Drill Bit Recommendations?

Over on on ToolGuyd - Stuart posted about a set of twist drill bits from Makita that combines 3 different styles (Brad Point, Masonry Bits and TiN coated Jobber-Length bits).


About a year ago Stuart also posted about buying twist drills on a budget:


Having bought a lot of twist drills over the years – for shop and field use – and stocking drawers in some Huot cabinets with the most used sizes , I’d think that I could trust old familiar brands – but many have moved production off-shore so who knows any more.

It used to be that I’d buy:

Greenfield Tap and Die, or Cleveland HSS bits in black oxide or bright finish – depending on the application.

Brad Point Bits from W.L. Fuller, Forrest City or more recently Colt and Schlagring.

Masonry bits like the ones in the Makita set – not so much if at all

The field guys were forever buying small twist drill bits at Home Depot – probably whatever brand they laid their eyes on first – and we generally considered these as disposables – certainly not worth bringing into the shop tool room to re-sharpen

At home – I have a mix of old GT&D and old Cleveland bits that I try to keep sharpened
My at-home set of brad point bits is from Lee Valley – and perform well


Is it time to revisit recommendations on drill bits?
Do you have any current favorites to recommend?


And the votes are in and have been tabulated and the winner is ?- well maybe:



For me,

General Purpose: Dewalt (out of habit)
Metal: USA-made industrial branded, e.g. Triumph, Norseman, whatever’s on sale at Enco or MSC
Brad: Lee Valley
Masonry: Bosch


Good choices

My only comments / additions:

Metal Bits: I’d mention Hertel - USA-Made brand (part of Kennametal) available at ENCO, MSC etc.

Brad Point: Lee Valley - offer some excellent brad point bits - don’t know who the OEM is but they chose well.
For brad points in other sizes (like number, letter. metric) and styles - look at W.L. Fuller


Masonry: Bosch masonry bits - excellent quality and range. The also make decent spade and auger-style wood-boring bits to compete with Irwin, Milwaukee et. al.

Other: For Auger bits another company I’d recommend is Wood Owl (made in Japan):


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I have ordered Hertel tooling before with good results - I think all my pipe taps are Hertel - but I am always a little hesitant. Enco and MSC push the brand heavily at times, which just seems a little strange. Gives me the impression they’re almost treated as a value priced house brand, which makes it hard to consider them in context against other brands when making a purchasing decision.

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You are right that they seem to push them. I have only little experience with the brand. They are a Kennametal company - and Kennametal were the folks who sold Greenfield Tap & Die (GT&D was once my favorite cutting tool brand) to Top Eastern. I used to have good luck with Chicago-Latrobe another Kennametal company - that I think was also sold to Top Eastern. I’m not sure if any of the Chicago-Latrobe or the GT&D stuff is made here anymore - or if production has been moved to Asia. Another brand I liked was Cleveland Twist Drill (I think still USA made)

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Over on ToolGuyd – under the post about Phillips head demolition screwdrivers - Bryan talked about a tool used in aircraft maintenance – and I mentioned threaded shank drills (also called adapter drills) used in the same arena. They most often come in number and letter sizes that correspond to rivet sizes.

I thought to provide a links to some sources:




They also come in a kit for tight spot drilling:



I’ve also given some links to some aircraft tool suppliers:




Carbide Processors also has a pretty good – maybe missing a few nuances – tutorial on drill bit types.


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If you are tight-spot drilling in a production mode then a dedicated air drill may be better than using an attachment :




Here’s a kit:


I like the 90 degree driver. I had a friend pick up a Japaneses made one when he was over there for work. The only major differences are that mine is shorter and is made to be used with an impact.

I hinted at it - but IMO the issue with the geared right angle drivers, like the Tight Fit. is durability. They may be fine for the occasional user - but not suited for the production shop - the gears wear out. We had a Nova air driver that we could not kill.

Folks like MSC and their sister company ENCo stock a broad range of twist drill bits.
Other places to check on price include:


An then there are folks who you also might check:







Tin Coated are reliable in my opinion

Putting TiN coating on a quality bit - helps in some production cutting operations.
Putting TiN coating on a poor quality bit just makes it look belter - not perform better.

Here’s a discussion:

Are there current (May 2019) recommendations for a good set of bits in an index at a good price too? Something that should be homeowner-thorough & worthy of modest heirloom consideration (without going over the top too)?

Something usable for metal & wood,…something leap to mind?



Buy a “Jobber Length” drill index from a US manufacturer such as Norseman. This magic search phrase alone will clean out 95% of the poser drill bit sets out there. The “big names” such as Dewalt won’t show up on this list. What you will be looking at are drill bit manufacturers that supply machine shops who know their tooling since it directly impacts their bottom lines. “Jobber length” is just a term for what I would call the “standard” length for a drill.

As mentioned several times you can look on MSC or even Amazon. Expect to pay around $80-$100. That’s right…you spend about the same amount of money for real quality bits as you do buying on name brand down the street at the big box store. Do NOT buy anything gold colored or specifically “TiN” coated. It does improve good bits but 99.999% of them are utter crap that are coated to make a total crap bit look good. Good quality HSS or cobalt bits aren’t pretty. Everything you can buy in the local big box store is complete junk.

But if you want heirloom first off realize that you are buying a cutting tool. By nature it SHOULD WEAR OUT. But that being said let me put it this way. I have a team mate who can take one of my drills and dull it in under 30 seconds. Then another, then another. Destroying 3-5 drill bits on a single hole. I can take the same drill bit (if he hasn’t destroyed it) and make holes all day. If I’m lucky I can manage to put an edge back on the melted crap I get back.

