Used by a wide range of professionals and DIYers, drill bits are an essential accessory for completing many DIY projects around the home, as well as the job site. Electricians, carpenters, and plumbers are just a few of the pros that rely on drill bits to create holes for wiring, pipes, and joinery. Home DIYers typically use drills to mount heavy objects, like flat screen TVs or shelving. However, with the right type of drill and the right type of drill bit, you can also drill straight through the brick wall to run wire outside. Just make sure to seal the hole with caulking after the wire run is complete.
As drills became more popular at home and in the workplace, drill manufacturers took it upon themselves to create an increasing variety of drill bits designed for specific materials, tasks, and drills. This guide introduces and explains 20 types of drill bits and how to choose a drill bit for your next DIY project.
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Brad-Point Drill Bit
Best for: Boring precise holes into wood.
The main feature of a brad-point drill bit that helps to keep the hole accurate and clean is the brad located at the center of the bit. This brad helps to position the drill bit, while the extra wide grooves around the bit remove material, like chips and dust, without any problem.
Brad-point bits are one of the best options for boring accurate holes into wood and producing a clean exit point in the workpiece. They're ideal for drilling through cabinet doors to install cabinet hardware such as handles. Some brad-point bits also come with rubber stoppers, allowing you to preset the desired depth of the hole.
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Pocket Hole Drill Bit
Best for: Drilling angled holes for screws.
A specialty bit, known as a pocket hole bit, is used almost exclusively for drilling angled holes to make wood joints. The angled holes in the wood are known as pocket holes. They need to be able to accept screws, so that the joints of the workpiece can be securely held together.
When used correctly, a pocket hole bit bores a hole into the wood at a specific angle in order to produce an engineered hole that is capable of housing the screw and the screw head. This is similar to toenailing the wood by driving a nail at a 45-degree angle to fasten two pieces of wood together.
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Twist Drill Bit
Best for: General-purpose drilling through wood, plastic, and light metal.
A regular accessory in many DIYers' tool boxes is a set of twist drill bits. Twist drill bits are one of the most common drill bit types because they are intended for a wide variety of general purpose drilling tasks. These bits can be used to drill through wood, plastic, and light metal.
A twist drill bit has a corkscrew design with wide channels that allows the bit to expel sawdust from the hole as the bit enters the material. This makes it easier to quickly drill accurate holes without having to worry about cleaning the debris out of the drill hole.
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Best for: Driving or loosening screws and other fasteners.
Drill/driver bits come in a variety of options to fit an equally broad range of screws and other fasteners. For instance, by equipping your drill with a Robertson driver bit, you can drive or remove Robertson screws with a recess that fits the size of the bit.
Use these drill bits for DIY projects or on a professional work site to complete various building and renovation projects. They can also be used to put together furniture, hang pictures and other items, or to take apart an appliance or piece of machinery for maintenance and repair.Continue to 5 of 20 below.
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Masonry Drill Bit
Best for: Boring holes into masonry materials.
As the name implies, masonry drill bits are intended to drill through tough masonry materials, like concrete, brick, and mortar. These bits are common for many professionals, like plumbers or electricians, that may need to bore through the brick exterior of the home.
Masonry bits are made to withstand significant force without breaking because they are frequently used with hammer drills or rotary hammers. These tools don't just rotate the bit, they also use a hammering action to drive the drill bit through the tough brick and mortar. Due to this method of drilling and the durability of the target material, masonry bits tend to wear out frequently.
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Glass Drill Bit
Best for: Drilling through non-tempered and ceramic glass.
While masonry bits rely on raw force to bore through brick and mortar, glass drill bits have a specialized tip to drill through glass without cracking, shattering, or otherwise damaging the material. These drill bits are typically used with non-tempered and ceramic glass, though some products can also be used to drill through plastic and tiles.
However, it's important to note that these drill bits can only be used at slow speeds while applying light pressure to the material. Otherwise, the force exerted by the bit will break the fragile glass.
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Rivet Drill Bit
Best for: Drilling rivets into thin sheets of metal.
Another type of specialty drill bit, rivet drill bits are specifically made to drill rivet holes into thin sheets of metal. Rivets are mechanical fasteners with a head on one end and a cylindrical stem known as a tail on the other end. By boring holes into the metal, the rivets can then be inserted into the hole to permanently fasten two or more pieces of metal together.
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Drill Saw Bit
Best for: Cutting irregular holes in metal or wood.
In most cases, it's easier to use a jigsaw to cut irregular shaped holes in metal or wood, but if you don't have one available, then a drill saw bit is an excellent alternative. This type of bit has a sharpened tip that is made to drill down into wood or metal, but the shaft of the bit has a cutting edge that allows it to cut horizontally through the material to widen a hole or cut a small abnormal shape.Continue to 9 of 20 below.
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Spade Drill Bit
Best for: Boring large-diameter holes through wood.
Most DIYers with a significant amount of woodworking experience will have used a spade drill bit before because they drill accessories are essential for drilling large-diameter holes through wood. Electricians also commonly use spade drill bits to make holes for running cables. These bits have a flattened cutting blade with a sharp center point that helps to position the drill bit for increased accuracy.
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Annular Cutter Drill Bit
Best for: Cutting circular holes through metal while leaving the core intact.
