Drill & Drill Bits Explained

When you are looking to buy a drill online you may find yourself getting a little confused. There are a lot of terms which need to explained, parts which you can’t visualise and features which you haven’t considered. One of the most confusing things about drills are the ‘bits’. The ‘bit’ is the detachable part of the drill which actually penetrates the material. There are lots of different types of bits which are made out of different materials and come in different shapes and sizes.

The bit which you use will depend on the material you want to drill through as some bits are suitable for certain materials but not others.  Read on to find out more about the different types of drill bits you are likely to come across and learn which bits are suitable for which jobs. You will also learn more about drills in general and what the different parts and features of the drill mean in simple terms.

Drill & Drill Bits ExplainedThe Drill

This section will give you a brief overview of the features and aspects of power drills in general.


A drills power will either be measured in volts (cordless) or watts or amps (corded). The higher the number of volts or watts means that the drill has more power. Some jobs require higher power, but other jobs must be done on a lower setting.


The word ‘torque’ can be baffling, but it just refers to the rotational force of the drill. The more power the drill has will give the drill more rotational force, and this, in turn, will result in faster holes.


Power drills come with a trigger which operates in much the same way that you would expect a gun trigger to operate. When you squeeze the trigger, the electric motor is turned on and the drill starts to rotate. If your drill has a variable speed then the harder you squeeze the trigger the faster it will drill.


The clutch is located between the chuck and the main body of the drill. Many clutches these dayd will come with multiple settings which you can adjust to control the torque.

ChuckDrill & Drill Bits Explained

The chuck is an attachment found on the end of the drill, and it is where you insert the bits. The chuck will normally either come in ½ inches, 3/8 inches, or ¼ inches. 3/8 inches is a good versatile size which is suitable for most jobs, but ½ inches may be better if you want to create larger holes.

Keyed Or Keyless

Back in the day, chucks were tightened and loosened via the use of a key. However, after the ‘80s things started to change and now the majority of drills are key-less. This means you can tighten and loosen the chuck by hand without having to use a specific key. Keyless chucks can save you a lot of time and are generally more convenient as you won’t have to worry about losing the key.

Drill Bits

The ‘drill bit’ is basically the part of the drill which actually goes into the material that you’re drilling. There are many different types of bits which you can choose from, these bits are made out of various materials, and each bit is better suited for drilling through different things. The type of drill bit you choose will also determine how large or small you want your holes to be.

Drill bits are made out of material, and this material will determine what kind of jobs that particular bit is suitable for.

  • Low Carbon Steel is a fairly cheap material which is best suited for soft wood and plastics.
  • High Carbon Steel is a stronger material, but it can still become blunt if it overheats. These types of bits are best suited for wood and lighter metals.
  • HSS (High-Speed Steel) bits are able to work at higher speeds and they are a good choice for wood, plastic, metal and some ceramics.
  • Cobalt is durable and gives a good performance, but it tends to be more brittle than HSS. Bits which are made out of Cobalt Steel Alloy are best suited for drilling through metals like stainless steel.
  • Titanium & Ceramic coatings give a good performance and help make softer bits handle more difficult tasks.
  • Carbide bits are expensive, strong, and effective at drilling almost any material including stone.
  • Diamond drills can be used for very hard materials. They are not suitable for hammer action mode because their design means they can deal with harder materials on their own and the hammer action would be unnecessary.
  • Masonry bits are essential if you want to use a hammer drill to make holes in concrete. These bits are stronger than bits which are made out of wood and so they are less likely to break under pressure.
  • You can also buy bits which are made out of wood and glass. These bits are not as durable and are normally only appropriate for use on the same material that they are made out of (so glass bits are normally only used for glass and wood bits are often only suitable for wood).

Bit Styles

Read on to see what types of bits you are likely to come across and which jobs they are used for.

Twist Bit

The twist bit is a very common type of drill bit which can be used for almost any kind of material and is ideal for every-day jobs.. It is great for high-speed drilling, but this makes it less ideal for precise jobs. The twist drill bit can range in size from as small as 0.002 to 3.5 inches. The twist it is a ‘universal’ bit which means it can be used for a variety of purposes including general househodl tasks.

Brad Point Bit

This type of drill bit looks very similar to the twist bit type, but it has a sharp tip with broad outward curves. They are a popular choice for drilling through wood because they offer a higher level of accuracy. Brad points bit are used exclusively for wood.

Auger Bits

These drill bits are a good choice for harder woods. They feature a corkscrew like shape and they are often used for drilling deep holes. They are good at removing waste thanks to the deep flute design, and they offer a good level of accuracy.

Countersink Bits

These bits are used to create conical holes which are the ideal shape for screws.  They are a good choice if you want to fit screws into wood.

Spade Bits

Spade bits are a good alternative to hole saws. These bits are used for bigger holes and are suitable for wood, but they can’t be used for concrete or metal as the bit is likely to become damaged in the process. Spade bits are a good choice for high speed drilling, but they don’t always give the neatest results.

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