Drilling through metal is not easy. Even with the right technique, if you have a bad set of bits it can be downright impossible.
So which bits are best and which should you avoid?
Today we will be going over a few sets of drill bits that I have used and my opinion on which is the best, and which is absolute garbage.
What are the Best Drill Bits for Drilling Metal?
When searching for drill bits you are going to find out really fast that there are ALOT of options to choose from. Dozens of different brands, coatings, materials, tips and prices.
While most options will be just fine for drilling through wood or plastic. It is a whole different story when is comes down to having to drill through thick metal material.
Based on my research, one of the best options for the money is the DEWALT Black Oxide Drill Bits, 20-Piece set (DW1177)
The Black Oxide bits by Dewalt perform very when drilling through metal. They are also very reasonably priced and come in a well-made storage case.
Here is a close-up shot of the point and flute design.
- Black Oxide finish for greater wear protection
- 135-degree split-point design to minimize walking
- Range of sizes from 1/16″ to 1/2″
- Tough Plastic Storage case
The Worst Drill Bits for Metal, Harbor Freight Warrior
While I think there are alot of good items to be found at Harbor Freight. There are also a few things that are just not worth it.
One of these items is the 29Pc Titanium Drill Bit Set by Warrior.
Now for the price, I think they are an excellent value to have around for drilling wood and plastic. There are a ton of sizes and this set can be picked up for under $10 when they go on sale.
My gripe is that they are also advertised for metal.
When trying to use these bits to drill a small hole in metal I found it to be nearly impossible to do. I have even seen videos using these bits with a drill press with no luck.
Link to video below
As you can see from the video, the Dewalt bits performed very well while the Warrior bits were just not up to the task.
Again, for the super low price of $10 at Harbor Freight I think this is a great set to have around for wood & plastic. With all the different sizes its hard to beat.
Harbor Freight also offers a great no-questions asked warranty on many of their tools. See my Pittsburgh Warranty Experience here
IMPORTANT, Proper Technique when drilling Metal
Ok, so now you have a good set of bits.
The next thing is to make sure you are using them properly. Unlike drilling soft materials like wood, plastic, etc. There are a few things to be aware of when drilling metal.
Here are a few tips I picked up along the way.
One of the biggest tips when drilling metal is to make sure you are applying enough pressure. How much pressure? Typically, the more the better.
That is why a drill-press is a much superior tool to use vs a hand drill.
Not only is it easier to apply more pressure, but you reduce the chance of twisting the bit which can cause it to snap. (especially with smaller sized bits)
This will vary based on the size of the bit and the material but generally speaking you will want to drill metals at a much slower speed vs wood.
The larger the bit & the harder the steel, the slower you will want to go. Let the bit “bite” into the material and do the work.
Drilling at too fast a speed will cause excessive heat build-up and will ruin the tips of your bits.
To protect the life of your bits and improve your cuts, a “cutting fluid” should be used anytime you are drilling metal.
Remember, heat is the enemy!
By applying a cutting fluid to the bit, where it makes contact with your material, you are providing lubrication. This lubrication will help to reduce heat build up, extending the life of your bits.
Depending on the material you are working with there are many different cutting fluids available.
While many people may suggest WD-40 (and it might be fine in a pinch) we would recommend taking a look at a purpose made product like Tap Magic.
*BONUS* Industrial Cobalt Drill Bit Set by Drill America
If you will be spending alot of time working with metal and have more room in the budget. Take a look at this 29 Piece set by Drill America, made out of M42 Cobalt.
Great for drilling tough materials like stainless steel, inconel and titanium.
Hopefully you found this article helpful when searching for a good set of drill bits that will cut metal but won’t break the bank.
If you have been using a different set with good results, leave us a comment down below.