Wood Drill Bits: The Ultimate Complete Guide to Choose the Right One


Are you planning on doing some woodworking? Whether you are a DIY enthusiast or a professional, it’s imperative to choose the project’s right drill bits.  You can pick between various types and materials, but it’s also vital to consider the specifics of the drilled application.

In this article, we are focusing on how to choose wood drill bits. Our experts prepared a comprehensive guide and covered every detail. Here is what every woodworker should know to pick the right bit for the upcoming drilling project!

Table of Contents

1. Major Types of Wood Drill Bits

You’ll find many wood drill bits types available in the market. While some categories overlap, we covered the main classes of these tools below. So, check out our selection and find your favorite.

1.1 Twist Bits (HSS)

A twist drill bit on a drilling tool

Caption: A twist drill bit on a drilling tool

Many would call these the standard drill bits for woodworking and other projects. It’s versatile and suitable for various applications, including plastic, wood, and even light metal. 

However, actual durability and performance will depend on the material selected. So, the experts suggest using HSS twist bits made of high-speed steel. While drilling wood, clean the bit regularly because the flutes might capture the residue.

1.2 Brad Point Bits

Brad-point wood drill bit

Caption: Brad-point wood drill bit

Do you need to maximize accuracy when boring wooden applications? If the answer is yes, you’ll find brad-point units are the best drill bits for wood. 

These feature a sharp point on top to position everything correctly. Therefore, It ensures clean entrance and exit points. The extra-wide flutes make sure to direct the material away from the bit. 

1.3 Spade Bits

Spade drill bits closeup

Caption: Spade drill bits closeup

You’ll notice the spade shape, which is how the bit got its name. It’s easy to position and steady the bit while drilling the hole. This tool is the right choice if you need the hole to be wider.

However, you won’t find any flutes on spade bits. So, chip removal is mostly the operator’s task.

1.4 Hole Saw

A hole saw close up

Caption: A hole saw close up

You can use a hole saw for wire-passing channels or installing door and window hardware. The tool has a large diameter, which makes it convenient for wider gaps than usual.

Thanks to the pilot feature, it shouldn’t be challenging to position the tool properly. On top of that, it’s easy to remove any residue with the saw cylinder.

It’s also possible to use a bi-metal hole saw for cutting through masonry and other rough materials.

1.5 Auger and Ship Auger Bits

An auger bit drilling wood

Caption: An auger bit drilling wood

You could say the auger bit’s tip has a screw-like shape. Once you initiate the hole, the form pulls the tool into the application.

Thanks to that, the bit can create an accurate and mess-free hole. Additionally, this unit is an excellent choice for removing wood chips efficiently. 

Ship auger bits are a subcategory of these tools. They are suitable for unusually thick wooden applications and plastic and vinyl. Additionally, you can use them to cut through the nails without damaging the tool.

1.6 Pilot Drilling Countersink Bit

A countersink drill bit drilling a hole

Caption: A countersink drill bit drilling a hole

We could divide this bit’s performance into two categories. First, it drills a pilot hole. Next, it countersinks or counterbores them.

Therefore, the fastener head goes under the application’s surface. The pilot drilling countersink bit does all these at a single pass, which makes it convenient to use.

2. What Are the Materials for Making the Woodworking Drill Bits?

High-speed drill bits on a white background

Caption: High-speed drill bits on a white background

It’s vital to consider both materials and coatings of preferred wood drill bits. However, we’ll first discuss the materials.

You have two options available, so choose carefully:

  • Carbon – steel with high and low carbon content can be suitable for drill bits. If you use a low-carbon drill, stick only to softwood.
  • It would be best if you also sharpened them frequently, but their price is extremely affordable. On the other hand, high-carbon drills don’t require frequent sharpening and can be suitable for hardwood.
  • Therefore, they are a better choice for demanding tasks.
  • HSS – it’s an abbreviation for high-speed steel. It is the highest quality material for drill bits because it can handle high heat while maintaining hardness and structure. 

