End Mill vs Drill Bit

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  March 18, 2022
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You may think of drilling and milling as the same because of their similar look. But are they really the same? No, they are different in their actions. Drilling means making holes using a drill press or drill machine, and milling refers to the process of cutting both horizontally and vertically.
Therefore, it is incredibly important you use the right tool for the right project. However, an end mill is usually used for only metals, whereas a drill bit is used broadly in various materials. So, what are the differences between the end mill and drill bit? You will know ins and outs of the differences throughout this article.

Basic Differences Between End Mill and Drill Bit

If you are new to the machining or building industry or doing many DIY projects at home, you must be trying to figure out the tool you should use. No worries, as you are in the right place. End mill and drill bit seem alike, but their usage differs from each other. Without further due, let’s focus on the differences:
  • We already talked about the first and significant difference in the introduction, but it’s worth mentioning again. A drill bit is used to dig holes into a surface. Though an end mill uses the same motion, it can cut sideways and widen the holes too.
  • You can use both end mill and drill bit in a milling machine. But, you can never use an end mill in a drilling machine. Because you cannot hold a drilling machine securely to cut the sideways.
  • There are many types of end mills based on the kind of work and desired sizes, whereas a drill bit doesn’t come with as much variety as an end mill.
  • You can found mainly two categories of end mills- shovel tooth and sharp tooth. On the other hand, drill bits are categorized into three types: scraper, roller cone, and diamond.
  • The end mill is very short compared to a drill bit. The edges of an end mill are only available in integer dimensions, whereas a drill bit comes with many dimensions in every 0.1 mm.
  • Another difference among them is the apex angle. Since a drill bit is used to make only holes, it has an apex angle on its tip. And, end mill does not have an apex angle due to its work based on edges.
  • The side edge of an end mill has a relief angle, but a drill bit does not have any. It is because the end mill is used to cut sideways perfectly.

When to Use Them

Drill Bit

  • Use a drill bit for less than 1.5 mm diameter holes. The end mill has the possibility to crack when making smaller holes, and it also does not work aggressively like a drill bit.
  • Use a drill bit when making a deeper hole than 4X of the diameter of the hole. If you go deeper than this using an end mill, your end mill can break down.
  • If your job includes making holes frequently, then use a drill bit to perform this job. Because you will entirely need drilling now, which can be done in the fastest time only by a drill bit.

End Mill

  • If you want to cut materials rotationally, either it is a hole or not, you should use an end mill. Because it can cut sideways using its edges to make a hole of any shape and size.
  • If you want to make gigantic holes, you should go for an end mill. In general, you need a giant drill bit like the end mill with more horsepower to make a big hole. Besides, you can cut sideways using an end mill to make the hole bigger.
  • Generally, a drill bit cannot provide a flat-surfaced hole. So, you can use an end mill to make a flat-bottomed hole.
  • If you make different-sized holes very often, you need an end mill. Most probably, you will not like changing your drill bit again and again to make holes of various sizes.


The above debate of end mill vs. drill bit clears that both can be an excellent investment for you. Whether you need an end mill or drill bit depends on the project you are taking on. So, look at your necessity first. If you need to cut both horizontally and vertically, go for the end mill. Otherwise, you should look for a drill bit.

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.