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7 Best Forstner Bits of 2024

Updated
Forstner bits drill wider holes with accuracy and speed.

When tackling a drilling job, there will be countless drill bits to choose from. However, sometimes you might need to drill a hole larger than a conventional bit can make. Forstner drill bits are the ideal tool for these jobs.

Despite being designed for large holes, these bits are precise and leave a neat finish, so they are excellent for working with wood. Forstner bits are quite different from standard drill bits, so you might need some help to choose the right one.

To help you make the right choice, we have reviewed seven of the best Forstner drill bits that are currently available. We chose these bits for their edge type, material, shank style, and how many bits are contained in each set.

Our Top Picks

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Image
Model
Product Comparison Table
Features

Product Image of the Freud Precision Shear-Edge Forstner Set
Best for Precision Boring
Freud Precision Shear-Edge Forstner Set
  • Made of hardened steel
  • 7-piece set
  • Serrated edge
Product Image of the Irwin Marples Forstner 14-Piece Bit Set
Best for Hand Drills
Irwin Marples Forstner 14-Piece Bit Set
  • Fits drills & drill presses
  • 14-piece set
  • Made of stainless steel
Product Image of the Porter-Cable 14-Piece Forstner Bit Set
Best for Woodworking
Porter-Cable 14-Piece Forstner Bit Set
  • Open-tooth design
  • 14-piece set
  • Creates very smooth holes
Product Image of the Freud FB-100 Diablo Forstner Drill Bit Set
Best Premium Forstner Drill Bit Set
Freud FB-100 Diablo Forstner Drill Bit Set
  • Unique alloy blend
  • 16 pieces
  • Wide range of sizes
Product Image of the Steelex Hex-Shank Forstner Drill Bit Set
Best for End Grain
Steelex Hex-Shank Forstner Drill Bit Set
  • Made of high-carbon steel
  • 16-piece set
  • Hex shank on larger bits
Product Image of the Meichoon Forstner Drill Bit Set
Best Budget Forstner Bit
Meichoon Forstner Drill Bit Set
  • Made of tungsten steel
  • 6-piece set
  • Heat-treated to reduce dulling
Product Image of the Grizzly Industrial Master Forstner Bit
Best for Professionals
Grizzly Industrial Master Forstner Bit
  • Made of high-speed steel
  • 31-piece set
  • Knife-edged teeth


The Best Forstner Bits of 2024

Forstner drill bits may look similar at a glance but they are available with different cutting edges, in various sizes, and with different amounts in each set. To help you choose the right product for your needs, we have reviewed seven of the best Forstner bits available on the market today. We chose these products for their edge type, material, size, and how many bits are included.

Freud PB-107B 7-Piece Precision Shear-Edge Forstner Set

Best Forstner Bit for Precision Boring

This 7-piece set of Forstner bits from Freud is ideal if you need to undertake precision boring work. The serrated edges and super-sharp spurs mean the bits won’t walk during use. The wood you drill into is removed in neat curls to help achieve the cleanest finish possible.

This set is made of hardened steel and is best suited to cutting through softwood, hardwood, and plywood. The sizes range from 0.25 inches up to an inch, and they will fit both drill presses and handheld drills.

The bits in this set can create flat-bottomed holes, pocket holes, or overlapping holes. They are designed with cutting edges that will speed up the drilling process, helping you complete your work more quickly.

Pros

  • Hardened steel
  • 7-piece set
  • Ideal for hardwood, softwood, and plywood
  • Serrated edge

Cons

  • Limited size range

Product Specs

Number of pieces 7
Shank 0.25 inches to 0.375
Material Hardened steel
Size range 0.25 to 1 inch
Price $$$

Our Ratings

Material Quality
4.5 / 5
Cutting Efficiency
5 / 5
Compatibility
4.5 / 5
Durability
4.5 / 5
Total Rating
4.5 / 5

User Experience

My experience with these Forstner bits has been nothing short of impressive. Right out of the box, I noticed their sharpness and was pleased to discover they made incredibly smooth cuts without any tearouts. The build quality is exceptional, making these bits feel both sturdy and reliable. I was initially skeptical about the serrated edges, but after drilling through harder woods like Maple with ease, I was sold. However, be prepared to find a storage solution, as the original packaging isn't designed for long-term use.

Irwin Marples Forstner 14-Piece Bit Set

Best Forstner Bit for a Hand Drill

This Irwin set of 14 Forstner drill bits is ideal if you want to drill wide holes using a hand drill. They have smaller shanks than standard bits, which makes it possible for them to fit chucks measuring 0.375 inches, as well as larger drills and drill presses.

