Metal Drill Bits – 5 Tips You Must Know to Choose and use the Best Metal Drill Bits


Choosing the best metal drill bits can be a game-changer for your project. However, this is not easy as several metal drill bits exist.

These drill bits vary by size, shape, and drill point angles. Hence, there are several tips you must consider for your drilling projects.

This article will discuss the different metal drill bits and their applications for various purposes. You will be able to tell different metal drill bits and which is best to give the highest productivity for your project.

Table of Contents

Section 2: Drill bit types for metal.

Because different drill types are suitable for different metals, you must understand the types of drill bits and their application to different materials.

2.1 Step bit.

step drill bit is a drill bit with a conical profile. The conical structure of the step bit makes it suitable for cutting wider ranges of holes. Therefore, the step bit is common among construction workers and metal sheet benders.

The configuration of the step bit makes them most suitable for cutting soft materials and metals. The greatest advantage of the step is its diameter maneuvering feature, making for a smoother and neater cut. 

step drill bits

step drill bits

2.2 Twist bit.

Twist drill bits are probably the most commonly used drill bit, usually for general and non-expert drilling applications.

The primary feature that characterizes a twist bit is its helix profile shape, which allows for easy cutting for even non-experts. 

Long twist drill bits are for drilling openings that run further than a standard-length drill bit. Additionally, they can cut hard metals of great thickness. 

Section 3: What to Consider When Choosing the Best Drill Bits for Metal?

To get the best out of your workpiece, you must have the best drill bit for metals. It will involve considering many factors, from the material type to the size of the drill bit.

Choosing the best drill bit for your workpiece can improve your drill bits’ shelf life and offer a better economic value. Below are several factors that you must consider in choosing your drill bit for metals

3.1 Material

Most drill bits for metals are either high-speed steel or carbide. Also, they can be cobalt. Nevertheless, different drill bits have different properties and applications, which makes them distinct from each other.

Observe below the different material types and their application.

3.1.1 HSS

HSS is one of the most popular drill bits due to its all-around application and diverse applications. This tool is best suited to cut nonferrous and ferrous metals and can also cut carbon steel should the need arise.

HSS drill bit

HSS drill bit

3.1.2 Cobalt steel

Cobalt steel is also a popular metal in a wide range of industries. However, unlike many other metals, it is most suitable for cutting nonferrous metals. 

Cobalt drill bits

Cobalt drill bits

3.1.3 Carbide-tipped

The carbide-tipped drill bit is a masonry bit that is particularly suitable for cutting hard materials. It has a longer shelf life, making it more durable and cost-effective than most metal drill bits. 


3.1.4 Carbide

This material type is best-suitable for cutting nonferrous metals. Drill bits with this material are most compatible with stronger metals due to wear resistance and shelf life.

carbide drill bits

carbide drill bits

3.2 Coating

Drill bit coating is also an important aspect to discuss. It covers the drill bits and helps reduce friction, buckling, and wear. Most bits usually have titanium as coatings to reduce overheating and increase productivity. 

3.2.1 Uncoated

Uncoated bits are particularly applicable to cutting plastic, wood, and soft metals like aluminum. Because the materials are generally low in density and strength, uncoated drill bits work perfectly. 

3.2.2 Black oxide/ Black and gold oxide

The black oxide coating helps to increase chip flow and subsequently reduce friction. They are mostly suitable for cutting ferrous materials.  

drill bit with a black oxide coating

Drill bit with a black oxide coating

3.2.3 Titanium-nitride (TiN) coated

These are similar to uncoated drill bits. However, TiN-coated bits can admittedly cut faster than uncoated bits. They also have a higher shelf life, offering more economic value. 

TiN-coated bits

TiN-coated bits

3.2.4 Titanium-aluminum-nitride (TiAlN)/ Aluminum-titanium-nitride (AlTiN) coated

AlTiN is the strongest coating, making it suitable for cutting stronger and softer irons. TiAlN, on the other hand, has high-alloy carbon steel and titanium applications. 