As for the coatings, these are the available ones:

  • Titanium – It’s the most common coating option. It is resistant to corrosion and reasonably lightweight. On top of that, it’s relatively durable and can withstand high temps. 
  • Cobalt – professionals use these coatings primarily for metal. Therefore, it might not be necessary to invest in it if you plan only woodworking projects.
  • Zirconium – It features a mixture of zirconium nitride for additional durability. Additionally, it promotes accuracy because it reduces friction. 

3. How to Choose the Right Drill Bits for Woodworking

A closeup of the woodworking drill bit

Caption: A closeup of the woodworking drill bit

It’s always better to go with high-quality drill bits for wood. However, it’s all about finding the best balance between price and quality.

Your crucial task is to find a bit suitable for your application. So, here are the primary factors to consider during the selection process!

Know the General Wood Type

The first thing to clarify is the material type. Therefore, you should be familiar with significant classes, which include hardwood and softwood. These are the two main types, but there are many subcategories. 

For example, hickory is much tougher than pine. The experts advise you to go with tough wood boring drill bits. So, choose black oxide or titanium coating for additional strength.

A simple steel bit should do the job if you are only drilling soft materials. Despite that, investing in a durable and long-lasting bit is always smart.

Assess the Type of Hole Needed

Another thing that could affect your selection is the hole type. Therefore, consider your plans. Would you like to install an anchor to hang a picture in that hole?

It will require picking the right bit size for the desired hole. On the other hand, a hole to pass a wire through might not need to be that accurate. 

4. How to Get a Wood Drill Bit Sharp Again

Sharpening a wood drill bit

Caption: Sharpening a wood drill bit

The primary tool to have for the sharpening process is a bench grinder. Before you start, put on safety goggles and other protective equipment.

Here are the steps for sharpening your wood drill bit.

  1. Analyze the bit to see which parts need sharpening and how much metal to remove. The idea is to keep as much of the bit material as possible.
  2. Activate the bench grinder and hold the bit firmly. Keep the bit straight as it contacts the wheel and starts the sharpening process.
  3. Avoid holding the bit against the grinder for over several seconds. Check the results and see if you need to continue sharpening. However, let the bit cool down – use water if necessary.
  4. Repeat the steps above with all sections of the bit that need sharpening.

You can also check out this video for an easy way to sharpen wood drill bits.

5. What Is the Right Speed to Drill Wood?

The suitable speed will depend on three factors – drill diameter, size, and the material you are drilling.

Here is a quick overview of suitable speeds for different woodworking drill bits:

  • Twist bits – the smallest drill bits from 3/16 to 3/8 inches can operate up to 3,000 RPMs on softwood or 1,500 RPMs on hardwood. If you use 1 1/16 – 1-inch diameters, limit the speed to 500RPMs for hard maple and similar materials and increase 750RPMs for softwood.
  • Brad-point – these can go up to 1,800 RPMs for pine and other softwood materials. However, if you use ¾ or a larger drill diameter, consider reducing the speed to 1,000-1,200 RPMs.
  • If drilling hardwood, decrease the rate to 250 RPMs for 1-inch diameter bits and don’t exceed 1,200 RPMs for the smallest bits.
  • Spade – the speed can vary from 1,200 to RPMs for softwood and 700 to 1,500 RPMs. The harder the material and the larger the bit, the slower the speed should be.

Ultimately, it will be a guessing game, but we provided some starting values in the list above. So, we recommend starting slow until you find a suitable speed for your material.

6. Tips for Maintaining Wood Bits

It doesn’t matter if you have short or long drill bits for wood. The maintenance tips remain the same. So, make sure to check them out below:

  • Use them with caution – maintenance starts with using them properly. That means only using suitable speeds and good drill bits for that particular material. It minimizes the risk of damaging the tool.
  • Clean them regularly – cleaning the bit right after you finish an operation is vital. That will ensure the tool remains clean for the upcoming tasks.
  • Store them away correctly – you should have a box for keeping the drill bits. Once you finish using them, please place them in that box to avoid potential damage.
  • Keep them free from moisture – you don’t want the bits to rust, so avoid water. 


Our article covered all the major points related to wood drill bits. We discussed the main types, materials, and factors to consider when selecting your project’s right bit. 

If you need additional tools in your collection, don’t hesitate to contact NCCuttingtools today. The company provides a vast selection of tools and accessories and is ready to meet customized order requirements.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or items required for your next project.

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