The sizes included range from 0.25 inches to 1.375 inches. They are excellent for drilling flat-bottomed and pocket holes, thanks to the special edge design that cuts through hardwood and softwood efficiently. This should shorten your cutting time significantly.

For a 14-piece set, this product is very competitively priced, so it is an excellent option for anyone looking to start a Forstner drill bit collection.

Pros

  • Excellent price
  • Fits hand drills and drill presses
  • 14-piece set
  • Stainless steel

Cons

  • Dulls quickly
  • Quality issues

Product Specs

Number of pieces 14
Shank 3.5 inches
Material Stainless steel
Size range 0.25 to 1.375 inches
Price $$

Our Ratings

Material Quality
4 / 5
Cutting Efficiency
4.5 / 5
Compatibility
5 / 5
Durability
3.5 / 5
Total Rating
4.25 / 5

Personal Perspective

Love how this set of bits has enhanced my woodworking projects! The assortment is impressive and they've consistently provided clean cuts, truly boosting my work's quality. Despite their lower cost comparative to auger or spade bits, they've remained sharp even with repeated use and produce a desirable flat bottom when drilling. Their durability is commendable, standing up to almost daily use with no issues. One improvement could be the addition of flat sides on the shank for better cordless drill compatibility.

Porter-Cable 14-Piece Forstner Bit Set

Best Forstner Bit for Woodworking

If you are looking for a set of Forstner drill bits in a wide range of sizes, this Porter-Cable product is a great option. Its bits range from 0.25 inches to 2 inches, which means it is very versatile. It features a special open-tooth design that rapidly removes wood shavings to help you create a smooth, flat-bottomed hole.

The bits are held in a handy carry-case with a clear size chart to help you select the correct bit for each job. However, according to customer reviews, some of the indicated sizes aren’t an exact match for the corresponding bit, so you should double-check before using them.

As this set can be used to drill both large and small holes, it is an excellent all-around option and should be able to fulfill all your Forstner bit needs.

Pros

  • 14-piece set
  • Open-tooth design
  • Creates smooth flat-bottomed holes
  • Reasonably priced

Cons

  • Dulls quickly
  • Poor cutting edge

Product Specs

Number of pieces 14
Shank 3 inches
Material Metal
Size range 0.25 to 2 inches
Price $$

Our Ratings

Material Quality
4 / 5
Cutting Efficiency
4 / 5
Compatibility
4.5 / 5
Durability
3.5 / 5
Total Rating
4 / 5

Community Feedback

After doing a fair amount of research, I decided to give these Forstner bits a try and they've been a great addition to my toolbox. These bits cut through both maple and pine smoothly, leaving clean holes with minimal effort. The case they come in is definitely a plus, making it easy to store and organize them. I did find it slightly hard to read the bit sizes due to the black-on-black color scheme on the box, a little color contrast would have been helpful here. That being said, I've been genuinely impressed by the performance of these bits and the overall quality for the price.

Freud FB-100 16-PieceDiablo Forstner Drill Bit Set

Best Premium Forstner Drill Bit Set

This Freud 16-piece set is a premium product, with Forstner bits ranging in size from 0.25 inches to 2.125 inches, making it among the most versatile options we have seen during our research.

What sets this kit apart from the competition is Freud’s unique alloy mixture that results in extremely tough bits. Freud calls it micro-grain carbide with titanium, or TiCo for short. It is a mix of titanium and cobalt, which makes the bits more heat resistant, so they also retain their cutting edge for longer.

These Forstner bits are ideal for drilling flat-bottom, pocket, and overlapping holes, so they should be suitable for any woodworking project. They are contained in a sturdy wooden box to keep them safe when not in use and to make them easy to transport.

Pros

  • Unique alloy blend
  • 16 pieces
  • Wide range of sizes
  • Wooden storage box
  • 12-month warranty

Cons

  • Expensive

Product Specs

Number of pieces 16
Shank 1 to 3 inches
Material TiCo (Titanium cobalt mix)
Size range 0.25 to 2.125 inches
Price $$$$

Our Ratings

Material Quality
5 / 5
Cutting Efficiency
5 / 5
Compatibility
4.5 / 5
Durability
5 / 5
Total Rating
4.75 / 5

First-Hand Impression

Got these drill bits recently and my experience has been overwhelmingly positive. The quality is evident right from the start as they're sharp, durable, and made a perfect straight edge hole in my project. However, I did notice that some bits don't turn true in my drill press, which can make precise positioning a bit tricky, yet they're still perfectly usable. The packaging, marred by hard-to-remove stickers, detracts from the visual appeal, but doesn't affect the performance of the bits themselves. Despite this minor hiccup, these Austrian-made bits are a testimony to the saying "quality over quantity" and have yet to let me down.

