The Best Drill Bits in 2020 – Buying Guide And Reviews

Different types and sizes of drill bit.

Finding a great drill press or handheld drill is only part of the battle. You also need to make sure you have the best drill bits for the application at hand, otherwise even the best drill can have problems.

Let’s dive in: I’ve broken down my favorite drill bit sets for a variety of materials and assembled the information you need to make the right choice for your next project!

My Top Picks for Best Drill Bits for Wood

Most bits handle wood readily, but for those who are into amateur carpentry, there are some that really stand out. Check out the following when you’re looking for drill bits for wooden projects.

Here’s a quick rundown of what I consider to be the best drill bits on the market in 2020:

Top Pick – DEWALT Titanium Drill Bit Set, Pilot Point, 21-Piece (DW1361)

For simple drilling in wood, these are hard to beat. They’re pretty much what most of us would expect from DeWalt products. These bits range from 1/16 inch to ½ inch in diameter.

The titanium coating over the high-end high speed steel makes these long lasting, smooth cutting bits. The pilot point is nice as well, allowing you to get a clean start to any holes you need to make. The shanks are also modified for better grip in the chuck.

There’s not a lot of downside to these, except for the fact they’re a bit expensive. The self-centering tip also makes them a bad choice for cutting metal, although they’ll cut through thin sheet in a pinch.

Overall? It’s hard to find a better drill bit set for those who just need some bits around the house. They’re more reliable than most entry-level sets and sure to last a long time.

Pros

  • Titanium coating
  • Modified shanks
  • Pilot point
  • Decent size range

Cons

  • A bit expensive
  • Not good for plastic or metal

Essentially… if you need a good drill bit set for drilling wood, then take a closer look!

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Bosch DSB5013P 13-Piece Daredevil Spade Bit Set in Pouch

Spade bits are the best way to bore large holes in soft wood, and they can do so quickly. This is one of my favorite sets, coming with spades ranging from ¼” to 1 ½”, more than enough for most people’s needs.

These cut cleaner than most spades, mainly due to the design of the tip. The threaded tip should allow you to get in nice and clean, as well as maintaining accuracy. They also have a non-slip hexagonal shank, which is a nice touch overall.

These are made only for high power drills, however, as the screw tip will force the spade into the material and can require more torque than some drills can deliver. They’re also unusable for anything but soft wood, so they may not be an ideal piece of kit in all homes.

What I do know? These are an excellent addition for those who need to quick bore large holes in softwood. They’re speedy, durable, and perfect as long as you have the right drill for them.

Pros

  • Decent size range
  • Screw tip
  • Cut cleanly for spade bits
  • Hexagonal shank

Cons

  • Only usable with powerful drills
  • Only unsuitable for softwood

If you have a need for some long-lasting spade bits, why not take a closer look?

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Bosch NKST5003 Daredevil 3 pc. Auger Bit Set

Augers combine a clean hole with the ability to tip through nails. They’re not as common as twist bits, but when you’re doing repair work or remodeling they come in handy. Bosch makes a great drill bit set, so let’s look at those.

This pack comes with ⅝ inch, ¾ inch, and 1 inch bits. They’re engineered to be durable and are mounted on ½ inch hexagonal shanks to keep them in place. They’re well thought out, and come to a total length of 6 ½ inch.

They’re expensive, as most specialized tools are. The unique edge is nice for quick cutting… but it’s also not as great at debris removal as I’d like, so you may need to back out of longer holes once or twice.

That said, if you need an augur bit try these out and you won’t be disappointed.

Pros

  • Cut clean
  • ½” hexagonal shanks
  • Very durable
  • Great for nail-filled wood

Cons

  • Mediocre chip clearance
  • Expensive

If you’re looking for some drills to quickly make large holes through wood that might contain nails then these are the drill bits for you. 

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Our Top Picks for Best Drill Bits for Masonry

Masonry is a totally different animal than drilling wood. Fortunately, you can still bust through with the right specialty bits, check them out!

Top Pick – Bosch 7 Piece Carbide-Tipped SDS-plus Rotary Hammer Drill Bit Set with Storage Case HCK001

If you’ve got a hammer drill and you’re getting ready to take on some serious work, then these may be what you’re looking for. These are carbide tipped masonry bits, equipped to fit a hammer drill which runs SDS-Plus bits.

