Drill bits come in all shapes and sizes.
They drill through metal, wood, glass and tiles, so it is fair to say that the best drill bits are more than just accessories or attachments.
They are crucial to the success of your drilling project.
We look at 10 of the best drill bits to help you choose the right one for the proper application.
Are Drill Bits Interchangeable?
Yes, drill bits are interchangeable. It’s all thanks to the universal chuck. Most drills have a three-point chuck that accommodates drill bits with round and hexagonal shafts. It is the most common type of shaft in use.
However, some chucks are specialized and take drill bits with specific sizes and shapes. Impact wrenches and SDS chucks are an excellent example of a specialist non-universal system.
How to Choose the Best Drill Bits
As with all types of power tool attachments, different drill bits do different things. And the material you are working with also requires specific bits to get the task completed.
Drill Bit Material
Drill bits come in many different materials. Some are softer and are used to drill through lightweight projects, while others punch holes in the most robust surfaces.
High-carbon steel drill bits are the cheapest to purchase and gain their strength through the tempering process. However, they are prone to losing their cutting edge, especially in high temperatures. They have the shortest lifespan of all the types of drill bits and require frequent sharpening.
High-carbon drill bits cut wood and metal.
High-Speed Steel (HSS)
High-speed steel drill bits are hard-wearing and better suited to higher temperatures. It helps them to withstand the rigors of drilling as well as delaying the dulling process. They also operate at faster speeds.
High-speed steel drill bits cut through metal, hardwood and most other materials.
Cobalt alloy steel is a variation on the high-speed steel drill bit. They remain sharper for longer, resisting high temperatures and prolonged use thanks to the 8 percent cobalt in the material. However, cobalt steel is brittle, so it makes the bits prone to snapping.
Cobalt steel bits drill through stainless steel and other robust materials.
Carbide bits are extremely hard-wearing. They derive their strength from tungsten carbide tips that chew through almost anything. Reinforced concrete, steel, masonry, none are a match for this material.
Like cobalt bits, carbide-tipped attachments are also brittle and prone to snapping.
Diamond-coated drill bits are specialist tools designed to cut holes in brittle surfaces like glass and ceramics. They benefit from a coating of diamond grit that circles the cutting surface. Diamond bits have the highest resistance to heat, meaning that they are rarely ever dull. It makes them the most expensive option.
Drill Bit Coatings
Black oxide is an inexpensive coating that increases the lubricity of the drill bit and preserves it against corrosion. It also increases the heat resistance, which extends the practical usefulness of the cutting edge.
Black oxide is created by heating the bit to 950 degrees. These drill bits are suitable to cut metal, alloys, wood and composites.
Titanium Nitride (TiN)
This is a ceramic-based coating that increases the cutting life of a high-speed drill bit by three or four times. The cutting edge remains enhanced, even after sharpening.
Drill Point Angle
This drill bit point angle is more aggressive, with a smaller chisel. It is a standard for drilling into softer materials like wood and aluminum. You can measure the point angles between the two main cutting edges at the top of the bit.
This angle is less aggressive because it has more pitch, so it is a lot flatter, with a longer chisel. The self-centering aspect means it drills into harder material like stainless steel.
Drill Point Length
To calculate the drill point length, find the radius of the drill bit, then take the angle of the drill point and divide it by two. A standard drill point angle is 118 degrees or 135 degrees. Then, to find the calculation, divide the radius by the angle halved.
Flute designs vary on each drill bit. The flute is the long, deep groove that twists around the drill bit and allows the waste material an escape route out of the hole. Flutes vary in size and shape, as well as the number of flutes on an individual drill bit.
Without this means of escape, drilling the hole would take longer because you would have to stop and remove the waste matter out of the hole before recommencing.
Who Makes the Best Drill Bits?
There are many manufacturers of drill bits worldwide, but some brand names stand out above all the others.
DeWALT is an American institution when it comes to brand awareness. They are known across the world for quality. The company was started in 1923 by Raymond E. DeWalt when he invented the first radial arm saw to increase productivity at a sawmill (1).
It has since grown into one of the most internationally recognized tool brands in the world.
Robert Bosch founded the “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering” in Stuttgart in Germany in 1886. By 1901, Bosch moved into automotive supplies and developed a reputation for innovation (2).
It now has over 400,000 employees and has a revenue of approximately 78.5 billion euros, making it a global manufacturer.