Steelex D3573 Hex-Shank Forstner Drill Bit Set

Best Forstner Bit for End Grain

This 16-piece set of Steelex Forstner drill bits uses hex shanks to prevent its larger bits from slipping in the chuck during use. This also means you can use these bits in an impact driver for extra drilling power.

The sizes range from 0.25 inches to 2.125 inches, giving you plenty of different options. Improved back angles, combined with a special cutting edge, deliver smooth, precise holes each time you use these bits. High-carbon steel construction means you will be able to use them many times before they need to be sharpened.

They work best when drilling into hardwood or softwood, and the whole set comes in a sturdy wooden folding case to keep them safe when they are not in use.

Pros

  • Sturdy wooden storage box
  • 16-piece set
  • High-carbon steel
  • Wide range of sizes
  • Hex shank on larger bits

Cons

  • Poor quality material
  • Vulnerable to heat
  • Prone to binding

Product Specs

Number of pieces 16
Shank 1.75 inches
Material High-carbon steel
Size range 0.25 inches to 2,125 inches
Price $$

Our Ratings

Material Quality
3.5 / 5
Cutting Efficiency
4.5 / 5
Compatibility
4.5 / 5
Durability
3 / 5
Total Rating
3.75 / 5

User Experience

These Forstner bits, in spite of their budget-friendly nature, are rather effective for occasional use, particularly for hobbyists and beginners. Initially, there might be some rough edges that could require some fine-tuning, but it's worth noting that they do a decent job cutting through oak and other hardwoods once sharpened. The set is comprehensive with a good range of sizes, though the accompanying case is a little flimsy and could be improved. Lastly, while these bits are sharp and make clean cuts, they may not be suitable for heavy-duty use or situations requiring extreme precision.

Meichoon Forstner Drill Bit Set

Best Budget Forstner Bit

This very affordable six-piece set of Forstner drill bits from Meichoon shouldn’t cost you much more than a couple of cups of coffee. It is made of tungsten steel and heat-treated to increase its durability and protect the cutting edge against dulling.

The sizes range from a diameter of 1.18 inches to 2.36 inches, giving you a wide range of different options, especially considering the low price.

These bits are best suited to hardwood and softwood but they are also effective on plastic and plywood. They can be used in a drill press or a handheld drill. If you want a cheap, versatile set of Forstner drill bits, this is a great option to get your collection started.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Tungsten steel
  • 6-piece set
  • Decent range of sizes
  • Heat-treated

Cons

  • Cheaply made
  • Prone to wandering
  • Bits skip out of the hole

Product Specs

Number of pieces 6
Shank 2.55 inches
Material Tungsten steel
Size range 1.18 inches to 2.36 inches
Price $

Our Ratings

Material Quality
3 / 5
Cutting Efficiency
3.5 / 5
Compatibility
4 / 5
Durability
3 / 5
Total Rating
3.25 / 5

Personal Perspective

These drill bits have been a reliable addition to my tools. They arrived sharp, ready to tackle tasks from drilling holes for computer wires, to crafting on my wood lathe. I've noticed they do heat up quicker and can clog with debris, which requires a bit more elbow grease. The design allows for simple sharpening, which I've done with a diamond hone. While not heavy-duty, they serve their purpose well for regular use and offer good value.

Grizzly Industrial H7694 Master Forstner Drill Bit 21-Piece Set

Best Forstner Bit for Professionals

You are unlikely to find a more comprehensive set of Forstner bits than this one, which contains 31 pieces. You should never be left without the correct bit, even during professional work. The bits range in size from 0.25 inches to 2.125 inches, in 0.063-inch increments. You should have every size you will need.

The bits have hex-shaped shanks for superior grip to prevent slipping during use. They fit 0.375-inch chucks, so they are suitable for use with impact drivers.

Thanks to their knife-edge teeth, these bits cut quickly and neatly, so they are ideal for getting through large jobs quickly.

