Drilling through a piece of wood is much different from drilling through hard materials. Those bits you use for typical home improvement projects won’t hold up very long when you use them to drill metal and will probably cause you a lot of frustration as you work.
Tired of snapping the tips off your regular drill bits or dulling them after just one pass? Read on, and our experts will help you find what you’re looking for.
We show you some of the best drill bits for steel and discuss the most important aspects you need to consider before purchasing a drill bit set.
Top 10 Drill Bits for Steel
Choose Cobalt Drill Bits
Cobalt bits are the only way to go when it comes to drilling steel surfaces.
These bits consist of a steel alloy base that contains between 5-8% cobalt, which makes the steel alloy much more heat-resistant than it would be on its own. So much heat is generated when you are pressing a rotating drill bit onto a steel surface due to friction, but since cobalt can withstand hotter temperatures, it is the ideal chemical element for this type of drilling.
What Bit Sizes Do You Need?
For average projects, you most likely won’t need a wide range of drill bit sizes. Large sets tend to cost more, and if you only ever end up using just a few of them, it is a waste of your money to choose one.
If your project needs vary, then having a full range of bit sizes at your disposal is ideal.
You will often see the term “jobber” used when referring to drill bits, which is simply referring to bits that have a specific flute length.
- Flute. The spiral part of the drill bit.
- Jobber. Any drill bit that has a flute length that is between 9 to 14 times the diameter of the bit.
Most of the products on our table are jobbers, except for the CO-Z HSS Cobalt Multiple Hole Drill Bit Set, which are step drill bits. We will be discussing them in our “Review” section later.
Top 3 Best Drill Bits for Steel Reviews
Drill Hog offers the best drill bits for steel thanks to their overall quality and the wide selection of sizes.
The smallest bit is 1/16-inch, and the widest is ½-inch. Each one is made out of high-speed steel alloy that contains between 8 to 10% cobalt (known as Cobalt M42 steel), making them incredibly heat-resistant and durable.
Unlike most drill bits that feature a 118° split point, these are engineered with a wider split point of 135°. The difference is huge when you’re using the drill, and helps prevent the steel from “walking” as you press.
Another impressive feature about this set is the fact that Drill Hog backs it up with a Lifetime Warranty. Not many companies offer this on drill bits, which is just another reason why we wouldn’t recommend any other product as highly.
These tree-shaped step bits are unique and handy.
In just five pieces, they do the same amount of work as 50 single drill bits thanks to their step design.
Size #1, for example, has six different tiers (referred to as “steps”), starting at a 3/16-inch diameter at the tip and widening to a ½-inch diameter at the base. Obviously, these will only be useful on thin sheets of steel, because if it is thicker than the width of the tier, you will begin drilling the next hole size up as you press.
Because these bits have a nice narrow tip, it is much easier to see where you are placing them on your metal surface. Jobber drill bits are wide, and it can be more difficult to ensure accurate placement, but the tree shape of these bits really works to your advantage.
You will notice that each bit has a flat side, which allows you to make a mark at the right depth so you don’t accidentally extend past your intended hole size.
For projects where you will be drilling through thin sheets of steel or stainless steel, opt for a set of bits like these to help save you some space in the toolbox.
If you’re looking for an entry-level set of bits and you don’t need to drill through steel or metal on a regular basis, then consider this set from Irwin Industrial Tools.
We were impressed with their 15-piece set, although they do offer a 21-piece and 29-piece set for those who need a wider selection. Irwin’s bits also feature the same 135° split point that the Drill Hog bits had, so “walking” shouldn’t be an issue with these.
The cobalt percentage is low – 5% – which shouldn’t be a surprise considering the price. They are sharp right out of the box – more than capable of cutting through steel and metal – but you will need to sharpen them regularly if you want them to last.
For the occasional metal and steel holes, these bits do a fine job, but if you need to drill through metal and steel on a regular basis, opt for a higher quality set like the Drill Hog.