Best Forstner Bits of 2020

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Categories Drills
Forstner bits drill wider holes with accuracy and speed.

Sometimes you need a drill attachment that makes larger holes. Forstner drill bits are the ideal tool for this.

They are precise and leave a neat finish. Nothing quite matches the impact that Forstner bits have, especially when you are working with wood.

We rate 7 of the best Forstner drill bits to see which one is the right choice for you.


What Are Forstner Bits For?

Forstner bits are used to make large holes in wood. Standard drill bits are not wide enough to accomplish this, although spade bits do have the same cutting prowess, but they lack the precision of Forstner bits.

Also, Forstner drill bits create flat-bottomed holes with precision and accuracy.

How to Choose Forstner Drill Bits

As with all choices, what is ideal for you may not be the same for the next person. Here are some things you should consider when looking for Forstner drill bits.

Price

The price you pay relates directly to the quality of the item. The key is to spend to your means while matching the drill bit to the task at hand. If you know it’s going to be a tough task for the drill bit, try and err on the side of quality rather than trying to get a cut-price set.

It may sound simple, but settling on a value for money price is a challenge, especially when you see that the prices vary dramatically, yet they all claim to be the best.

Size

If you are buying just one Forstner drill bit, knowing the exact size is crucial. Alternatively, to make life easier on future projects, buy a set of bits. This gives you greater flexibility knowing that you have the right size drill bit.

Cutting Edge

There are 3 types of cutting edge on Forstner drill bits. The one that cuts the quickest is the knife-edge bit. However, it does so at the expense of putting a lot of strain on your drill motor. Watch out for overheating and the bit dulling rapidly.

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

Third, you can get a saw-tooth edge. They handle higher speeds and get the job done, but are terrible when using plywood, and when you want to cut angles.

Material

Most drill bits are high-speed steel that holds their cutting edge, making them ideal for repeated jobs. You can also buy carbide-tipped Forstner bits that are tougher and keep their cutting prowess for longer.

Bear in mind that the higher the quality of the material, the more the bit is likely to cost.

Number of Bits Per Set

Buying more size variations is crucial if you want to remain versatile to tackle almost any task. Some sets have 16-pieces, and some have just 3. Look at the prices, because poor quality sets might look like good value, but you get what you pay for.

Type of Shank

Bits come with two types of shank, namely, round shanks and hex-shaped ones. The round ones fit drill/drivers and drill presses because they have adjustable chucks. The hex shanks fit impact drivers and are easier to remove from the tool.


The Best Forstner Bits of 2020

Forstner drill bits come in all pack sizes and prices, so getting to the facts about which is best is a challenge. Luckily, we’ve managed to make life easier by selecting 7 of the best Forstner bits available on the market today.

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

Best Forstner Bit for Precision Boring

Freud PB-107B 7Pc Prec. Shr Serr Edg Fstnr Bit Set 1/4in to 1in
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This 7-piece set of Forstner bits is the ideal kit if you want to undertake precision boring. The serrated edges and the super-sharp spur means that the bit doesn’t walk, and the wood is removed in neat curls to ensure the cleanest finish.

Freud features heavily in this review, and it is no wonder why when you consider the quality of their products. This set is constructed from hardened steel and is best suited to cutting through softwood, hardwood and plywoods.

The sizes range from 0.25 inches to 1-inch, and they fit either a drill press or a hand-held drill. The bit set produces flat-bottomed holes, pocket holes and overlapping holes.

The design of the cutting edge speeds up the cutting process, which means you get a faster work rate to complete the task.

PROS:
  • Hardened steel.
  • 7-piece set.
  • Ideal for hardwood, softwood and plywood.
  • Serrated edge.
CONS:
  • Limited size range.

Additional Specs

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

2. Irwin Marples Forstner 14-Piece Bit Set

Best Forstner Bit for a Hand Drill

IRWIN Marples Forstner Bit Set, 14-Piece (1966893)
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This Irwin tool set of 14 Forstner drill bits is the ideal kit to own for using in a hand-drill. The reduced shanks make it possible for these bits to fit chucks measuring 0.375 inches, as well as larger drills and drill presses.

