Types of Drill Bits and best ones to get for your projects

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  March 19, 2022
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Drill bits are an essential piece of equipment for professionals and DIY enthusiasts alike. No matter whether your material is wood, metal, or concrete, you get to use an ideal drill bit for your works to get done.

Without them, drilling holes can be a daunting task for sure. But, from drilling holes on a roof to hanging a gallery wall, drill bits can fetch you with a jar of water in the desert.


Yet, considering the diversity of drill bits in terms of shape, material, and function, you must choose a bit that is appropriate for the job at hand. It is impossible to drill the surface with the wrong bit and not destroy it.

Who on earth wants to bring his work to a halt? I suspect no one. We will therefore show you different types of drill bits together and describe how they work to make sure you take on that drilling project with confidence and achieve the best results.

Different Types of Drill Bits for Wood, Metal, and Concrete

Depending upon your needs, the choice of drill bits will vary. You never expect a metal drill bit to do the same job for your glossy wooden surface. Likewise, an SDS drill is well-suited to drill through concrete- will you expect it to perform on the metal in the same fashion? – No, absolutely not.

Hence, to facilitate the transition, even more, we will discuss the topic in three distinct sections. Let’s get started!

Drill Bits for Wood

No matter how old or new you are to woodworking, you already know that good-quality wood bits have a bright finish. However, the design of the drill bit is more important than how shiny and gleaming it is. Most of the time, they are designed with a long centering tip and a pair of pre-cut spurs.

Working as a woodworker, you might have to deal with different types of wood- from softwoods to hardwoods. Therefore, the chances are good that you use the same bit for every piece of wood. And this is why, all too often, people find kits quite ordinary and start blaming the manufacturer.

If it is very you, sending hugs! Don’t worry; we have you covered on every issue that has plagued you for years. From drilling holes in furniture to boring kitchen cabinets- everything will be as easy as you like.

Twist Drill Bit

Arguably this is the most common type of drill bits available on the market. Woodworkers, in particular, have been using this bit for centuries. The item was designed and constructed with a great deal of wisdom. In a nutshell, it is ground at an angle of 59 degrees so it can bore a hole efficiently. Furthermore, the flutes at the tip do not drill but rather reduce wastage for effective drilling.

No wonder, twist drill bits come in a variety of sizes and styles- stubby, prentice, jobber, and pilot are one of them.

Countersink Drill

There is no better tool for setting screws into wood than a countersink drill. It is designed specifically for drilling pilot holes in wood. Don’t mix up countersink with counterbores; they are two different kits.

Countersink drills, they’re also called ‘screw pilot bit’. As the drill drills deeper, the holes narrow, allowing for a more convenient and secure screw installation.

Spade or Flat Wood Bit

Of the benefits of this wood, bit is, it is available in various sizes- starting from 1/4 inch to about 1 1/2 inches. I find it to be one of the most rapid drilling bits at my disposal right now.

Certainly, high-speed drilling is an advantage to get the work done in an efficient matter.

Nevertheless, most of us ignore the fact that excessive pressure on the bit can cause the bit to trail or even break through the wood. Therefore, use the tool at some speed, but don’t put much pressure on it.

Lip and Brad Point Bit

When you’re looking to buy holes in your wooden and plastic furniture, this Lip and Brad point bit is the one for the job. It is thus the ideal drill bit for wood or soft plastics.

Although it is available in several sizes and styles, it is ideal for creating small holes. In addition, it is less likely to cause melting of edges when compared to an HSS bit due to the material and overall quality of construction. We can, therefore, comfortably drill plastic alongside timber.

Drill Bits for Metal

Metal drill bits are made of different materials, such as HSS (high-speed steel), cobalt, or carbide. Depending on your subject material, a drill bit for metal comes into play.

Many metal applications exist, from aluminum to stainless steel to hardened steel, to name a few.

Generally speaking, every drill bit for metal works fine for all applications. Yet, in some cases, for instance, drilling out in an engine block will be difficult with commonly used metal drill bits.

We’re here to help you pinpoint drill bits that will do your job in a jiffy. Just read on to learn a few things to consider before ordering.

Step Bit

You’ll barely find a metalworker who leaves home without a step-bit drill in his sack. However, this drill bit is specially made for thin metal.

To drill metal or bore a hole into it, we must take into account the metal’s resistance and the speed of the bit. We can’t expect a great result without the right combination.

One of the interesting facts about the product is that it comes with a stepped design. This means that we can use the same drill bit to make holes of a variety of sizes. Additionally, the special design allows us to deburr holes, keeping the holes waste-free. In fact, many of us have found that this is a suitable tool for drilling timbers as well.

Hole Saw

This bit works equally well on thin as well as thick metal. To create large holes and wire pass-throughs, professionals often stick with this option. It is designed with two parts- a mandrel and a blade. Typically on heavier metals, such as ceramic, a hole saw with a diameter of 4 inches works well. Even so, it is best suited to iron, steel, and aluminum.