Irwin Tools was formed in 1885 by Charles Irwin, in Martinsville, Ohio. They patented the first Auger drill bit, and the rest is history. Fast forward to 1993, and Irwin Tools was acquired by the American Tool Company (3).
Irwin is like royalty when it comes to making drill bits.
Founded in 1915, Makita started life as a motor sales and repair company dealing mainly in repairs and servicing. By 1958, Makita had invented the first electric planer and shifted its manufacturing focus to power tools (4).
Today, Makita is a worldwide brand, famed for quality and reliability.
The Best Drill Bits of 2020
With so many types of drill bits, trying to decide which is the best for your task is tricky. We narrowed down our choices and placed them in categories to make your search that little bit easier.
1. DeWALT Titanium 14-Piece Drill Bit Set
What can we say about DeWALT that hasn’t already been said? This American giant of power tools and accessories rightly appears on this list several times. These titanium-coated drill bits come in a set of 14 to cater to all your wood and metal drilling tasks.
These bits have a patented “Pilot Point” that bites into the stock the second the drill engages. It means you eliminate the need to drill pilot holes in more robust material and it reduces walking.
If you are the type of person who likes buying American products, think again with this all-American brand, because they are manufactured in China.
DeWALT has kept the price reasonable to appeal to the hobbyists among you as well as the professionals. Sizes range from 0.167 inches to 0.5 inches.
They also have a no-spin shank, which gives you added security when drilling challenging material. Coupled with the 2x extra life span that this bit set enjoys, and you get a versatile collection of bits that last the distance.
- 14-piece set.
- Broad size selection.
- Great price.
- Made in China.
|Pieces in set||14|
|Best for||Metal, wood|
2. Makita 5-Piece SDS-Plus Drill Bit Set
These are SDS drill bits, so they cater to rotary hammer drills with SDS chucks. These chucks are not universal, so be sure to check if your drill is compatible. The advantage of an SDS chuck is that there is no need to adjust the clamps like you would on a universal chuck.
Also, you don’t get any slippage. It grips for a reason; you use these drills and bits for punching holes in concrete. These bits are tough, with a tungsten carbide tip that gives you 3 to 4 times the drilling life, even when cutting through reinforced concrete.
It comes as a 5-piece set with sizes ranging from 0.188 inches up to 0.5 inches. These bits accommodate chucks up to 0.875 inches in size.
They also have a specially designed flute to allow for a higher amount of concrete to escape the hole. It means you get a better idea of size and depth, as well as a clearer sightline. It also stops the bit from binding and overheating.
- Specially designed flutes.
- 5-piece set.
- Tungsten carbide-tipped.
- SDS design.
- Only fits rotary hammer drills.
- Specialty use.
|Pieces in set||5|
3. DeWALT 21-Piece Titanium Drill Bit Set
If you are using a drill press, you want the versatility and choice of drill bits. This DeWALT titanium set is ideal because it comes in 21 pieces, catering to almost every size and use you could imagine. The sizes range from 0.167 inches to 0.5 inches, and they drill through both metal and wood.
The titanium coating gives these bits twice the lifespan of other products, and they will outlast black oxide drill bits easily. The only cloud on the horizon is that these bits come from China, which contrasts with the American branding and history.
The patented “Pilot Point” tip starts to cut the second it makes contact with the surface of your stock, which reduces walking and removes the need to predrill.
- “Pilot Point” tip.
- 21-piece set.
- Ideal for drill presses.
- Made in China.
|Pieces in set||21|
|Best for||Wood, metal, drill press|
4. Irwin Marples Forstner 8-Piece Wood Drilling set
Irwin patented the world’s first auger drill bit, so they should know a thing or two. This 8-piece wood bit set is constructed from high-quality carbon steel. The bits are the Forstner design, so they specialize in drilling flat-bottom and pocket holes.
The sizes range from 0.25 inches up to 1.38 inches. The shanks are narrow so they can fit chucks up to a maximum of 0.38 inches, and these bits feature optimum-sharpened edges to cut through hardwood and softwood.
The design and quality of these bits significantly reduce the cutting time compared to other traditional Forstner drill bits. This increases their cutting prowess and decreases the strain on their sharpness.
- Carbon steel.
- Forstner design.
- 8-piece set.
- Narrow shank.
- Specialty bits for wood only.
- Limited uses.
- Better for flat-bottom holes.
|Pieces in set||8|
|Best for||Hardwood, softwood|
5. DeWALT 7-Piece Masonry Drill Bit Set
This 7-piece set has a size range from 0.188 inches to 0.5 inches to cater to most drilling tasks. The three flat sides on the shank increase grip in the chuck and decrease slippage of the bit when engaged in the most challenging jobs.
