All drill bits are not created equal—there are many different types of bits and a variety of materials used to make them. In some cases, the same drill bit can be used on different materials, but is it necessarily the best choice? It’s important to know a bit about bits to optimize the results of your respective task or project …
These are some of the most common bits to find in the handyman’s toolbox. Used with either a hand or electric drill, the front edges cut the material and the spirals remove the debris along the length of the bit. However, there is a lot of variation with these bits. HSS (High Speed Steel) bits are generally characterized by their black color but more expensive and durable ones may contain cobalt or titanium coating (identified by the gold color). Titanium increases the hardness of the bit and facilitates a lubricating quality which is effective when drilling metals but has little impact on other materials.
Harbor Freight has several Twist Bit sets from which to choose, including the Titanium Drill Bit Set 29 Pc. These titanium drill bits run cooler, drill smoother and last up to three times longer than standard drill bits. The bits range in size from 1/16 in. to ½ in. in 64ths.
Harbor Freight also carries the 115 Pc Cobalt Drill Bit Set. These cobalt drill bits retain their hardness up to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit making them ideal for drilling cast iron, heat-treated steel, stainless steel and other hard materials. With 135 degree tips, the cobalt drill bits not only last longer but also cut faster than standard high speed steel bits.
Brad Point Bits (a.k.a. wood or dowel bits)
These bits are best used on wood (some plastics) and are characterized by a small point at the tip of the bit. Spurs on either side cut clean, straight holes. They’re ideal for drilling holes for dowels, which is why they’re also called dowel bits. These drill bits are a staple for wood workers.
Harbor Freight offers the Brad Point Wood Drill Bit Set 7 Pc with 3/8 inch cutdown shanks. These outstanding bits resist skating and feature extra sharp flutes designed to smooth hole sides while ejecting chips faster to prevent overheating your drill. For projects utilizing either hard or soft woods, this set of brad point bits gets the job done quickly and accurately.
Auger Drill Bits
These bits are designed to cut large, deep and accurate flat-bottomed holes. The spiraling shaft comes to a fine, threaded point while the single spur cuts and defines the hole’s edge. The threaded center bites into the wood, pulling the bit into the timber. This pulling action makes it unsuitable for use in power drills.
Harbor Freight has several sets of auger drill bits available, starting with the Auger Bit Set 7 Pc. These 7-1/2 in. long auger bits make fast, clean holes in both soft and hard woods. The bits are made of heat-treated alloy steel that resists damage from nails. Other features include quick-change 3/8 in. dia. hex shanks and a ¼ in. bit with a ¼ in. hex shank.
Wood Spade Bits (a.k.a. Paddle Bits, Flat Wood Bits)
The pointed tip centers the hole as the paddle-shaped blade bores large, wide holes. Sizes are clearly marked on the face of each bit. These larger bits require a fairly powerful drill and lend themselves to drilling fairly large flat-bottomed holes with a center point—works especially well when the head of a screw or bolt needs to be recessed in the lumber. The bits can cause a lot of splintering as they breakthrough the work piece but a sacrificial backing board will reduce this. These bits are not recommended for enlarging an existing hole.
Harbor Freight offers a variety of wood spade bit sets, including the Steel Spade Drill Bit Set 13 Pc. The extended spurs effortlessly cut crisp, clean holes in thick stock. Each bit is forged and heat-treated to withstand rigorous use. The ¼ inch quick-change shank works with drills and impact drivers.
As the name implies, these drill bits are designed to be used on masonry material, including brick, block, stone, quarry tiles and concrete. The cutting tip is often made of tungsten carbide bonded to a spiral steel shaft. Generally, masonry bits are used in a hand drill but can also be used in a hand brace or hammer action power drill (though cheaper bits can shatter due to the action). Long masonry bits can be used for drilling through masonry walls.
Harbor Freight provides several masonry bit options, including the Masonry Drill Bit Set 5 Pc featuring M2 high-speed steel shanks and C2 carbide tips with 6% cobalt. The 8 in. SDS Masonry Bit Set 6 Pc features a superior hardening process and an enhanced flute design that helps the bits run cooler.
Tile and Glass Bits
The tips of these bits are designed to penetrate tile or glass, then enlarge the hole as the bit penetrates the material. The tips are usually made with tungsten carbide. The bits can be used in a hand drill but are best used with a variable speed power drill on a slow speed. Lubricants should be used to keep the tip cool when drilling.
Harbor Freight offers the Carbide Tip Glass and Tile Cutting Drill Bit Set 6 Pc featuring C-3 tungsten carbide tips and a steel shaft for drilling glass, ceramics, plastics and Formica tiles. The wide base angle provides precise, stable drilling.
Using a power or hand drill, these bits penetrate material and form a conical recess to accommodate the heads of countersunk screws. Countersink bits are generally designed for use on softer materials.
Harbor Freight carries the Carbon Steel Tapered Drill Bit and Countersink Set, 22 Pc. The bits are made from heat-treated steel and designed with a unique single-twist design to remove material more efficiently, resulting in cleaner holes. The set includes seven drills, seven countersinks, seven stop-collars and an individually organized wooden storage box for easy transport and organization.
These bits are used to form holes with flat bottoms, such as with kitchen cupboard hinges. It’s best to use a power drill with a drill stand for optimal accuracy.
Harbor Freight offers two Forstner bit sets, the 1/4 in. – 1 in. Forstner Drill Bit Set With 3/8 in. Shanks 7 Pc featuring high carbon steel construction and 3/8 in. reinforced shanks, and the 1/4 in. – 2-1/8 in. Forstner Drill Bit Set With 3/8 in. Shanks 16 Pc which includes more bits and a wood carrying case for storage.
That’s just the basics when it comes to drill bits. There are many other types of specialized drill bits as well, such as screwdriver bits, plug cutters and nut drivers.