The hardened tungsten carbide makes this drill bit set last longer than most. They also have a nice self-centering head, allowing you to make more accurate holes. They even have wear marks to let you know when they’ve become out-of-spec.

You’ll pay for the quality here, and they’re more than many people need. I don’t recommend hopping on this set if you only need to make a couple of holes in cinder blocks or soft brick.

If concrete is in your future, however, then you’ll feel much better going at it with these bits.

Pros

  • Heavy duty construction
  • SDS-Plus shanks
  • Tungsten drill tip
  • 7 piece drill bit set

Cons

  • Expensive

If you need an exceptional masonry drill bit set, I suggest taking a closer look.

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DEWALT DW5205 Percussion Set With Tough Case 5-Pieces

For those who need a set for occasional use, these are great. They have an excellent carbide coating, combined with a modified standard shank so you don’t have to use a specialized drill for them.

The main thing that draws the eye is the flutes, which remove material as you drill in. The flat sides to the shank makes it hard for them to slip, and they’ve even got a heavy-duty case.

They’re a bit limited in sizes, unfortunately. The modified shank is also less secure than an SDS or hexagonal shank. It bothers me more than normal since they’re masonry bits, but slippage should still be fairly unlikely if you make sure your chuck is tight.

I’d recommend these for anyone who needs to handle brick or other masonry on a regular basis. They cut clean and quickly, and the minor drawbacks are unlikely to interfere with your work.

Pros

  • Clear material easily
  • Very durable bits
  • Self-centering tip
  • Excellent protective case

Cons

  • Limited in sizes
  • Modified shank isn’t the best

These bits are high-quality, and anyone who plans to work with brick or concrete should make sure to examine them for themselves.

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Owl Tools 10 Piece Masonry Drill Bits Set

For smaller holes in masonry, or just to have a budget set, Owl Tools has these. They’re not my personal favorite, but they’ll get the job done and the price per bit is great.

These bits have a chrome plating to reduce corrosion. This is handy as you won’t need to worry about oiling them if they’re going to spend a long time in storage. 

Carbide tips make them hard enough for hard ceramic materials, and a double flute to remove material quickly. They’re designed primarily for hard materials, but do an okay job in wood as well.

The downside? These aren’t the highest-quality. I’m also not a big fan of the shank, which just has two sides machined flat from the bar stock and may be prone to slipping if you’re not careful.

These are great for the weekend warrior, however, although the longevity of the bits compared to more well-known brands is in question.

Pros

  • 10 piece set
  • Good price
  • Remove material quickly
  • Can drill wood as well

Cons

  • Mediocre quality
  • Shank could be better

Sounds like something you want in the tool box?

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Our Top Picks for Best Drill Bits for Metal

Cutting metal? You’ll need the right set of drill bits for your toolbox. Check out some great options for cutting through whatever metal you come across.

Top Pick – Milwaukee 48-89-4632 Kit Tin Shockwave (29-Piece)

With a heavy-duty titanium coating, various sizes from 1/16” to ½”, and a great storage case…which is handy when you you need to arrange a 29 piece set! These are perfect for those who plan to drill a lot of metal. Just know that you pay for that quality upfront.

This kit has drills that increase in size by 1/16ths, allowing you to get tight tolerances while drilling metal. They’re also great at removing swarf, on top of just being sturdy, well-built bits.

The 135 degree split point tip means a precision when starting off your holes. This is because the razor point starts cutting metal as soon as it comes in contact. This makes producing accurate repeatable holes so much easier than a standard point drill bit.

The downside is that they’re expensive. They’re also a bit more brittle than those bits designed only for use in wood.

If you want a complete kit for home metal projects, however, then look right here.

Pros

  • Titanium coating
  • Great range of sizes
  • Very durable
  • Good chip removal
  • 29 piece set

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Brittle and can snap easily

If you have a project that requires some serious metal drilling then these are probably the drill bits for you. 

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Tooluxe 10055L Titanium Coated Hex Shank Drill Bit Set, 30 Piece | Quick Change Design

Looking for something a little lighter on the wallet? These are a good compromise. They’re not quite Milwaukee quality, but they’re no slouches and the price difference is huge.

