When browsing drill bits, different types can be challenging to distinguish unless you’re an experienced handyperson. You’ll need to know what drill bits work best with wood, metal, and any other material you plan to work with.
You might see dozens of different types of drill bits when you enter the hardware store, though, which can complicate the process. This guide will walk you through the different types of drill bits so that you can determine what type you might need.
What are the Common Types of Wood Drill Bits?
Even if you just want to browse wood drill bits, different types of wood drill bits can make your choice difficult. From flat to twist bits, there are several types of wood drill bits to meet a wide range of woodworking projects. Here are a few of the most common wood drill bits:
You can quickly recognize a brad point drill bit from other wood bits because of its sharp, pointed metal piece on its tip, known as a brad. The brad helps the drill attach to the wood securely so that it doesn’t slip as you drill.
However, these drill bits can look similar to twist bits for metal use, which also have a corkscrew body that gives them their name. You’ll need to look at the tip to note the difference; on a metal drill bit, you won’t see a brad, but instead, the tip will just have a slight angle.
A spade bit, also known as a flat drill bit, is meant to drill large holes in wood. These bits also have a brad on the tip to prevent the bit from moving, which helps you create an even, perfect hole.
These bits come in a range of size so that you can create different size holes for anything from small pilot holes to large holes for hanging rods.
Countersinking drill bits are a particular type of drill bit that you’ll only need if you want to countersink screws but are one of the most common types for woodworking projects.
You’ll want to countersink a screw with a countersinking drill bit when you want the head of the screw to be hidden from the final surface. This is helpful when you’re making furniture on which you want a smooth finish.
A countersinking drill bit has a broad head that you can use to create a beveled hole that will house your screw’s head. Once you make the hole with the countersinking bit, you can then use a regular bit to drill a screw into the wood.
Auger drill bits look similar to an auger machine that’s used to move materials out of the ground to create large holes for piping, drilling, and more.
The auger drill bit has a similar purpose for wood. You can create holes of various sizes neatly and quickly with an auger bit.
The auger drill bit does almost the same task as a spade bit, except that it’s known for being able to drill deeper than the spade. Auger bits also require less pressure to move through wood, which can prevent you from splitting or splintering wood.
What are the Common Types of Metal Drill Bits?
There are also several types of metal drill bits that are made to resist heat from metal-to-metal contact and power through soft and hard metals or other hard materials, like plastic. A few of the most common metal drill bits are:
Twist, or High-Speed Steel (HSS)
Twist bits, also known as high-speed steel or HSS bits, can work on various metals, from soft aluminum to hard cast iron. As their name suggests, HSS bits can handle very high speeds from power drills that allow them to cut through metal without damaging themselves or the material they go through.
Standard metal HSS bits are usually black or dark gray in color. They won’t have a brad point like their wood counterparts, and instead have a slight angle on each side of the tip that meets at a dull point.
Cobalt and Titanium-Coated
Standard HSS bits for metal can get most common jobs done, but there might be a time when you need a high-performance bit for heavier materials or to reduce the heat that some metal bits can create when working with metal materials.
Cobalt and titanium-coated drill bits are helpful for these purposes. Cobalt bits are made from a mixture of steel and cobalt, while titanium bits are steel bits with a titanium coating to strengthen them.
Both can handle various types of metals, but titanium-coated drill bits tend to last longer when used with soft metals and wood, while cobalt can drill through the toughest materials.
What are Some Other Drill Bits That are Less Common?
You’ll notice that there is a vast selection of other drill bits that don’t fit the same mold as those we’ve mentioned. That’s because they’re less common for everyday use and more common for special projects, such as working with bricks, glass, or even unique wood projects.
Some other drill bits you might find include:
Masonry bits have a twisted body like standard metal and wood drill bits, but their tips are shaped differently. A masonry drill bit has a flatter tip that, when used with a hammering drill, can break up the brick to help the drill bit move through.
The corkscrew body is a little different than those of metal and wood bits too. Some masonry drill bits have a double-twist design that not only helps the bit glide through masonry, but it also clears away the broken material to create a clean hole.
The drill bits you’d use for glass can usually be used with tile. These drill bits have to be quick and strong to make their way through fragile materials without breaking them.
The best bit for glass is usually made from carbide or diamond, both of which are sturdy materials that can cut through glass with ease.
Carbide glass drill bits have small spade-shaped tips with a point that keeps them from wandering. Diamond drill bits usually have a cylindrical tip that abrades the glass to make a clean hole.
You’ll likely encounter a lot of specialty drill bits when you search for the best bits for your project. Bits made for specific purposes will usually look much different than others, so you won’t have to worry about confusing them with one that might better suit your needs.
Specialty drill bits can come in handy for working with unusual materials, like granite and stone, or for creating unique designs in wood projects.
Conclusion: Drill Bits, Different Types for Different Purposes
Although wood and metal drill bits are among the most common, they’re certainly not the only drill bits on the market. Understanding the differences between drill bits can make it easier for you to find the ones you need.
When it comes to drill bits, different types will make a difference in your finished project. We hope this guide serves as a valuable resource for some of the most common different types of drill bits you’ll encounter, and what uses they’re meant for.