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I'd like to vent my range hood out through an exterior brick wall. How would I go about making a 6 inch hole for the vent?

  • I'd guess I'd use a masonry chisel to chip out the mortar and then pull out a couple bricks on the interior and exterior layers of the wall. Is this the best tool/approach to use?
  • Do I need to be concerned about the load of the bricks above the hole?
  • How would I make the hole round rather than square?
  • Any other considerations?
  • Thanks, all. I decided to use a rectangular exhaust vent. About 3x10". Hopefully that will make it easier to make a hole with similar dimensions by removing bricks. – jlpp May 15 '11 at 13:27
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It is entirely possible to construct a 6 inch hole in brickwork. The problem with a round hole rather than a square hole is where the hole cuts across joints in the masonry leaving small triangular pieces of masonry over the hole. These tend to be fairly week so are best avoided. You would therefore have to position the circular hole carefully so that is best placed not to leave small or week sections of masonry. As mentioned in other answers to get a good hole, a diamond or similar circular hole saw is the best way but at this diameter you made need a large pillar drill rig to use the hole saw and this may need to be bolted to the wall prior to making the cut.

If you can fill it a square hole then may be better. Given the diameter of the hole you are suggesting you shouldn't have any structural problems as long as you aren't right next to openings or corners in the wall. The key is to make sure that the hole doesn't leave a whole brick unsupported from below when you make the hole and with a 6" diameter this shouldn't be a problem unless your bricks are very small. The neatest way of doing this is to cut out the edges of your hole with something like a disk cutter and then use an impact hammer to chisel out the brickwork in the centre. This should leave a very neat cut.

  • Thanks, Ian. How far from the corner do you think the hole needs to be? – jlpp May 14 '11 at 12:32
  • As a rough rule of thumb I'd say 3 times hole diameter or a couple of courses of bricks away from the corner, whichever is bigger. – Ian Turner May 14 '11 at 15:05
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If you only have to cut through one course of brick, the easiest way would be to go to your local rental center, rent a powerful/professional rotary/impact drill. Some may come with hole saws, but you can buy one at a HI store for around $30. This will make a clean hole for your vent.

  • It doesn't look like HD and Lowes carry masonry hole saws. I'm in a city so there may be some specialty tool stores but I don't really know what to search for. What kind of tool stores might have larger hole saws (e.g. lumber, plumbing, electrical, etc)? Thanks, Shirlock. – jlpp May 14 '11 at 12:49
  • actually both lowes and HD do sell masonary hole saws, at least they do in my area, have bought them there, also HD has a rental dept here. I'm sure your local tool rental store will have them or be able to tell you where to find them. Look for brand names like Greenlee, Rigid, Irving, DeWalt Lennex, Kline, Milwalkee – shirlock homes May 14 '11 at 13:13
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    should have mentioned, be absolutely sure the hole size is large enough for your vent pipe. Sounds obvious, but beware. Rather be 1/2 inch large then 1/8 inch small. – shirlock homes May 14 '11 at 13:15
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I think 6" masonry hole saw bit and a strong drill would be the ticket--but those bits are expensive.

  • Do you know whether 6" masonry hole saw bits are generally available at local stores? I'm having trouble finding one. Thanks. – jlpp May 14 '11 at 12:50
  • The drill is known as a Rotary Hammer Drill and the bits are labelled as SDS – Steven Jan 1 '12 at 22:37
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A standard SDS drill would not be strong enough. I seriously doubt there is any such thing as a 6" SDS bit. This is -at minimum- a job for an SDS-max or spline drill. Those bits are several hundreds of dollars; this is an inexpensive one

I have also seen hole saws designs for a 7.5" or 9" grinder...

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I just made exactly this type of hole: 6⅜" through 13" of solid brick wall. I used a Milwaukee M18 fuel drill and a Milwaukee recessed light hole saw with the grit vs. teeth. I used a 12V Milwaukee palm nailer with a ⅜ inch drill bit as a mini jack hammer for busting out the brick pieces and a simple chisel and hammer. It took about 2 hours.

You can get concrete boring bits for about $90 in 6" size but if your brick is soft enough the ceiling can saw will work fine.

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