How to Select the Best Drill Bit For Your Project

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Depending on where you want to drill, and what material you’re drilling into, different bits work better. In this guide, we’ll take a look at the most relevant factors in selecting the best drill bit for your project

How to Select the Best Drill Bit For Your Project

If you’ve been eager to start your home renovation project but not sure which drill bits you’ll fit your needs, this quick guide will help you make the best decision and complete your work in no time and with less room for mistakes. 

Let’s start with picking your right drill.

Picking The Right Type Of Drill  

Before starting your DIY or home renovation project, you need to ensure you have the right tools to finish the job. Start with picking the right drill. 

Depending on the type of project you’re starting, you can choose between: 

Regular Drill/ Cordless Drill/Driver

How to Select the Best Drill Bit For Your Project

These drills are perfect for any beginner. Lightweight and easy to operate, regular drills are usually cordless and can be used for the simplest operations that don’t need additional force, for example, driving screws. 

Cordless drills function on the principle of rotation and come with a clutch that can help you regulate the amount of torque you apply on the screw. That is useful because when a drilling limit is reached, the clutch slips, and the chuck stops to rotate. 

This trick is particularly valuable when you’re driving into softer materials ( wood or drywall) and prevents you from driving the screw below the surface or even way through.

Hammer Drills /Rotary Hammers

How to Select the Best Drill Bit For Your Project

These drills offer a 2 in 1 action by uniting the rotation of a regular drill with a hammering action. The added force allows you to bore holes in masonry, for example, quickly. 

A hammer drill is built to withstand drilling holes into brick, concrete, and even rock. 

As it requires extra force to drill in such rigid materials, these tools use a particular type of drill bit.

With a hammer drill, you’ll be able to perform various tasks from light-duty, like installing a shelf on a brick wall, to drilling holes through brick or block walls for installation of electric conduit or water pipes. 

Impact Drivers 

How to Select the Best Drill Bit For Your Project

Impact drivers are created to manage heavy-duty driving tasks. An impact driver functions similarly to a drill driver but with an added twist at the point of impact. The mechanism inside the tool that pounds it around with an extra turning force makes driving fasteners faster and easier. On top, most impact drivers are smaller and lighter tools.

The extra force used in impact also means you need specialty drilling tools. The major difference between standard drill bits is the stronger materials and a stronger shank. 

You should also know that you can use impact driver bits in both standard drill drivers and impact, but you risk shattering them and creating safety hazards if you use standard bits in an impact driver. 

Air/Pneumatic Drills

Air/Pneumatic Drills

An air drill is a contractor-grade tool that runs on compressed air instead of electricity. 

Pneumatic drills, as they’re also known, use an air hose connected to a suitable air compressor, usually running on a diesel engine, and are used for drilling small diameter holes in hard rock in mining and construction.  

Drill Presses 

Drill Presses

Drill presses are a bench-top tool. They are used for drilling precisely spaced holes in wood, metal, and plastic. They are stationary and great for simplifying boring holes that need to be exact in depth and diameter. 

If you plan to use a drilling tool only for minor home repairs and the occasional woodworking project, a drill press is not the right tool for you. They’re usually used by metal and woodworking specialists that work with the machine daily. 

Right-Angle Drills 

Right-angle drills make it possible to work in tight spaces like in between floor joists or plumbing.

The chuck of a right-angle drill is mounted at a 90-degree angle to the drill body, and the head is generally much shorter than a regular drill. The grip is designed to be comfortable and easy to operate with one hand.

Powered Screwdrivers

Powered Screwdrivers

Power screwdrivers come in a range of sizes. They are portable electrical tools that help you screw and unscrew bolts and other bits safely and effortlessly. 

The screwdriver head has a bit holder that can be magnetic or have a quick release system, allowing you to change your driving bits quickly.

Powered screwdrivers are used for household chores, and some of the high-power models are a great aid in installing decking or drywall. 

On top of that, you can modify some models to operate in either a pistol-grip or straight, inline configuration.