These ones also have titanium coating, and hex shanks so you can transfer some serious torque. They’re also decent at self-centering thanks to the 135 degree split point, although I’d still recommend a center punch for precision work. The engraved sizes are pretty handy if you need to find the right size quickly in your toolbox.

These are cheaper bits. Don’t expect 100% professional quality out of them. The steel is also soft enough that the hexagonal shaft may strip if you use a drill with too much power.

For the average homeowner? They’ll last long enough to justify their purchase and can handle most thinner sheet metal without an issue.

Pros

  • Titanium coating
  • Large variety of sizes
  • Great price
  • Visible engraved sizes on bits

Cons

  • Not the build quality
  • Hexagonal shank may strip with high-powered drills

For a cheap drill bit set to have around the house, these are great. Take a look, but remember they’re not professional grade.

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DEWALT DW1176 Oxide Set, Black 16-Pieces

This is a decent quality, moderately priced set of oxide coated bits for taking care of metal. As a bonus, they’re also decent at going through wood, so you should look at them if you need drill bits for everything.

The oxide coating is nice, keeping the cost down while also adding a bit of friction reduction. You’ll also find that the overall longevity of these is good, at least when compared to your usual high speed steel drill bits.

Like both the other drill bit sets reviewed they also have a 135 degree split point so drill walking won’t be an issue here either.

The downside? They’re not good for thick metal, they’ll overheat or break in anything ¼” or thicker. They also have a fully round shank so delivering maximum torque could be an issue if your chuck isn’t great.

This is one of the two major sets in these reviews I think the newbie DIYer should really look at. They’re simple, work on most materials, and won’t break the bank.

Pros

  • Great price for quality
  • Durable oxide coating
  • 16 piece set
  • Split point drill tip for self-centering

Cons

  • Oxide is not as good as titanium
  • Standard round shank

They might not be the right fit for everyone, but you’ll have to take a look first to decide if they’re right for you!

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What to Look for When Choosing the Best Drill Bits for Your Job.

Drill bits, like saw blades, are made for specific purposes. While most people will be fine with the standard twist bits you can find in any store, if you want the best then you’ll need to understand the basics. So, check out the following before you make your final purchase.

Types of Drill Bit

There are many variations of drill bits, and each has its own use. The following are all common bit types to look out for:

  • Twist Bits-These are the most common type of drill bit you’ll find. They’re generally fine for wood, mild steel, stainless steel nonferrous metals, and plastic. Like most jack-of-all-trades tools, they’re fine for most applications but they’re not the best for all of them. If you’re looking for twist bits for metal it’s important to look out for ones with a 135 degree split point. This will ensure the bit doesn’t walk while you’re trying to start a hole.
  • Spade Bits- Large, with a flat head and a point, spade bits are good for gouging large holes in wood. They’re not the cleanest however, and are mostly useless on materials other than wood.
  • Auger Bits- Used mostly for boring out wood, these bits produce a clean hole but cut slowly. They’re rather specialized and not an essential part of a DIY kit.
  • Step Bits- These larger bits are used to bore out holes in a variety of materials. They’re primarily used to drill holes in thin sheet metal or wood, where a single bit can create multiple sizes of hole without needing to change bits. They’re expensive but versatile for making clean holes.
  • Forstner Bits- An odd-looking bit that creates a shallow hole in the wood with a smooth bottom. They produce a very clean hole but are primarily of use only in a drill press for precision. They’re essential for those making wood pieces requiring joinery, but they’re not an essential tool.
  • Tile/Glass Bits- Bits for porcelain tiles and glass come in a few forms. There are some that have a diamond-covered burr at the end, others have a more spear-like appearance. 
  • Hole Saw Bits- Hole saws are meant to cut out a larger piece of material by removing a disc. They’re mainly used to cut holes in sheet metal and wood. Finer teeth and lower RPM are the way to go for metal, but most bits perform adequately in both places.
  • Spur Point- These are twist bits which have a small, screw attachment on the point. They’re great for keeping the bit straight but they’re only usable in wood. Even plastic will bind them and cause problems.

As you can see, bits are always tailored to what they’re made for.

