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Your corded or cordless power drill provides the muscle, but it’s the drill bit that actually gets the job done, whether that job be driving a screw into drywall, drilling a hole into metal, assembling furniture, or even punching a tiny hole into glass.
While some specialty drill bits are sold individually, most often, you’ll buy a set of bits that includes a variety of sizes and purposes, allowing you to tackle a wide range of projects around your home.
Note that when choosing a set of drill bits, you’ll need to know the size of your drill’s chuck–that’s the clamp on the front of the drill that secures the bit. The shank of your drill bit–the shank is the base of the bit–cannot be larger than your drill’s chuck.
Here are the best drill bits for all of your DIY needs.
Best Overall: IRWIN Drill Bit Set
This set earns the best overall spot because of the wide range of drill bits included and their versatility. Whether you're an experienced handyman or a beginner, you will be able to appreciate a kit that gives you everything you need and more. IRWIN packed this kit with 29 drill bits made with heavy duty web construction and cobalt steel. This gives the bits strength and extends the life of the sharp cutting edges. The kit contains 29 bits ranging from a 1/16-inch to a ½-inch bit in 1/64-inch increments. The reduced shank allows for a larger drill bit to be used in a standard 3/8-inch chuck.
The tap and drill selection chart is very helpful for those new to power drills and drill bits, and the sturdy case keeps the wide range of bits from falling out or twisting around inside of the kit when in transit.
Best for Stainless Steel: Drill America 1" Reduced Shank High Speed
Drill America has made a high speed shank drill bit that slips effortlessly through stainless steel to create perfect holes without leaving behind a path of grit or rough sides. The wear-resistant round shape of the shank has three sides with flat ends that create a good grip when they come in contact with the chuck. The spiral flute at the end of the bit pulls bits of the material being drilled away from the work surface so it won’t clog the job. The surface of the drill bit is treated with abrasion-resistant black oxide for a long-lasting tool accessory.
Aside from stainless steel, it can also be used for iron and bronze projects. If your projects often involve metal, this tiny workhorse performs well and produces professional results.
Best for Hardened Steel: DEWALT Titanium Drill Bit Set
Getting through hardened steel can be difficult it you're not using the right drill bit. If you're using the wrong drill bit, the point may bounce back or dance across the surface instead of making a dent in the tough substance. DEWALT created the Titanium Pilot Point drill bit set to power through the often difficult process of drilling into hardened steel; the bits are highly durable and resist chipping, stalling, or dulling, even after many uses.
This set of 18 titanium drill bits is made to last. The bits are ideal for a number of jobs in a wide range of industries, from drilling out broken bolts, adjusting manifolds, or removing exhaust systems to fixing or installing car engine parts. These drill bits are designed to prevent chipping in the hardened steel and to dissipate the heat that can build when working with this durable material.
Best for Wood: Fisch 10mm Set of Chrome Vanadium Brad Point Drill Bits
Using the wrong drill bit on wood can lead to disastrous results. It can reduce the aesthetic of the item or cut up the wood in a way that renders it useless for the screws or fasteners that you intend to install. Wood drill bits need to create holes that are clean and pretty as most of the work will be seen and admired. Fisch has created a brad point drill bit set that drills precise and clean holes time after time. The long-lasting bits are made of hard chrome vanadium steel. Each bit in the highly versatile Fisch 8-piece set has beveled edges for crisp, clean holes that are attractive and useful. The bits can also easily pierce acrylic glass and laminates.
Best for Concrete: DEWALT Masonry Drill Bit Set
This tidy package of drill bits can cut through concrete quickly and easily without making a dusty, clumpy mess. The carbide construction of each bit cleanly drills into concrete surfaces. The no-spin shanks reduce vibration and wear and tear on the chuck. The kit has a wide-range of bit sizes, from a pinhole 3/16-inch to a sturdy ½-inch bit for bigger jobs. You'll also appreciate the quality and design as well as the strength of the drill bits on tough concrete projects that eat up other brands of drill bits. Each bit is fluted to reduce the amount of dust that flies from the surface as the drill bit digs into the concrete material.
Best Titanium Set: Bosch Titanium Metal Drill Bit Set
It is a durable coating that extends the life of the bit and bores through material faster than its counterparts, which is why titanium is one of the more popular materials on the drill bit market. The Bosch Tl14 14-piece titanium twist kit has a plethora of pieces to get through wood, sheet metal, plastic, Plexiglass, and vinyl siding, and is strong enough to cleanly bore through cast-iron surfaces. Each drill bit is coated in titanium nitride.
Bosch’s speed helix design gets the right bit through the correct material faster than other drill bits. The titanium bits last six times longer than high-speed steel and have a balanced double flute that significantly cuts down on vibration. This will save time, muscle fatigue and increase the lifespan of the drill battery on projects.
Best Value Set: VonHaus 246-Piece Drill Bit Set
If you don't want to spend a lot of money on a set, we recommend the VonHaus Drill Bit Set. The kit is affordable and chock full of a wide variety of bits as well as a host of fastening and driving applications. It has 246 strong and long-lasting bits to get through the hardiest of materials or gently pierce a perfect pinhole in the thinnest sheet of steel, glass, wood, plastic, or drywall.
Each bit is coated in high-speed steel (HSS) material titanium and is compatible with most impact drills and drivers. The set includes four spade drill bits, 30 black oxide HSS twist drill bits, 17 wood drill bits, and 21 masonry drill bits in a wide variety of sizes, along with other tool accessories to create a complete, all-inclusive drill bit kit.
