You’ll find yourself faced with oodles of choices when you go to the hardware store even down to the difference between the drill bits black oxide vs titanium. Fortunately, the answer isn’t as elusive as it may seem.
It boils down to several key points that include the performance of the material, its best uses and, of course, cost. We’ll walk you through what you need to know to pick the right one for the job.
How Do They Differ?
Let’s begin with the construction of the drill bits black oxide vs titanium. The base is made a particular kind of metal referred to as high-speed steel (HSS).
You’ll also see this term with power saw blades. Before advances in the technology, you’d find these items made of high-carbon steel.
Today’s products use molybdenum or tungsten instead for faster cutting power and greater strength. They rate at least 60 on the Rockwell hardness scale.
Both black oxide and titanium are coatings used to improve the performance and longevity of drill bits. Other concerns lie with higher temperatures resulting from the friction of operation at quicker speeds.
This material takes the efficiency of standard steel bits to the next level with a heat treatment that increases its lubricity or slipperiness. Think of a hot knife going through butter.
This process also reduces friction, and, thus, the temperature of the bit in action to help preserve its hardness. The coating also gives them their distinctive dark color.
Titanium or more specifically, titanium nitride, takes a different twist on this conundrum. This treatment isn’t unlike electroplating, giving it the same upgrades in performance as black oxide.
The result is a harder drill bit with greater durability for the long haul. It also reduces friction which contributes to its better performance over standard steel ones.
What are the Pros and Cons of Black Oxide and Titanium Drill Bits?
Each type has its advantages and disadvantages which come down to several key features including:
- Drill Materials
- Special Features
We’ll cover each of these points in detail with the drill bits black oxide vs titanium along with the best uses for both.
Black Oxide Bits
The coating of these bits helps prevent rust and corrosion which can shorten the life of them and increase the risk of injury if they break on the job. We assume that you’re taking the necessary precautions by wearing safety glasses as per OSHA recommendations.
You can use them on a variety of surfaces from drywall to PVC to wood. It’s also suitable for tougher materials like metals such as copper and brass.
However, the downside is that they’re more likely to use their edge if you use them on harder surfaces. The coating helps and can extend their longevity by up to 50 percent over standard steel bits.
The word, titanium, should give you a clue about one of the overwhelming advantages of this type. It is one of the strongest materials known to mankind with a melting point of 3,034.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
That also means that it can handle the higher temperatures caused by the friction between the bit and the material. This property helps ensure its superior longevity which can last up to six times longer.
You’ll also notice the differences when using them. The drill bits black oxide vs titanium give this round to the latter when it comes to holding an edge.
On the downside, they may cost you a little more because of these advantages. However, you should balance that with the price and hassle of replacement.
Which Type Should You Use?
Several factors come into play when deciding which kind to use between titanium drill bits vs black oxide, especially the material.
Bear in mind that either is a fine choice for softer materials like wood, plastics or composition board. Either coating will give you the necessary slipperiness to cut through it cleanly without a lot backing up onto the bit.
Titanium has the edge if you’re working with stainless steel. Black oxide just won’t cut it.
If budget is a consideration, standard steel or black oxide offer affordable options that won’t break the bank. Remember that you’ll like lose a bit or two along the way which you can easily replace.
Regardless of the type, you should also consider the point style which can make your task easier and safer. You’ll find bits with a tip geometry of 118 or 135-degree versions.
The former is an excellent choice for softer materials like wood. However, you should ground the bit with a center punch to keep it from sliding and causing an injury or damage to the material.
The latter prevents these issues with its split point. You can use it on most materials too.
Another variation you’ll see is the speed helix. The different shape of the point allows for faster cutting into the material and, thus, greater efficiency.
The advantage it brings to the table is to get more battery life by making the cutting action easier on your power tool. It’s worth considering, especially if you use a cordless drill.
Cost and Other Options
You’ll find either type available as single bits or in a set. Buying the latter usually offers some cost savings.
Single units run around $2, depending on the type. Black oxide is the most affordable between the two if cost is an issue.
The advantage of getting a set comes with the case you’ll get with it. Not many things are likely to frustrate a woodworker more than not being able to find the right sized bit when you need it.
Also, pay attention to the shank type. You’ll see both rounded and hex kinds.
The former will work will with a regular drill, while the latter is meant for an impact driver instead. They are not interchangeable.
You’ll likely come across cobalt drill bits too. They differ with the inclusion of this metal in the HSS base.
It is even stronger than but comes at a much higher cost. The standard HSS is sufficient for most DIY projects.
The former will run you under $50 for a complete set of drill bits. The cobalt type can easily run north of that amount.
Other materials you may see include:
- Carbon Steel
- Chromium Vanadium Steel
- Gold Oxide
Some reputable manufacturers for these drill bits include:
Sets can run anywhere from five to 100 bits. The latter, of course, is overkill for most DIYers.
One feature you should pay attention to is the system of measurement. You’ll find products in both metric and imperial sets.
The question of drill bits black oxide vs titanium comes down to the materials you’re working with and your cost. Either one is a smarter choice than using standard steel if just for the fact that they’ll make your job easier.
Our advice is to opt for the titanium so that you’re prepared no matter what task is next on your list. Its outstanding cutting ability and longer life make it worth the investment.