99% of people run the drill speeds way too high and melt the tips. Spend some time on the internet looking at what your drill speeds should be. You can tell by the chips (when cutting metal) and the sound very easily, AND your cutting speeds will dramatically increase when you start cutting the material instead of the bit. You won’t like it at first. Your drill won’t be “screaming” anymore. You will have to set the gear box down to low speed, half hold down the trigger, and you might end up looking for and investing in a slower drill. That’s of course on metal. On wood, hold it down on top speed and scream away. You might scorch the wood but you won’t damage the bit.

Finally, here’s your bonus points, the “heirloom” purchase. Invest in a small set of files of the right shapes and sizes, and third invest in a Drill Doctor. Spend some time looking at Youtube videos on how to sharpen your own bits so you know which files to pick out. Learn the technique. Then you can dress your own bits up. I don’t personally recommend using hand files for anything the Drill Doctor can do except that if you want 135 degree split points, hand filing is much easier.

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That’s all good stuff, thanks for the effort of your reply.

I watched a video not too long ago by AvE and the Drill Doctor didn’t look too good in his hands - how would someone skilled at bits critique that? I’ll have to guess he missed something important but I don’t know what…

Uhh on AvE he had absolutely no clue what he was doing. Using the video you are referring to as an example of why I don’t watch his videos. They are so bad that I’m not sure if he’s actually clueless or just purposely screwing things up. And if it’s purposeful, then he’s a liar and I can’t believe anything he’s saying. If it’s not purposeful then he’s so clueless that I can’t believe anything he’s saying either.

Let’s begin with his “analysis” of a plastic housing on a metal tool. What??? Did this guy just time travel from the 1800’s? We just got rid of our 1880 lathe in the shop last year. Now we have to throw all the others away! His arguments about heat are preposterous. So we’re going to abrasively grind a few mils of a tiny piece of steel maybe 3/4" in diameter at most. All the parts in contact with it (that conduct and radiate heat) are metal. Explain this melting thing to me? He didn’t try to grab the thing and “rack” it with his hands so obviously it’s pretty rigid. But I think I can see the problem now. So if I take a couple spare horse shoes and heat them up in my forge, nip off a couple pieces, shape them to make forged rivets, and then replace those cheap looking precision machine screws by pounding wrought iron rivets through the housing. So when the plastic breaks or lights on fire in the process…obviously a cheap inferior tool that simply won’t hold up to 1850’s building technology!

Alignment is KEY with ALL machining operations. You learn that on the first or second day either in a class or on the job. It’s one thing to take a piece of stock and make something out of it. That means you are doing the cutting and setting all the angles. A monkey can do that. Once you take it off the tool mount though and try to put it back on, that’s MUCH harder to do. Often times we have to just machine a new surface to true it up to the new mounting position. For high precision work (microns of accuracy), it’s impossible. On the DD it’s a three step process to set the angle on the diamond wheel (not everyone changes this very often), then set both the depth and get the alignment right in the bit holder. Then you MUST align the tool holder into the cup with the diamond. OK but that’s not what was done on AvE. First he stuck the bit in the holder. I can’t tell for sure how tight he got it but it is supposed to be snug but not loose for the next step. Then he stuck it sort of in the jig that is used to set the depth but didn’t tighten it there. In fact he kind of started sticking it in then jerked it right back out and somewhere along the way tightened it. Then he stuck the but into the grinding and started engaging the grinder even before the tool holder was even in the “socket”. So obviously the bit was sticking out way too far and he was more or less just making noise and grinding a surface somewhere on the bit not anywhere close to the current angle or position. I don’t see how this is a demonstration of anything except someone that won’t make it through the first week in the shop without getting fired.

He then demonstrated even more clearly that he doesn’t know what he’s doing. When motors do work the current they draw has a power factor of 1.0. But the motor must generate a magnetic field to do this. Since the field does no work, the current that it draws has a power factor of 0.0. So measuring power factor on the tool when it is not under load demonstrates nothing except that BOLTR doesn’t know what he’s doing when it comes to electricity either.

All of these can easily be rectified by RTFM and BOLTR even admits in the video that he needed to RTFM. That might be a start.

So let’s see…clueless on electrical, mechanical, materials, what information in this review should I be thinking that there’s a problem with the DD? I’d welcome an honest review but this one is anything but! Dishonest is more like it.

Hertel Solid carbide drill bits are good, But no brand does make solid carbide drill bits like Gühring, their tips are extremely symmetric, they are made in Germany, 5517 seri is the jobber length and 5516 seri is the stubby length. They are extremely expensive but.
About Brad Point drill bits I would say Izar, It is a Spanish brand which makes the same type of brad point drill bits that Lee Valley does but in HSS Co 5%, they have the same tip. but if you are looking for brad point drill bits with E6.3 1/4" Hex shank I would say Fisch or Famag.
If you want HSS Co drill bits with Hex shank you can purchase from www.amazon.co.jp

Sizes larger than 7mm are made of one piece and smaller sizes are plugged, the hex shank is Japanese which is around 4-5mm longer than Western ones, if you don’t consider cobalt as toxic you can grind it a bit. I have done one for testing with a grinder and it destroyed one grinder extreme quality disc.
If you are looking for multipurpose drill bits Alpen Hex shank multi purpose drill bits are the best, you can give it to careless guys also to use/abuse.