If you’re unsure what you need, go with a set that contains a variety of good twist bits. They’ll serve well for most non-specialized applications. 

For more specialized applications, you should opt for the bit made for the purpose.

Types of Drill Bit Shank

In addition to the cutting end of the bit, you’ll also want to take a look at the shanks. These are the piece of the bit that goes into the drill chuck.

Most people are familiar with the straight shank. It’s a round piece the size of the drill bit itself, you just pull the chuck down on the sides to hold onto the bit. They work fine in many cases, but they slip easier than more exotic shanks as they rely entirely on friction to transfer torque. 

Hex shanks are also common. They have a hexagonal shape which holds well in the drill chuck, they’re mostly used for screwdrivers and other attachments, but they allow you to transfer torque to a piece without slipping.

Triangle and square shanks are old-fashioned but still found on occasion. The basic idea is the same as a hex shank, just a better grip in the collet. Square shanks were primarily used for heavy-duty applications. 

Both are rare in commercially produced bits but often used by those who make their own tools since they’re simpler to fabricate than hexagonal shanks from round or square stock.

SDS shanks are made for special chucks. They’re primarily used for heavy-duty hammer drilling, masonry for instance. Only specialized tools take them, but the general idea is that the hammer on a hammer drill engages the bit and makes it cut faster.

SDS bits are useless with a regular collet and there are different patterns available. If you need one, your tool should let you know which variation you need.

Morse taper shanks are also found. They have a specific degree of taper, which allows them to be mounted directly in the spindle of the tool used. They’re mainly of interest to machinists since they can be used in lathes and other tools. 

The home DIYer is unlikely to appreciate the work involved in changing them or to have the expertise to do so.

Lastly, threaded shanks go into an adaptor that’s used in the drill. They’re primarily used in tight spaces, where the short bits can be used easily.

For the average DIYer straight shanks are fine, but hexagonal ends are better. The rest are primarily reserved for specific tools and uses.

Drill Bit Materials and Coatings

Materials are important to bit selection. They make the difference between a cheap set of bits that will regularly break and a set that will last a lifetime.

Most bits are made of high speed steel, which is a tool steel designed to handle heavy stress. It’s relatively hard and stays sharp well, but it can be improved upon with some steel blends.

Other materials to look out for are cobalt steel and carbide drill bits. The former are great for drilling steel, since they’re harder. They’re also more brittle, so they’re most useful in a drill press where they’re less likely to snag and break.

That goes double for tungsten carbide, which is most often used as a coating on drill bits instead of the whole thing.

The steel which goes into the main construction of your drill bit is important. There are different varieties of high speed steel, and they’re not all equal. Instead, brands use slightly different compositions. The metallurgy behind steel is complicated, so your best bet is to stay with a trusted brand.

On the other hand, coatings are common and many are useful:

  • Black Oxide The oxide coating keeps off rust a bit and lubricates the drill bit while it’s going through material. It’s basic and often doesn’t last long.
  • Titanium- The most common titanium coating is gold and reduces friction. Titanium also resists heat, which prolongs the life of the drill bit.
  • Zirconium- Zirconium is relatively rare to find in drill bits, but they produce a clean cut with good lubrication. They’re primarily used for precision drilling, rather than in a handheld drill.

If you’re not sure what to go with, titanium coatings may be your best bet. The drill bits usually last much longer than high speed steel on its own and they’re not prohibitively expensive.

Matching the Drill Bit to the Hole Size

Finding the right drill bit for holes is easier than you think.

But I have a big suggestion for a new home DIYer: use each of your bits to drill a hole in thin sheet metal or wood, label them, and keep it handy for reference. Few projects around the house require precise measurements, so a visual reference is a nice thing to have around for quick decisions.

In my opinion you’re probably going to see the most use out of a ¼” drill bit, since they’re perfect for pilot holes for screws or nails. Some people go much further than that, however.

In cases where you need to match another hole that’s already there, just see which drill bit fits in the hole and you’ll be good to go!

Conclusion

Finding the best drill bits for your purposes is easy… as long as you know the differing types and materials. Otherwise, you may end up with a bad set… or one which won’t even work for your purposes.

So, choose carefully, but the truth is that any set in the garage is better than none.

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