Which Drill Bits Should You Use

These type of bits are ideal for drilling large-diameter and/or deep holes in wood. The general rule of thumb is that these are normally used with a hand brace. They use a pulling action to cut and as such are not really designed to be used in a power drill. These type are mainly used by woodworkers or cabinet makers.

There are a large range and diversity of drill bits available when it comes to drilling holes. To make sure that you have the right one for the job we have put together a drill bit guide that will hopefully leave you better informed about your choices. One thing we would advise right up front is never do buy very cheap ones as quite frankly they will burn out fast, leave you very frustrated, and just cost you more money in the long run.

Good quality drill bits are not crazy expensive and with a little maintenance can last you for a very long time. It is worth paying a little extra to have something decent in your tool box.

Shortly we will have a detailed look at the various types available but if you just need some quick information we have completed some articles on the best bits for wood, for metal, for masonry and for getting through tiles. Simply click on the appropriate link and you will be taken to the correct page where you can find out what the best ones are for a specific purpose.

How Many Drill Bit Types Are There?

There are a lot of them available and they do come in all shapes and sizes. We have listed them below the basic and most used so as you have a general idea of what is available in the market place.

  • Twist
  • Auger
  • Brad-Point
  • Jobber
  • Boring
  • Spade (known as paddle)
  • Countersink
  • Hex-shank
  • Extra Long
  • SDS
  • Tile and Glass
  • Metal Bits

Now along with these there are a whole range of what would be termed specialist drill bits and these are used by woodworkers, jewellers and glass makers. We will not get into those in this particular article and will concentrate on the main drill types available today. So now we know that there are different types, so what exactly are they all used for and why.

We thought it might be easier to show that information in a table so we put one together for you to have a look at. We hope that it makes things simpler to understand.

Main Drill Bit Types

In the table below we show you the main types of drill bit available in the market. We have also included an image and most importantly we have added a description that shows what each can used for.
TYPEIMAGEDESCRIPTION
Twisttwist drill bitThis is the most common drill bit and can be used for wood, metal, plastic, and most other materials. A general purpose drill bit.
They can be made from "High Speed Steel" (HSS), and these can stand high temperatures.

They can also be made from "Carbon Steel" and this type should only ever be used on wood.
Augerauger drill bitsThese type of bits are ideal for drilling large-diameter and/or deep holes in wood. The general rule of thumb is that these are normally used with a hand brace. They use a pulling action to cut and as such are not really designed to be used in a power drill. These type are mainly used by woodworkers or cabinet makers.
Brad PointThese type of bits are ideal for drilling large-diameter and/or deep holes in wood. The general rule of thumb is that these are normally used with a hand brace.  They use a pulling action to cut and as such are not really designed to be used in a power drill. These type are mainly used by woodworkers or cabinet makers.This type of bit is used when you need accurate positioning for starting a hole. This bit is for very precise work and is most commonly used by furniture makers, cabinet makers, and is designed to make a very smooth and highly accurate hole in wood. The tip of the drill has a sharp point that pushes down into the wood so as you can get a very precise center.
JobberThis type of bit is used when you need accurate positioning for starting a hole. This bit is for very precise work and is most commonly used by furniture makers, cabinet makers, and is designed to make a very smooth and highly accurate hole in wood. The tip of the drill has a sharp point that pushes down into the wood so as you can get a very precise center.In simple terms jobber bits are the most common type of drill size available in the market today. A good calculation to remember is that these type refer to bits that are between 9 to 14 times the diameter in length. So the name has more to do with the length of the bit rather than anything else. You can get these to drill through different materials.
Boringboring drill bitsAs the name would suggest these are bits that have an unusual shaped tip that is used to bore out holes in different materials.
They can also be referred to as Forstner bits and are used to drill out things like certain types of Blum hinges, for doors.
This again will mainly be used for kitchen, cabinet or furniture making
Spadespade drill bitsThese are known as spade or paddle drill bits simply because of their shape.
These are mainly used for drilling bigger holes in wood. They can also be used for drilling holes through drywall to cater for cables or pipes.
They are also used for drilling through floorboards. These are certainly hand to have in your tool box.
Countersinkcountersink drill bitsThese bits are used to make a conical recess for the heads of countersunk screws. In almost all cases this will be in wood or plastic and very rare for metal.
Hex-shankhex shank drill bitsThis is the type of drill bit that you can use with a drill and also in a drill press. The actual shank of the bit has flat sides rather than a round profile. This means the bit will be far less likely to slip when cutting if a hex shank is used.
Extra Longextra long drill bitsAs the name would suggest these are simply bits that have a much longer length.
These are ideal for drilling through walls especially cavity walls.
SDSsds drill bitsThese are used for heavy duty masonry drilling. They are expensive but very effective for tough work
Tile & Glasstile and glass bitsAgain these are a very special type of drill bit. They have a special coating and make up that allows you to be able to drill through various types of tiles and also through glass and mirrors.
Metalmetal drill bitsThese are bits that are used to drill through different types of metal such as aluminium, iron and steel.

So as you can see from the table above there are plenty to choose from. For most home type of projects most people will only ever really need some twist drills or jobbers, a few masonry drills and perhaps a spade drill selection for the larger holes. If you have that type of selection then you will be able to get most jobs done as and when they come along. Almost all the manufacturers pit together drill bit sets which will give you a nice selection of bits that should cover off the majority of jobs.

For one-off type jobs you are better off just buying the drill bit as and when you need it.

I found this video where a guy has gone through the many types of bits that are available.

Hopefully you now have a much better understanding of what is out there in the market place. Most people will start out with a simple drill bit set and then add to their collection over the years. That is certainly what I did and I am sure that I have well over 300 different bits in my garage.

Drill Bit Maintenance

If you buy good quality ones and look after them, they do last a long time. You can also buy a drill sharpener that makes it easy to keep them working to their full capacity. Avoid storing them in places that are damp as they will eventually start to rust. I know many guys who will wrap them up in a lightly oiled rag and that does work really well.

Personally I bought a couple of drill bit holders and I keep them inside those. It just makes it easier to find the right one as and when you need it.