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Types of Wood Drilling Bits – Use the Right One

Most of us are guilty of using the wrong tool for the job—either out of necessity or laziness. Still, there’s something satisfying about using the right tool for the job. Often, using the right tool helps bring about the best possible result. When drilling, accessories matter—possibly even more than the tool you choose. Knowing the various types of wood drilling bits and how to use the right one can really increase both speed and quality.

Knowing the Many Types of Wood Drilling Bits

Before we get to drill bit types, you should be familiar with the various treatments drill bit manufacturers use to increase bit life and reduce friction. Drill bits are made from steel, high-speed steel (HSS)—which is steel alloyed with tungsten and/or molybdenum, HSS with a cobalt alloy, HSS with titanium coating, HSS with black oxide coating, or carbide tipped.

Drill bits appropriate for wood drilling are steel, HSS, titanium coated, and black oxide coated. Those other bits work best for metals. We’ve written about black oxide coating and have reviewed the best drill bits as well as the best drill bits for metal.

Some Tips Before You Begin Drill in Wood

Know the General Wood Type

Wood species are divided into the two general categories of softwoods and hardwoods, but there is also much hardness variation within those categories. The wood type makes a significant difference in bit choice. Drilling a soft pine will be much easier on a drill bit than drilling a hard hickory. You can drill softer wood with steel (although we’d recommend HSS for any job) but as the hardness increases, it must be matched by bit hardness. This means a titanium or black oxide coating is appropriate for hardwood.

What Type of Hole is Needed?

The purpose of the hole affects bit choice. Will the hole accommodate an anchor to hold a picture, will it be used for wire or conduit, does the fastener that goes in it need to be countersunk?

The Major Types of Wood Drilling Bits

Twist Drill Bit

This is the type of bit that probably comes to mind first when you hear “drill bit.” It’s the most common type of bit and used for general purposes around the jobsite and home. Softwood can get stuck in the flutes, so gently remove it with a brush or by blowing it off.

what is black oxide drill bits

As we mentioned above, twist drill bits (or “twist bits”) can range in price from affordable black oxide coated bits to expensive carbide bits used in milling. When it comes to choosing a drill bit for your wood project, a nice set of high-speed steel (HSS) bits should do just fine.

Brad Point (Bradpoint) Wood Drilling Bit

This wood drilling bit’s distinguishing feature is in the name. The sharp point on a brad point bit helps position the bit for a precise hole. These bits don’t walk on you when you start a hole. This makes this the right wood drilling bit for when you need a truly accurate start.

brad point drill bit - the right wood drilling bit for accuracy

Spade Bit

Spade bits have a broad, flat area for boring larger diameter holes in wood. The spade bit has no flutes so you may have to back off the bit as you go when drilling deeper holes. While a traditional spade bit has a perfectly flat face, products like the Bosch Daredevil spade bit feature a self-feed tip and a slightly curved face.

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