The rock carbide tip ensures the bit resists heat and retains its supreme cutting edge. This drill bit set loves to chew through reinforced concrete and rocks, which is why we picked it as our best masonry drill bit set.
The specially designed flutes remove more waste material from the hole, which stops the bit from binding. It also reduces the chances of extreme heat build-up, which dulls the cutting surface of the bit.
- Manufactured in Germany.
- Rock carbide tip.
- 7-piece set.
- Reasonably priced.
- Specialist tool.
|Pieces in set||7|
|Material||Carbide -tipped steel|
|Best for||Masonry, concrete|
6. COMOWARE Cobalt 15-Piece Drill Bit Set
This Comoware 15-piece set was created to eat through hardened metal. This set is made from 5 percent cobalt steel alloy, making it heat resistant and durable. It slices through hard metals like stainless steel, cast iron, high-temperature alloys and even titanium alloy.
It comes in sizes ranging from 0.063 of an inch to 0.375 inches, so it caters to a wide variety of diameters. The tip is a 135-degree split point, which cuts through hard material and prevents the bit from walking.
The shanks are round to fit universal chucks, and the bit is coated in a gold-oxide finish to protect it from corrosion. It also benefits from two flutes that increase the debris removal from the drilled hole.
- 135-degree angle point.
- Gold-oxide coating.
- 5 percent cobalt steel.
- 15-piece set.
- Specialist metal bits only.
- Build quality issues.
|Pieces in set||15|
|Best for||Hard metal, titanium alloy|
7. Irwin 35-Piece Screw Extractor/Drill Bit Set
If you are looking for a drill bit set that caters to the automotive industry, look no further, This Irwin 35-piece set removes studs, bolts, socket screws and fittings thanks to the array of different bits.
You get easy-out flutes that drill into stripped bolts, which are perfect for the rusted components of old cars. You also get 8 percent cobalt drill bits that cater to hard materials like stainless steel, cast iron and other tough metals.
The set includes the most popular sizes of drill bits, and the sizes range from 0.078 inches to 0.5 inches. Whether you are working in an auto repair shop or you are a hobbyist car enthusiast, this drill bit and extractor set will have you covered no matter what the task.
- 8 percent cobalt steel.
- Extractor set.
- Removes frozen bolts.
- Specialist attachments.
|Pieces in set||35|
|Best for||Automotive industry, metal, removing stripped bolts|
8. Black and Decker 10-Piece Drill Bit Set
This 10-piece Black and Decker set is constructed from high-speed steel, so they are durable and resistant to higher temperatures. This stops them from dulling after a couple of applications and means you get more prolonged usage.
While high-speed steel is durable, this drill bit set is better suited to lighter duties like drilling through wood, soft metal and plastic. It has a size range of 0.063 inches up to 0.25 inches, so while it isn’t the most comprehensive drill bit set for sizes, it should handle most general-purpose jobs.
What stands out with this set is the price. At a fraction of the cost of other sets, this is incredible value for money and makes it the ideal choice for beginners.
- 10-piece set.
- High-speed steel.
- Better for wood and plastic.
- Limited size range.
- Seems almost too cheap.
- Build quality issues.
|Pieces in set||10|
|Best for||Plastic, wood|
9. Makita T-01725 70-Piece Contractor-Grade Drill Bit Set
If you want the widest choice of drill bits, this Makita set comes with 70 pieces. It has 0.25-inch hex shanks, meaning they are only compatible with impact wrenches. The tips are a 135-degree split point, and the black oxide protects the drill bits from heat impact and general corrosion.
Each bit is made from modified and heat-treated steel to increase their useful life, and because the shanks are hexagonal, you get a better grip in the socket with zero slippage when tackling the hardest materials. It is a hard-wearing set of bits, which is why Makita has graded it as suitable for professionals.
The drill bits are compatible with standard drills, and you can buy an additional adapter to convert your power tool to take the 0.25-inch hex shanks at an extra cost.
- Professional-grade set.
- 70-piece set.
- Hex shanks for impact drivers.
- High-speed steel.
- Some bits fit the impact driver only.
- Additional cost for adapter.
|Pieces in set||70|
|Best for||Impact drivers, hardwood, masonry|
10. Bosch 8-Piece Glass and Tile Bit Set
If you are drilling through tiles, ceramics and glass, this could be the drill bit set for you. It has diamond ground cutting edges for increased performance and a centering tip that reduces walking.