Annular cutter drill bits are similar to hole saw bits in that they are designed to cut a neat, circular hole through the target material while leaving the core of the hole intact. However, annular cutter bits are made for cutting into metal instead of for cutting into wood. This type of bit produces accurate, burr-free holes with close tolerances, and it allows you to extract the core of the material.
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Installer Drill Bit
Best for: Installing wiring.
The installer drill bit is regularly used by cable installation professionals, electricians, and security system technicians to install various equipment with wiring. Installer bits can reach up to 18 inches in length, allowing them to penetrate through walls and floors.
You can use these bits to drill through wood, plaster, and light masonry materials, like mortar. These bits are designed with a hole in the tip where a wire can be secured, so that once you have drilled through the target material, you just need to pull the bit back through the hole, attach the wire to the tip, and reinsert the bit to thread the wire through the wall, floor, or ceiling.
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Adjustable Wood Drill Bit
Best for: Drilling holes of various sizes through wood.
Adjustable wood drill bits are able to be adjusted in order to drill holes of varying sizes without needing to switch the bit. These drill bits are not very common and tend to wear out easier than a standard twist drill bit. However, they are an effective option for working with wood. Just make sure the bit is set to the desired boring diameter and that the locking screw is secured to prevent the bit from slipping during use.Continue to 13 of 20 below.
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Step Drill Bit
Best for: Drilling holes of varying diameters into sheet metal.
The odd name of step drill bits is due to the shape of the tip, which resembles a series of pyramid-shaped steps. Step drill bits are used to drill into sheet metal. The steps on the tip allow these bits to accurately drill holes of varying diameters through the target material. While they are most often used for sheet metal, they can also work with soft woods.
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Tile Drill Bit
Best for: Boring holes into tiles.
Tile drill bits are similar to glass bits in that they are made to cut holes through a surprisingly delicate material without causing the tile to crack, crumble, or shatter. These drill bits typically have a carbide tip that is specifically constructed to drill through tile while reducing the chance of chips and cracks.
However, it's important to note that note every tile drill bit can be used to drill through every type of tile. Before purchasing the tile drill bit, check the packaging or the product information to ensure that the bit is rated for your type of tile.
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Auger Drill Bit
Best for: Boring long, deep holes into wood.
Auger drill bits are another type of wood boring bit that has a screw tip at the end of the bit to help start the hole and pull the bit through the wood. These drill bits can reach up to 18 inches in length and they have large flutes along the length of the shaft to quickly and effectively remove wood chips and sawdust. This makes it easy to drill deep holes into tough wood without applying a lot of pressure to the bit.
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Plug Cutter Drill Bit
Best for: Cutting wood plugs for hiding recessed fasteners.
While note a common option for the average DIYer, plug cutter drill bits are used in furniture creation and professional wood working. These drill bits come in handy when you need to be able to cut wooden plugs in order to hide screws, bolts, and other recessed fasteners. They typically have four sharpened blades to cut through the wood and a hollow center to catch the wood plug.Continue to 17 of 20 below.
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Self-Feed Drill Bit
Best for: Cutting precise circular holes through wood.
Self-feed drill bits have a screw tip that is used to position the bit and to pull the larger blades through the wood, similar to the tip of an auger bit. However, these bits do not have flutes to channel the sawdust out of the hole, so users need to periodically stop drilling to clear away the dust. The resulting hole is similar to the hole made by a hole saw bit, except the core is not intact.
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Countersink Drill Bit
Best for: Drilling pilot, countersink, and counterbore holes for screws and other fasteners.
The purpose of a countersink drill bit is to prepare the material for the installation of screws, bolts, and other fasteners. These specialty bits cut an area in the wood that matches the countersunk shape of the fastener head, allowing the fastener head to sit flush with the surface of the wood. This creates a strong joint between the fastener and the wood.
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Forstner Drill Bit
Best for: Cutting precise, flat-bottomed holes in wood.
The Forstner bit is a cylindrical wood cutting bit that has a point protruding from the center to help position the bit and keep it from shifting while you work. This type of bit cuts clean, precise holes through the wood, leaving a flat-bottomed hole that is suited for receiving dowels. However, Forstner drill bits don't have fluted channels to remove the sawdust as you work, so you may need to stop from time to time to clean out the sawdust before continuing.
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Hole Saw Drill Bit
Best for: Cutting large-diameter holes while leaving the core intact.
A hole saw drill bit can be used on wood, metal, tile, plastic, and even some masonry materials, depending on the specific product. Before purchasing a hole saw drill bit, check the packaging or the product information to ensure that it is suitable for the target material.
These drill bits have a circular cutting blade with a central pilot tip that centers and steadies the bit. Use these drill bits to cut large-diameter holes, such as those needed for installing door hardware.
How to Choose a Drill Bit
There are many different factors to consider when it comes time to choose a drill bit. One of the first considerations should be the type of material you are working with. You can find high-speed steel drill bits for wood, fiberglass, PVC, and soft metals, or you can opt for carbide tipped bits for working with tile and masonry. There are also cobalt drill bits to bore through metal, or more general-use products, like black oxide-coated bits or titanium-coated bits.
The type of work should also be a primary factor when you are looking for a new bit. Various drill bits are designed for very specific purposes, such as plug cutter bits and installer drill bits, while other bits have more general use, making them suitable for a wide variety of projects. It's also recommended to check the size of the bit, so you don't end up drilling a hole that is too big or too small for the intended purpose. If you aren't sure about the size you need, consider investing in a drill bit set with multiple bit sizes.