Drilling Defined: A Guide to the Best Types of Drill Bits

May 3, 2021

Wait, you mean you shouldn't use the set of drill bits that came in your new DIY tool bag for every material you can find? No! You want to use different types of drill bits for other materials. (Ideally, the types of materials they were designed to be used on.)

Yes, technically, you could use a steel drill bit on a ceramic pot, and a ceramic drill bit on wood, but you'd get nowhere fast. Not to mention, you'd probably break your shiny new drill bit along the way.

So, what drill bits do you need to flush out your quiver and make the most of your DIY enthusiasm? This list of the best drill heads should take care of you.

The Types of Drill Bits You Have to Choose From

We're getting into the meat and potatoes of this article!

Whether you're cutting into metal, wood, concrete, etc., you need to have the right tools for the job.

The Best Drill Bit for Wood

If you want to make a hole in wood, then pick up a brad point drill bit. This bit is usually made out of harder steel and has a small spike or screw acting as a tip.

The pointed tip will grab into the wood to align the bit, and the spiraling blades will slice through the wood like butter.

The Best Jack of All Trades Drill Bit

Everyone needs a little bit of a do-it-all type of bit. One that they can keep locked into the chuck on their favorite drill.

If that sounds like you, then you want to look out for a twist drill bit. However, this bit typically has a wider pointed section that's better at gripping onto flatter and harder surfaces like metal and plastic.

A twist bit will most likely take care of 80% of your DIY needs.

The Best Drill Bit for Finer Woodworking

You've advanced your DIY comfort levels to the point that you're comfortable making tables, cribs, and anything else you need out of wood.

If you're at this level of DIY comfort, then you'll want to consider picking up a few countersink drill bits. A countersink bit will make a slightly wider indentation at the very top of your drilled hole, allowing screws to lie flat.

This is especially important if you want to make pro-level furniture, shelves, etc., and you want the finish to look clean.

The Best Drill Bit for Screwless Construction

Drill bits have been around for a lot longer than screws, so it makes sense that there would be a drill bit explicitly designed to drill holes for dowels and other all-wood joinery techniques.

If you want to create anything out of wood using only dowels and pegs, you need a Forstner bit. A Forstner bit will drill a hole with a perfectly flat bottom so your dowel will fit nice and snug.

The Best Drill Bits for Wider Holes

If you want to drill any holes in your wood that is wider than half an inch, then you'll want a paddle bit. A paddle bit starts with a screw-like protrusion flanked by tall, thin, vertical metal sides.

These bits do a great job of removing lots and lots of material in a short amount of time.

If you want to drill holes in anything other than wood, then you'll want to buy a hole saw bit. Instead of large paddles made from metal, a hole saw is more or less a standard drill bit, surrounded by a circle of vicious metal or diamond teeth.

A hole bit can cut through wood, metal, or ceramic, depending on the type you buy.

The Best All in One Drill Bit

If you only work with metal or plastic and you want a more versatile version of the hole saw, then you should pick up a stepping bit.

A stepping bit is a bit that looks a bit like a low poly pyramid with several diameters of drill bit stacked on top of each other. With a stepped drill bit, you'll never have to change out your drill bit again (well, fingers crossed, at least).

The Best Drill Bit for Wells and Construction Planning

Believe it or not, wells are drilled with giant drill bits that you can buy, no questions asked. If you're a little further away from civilization, it might be good to have one of these on hand.

To run the drill bit, you'll need a couple of things. First, you'll need surveying, horizontal drilling equipment, and sonde transmitters like the DigiTrak F5. Next, you'll need drilling equipment.

Most of the time, it's best to rent more extensive pieces of equipment to make this operation cost-effective.

What Drill Bit Material Should You Buy?

If you're at all interested in drill bits, DIY, or tools in general, then your eyes probably light up at the words "tungsten carbide." Tungsten Carbide drill bits sound so premium and indestructible. However, in many cases, you'll want to pick up a different kind of bit.

Here's what you need to know about drill bit materials.

What Are Carbon Steel Bits Used For?

Carbon steel bits are almost exclusively used for wood. If you use a carbon steel bit on steel, then it will likely lose its temper and shatter, bend, or weld itself to your material.

High-Speed Steel

High-speed steel is a combination of steel and tungsten that can withstand high heat and constant pressure. These bits are excellent for drilling plastic, wood, or mild steel.

Just make sure to cool the bit regularly with liquid when you're drilling through metal.

There are several variations of HHS drill bits. You can read through the pros and cons of each below.

1.Titanium HHS Bits

You can buy more premium versions of these drill bits with a thin titanium coating over the steel, tungsten alloy. The added titanium will make your drill bit's edge last much longer than a standard HHS bit's would've.

2.Black Oxide HHS Drill Bits

The oxide coating on those bits doesn't add any harness or edge retention capabilities. However, it does add in rust resistance that many people using heavy-duty drills in wetter climates will appreciate.

These are also great because the oxide helps make your bits less reactive with other metals.

Cobalt Drill Bits

While cobalt isn't great for drill bits on its own, it's fantastic when it's made into an alloy with steel.

Cobalt bits are hard enough and flexible enough to drill hardened steels without breaking halfway through. Just make sure to cool them frequently during the cutting process.

Tungsten Carbide Bits

That's right. We saved the best material for last.

Tungsten carbide bits are fantastic for drilling through ceramics, cement, tiles, and brick due to their tough but brittle material properties.

What Bit Will You Choose?

We hope that this comprehensive overview of drill bits helped you decide on the tools you need for your next DIY project!

Need even more help than just deciding on the types of drill bits you want to use? Read the rest of our blog! We're sure you'll find something helpful there.


Carlos Diaz
I believe in making the impossible possible because there’s no fun in giving up. Travel, design, fashion and current trends in the field of industrial construction are topics that I enjoy writing about.

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