Best Professional Set: Makita Impact Drill-Driver Bit Set
Makita has successfully produced an affordable and professional-grade kit stuffed with bits for nearly any job requirement. The 70-piece kit has a full range of tools for fastening and driving as well as drilling. Each bit is coated in black oxide paired with a Makita-only heat treatment for a corrosion-resistant and long-lasting tool accessory. The bits are designed to work well with 3/8-inch or ½-inch driver drills or ¼-inch impact drivers.
The bits are manufactured using high-speed steel with precision 135-degree split point tips. This cuts down on drill bit walking across a slick surface of glass or metal or chattering for a more precise result. The UltraLok ¼-inch hex shanks allow for quick changes of drill bits.
The affordable price tag is an extra bonus on top of the quality and durability of this set. You'll be using these bits for a long time.
We love the IRWIN Drill Bit Set (view at Amazon) for its completeness and quality; it includes 29 high quality drill bits for just about any need you might have. But if you are watching your budget, and don’t mind sacrificing a little bit of quality, the VonHaus 246-Piece Drill Bit Set (view at Amazon) includes an amazingly large selection of bits suitable for most light drilling tasks.
What to look for in a Drill Bit
- Steel: These are the least expensive drill bits, but are only suitable for soft wood and other materials.
- High-Speed Steel: Harder than regular steel, these bits can tackle harder wood, as well as aluminum, PVC, and fiberglass.
- Titanium-Coated: These pricier drill bits don’t create as much friction as steel, reducing the heat produced while you work. They’ll effectively drill through most woods, fiberglass, soft metals, and PVC or similar plastics.
- Carbide-Tipped: Pricy, but these drill bits are very durable and stay sharp much longer than steel—even high-speed steel—and titanium options. These are mostly used to drill through tile, masonry, or concrete.
- Black Oxide Coated: These general-purpose steel bits have a special coating that helps ward off rust and corrosion.
- Cobalt: Typically the most expensive option, these super-strong bits are used mostly for drilling through metal, including steel and iron.
There are two sizes to consider when choosing drill bits: the shank and the point. The shank is the part of the bit that fits into your drill’s chuck. You’ll need to choose bits with shanks equal to or smaller than your drill’s chuck. Standard chuck sizes are ¼-inch for light-duty drills, 3/8-inch for standard drills, and ½-inch on heavy-duty drills.
The pointed end of your bit is the business end, and drill bit sets contain a range of point sizes. Many DIYers find that 1/16-inch to ¼-inch drill bits are sufficient for most household tasks, but if you deal with tougher drilling situations, such as construction, carpentry, or major household repairs, you’ll want to add some larger bits to the mix. Useful larger bit sizes include 5/16-inch, 3/8-inch, 7/16-inch and 1/2-inch.
There are many different types of drill bits, generally differentiated by their intended use. Here are some of the most common.
- Twist: This is the most common type of drill bit, and is useful for general-purpose drilling into wood, plastic, and light metals.
- Spade: Shaped something like an oar with a point in the middle, these heavy-duty bits are for drilling large holes in wood.
- Brad-Point: Similar to a twist bit with a looser, larger twist, brad-point bits are for wood, and create large, clean holes.
- Auger: These long, twisted-ribbon-shaped bits have a screw-shaped tip that pulls the rest of the bit into and through wood.
- Forstner: Used for drilling flat-bottomed holes that don’t go all the way through the wood.
- Countersink: Also called screw pilot bits, these are used to drill pilot holes or holes that let screws sit flush to the surface of the wood.
- Glass: Specialty bits for drilling into glass.
- Masonry: Specialty bits for drilling into brick, masonry, or concrete.
- Tile: Specialty bits for drilling into ceramic tile without causing cracks or chips.
- Step: Shaped something like a round arrowhead, these bits are mostly used for drilling into metal.
Can you sharpen drill bits?
You can indeed sharpen most twist drill bits, and doing so not only keeps the bits more effective, it also increases the safety of your drill, as dull drill bits are likelier to slip or skid across hard materials.
There are electric drill-bit sharpeners available that make quick work of restoring the point to your twist bits. You can also tackle the job yourself with a bench grinder or a rotary tool with the appropriate grinding attachment. Another option is to use a metal sharpening file to do the job by hand.
Are drill bits universal?
As a general rule, various brands of drill bits can be used in any brand of drill, as long as the drill bits are sized to the drill’s chuck. The chuck is the part of the drill that clamps the bit in place. Common sizes of chucks are ¼-inch, ⅜-inch, and ½-inch. You cannot use a bit with a shank that is larger than your drill’s chuck.
How do you clean drill bits?
Keep your drill bits in tip-top shape by cleaning them whenever necessary. This task is easily accomplished by wiping the bit with a clean cloth after use—wait for the bit to cool down first—or for more stubborn grunge, using an old toothbrush to scrub away sawdust, drywall dust, or other caked materials.
If your drill bits are rusty, submerge them in a bath of white vinegar for at least 30 minutes, and then use an old toothbrush or a metal cleaning brush to scrub the rust away. Rinse the bit thoroughly in clean water and dry completely before using it or storing it.
What is a left-handed drill bit?
Most bits twist in a clockwise fashion towards the right. Left-handed bits, however, turn counterclockwise towards the left. These bits were originally designed back when power drills didn’t have reverse functions requiring nothing more than a flick of the switch to set— it was easier to use a left-handed bit rather than set the tool to reverse manually.
Today, left-handed bits are still sometimes used for removing bolts or other fasteners that have broken off inside the hole, making them very difficult to remove by hand. By drilling slightly into the broken fastener with a left-handed bit, you can often loosen the broken screw enough to pull it out and remove it.