It also has a three-sided flat shank to provide a better grip in the chuck and to reduce slippage. It all adds up to better control and accuracy. Each bit benefits from Bosch’s innovative geometry to allow the bits to cut faster. Couple that with the carbide tip and reinforced head, and you get a drill bit that grinds effortlessly through glass, ceramics and tiles.
The sizes range from 0.125 inches to 0.75 inches to cater to most drilling projects.
- Diamond ground edges.
- Innovative design.
- Ideal for glass, tile and ceramics.
- Specialist tool.
- Limited uses.
|Pieces in set||8|
|Best for||Tile, glass, ceramics|
|Product||Best||Pieces in set||Material||Weight||Best for|
|DeWALT Titanium Drill Bit Set||Titanium-Coated||14||Titanium-coated steel||14.9 oz||Metal, wood|
|Makita SDS-Plus Drill Bit Set||Concrete||5||Tungsten carbide-tipped||11.2 oz||Concrete|
|DeWALT Titanium Drill Bit Set||Drill Press||21||Titanium-coated steel||1.05 lbs||Wood, metal, drill press|
|Irwin Marples Forstner Drilling set||Wood||8||Carbon steel||1.84 lbs||Hardwood, softwood|
|DeWALT Masonry Drill Bit Set||Masonry||7||Carbide -tipped steel||8.8 oz||Masonry, concrete|
|COMOWARE Cobalt Drill Bit Set||Metal||15||Cobalt steel||12.8 oz||Hard metal, titanium alloy|
|Irwin Screw Extractor/Drill Bit Set||Automotive Use||35||Cobalt steel||1 lb||Automotive industry, metal, removing stripped bolts|
|Black and Decker Drill Bit Set||PVC||10||High-speed steel||1.6 oz||Plastic, wood|
|Makita T-01725 Contractor-Grade Drill Bit||Black Oxide||70||High-speed steel||1.94 lbs||Impact drivers, hardwood, masonry|
|Bosch Glass and Tile Bit Set||Tile||8||Carbide-tipped steel||3.36 oz||Tile, glass, ceramics|
How to Use Drill Bits
Here is a handy beginners guide to using a drill bit:
1. What Material Are You Drilling?
This is important because the type of project you are working on influences the drill bit you need. For this guide, we will assume you are drilling into wood.
2. Select Your Drill Bit
Clearly mark where you want the hole to go with a pencil then select your drill bit. If you are drilling into wood, you will need a drill bit that is up to the job.
Forstner drill bits create larger holes, like the sort that you see in kitchen cabinet doors where the hinges are attached. Spade drill bits also make larger holes.
However, twist drill bits are the most common for drilling into wood.
3. Decide on the Depth of the Hole
How deep do you want the hole to be? Most drills have depth gauges, but if you don’t have one of these, wrap a strip of tape around the drill bit to indicate when you have reached the desired depth.
4. Insert the Drill Bit Into the Drill
If you have a keyless chuck, insert the bit into the 3-point clamps and slowly let the chuck tighten. Give it an extra twist to make sure the bit is secure. If you have a keyed chuck, insert it into the winding cog and open the clamps until they are wide enough to take the bit shaft. Insert the bit and tighten with the key.
5. Safety Equipment
Put on your safety goggles and N95 face mask to prevent you from inhaling wood particles. The goggles protect you against any splinters.
6. Line up the Bit to the Material
Gently press the point of the drill bit against the center of the hole marker. Because you are drilling through wood, it is unlikely you will need to make a pilot hole. For harder surfaces, this may be necessary to get the best outcome and stop the material from cracking.
Gently press on the drill trigger, and the bit will rotate. As it gains purchase in the material, increase the speed. It might be an idea to stop halfway to clear any debris away from the hole.
7. Withdraw the Drill Bit
When you have reached the depth required, slowly rotate the drill bit as you withdraw. This helps to remove the final bits of waste material. Remove the bit and grab a vacuum cleaner hose to clean out the debris from the hole.
If you have multiple holes to drill, repeat this process. Unplug the drill and remove the drill bit after you have finished.
The Tip of the Iceberg
Not all drill bits are created equal. Some cater to heavy-duty tasks, while others are for more delicate applications that require more precision and accuracy. The good news is that no matter what the project, there is a bit out there to do it.
The secret is knowing what bit you need and what its unique qualities are. And that’s where we come in.