The sizes available range from 0.25 inches to 1.375 inches. They are the drill bit of choice for cutting perfect flat-bottomed and pocket holes, thanks to the specially engineered cutting edge that drills through hardwood and softwood efficiently. It also speeds up the cutting time significantly.

Moreover, for a 14-piece set, the price is excellent, making it an ideal starter set for someone learning the ropes.

PROS:
  • Great price.
  • Fits drills and drill presses.
  • 14-piece set.
  • Stainless steel.
CONS:
  • Dulls quickly.
  • Build quality issues.

Additional Specs

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

3. Porter-Cable 14-Piece Forstner Bit Set

Best Forstner Bit for Woodworking

PORTER-CABLE Forstner Bit Set, 14-Piece (PC1014)
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If you are looking for a set of Forstner drill bits that offer size ranges from 0.25 inches to 2 inches, this Porter-Cable set is the right choice. It utilizes a unique open tooth design to speedily remove wood shavings to create a smooth and clean flat-bottomed hole.

The bits are contained in a handy, carry-case with the size charts easily identified, so you can select the correct size bit. Just be careful, because some of the indicated sizes don’t quite match the corresponding bit, which could lead to some confusion.

And because it allows you to cut larger diameter holes, it is probably the only set you will ever need.

PROS:
  • 14-piece set.
  • Open-tooth design.
  • Creates perfect flat-bottomed holes.
  • Reasonably priced.
CONS:
  • Dulls quickly.
  • Poor quality cutting edges.

Additional Specs

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

4. Freud FB-100 16-PieceDiablo Forstner Drill Bit Set

Best Premium Forstner Drill Bit Set

Freud FB-100 16PC Diablo Forstner Drill Bit Set
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This is Freud’s second appearance in the review. This 16-piece set may seem expensive to some, but you do get a Forstner set with a size range from 0.25 inches to 2.125 inches, meaning that this set has the largest span of any drill bit set included so far.

What sets this kit apart is Freud’s unique blend of alloys to create a super-tough mix. They call it micrograin carbide with titanium, or TiCo for short. It is a mix of titanium and cobalt, making the bits more durable to heat effects, and they hold their cutting edge for longer.

These Forstner bits are perfect for drilling flat-bottom, pocket holes and overlapping holes, and the ideal accompaniment to any woodworking project. These quality bits are all contained in a sturdy wooden box to keep them safe when not in use.

PROS:
  • Unique alloy blend.
  • 16-pieces.
  • Wide span of sizes.
  • Wooden storage box.
  • 1-year warranty.
CONS:
  • Expensive.

Additional Specs

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

5. Steelex D3573 Hex-Shank Forstner Drill Bit Set

Best Forstner Bit for End Grain

Steelex D3573 Forstner Bit Set with Hex Shank, 16-Piece
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This is a 16-piece hex-shank set of Forstner drill bits. The hex design of the shank prevents the bit from slipping in the drill chuck. It also means you can use these bits in an impact driver if you need a bit more muscle.

The sizes range from 0.25 inches to 2.125 inches, so for sizes, it has you covered. The improved back angles, coupled with an improved cutting edge, delivers smooth and precise holes every time. The high-carbon steel construction means that these bits can perform multiple times before they need sharpening.

They work best when used with hardwood and softwood, and the whole set comes encased in a sturdy wooden folding storage box to keep them safe when they are not in use.

PROS:
  • Sturdy wooden storage box.
  • 16-piece set.
  • High-carbon steel.
  • Good range of sizes.
  • Hex shank on larger bits.
CONS:
  • Poor quality.
  • Lacks heat resistance.
  • Binds too easily.

Additional Specs

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

6. Meichoon Forstner Drill Bit Set

Best Budget Forstner Bit

Meichoon Forstner Drill Bits Set 30-60mm 6PCS, Flat Wing Drilling Hole Hinge Cemented Carbide Carbon High Speed Steel Woodworking Drill Punching Bit with Round Shank DC02A
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It’s incredible when you think that for the price of a couple cups of coffee, you can get a 6-piece Forstner drill bit set. This set is made from tungsten steel and heat-treated to increase the durability and protect the cutting edge against dulling.

