What drill bits do you really need?
Synopsis: Here is some time-tested guidance on drill bits for the woodworking shop: which types to buy, and how to save some money when you’re buying them. There are many different kinds of drill bits out there, but with this advice from Fine Woodworking tool guru Roland Johnson, you won’t go wrong.
No matter what kind of woodworking you are doing, eventually you’ll have to drill a hole in something. Tasks can range from drilling pilot and clearance holes for screws to mortising for chair legs. There are a few basic requirements for drilling accurate, concentric holes: The bit must create a clean entry, run concentrically so that it produces an accurate bore, and have appropriate cutters and geometry for the material being cut. Finally, it should clear away waste during the cut.
There are many types of drill bits out there, and it can be tough to make the right choices, especially if you’re just starting out as a woodworker. But don’t worry. I’ve been woodworking for decades, and I’ve drilled holes in all sorts of materials and in every situation imaginable. So here I’ll give you some time tested guidance on which bits you need and why. Before I get to the recommendations, though, here’s some moneysaving advice.
I purchase bits in sets because it’s a good value. Buying a single bit gets expensive, especially if shipping costs are involved, and invariably the one bit you don’t have will be the one you urgently need in the middle of a project when time is of the essence. Yes, I have bits that have never been captured by a drill chuck and may never be, but having full sets of bits in my shop, ready for use, gives me peace…