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Different Types of Drill Bits

Drill bits are an essential part of using any electric drill whether you’re working with wood, tackling tough tile, repairing concrete or working with materials like stainless steel. Choosing the right drill bit for your project is a must to ensure the job is done right.

Understanding Drill Bit Anatomy

Basic drill bit anatomy consists of three parts:

  • Shank. The shank is the part of the drill bit that is smooth. Inserted into the drill itself, shank diameter is often used to denote the different sizes of drill bits.
  • Flute. This is the twisted part of the drill bit that begins just after the shank. Flute length and shape are important considerations when choosing a drill bit.
  • Tip. The tip of the drill bit is the part that will make contact with your work material first. You can find a range of tip types made for different materials from wood to metal, masonry, brick, concrete and more.

Common Types of Drill Bits

Different types of drill bits are required for various types of drilling. Here are some of the most common types of drill bits used today:

Twist Drill Bit

Twist drill bits can work on most materials from wood to plastic, though most models are designed for metal work. Carbide-tipped twist bits are sometimes used for masonry, tile and concrete work.

Screwdriver Bit

Designed to give you extra speed when dealing with lots of screws, screwdriver bits are a must-have for most users. Standard Phillips, flat-head and hex bits are widely available in a range of sizes individually or as sets.

Hole Saw

A different looking design than most standard bits, a hole saw works to create larger holes for items like door hardware and pass-through holes for wiring. This is one of the more popular drill bits for wood workers and builders.

Spade Drill Bit

A spade bit is differentiated by two sharp lips at the tip, designed to make quick work of drilling smaller to medium holes in wood projects. This is one of the most popular drill bits for wood building and repair projects.

Coring Drill Bit

Coring drill bits work much like hole saws, as they’re designed to cut a large piece out of a material through drilling. Coring drill bits for concrete are particularly popular, though coring bits are available for a range of other materials as well.

Special coring bits for stone and granite are frequently used for drilling countertops as well.

Auger Drill Bit

Typically used with a carpenter’s brace, auger drill bits are common choices for cabinet and wood furniture makers. The shape of this bit pulls the bit into your material, so you don’t have to apply as much pressure. A variety of sizes are available to match your project needs.

Countersink Drill Bit

Useful for wood projects where you want the finished screw to be flush with the timber, countersink drill bits are a must-have for most woodwork enthusiasts. Most countersink drill bits have a depth stop to guide you.

Masonry Drill Bit

Drill bits for masonry are typically used on brick, concrete and stone as well. They can also be used to drill rough holes in wood if needed. Masonry drill bits are usually used with a special tool called a hammer drill.

Additional Types of Drill Bits and Accessories

Drill bits for materials like wood, concrete and tile are very common. Other types, like drill bits for glass, stainless steel, plastic and more are also available. Here are some additional types of drill bits and related accessories:

  • Brad and Pilot Point Bit
  • Installer Bit
  • Forstner Drill Bit
  • Step Drill Bit
  • Tile and Glass Drill Bit
  • Screw Extractor Bit
  • Chisel Drill Bit
  • Self-Centering Drill Bit
  • Pocket Hole Bits
  • Right-angle Drill Attachments
  • Depth Stops

Drill Bit Materials and Finishes

Drill bits come in a range of materials and finishes with different applications in mind. Here are some options:

Material and Finish Application
Carbide and Carbide-Tipped Bits Concrete, masonry, tile and more. Often used in commercial applications.
High-Speed Steel Bits Commonly used for soft steel, plastic and some types of wood.  
Bi-Metal Bits Wood, plastic, metal and steel. These are common drill bits for stainless steel as well.
Black Oxide-Coated Bits Wood, copper, brass, aluminum, plastic, steel and stainless steel.
Titanium Bits Iron, steel, aluminum, wood and unique materials like magnesium.
Cobalt Bits Hard metals like cast iron, bronze, steel and titanium.
Diamond Bits Glass, stone, tile and other delicate materials. Often used for ceramic pottery applications.
Alloy Steel Bits Soft steel materials, wood and plastic.

Drill Bit Maintenance Tips:

A drill with a fitted bit sits next to a 2x4 piece of lumber.
  • Wipe drill bits off with a dry cloth every five to 10 minutes or so while you’re working.
  • Remove excess dust and material debris with a brush after you’re done working.
  • Add a dab of machine oil to a cloth and wipe down drill bits before putting them away.
  • Store your drill bits in a cool, clean place. A small organizer or toolbox is a great choice.
  • Check your drill bits before you start work on any project. Old drill bits may need to be replaced.

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