Drill Bits Materials

Drill Bits Materials

To make a more informed choice that will guarantee the efficiency of your drilling tasks, it’s recommended you get familiar with the different materials used for drill bits and their application. 

For example,

Cobalt (HSCO) drill bits are perfect for drilling more rigid steel and stainless steel grades. Usually more expensive, they also last longer. 

Carbide (Carb) bits are the most rigid and most brittle. They, however, can cut hardened steel, stainless steel, and aluminum with ease. 

Diamond bits are effective for drilling tile, stone, or other rigid material. These bits are costly and recommended for use in particular tasks.

High-Speed Steel (HSS) bits are harder, more resistant to heat, and can drill metal at more incredible cutting speeds than high-carbon steel. 

How To Select The Best Drill Bits For Your Project

Besides the material they are made of, drill bits come in different designs, selected for the difference for the job they have to perform.

Drill Bits by Type

Depending on the material you have to drill in, drill bits are: 

Wood Drill Bits

Wood Drill Bits

These come with a small, pointed tip at the very end with spurs on each side. Wood drill bits grab the wood and carve it away. The tapered tip that pokes into the surface of the wood also helps you keep on center. These bits also have wider grooves that help channel wood shavings and dust up and out of the hole.

When you work on softwood, you can go for steel bits but have in mind that hardwoods will dull your still drill a bit faster—titanium-coated wood drill bits last longest.   

Masonry Drill Bits

Masonry Drill Bits

Masonry bits have a gently sloping tip. Occasionally, the end of masonry bits is coated in tungsten carbide to prolong their sharpness. These bits are best suited for stone and cinder blocks drilling. And you can try them in some tile work as well. 

As they need to drill in quite hard material, masonry bits are highly durable and will do great if you’re planning to hang some family photos or even wall shelves.  

Metal Drill Bits

Metal Drill Bits

The metal drill bits have a wide-angled or flatter tip. They are designed to withstand heat and friction without dulling too fast and are highly versatile.

To make sure you can drill through all metal types, look for high-speed steel (HSS) drill bits. Metal drill bits usually contain cobalt or have a titanium coating and are colored in blue-gray, black, or gold. 

Forstner Drill Bits

Forstner Drill Bits

Forstner drill bits are specialty bits designed to help you with any cabinetry work. They drill clean and precise holes used for door hinges, for example. 

Installer Drill Bits

Installer Drill Bits

The installer bits are specialized twist bits designed for installing wiring like in security systems, for instance. They can be as long as 18 inches and can drill through wood, plaster, and some masonry. 

Spade Bits

Spade Bits

Spade bits, also known as paddle bits, drill large-diameter holes in wood – up to 1-1/2 inches in diameter. A spade bit has a flattened blade with a sharp point that helps position and steady the bit. 

Choosing Drill Bits by Size

Choosing Drill Bits by Size

Choosing the right drill bit also depends on the size of the hole you need to make. 

When you’re buying drill bits, you’ll find that they come with charts and match the size of the shank of the screw that ensuring you can identify the right size drill bit for your job. 

When you work with softwoods, use drill bits 1/64″ smaller than the target hole size. 

Use a bit the same size as the hole when working on other materials.

If you’re unsure which to select, choose a drill bit 1/64″ larger than the hole you wish to create. 

Auxiliary Tools & Safety 

Working with drills and drill bits requires you to take a few precautions that will guarantee your safety. 

For example, you should wear protective gear like safety glasses and heavy utility work gloves while working on your drilling project. 

You must also ensure you’re not drilling any near cables that run electricity. All surfaces you stand on should be stable and safe. 

You might also think of additional tools and equipment your project requires. Tools like clamps, an angle grinder, and high-quality diamond grinding wheels are perfect additions for surfaces that need to be smoothed over or fixed in a specific position. 

Wrapping Up

Selecting the right drilling tool and accessories like drill bits, screws, and protective gear is part of setting yourself for success with any home renovation or DIY work.   

Our tips on selecting the best drill bit for your project help you learn how to be prepared for any tasks requiring drilling, from simply hanging photo frames to drilling required in plumbing and cabling. 

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Walter Snyder

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