3 Tips for Better Hole Cutting

3 Tips for Better Hole Cutting

Hole cutters are handy tools that help you punch a hole in canvas or sailcloth to install grommets or fasteners. There is a knack to cutting a clean hole and often new canvas workers struggle to use their hole cutters effectively. If you’re having a hard time, don’t worry—it’s common. You can easily master the technique and if you set up your cutting area right, you’ll be cutting like a pro in no time. Here are our three tips for better, cleaner hole cutting.

1. Always use a cutting block.

To protect both your hole cutter and your work surface, always have a proper cutting block underneath the fabric you are cutting. We have two cutting block options, one is made from a reinforced plastic and the other is rubber. However, if you will be using the Common Sense or the Lift the Dot hole cutter, you should use the Rubber Cutting Block, as it is better suited to those more intricate cutters. Never use a rotary cutting mat with hole cutters. It is not thick enough to withstand the force of the cutting tool.

2. Use a mallet, not a hammer.

A mallet sends the most even force to the cutting tool and will cut the hole in as little as one strike. Our favorite mallet for this application is the Barry King Hammer Style Mallet. It works great, looks really nice and was designed by a professional leather and metal worker. If you already have upholstery tools on hand, a Rawhide Upholstery Mallet will also work with your hole cutter.

Here’s a quick video that shows the difference between using a mallet and a hammer.

3. Cut on a solid, steady surface.

When you go to cut your hole, be sure that your cutting block and fabric assembly are sitting on a solid, sturdy surface. If you hit the hole cutter and your table shakes, vibrates or bounces, chances are you didn’t cut the hole in the fabric either. You need all of the force from the blow of your mallet to be focused on the cutter, not dispersed across the tabletop. If you don’t have a table that is sturdy enough, a concrete floor is a great alternative.

We hope these tricks help you to cut holes for grommets and fasteners more easily. If your hole cutter starts to get dull, check out our post about sharpening your hole cutter (it can be done!).


You can find hole cutters in various sizes as well as all the necessary accessories at Sailrite.com.

Have you ever had troubles with hole cutters? Do you have any other tips to share? Share your experiences and ideas with other readers in our comment section below.

2 comments
  1. Robert L. Chayer said:

    I use a smooth wood block, keep the hole cutter sharp with a whet stone, and twist the cutter back and forth making a clean hole through the fabric. This way the cutter does become deformed and stays sharp longer.

  2. Mary Logan said:

    I use a piece of 1/8″ thick leather on a wood block…use a mallet, make sure the cutting tool is sharp.

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