Choosing The Best Drill Bits
The best drill on the planet won’t get far without a bit in its chuck. While there are plenty of options to choose from, an even experienced handyman can have trouble finding the right bit for the job.
With that in mind, we have put together a buying guide to show you what to look for when searching for the best drill bits. It doesn’t matter whether you’re online or at the local hardware store, our tips will point you in the right direction.
We have also included three different drill bit sets we feel are an excellent value. If you want to get through sheet metal or put together a table from IKEA, we have you covered with our selection of slick bit kits.
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Considerations Before Purchasing Drill Bits
Drill Bit Material
If you are new to the wild world of tools, you may be familiar with drill bits and understand the options that lay ahead of you. If not, you’re in for a surprise as drill bit can be made from dozens of alloys. As you might suspect, some are pricier than others.
While there are some exotic options like solid carbide bits, we are going to cover the three most common materials you are likely to deal with.
If you want to drill into wood or softer metals, a high-speed steel bit will be your best bet. It’s also usually the cheapest.
These bits can handle everything from fiberglass to aluminum, plywood, and plastic. They can come in single packs or bundles and are an affordable solution for job sites and folks that like to have a lot of bits in different sizes on hand.
When HSS bits won’t cut it, you have a few alternatives but most opt for a cobalt drill bit if their steel bit cannot make it through metal.
Cobalt drill bits are great for stainless steel and tougher materials that can heat up a normal bit in seconds. They deal with heat better than other materials but do tend to cost a little bit more.
Titanium Coated or TiN
Titanium is a material most people have heard, and you may even have some in your watch or wedding band. It’s a popular option for drill bits as well and helps them retain their sharpness longer than HSS bits.
Like their steel counterparts, bits coated in titanium can be used on a variety of materials from wood and plastic to metal. The coated provides protection from heat which in turn produces less friction and extends the lifespan of the bit.
Other popular coatings to look for include Black and Bronze Oxide, each with their own unique properties.
Now that you have an idea what materials are used in the construction of bits, we are going to discuss the different styles and what they are best suited for.
The simple twist bit is the most common style on the planet and is capable of going through thin metal, wood or plastics with ease. Twist bits come a variety of metals and coatings, so the price varies depending on the construction and length.
Rest assured, there is a style, coating, and size for everyone when it comes to twist bits.
A brad-point drill bit has flutes just like the rest of our options, but they are wider as it’s built for boring, not drilling. This style of bit can make a precise hole in seconds and has a unique tip which ensures the blades get a good bit before boring into the material.
The bit won’t “walk” on you, which makes them ideal for woodworkers.
If you like the design of the brad-point, but need something with a little longer but just as efficient, consider an auger bit. They have larger flutes for maximum dust removal but have a screw tip at the top to get things started and pull the bit through the wood.
With enough power, a hole saw allows you to put a perfect circle through almost anything including glass, wood, and metal. It’s a bit you’ll want to have in your workshop although some of the larger ones may give you sticker shock.
Spade bits serve a similar purpose, but don’t make and remove a core and are less expensive than hole saws. They are built for wood, however, not metal, and perfect for smaller holes.
As the name implies, this bit is the one you’ll want in the chuck when it’s time to deal with masonry. If you have a hammer drill, this will make short work of brick or concrete but can be used in regular drills as well.
This one is by far the oddest looking big, but handy nonetheless. Shaped like a pyramid, the step bit is built to go through metal more often than not and doubles as a bit to deburr holes as well.
Top Choices for Drill Bits
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Top Choice: Craftsman 100 Piece Drilling and Driving Bit Set
Craftsman has always been a brand to turn to, and they make just as many bits and accessories as hand tools. This Craftsman 100 piece Drilling and Driving kit is our choice for the best drill bits, and we think you’ll be thrilled by the value it brings to the table.
In the box, you will receive 100 bits that vary between masonry bits, brad-tip bits, spade bits and what’s referred to as “general purpose bits.” These are basically twist bits, and there appear to be between five and ten bits per style with the exception of the paddle bits.
On the driver side, all the usual suspects are covered, and so flat head, Philips, and torx are all covered. There are some drill stops included along with a few other accessories and an allen wrench to bring the total up to 100 pieces in all.
Craftsman makes some great kits, and while this one is solid, the quality isn’t why it’s our top choice. That has to do with the amount of bang you’re getting for your buck.
At 100 pieces, it’s a solid set of bits even if it’s a split set. Drills do more than just bore holes, so it’s nice to have all the bits you need to drive a variety of screws. You won’t find any exotic bits or materials in this kit, but it’s a good value and comes in a well-organized case.
Mid-tier choice (runner-up): Irwin Tools 3018002 Cobalt M-35 Metal Index Drill Bit Set
While it may be our runner-up by name, the difference between the M-35 metal Index Drill Bit Set from Irwin and our choice from Black & Decker is night and day. These bits are not for the faint of heart if you’re on a strict budget.
Whereas our top choice offered 100 pieces, you’ll only get 29 in this set, but they are all high-quality bits made with 5% cobalt. They will hold up for years and have superior abrasion and heat resistance compared to normal bits.
The sizes range from 1/16” up to 1/2” in increments of 1/64,” and the bits have a 135-degree split point to keep them from walking across the metal you’re trying to bore through. They also have a reduced shank which allows you to use larger bits in drills that only have 3/8” chucks.
The Irwin Tools 3018002 M-35 Drill Bit Set won’t’ be for everyone as they are built for metal and made for professionals, not people that need a single bit for a project.
If you do need bits for metal, it’s hard to go wrong with this set, and we like the heavy duty box and its rubberized exterior as well. They are high-quality bits that will outlast the competition and cut through stainless as if it were butter.
Budget Choice: Black & Decker BDA91109 Combination Accessory Set
If our top choice was just a little over your budget or you’re just not a fan of the brand, you will want to consider the Black & Decker BDA91109 which is filled with both bits and drivers.
You’ll get 109 pieces in this kit, which includes a variety of bits and drivers. Unlike our top choice, there is not a lopsided mix so you’ll get around 30 drivers ranging from flat head to torx and around 30 drill bits.
The bits range in size from 7/16” to 5/16” although you shouldn’t expect any high-end bits, as these are all simple steel. The set comes in a hard case for storage and rounds things off with some screws, a countersink bit, and several solid bit holders.
Black & Decker didn’t necessarily pull out all the stops for this kit, but there are more than enough bits and drivers to handle almost any project. How well they actually hold up depends on the person holding the drill, but overall it’s a good kit with plenty of options.
This set alone is definitely in the budget class, but there is a variant that comes with the LDX120C 20-volt Lithium-ion drill if you are sans a cordless drill and want to keep things in the Black & Decker family.
Regardless of price, any of these bits kits will put a hole through wood… and metal in some cases.
If you need some bits for projects around the house or top choice or budget pick won’t let you down although they are both considered to be in the entry-level class. They are perfect sets for beginners, while IRWIN’s kit is for professionals that mainly work with metal.
Just consider your project beforehand and think about how often you’ll use the bits after your masterpiece is complete. If you already have an arsenal of tools at your disposal, you could be better off using our guide to focus on a specialty bit to suit your needs.