Identifying Drill Bits

If you’re one of those people that come close to freaking out when faced with needing to decide what kind of drill bit to use for your project, you’re not alone! Many people have a hard time with this and it’s quite understandable. There are literally millions of different kinds of bits on the market, manufactured specifically for an equally large array of tasks. Thankfully, most drill bit sets will have their particular functions labeled so you won’t have to do any “guessing”. Even so, there may be times when for some reason, you won’t have those handy little labels to point you in the right direction. For example, when due to age or damage, these labels are no longer legible – or if the original case is lost and your reference is gone.

drill bit setHopefully, by this time you’ll have them memorized. But I believe that sometimes, in spite of our best efforts, we still need a back-up plan. – And that’s what I’m going to write about today! – How to tell at first glance what kind of bit you’re dealing with, what it’s meant to be used for, and as a bonus I will dispel a myth often associated with drill bits. This might save you a lot of time and money some day.

Universal bits

Perhaps the most common type of bit due to its “multi-pronged” capabilities, this bit is often titanium coated (TiN) and like the title suggests, it can be used to drill through metals, wood, plastics etc. These are a definite must-have in your bit arsenal. They are generally “twist” bits, with a uniform shaft and are easily recognized by their “simple” and uniform appearance.

Masonry bits

These are used for concrete, stone, slate, and other cementitious materials, and can be distinguished by their “hammer-head”. From far away it may not be clear whether a bit is universal or a masonry bit, in which case you’ll have to get up close and inspect the head. Upon closer inspection of the head you should be able to see a slight protrusion in two opposing directions (hammer-head) if it is indeed a masonry bit. Masonry bits are generally used in conjunction with hammer action-equipped drills.

The irony in drill bit selection comes right about now. With so many drill bits to choose from, why have I only displayed 2 types? Well, for all the hype surrounding drill bits and their “million” types and uses, I find that for most DIY projects – around 95% imo – these 2 types are really all you’ll be needing. All the other bits made for glass, stainless steel, tapping, counter-sinking, etc etc, are VERY COOL – don’t get me wrong – but many of their functions are either seldom used by home owners, or can be substituted by one of the 2 above options – of appropriate diameter. All in all, think carefully before investing in a million different kinds of bits – you may be able to get by with only 2 types!

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