Each week in 2015, ManMade is sharing our picks for the essential tools we think every creative guy and DIYer needs. We’ve selected useful, long-lasting tools to help you accomplish a variety of projects, solve problems, and live a hands-on lifestyle that allows you to interact with and make the things you use every day.
Here’s a little bit of weird DIY trivia: you know those drill bit sets that they sell at every hardware store and home improvement center? The ones that you buy the full set of and use until they break, or until you lose them? The ones you place in you awesome cordless drilldriver and use to drill holes in all kinds of wood?
They’re not made to drill into wood.
You can use them in wood, of course. We all have, and probably will again. But everything about them – the tips to the edges and the flute design, are all designed for machine work: drilling into metal, at low speeds, with a drill press. Read: not into wood. (!)
For wood boring, you actually want a different style: a brad-point bit. Like the name suggests, these bits have a self-centering pointy end, which allows the bit to bite into the wood as the initial hole is made, rather than skittering all around the surface. You know what I’m talking about.
The point helps improve accuracy – acting like an awl – and allows you to place the bit exactly where you want it, important for joinery work, such as dowel joints, or when removing the waste in a mortise.
There’s also a set of cutting spurs on either side which slice the wood fibers on contact, rather than just crushing them and displacing them up the flutes. This allows the bit to move through the wood cleanly, and its especially helpful when boring stopped holes. The bottoms will be flat, as well, rather than divoted.
Brad point bits are also designed to be used at high speeds, like the one you achieve when you fully press the trigger on your handheld drill. Which, unless you’re a machinist or work mostly in metal, makes up a good 90% of around-the-house and woodworking tasks.
A brad point bit will create cleaner entrance and exit hole as well, reducing tearout on either side, making for a more attractive and stronger project. They’re also less likely to split the wood when drilling near the edges, as the force is focused inside the bore.
So, should you chuck that set of black twist bits in the garbage? No way. Keep up for metal, and things like drywall and other super soft materials and random junky experimenting. But should you invest in a quality set of steel brad point bits for clean and accurate holes in wood? Ab. so. lutely.
- Just the essentials: 7-Piece TEKTON 7288 Brad Point Drill Bit Set
- Middle of the road: DEWALT DW1361 21-Piece Titanium Pilot Point Drill Bit Set
- Woodworker’s choice: WoodRiver 29-Piece Fractional Brad Point Drill Bit Set
- Solid Gold: DEWALT DW1369 29-Piece Pilot-Point Drill Bit Set