Twist Drill Bit

It works just as well on metal as it does on wood. To be honest, it’s a general-purpose tool. Metalworkers, however, tend to use coated and cobalt bits to ensure strength and resistance. The twist drill bit will do whatever you need if you are drilling light metal holes.

HSS Drill bit

If it is steel that you’re going to drill on, an HSS drill bit would be my recommendation. The mixture of vanadium and tungsten makes it suitable for the job. Regardless of how thin or thick the steel pan is, it is hard enough to pass through it.

Bit sizes range from 0.8 mm to 12 mm. We can as well strongly consider the option for plastic, wood, and other materials.

Drill Bits for Concrete

The surface of the concrete is undoubtedly different from that of metal or wood. Thus, it requires drill bits especially made for concrete.

Generally, concrete is a mixture of Portland cement and stone aggregates. Even though there are several types of concrete-based products, you can find roofing tiles, artificial stone, and pre-cast masonry blocks everywhere. Keeping this in mind, we have described 4 types of concrete drill bits that are suitable for the task at hand.

Masonry Bit

Using masonry bits, drilling through concrete is effortless, regardless of whether you use an electric drill, hand drill, or hammer drill. Sounds exaggerated? Let me allow myself to share some features and deep insights about this incredible drilling tool.

To prevent the item from slipping from your hand, it comes with a hexagonal or cylindrical shank. Meaning, you can hammer it or apply pressure as much as you like. Additionally, a masonry bit drills just as well on bricks as it does on concrete and masonry. Furthermore, it can reach up to 400mm. The average range of size is 4-16mm.

Note: Excessive pressure can cause the tungsten coating to melt and make it extremely hot. Therefore, keep a jar of cold water nearby.

Special Direct System (SDS) Bit

An SDS bit is familiar to anyone who has been drilling for quite some time. Heavy drilling and durability are their trademarks.

It may surprise you to know that the name originated from German words. Over time, it becomes well-known as a ‘special direct system.’ Due to its unique design with slots in the shank, it does not slip and makes changing the bit easier.

Despite being robust and long-lasting, the drill tool is only suitable for one purpose. In addition, it does not allow any other mode than a hammer. Nevertheless, it is one of the go-to products for extensive drilling.

Black Oxide Drill Bit

Boring holes in concrete or stone isn’t as easy as falling off a log. The strength of the drill largely determines the quality of the holes. And a sharp bit can increase the efficiency, in a sense, the strength of a drill machine. As a result, it is important to choose a drill bit that retains its sharpness and efficiency over time.

When it is about the bit’s sharpness and efficiency, the coating comes into play. It increases longevity and avoids any rust and corrosion. Therefore, black oxide drill bits can be a great option for us wanting to get served for a long.

Installer Drill Bit

This is a multipurpose drill bit. We normally consider this item for light drilling projects. Drilling holes for wiring, for instance, would be fine.

Interestingly, it gets two stairs of shape. A twist scheme is used in the first half, followed by a plain layout in the second half. Also, the drill bit gets a comparatively slimmer shape that helps create precise and compact holes.

Furthermore, it is capable of reaching a length of 18 inches.

Additional Tips for Drill Bit Maintenance and Usage

Spot the Point

First, mark the spot where you want a hole. If possible, use an erasable marker or a nail to create a tiny hollow in the center. This will make your whole process a lot easier and smoother.

Know your Surface Material

During this stage, we often fall short. We fail to identify the proper tool for our material. Therefore, be very careful before you set the bit on your drill machine. Get to know your surface, if possible, speak with someone who is an expert in this field, read the label, etc.

Even your drilling speed depends on the material you are drilling in. The harder the surface, the slower the speed should be.

Keep Drill Bits Dry and Sharp

Store your bits in a dry place. After every use, wipe them with a dry cloth. Otherwise, it might get rusty over time. Likewise, do not hesitate to sharpen your drill bit using a bench grinder. When you care for your bits correctly, they will serve you for a long time.

Start Slow

Generally, it is always recommended to start slowly when you’re onto something technical. It is supposed to be more of ‘slowly but surely.’ Place the bit at the center point, and press the power button. Then increase the pressure gradually. And make sure the drill doesn’t slip away from the actual point.

Keep a Pot of Water Nearby

Whenever you drill a few inches, dip the drill into the water for a few seconds. Especially on hard surfaces, drill bits heat up rapidly. So after every inch of drilling, put out your drill and dip it in water. The hotter it gets, the more frequently it needs sharpening.

Final Thoughts

Due to all the different types of drill bits available, it might seem a bit overwhelming to select one. Don’t worry though; identify your material first and then review it. Never let yourself become confused by the appearance or the price of a product.

Lastly, if possible, keep two sets of drill bits on hand. You will do well!

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.