The sizes range from a diameter of 1.18 inches to 2.36 inches, making this set the largest bit diameter span of any in the review. Not bad for the budget option!

These bits are suited best to hardwood and softwood, as well as plastic and plywood, and can be used in a drill press or a hand-held drill. What is hard to believe is that you can buy 9 of these sets for the price of the premium Freud choice.

PROS:
  • Great price.
  • Tungsten steel.
  • 6-piece set.
  • Wide diameter span.
  • Heat-treated.
CONS:
  • Cheaply made.
  • Prone to wandering.
  • Bits skip out of the hole.
  • Limited size range.

Additional Specs

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

7. Grizzly Industrial H7694 Master Forstner Drill Bit 21-Piece Set

Best Forstner Bit for Professionals

Grizzly Industrial H7694-31 Pc. Mega Forstner Bit Set
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This is the most comprehensive Forstner bit set so far, with 31 pieces. If you are a professional, you will never be left wanting for the correct size bit. The bits span a diameter ranging from 0.25 inches to 2.125 inches, in increments of 0.063 inches. This means that you should have every size you will need.

The shanks are hex-shaped for better grip, giving you zero slippage, and they fit chucks of 0.375 inches in size. You can also use these in hex-shaped chucks like those on impact drivers.

Thanks to the knife-edge teeth, these bits cut rapidly and neatly, decreasing the strain on the bits and increasing the cutting speed of the drill.

PROS:
  • Knife-edge teeth.
  • High-speed steel.
  • Great range of sizes.
  • 31-piece set.
  • Robust wooden storage box.
CONS:
  • Expensive.
  • Build quality issues.
  • Dulls quickly.

Additional Specs

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

Forstner Bit 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″
Jump to the Full Forstner Bit Reviews

How to Sharpen Forstner Bits

You can use any rotary tool, such as a Dremel or drill/driver, or a drill bit sharpener. You will need a cone stone and a cutting disc. The cone stone sharpens the curved edges, and the cutting disc works on the straight sides.

The secret is to remove the same amount of material on each section to keep the bit cutting straight and even.

When you have finished sharpening the drill bit, make sure you hone the cutting edge using a honing stone to remove any uneven edges or burrs.

FAQs

What Sizes Do Forstner Bits Come In?

The most common sizes range from 0.25 inches to 2 inches, but some measure 4 inches in diameter, although this is extreme.

Can Forstner Bits Be Used With a Hand Drill?

You can use a Forstner bit in a hand-drill, but you should use a drill press. Hand-drills are less accurate, and you might end up with the hole not being level. Drill presses are easier because you can set the depth and the angle and forget about it while you make multiple holes.

When drilling through wood to create the initial hole, the Forstner bit has a pointed middle that acts like a pilot to hold the wider body of the bit in the center of the hole. If you are trying to widen an existing hole, there is no way of stopping the bit from wandering because the center point has nothing to grip on to.

Can You Use a Forstner Bit in a Router?

You could use a Forstner bit to create a template and then saw to the same size router bit, but using a Forstner bit in a router is not a great idea. Routers run faster, and Forstner bits aren’t designed for those speeds.

You would likely wear out the bit so fast that it would become costly and leave you wondering why you did it in the first place.

How Deep Can You Drill With a Forstner Bit?

In theory, you can drill to a depth of the bit’s shaft. It also depends on the thickness of the wood, and you can buy shaft extensions that increase the depth of the bit.

Can You Use a Forstner Bit on Aluminum?

You can cut holes in aluminum with a Forstner drill bit. Even though aluminum is a little rough on the drill bit, it will do the job and last pretty well. The secret is to punch a starting spot first or drill a pilot hole to prevent the Forstner from wandering.


Forstner Bits Are Great

Forstner drill bits are the best tool for making large diameter holes in wood. They speed up the work rate and deliver accurate results time and again. Getting the right set is more of a challenge than you might think.

You need to decide on the shank type, the size range and the type of teeth the bit has. Then, you have to match it to the material and project you are working on. Phew! Now that all this is clear, go and make your choice. Happy drilling.

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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.
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