3.3 Shank Design

The shank is the end of your drill bit that you attach to your drill chuck. However, it is worth mentioning that we have different chuck sizes and match the corresponding bit size. Let’s take a look at these shank types.

3.3.1 no-spin shank.

The no-spin shank has a unique flute design that keeps the drill bit from wandering.

3.3.2 Hex shank.

The hex shank has a sturdy six-sided design that helps it remain steady during cutting operations on hard metals.

3.4 Nit style

The nit style of a drill bit is essential because they are responsible for cutting. They also determine the type of cuts that apply to your metal.

3.4.1 Spiral-flute

Spiral or Standard flute is the most common type of nit style with a 30° angle inclination. Hence, they are suitable for hard metals.

3.4.2 Parabolic spiral-flute

Parabolic spiral flute design cuts in a self-clearing way as it helps remove chips as you continue cutting. They are most suitable for cutting plastics and aluminum. 

Section 4: How to Tell If a Drill Bit Is for Metal?

You can tell if a drill bit is for metal or other materials in different ways. Hence, it would be best if you took note of the following.

4.1 The tip angle

The tip angle will determine the type of material the drill bit can cut. The common angles include 118 and 135 degrees. For most minor drilling tasks, drill bits with 118-degree tip angles are suitable.

However, the drill bits with a 135-degree tip angle are perfect if you want to cut on hardened materials or metals.  

4.2 Metal-boring bits

Like tip angles, metal drill bits have a flute taper configuration between 118- or 135-degree angles.  Also, as a rule, you should utilize the 135 degrees variant for metal boring.

4.3 The step bit option

If you have to undertake an all-purpose project, you should opt for a cone-shaped step bit. The cone shape helps you determine the diameter of the hole at each step.

You can opt for a conventional HSS variant. However, choose the gold variant with titanium nitride if you want a stronger bit with higher shelf life.

Section 5: Tips for Using Drill Bits for Metal

Buying a drill bit can be difficult, especially if you are personally researching the profile design, material type, and different applications.

Manufacturers guide every drill bit they produce to help ease this burden, indicating their design and application. Below are a few tips that can prove useful in using a drill bit.

  • Create a depression or pilot hole with a center punch to reduce wandering from the drill bit.
  • Always add lubrication as you drill to reduce wear on the bit and reduce overheating. 
  • Always cut at intervals to prevent the drill bit from buckling and breaking.

Section 6: FAQ: About Your New Drill Bits for Metal

Using a drill bit can prove tricky, especially if you are an amateur. More so, you will have basic questions about using the drill bit. Not to worry, you will find any questions and their answers below.

6.1 Is a cobalt or titanium drill a bit better?

Depending on the kind of project you are working on, you can choose either. You can opt for titanium for softer materials like aluminum. However, cobalt is more suited to hard metals.

6.2 How can you drill through thick metal?

Cutting through thick metal using a hand drill is better than the drill press. The hand drill offers a smoother and cleaner hole cut. Using sufficient lubrication is also a plus in cutting thick metal.

Finally, it would be best to cut at intervals to allow metal rest and prevent overheating.

6.3 How can I sharpen my drill bits for metal?

You can use a bench grinder to make your cutting-edge sharper. Keeping your cutting edge sharp will make you cut better and increase the drill bit’s shelf life.

6.4 Do I need to clean drill bits after each use?

After every cutting operation, take a soft cloth to wipe off every residue left to prevent dullness and corrosion.

6.5 How do I remove a broken drill bit from metal?

Pick a pair of pliers and add lubrication oil to your broken drill bit before grabbing the fractured end with your plier. 


Metal drill bits are popular among professional, skilled users and unskilled operators. However, choosing the best drill bit for a project can be more tricky than most people handle.

In this article, you must have learned numerous essential tips for drilling bits of metal. However, as you want to carry out drill bit projects, NCCuttingtools has covered you.

We have the best products and professionals to meet all drill bit needs. Contact us today. 

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