Pros

  • Knife-edge teeth
  • High-speed steel
  • Extremely versatile
  • 31-piece set
  • Robust wooden storage box

Cons

  • Expensive product
  • Some quality issues
  • Dulls quickly

Product Specs

Number of pieces 31
Shank Not stated
Material High-speed steel
Size range 0.25 inches to 2.125 inches
Price $$$$

Our Ratings

Material Quality
4 / 5
Cutting Efficiency
4 / 5
Compatibility
5 / 5
Durability
3 / 5
Total Rating
4 / 5

Community Feedback

I recently purchased this set of bits and have mixed feelings about it. On the upside, they all come well-protected with plastic caps and the size is stamped on each one, which I find helpful. The wooden box they come in could use some improvement, as the smallest bits weren't properly seated and rattled around a bit. However, my main concern lies in the bits themselves. Some of them displayed a slight wobble in the shaft, causing a chirping noise when plunged and withdrawn from the wood. Additionally, my measurements of the bits revealed that they were a bit off from their stated sizes. They do bore holes effectively and are perhaps as good as my other bits, producing a clean hole with a flat bottom. But, I was disappointed to find that the claimed precision machining was lacking, as evidenced by the black paint on the cutting angles of most bits. Yet, if you are fine with a slight deviation in size, this set could work for you.

Product Comparison Chart

Product Best No. of pieces Shank Material Size range
Freud PB-107B Precision Shear-Edge Forstner Set Precision Boring 7 0.25″ to 0.375 Hardened steel 0.25 to 1″
Irwin Marples Forstner 14-Piece Bit Set Hand Drills 14 3.5″ Stainless steel 0.25 to 1.375″
Porter-Cable 14-Piece Forstner Bit Set Woodworking 14 3″ Metal 0.25 to 2″
Freud FB-100 Diablo Forstner Drill Bit Set Premium Set 16 1 to 3″ TiCo 0.25 to 2.125″
Steelex D3573 Hex-Shank Forstner Drill Bit Set End Grain 16 1.75″ High-carbon steel 0.25″ to 2,125″
Meichoon Forstner Drill Bit Set Budget Pick 6 2.55″ Tungsten steel 1.18″ to 2.36″
Grizzly Industrial H7694 Master Forstner Bit Professionals 31 Not stated High-speed steel 0.25″ to 2.125″

What Are Forstner Bits Used For?

Forstner drill bits are used to make large holes in wood. Standard drill bits are not wide enough to accomplish this, which is why Forstner bits are wider at the tip than at the shaft. Spade bits have a similar profile but they lack the precision of Forstner bits.

These bits are used to drill wide, flat-bottomed holes with great precision.

How to Choose a Forstner Drill Bit

Forstner drill bits probably look quite unusual if you are used to standard twist bits, due to their wide tips. They are far less common than twist bits but you will still have a lot of products to choose from, which can be overwhelming. However, you should be able to narrow your options significantly by considering the following points:

Cutting Edge

Forstner drill bits are available with three types of cutting edge. The quickest type is a knife-edge bit but it will also demand a lot from your drill’s motor. It is important to use them in short bursts to prevent overheating.

The second type is a wavy edge. These bits have serrations that disperse the heat that is generated, protecting the material and the sharpness of the bit. The downside is that these bits are slower and will leave a rougher finish.

Your third and final option is a saw-tooth edge bit. These can work at high speeds and will get the job done, but they are unsuitable for plywood or cutting angles.

Material

The most popular material for drill bits is high-speed steel, which retains its cutting edge quite well, making it suitable for everyday use. If you are a professional or need to do some heavy-duty drilling, you can also buy carbide-tipped Forstner bits that are more durable and stay sharper for longer. However, carbide bits are also considerably more expensive, so they won’t be right for everyone.

Price

As with most things, you will usually need to pay more money for higher-quality tools and accessories. However, before buying the most expensive Forstner bit you can find, you should consider your individual requirements. If you need to tackle a tough drilling job, it will be worth spending the extra money. On the other hand, if you only need to drill a few holes for one project, you should be able to get by with a cheaper, less durable bit.

Size

If you are only buying one Forstner drill bit instead of a set, make sure you know the exact size you need. If you anticipate needing them again in the future, it will probably be worth buying a set instead. This should give you enough flexibility to tackle any job that requires a Forstner bit.

Number of Bits Per Set

If you are a professional or think you will need to use Forstner bits often, you should look to buy a set, ideally one with as many bits as possible. Some sets contain 16 pieces, while others might have just three. It can be tempting to buy a cheap set that has many bits but you should check reviews before you do this, as they are probably so affordable for a reason.

Type of Shank

Modern drill bits have one of two types of shanks: round or hex-shaped shanks. Round shanks fit drill/drivers and drill presses as they have universal chucks. Hex shanks are designed specifically for impact drivers and won’t slip during use. They are also easy to insert and remove.


