared to a simple hand saw.
    – agentp
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 14:41

2 Answers 2


Your best option is a jab saw and a steady hand. jab saw

If your question is how to do it while spending no money the answer is substituting the saw blade in a multi-tool or Swiss Army Knife. Failing that, scoring the plaster with a utility or X-acto and carefully breaking it out.

  • Draw a circle, punch the saw through and follow the line, should take about a minute , ok for a novice DIY, maybe 3 minutes.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 6:06
  • 1
    Note: Most cans come with a template. Note, note: Be aware of the location of your ceiling joists. Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 13:37
  • Is a jab saw the same as a drywall saw? Or is a jab saw stronger to punch through the plaster?
    – junta
    Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 1:21
  • Same thing. You can jab through most plasters, some exotic ones you may need to drill a hole for the saw. Commented Jan 28, 2018 at 7:59

Although it's not the cheapest option, it's only $20. A jab saw may be half the price but with this drill bit you will make a precise circular cut. AND it's adjustable and allows you to cut anywhere from 1-3/4 to 7-7/8" circular holes. So it gives you a lot of versatility.

This one is on amazon but you can buy it online through the Home Depot website:

Heavy Duty Circle Cutter

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I'm glad you started this thread because I am going to buy one for myself.

  • This type of tool should never be used in a hand drill, only in a drill press and only with the work piece securely clamped. This caution will be printed on the package.
    – fred_dot_u
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 10:37
  • 1
    ^^^ this... if you're not experienced, you run the risk of making a mess of the plaster when this cutter catches and twists away while you're atop a ladder. Strongly recommend a jab saw. Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 16:20
  • also, if not properly secured, the cutter can fly off. seen it happen. Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 20:29

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