How to Sharpen Forstner Bits

You can sharpen a Forstner drill bit using any rotary tool such as a Dremel multitool, a drill/driver, or a drill bit sharpener. You will need a cone stone and a cutting disc. The cone stone will sharpen the curved edges and the cutting disc will work on the straight sides.

The key is to remove the same amount of material from each section so the bit will continue cutting straight and evenly. When you have finished sharpening the drill bit, make sure you work on the cutting edge with a honing stone to remove any uneven edges or burrs.

FAQs

What Sizes Do Forstner Bits Come In?

The most common Forstner bit sizes range from 0.25 inches to 2 inches or slightly more. It is possible to find bits as large as 4 inches in diameter, but these are rare and usually reserved for professional use.

Can Forstner Bits Be Used With a Hand Drill?

You can use a Forstner bit in a hand drill but they are better suited for a drill press. Hand drills are less accurate and you could end up with an uneven hole. In contrast, drill presses will hold the bit securely and you can set the depth and angle to make multiple identical holes.

When drilling into a piece of wood to make the initial hole, a Forstner bit has a pointed middle that serves as a pilot to hold the rest of the bit in place. If you are widening an existing hole, there will be nothing for this pilot point to bite into, so it will be much harder to prevent the bit from wandering.

Can You Use a Forstner Bit in a Router?

You could use a Forstner bit to create a template and then use the same size router bit, but using a Forstner bit in a router is a bad idea. Routers move faster than standard drills and Forstner bits aren’t designed to work at such high speeds.

Even if you are able to use one successfully, you will wear out the bit much more quickly, which will be costly if you do it regularly.

How Deep Can You Drill With a Forstner Bit?

In theory, you can drill as deep as the bit’s shaft will allow, which will usually be thicker than whichever material you are drilling into. It is also possible to buy shaft extensions that will make the bit longer, enabling you to drill deeper holes without the tool getting in the way.

Can You Use a Forstner Bit on Aluminum?

You can use a Forstner drill bit to cut holes in aluminum as long as you are careful. Aluminum can be rough on your drill bit so you shouldn’t make a habit of this, but it will be fine if you do it occasionally. The key to doing it effectively is to punch or drill a pilot hole first to prevent the Forstner from walking when you start drilling properly.

Why Is It Called a Forstner Bit?

A Forstner drill bit is a specialized bit for making smooth, accurate holes in wood and other tough materials. It was named after the German inventor Benjamin Forstner, who introduced the design in 1880.

The bit has a sharp, circular blade with angled teeth that cut into the material simultaneously, keeping the temperature down while providing a uniform hole. They can be used for drilling through walls or joining materials together.

What Is the Best Speed for Forstner Bits?

You should use Forstner bits at low speeds to achieve the best possible results. The specific speed you should use depends on the size of the drill bit and what type of material you are drilling into.

If you have a 0″ to 3/8″ bit, the ideal speed is 2,400 RPM for softwoods and 700 RPM for hardwoods. However, if you are using a 3/4″ to 1″ bit, you should slow it down to 1,500 RPM for softwoods and 500 RPM for hardwoods.

Can You Drill Acrylic With a Forstner Bit?

It is possible to drill acrylic with a Forstner bit but the softness of the material means you should take extra care when doing so.

First, make a pilot hole with a regular twist drill bit before using your Forstner bit as this will help you keep the edges of the hole smooth and consistent. After switching bits, work at a slower speed and apply plenty of cutting fluid when drilling acrylic for better results.

Can You Sharpen a Forstner Bit?

You can sharpen a Forstner bit using a drill bit sharpener or a rotary tool. Always try to remove the same amount of material on each side to ensure the bit will drill evenly. You should also use a honing stone at the end to remove any burrs and uneven edges, leaving you with a smooth surface.

The sharpness of your Forstner bit will play a large part in deciding how smooth and accurate your cuts are. A sharp bit will also cause much less splintering and tearing out when you come to drill the material.

Are Forstner Bits Better Than Spade Bits?

As usual, the best bit type depends on the project you are working on. Forstner bits are great for making smooth, accurate holes, whereas spade bits work more quickly but make rougher holes.

Spade bits tend to wobble during use, which is why they work less smoothly. The resulting holes will probably look similar to those you make when you use a standard twist drill bit.

If you work accurately, especially if you use a drill press, a Forstner drill bit should make a perfectly round hole that has smooth, even edges. This is why they are better suited for fine finish work and spade bits are more suitable for rough carpentry.


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About the Author

Mark Weir

Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.