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Chris Needham

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Hi, for drilling wood (mostly softwood) what type of drill bits would you recommend please? Brad points were my first though but I mistakenly googled when I had too much time on my hands and some advise HSS bits are recmmended for wood but others say to avoid HSS for drilling wood.

grateful for any advice.

I’m typically drilling skirting boards and tackling other domestic jobs.

thank you.
 

Alasdair

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clogs

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Unless u buy expensive qual spur point bits the cheapo's r just carp......
given up with them and pract impossible to resharpen prop anyway.....Like cabinet man upto 10mm I use norm HSS drill bits....
over that depending on the job either spade bits for awful jobs but save my best power auger's for the good jobs..
 

RobinBHM

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If you are drilling mostly for shank and pilot holes for screws, I’d buy UKdrills ground HSS drill bits. They come in packs of ten and are quite cheap. I get 3.5mm, 4.0mm, 4.5mm, 5.0mm, 6.0mm which covers almost all screw sizes.
 

TheTiddles

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HSS is the material the drill is made from, shape can be highly variable. Incidentally, high speed steel was invented in the 19th century so what was high speed then is somewhat slow today, anyway…

Standard (v-point) twist drills will work pretty decently. For some things a lip and spur drill will do a neater job and that matters (eg if you are going to plug the hole), if you aren’t doing that sort of thing, cheap twist drills are probably just fine
 

Ollie78

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I like brad point bits, they are less likely to wander at the begining and are normally sharper.
 

Phil Pascoe

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Lash out and buy a set like this - 170pc HSS Drill Magazine
I bought one similar 20+ years ago and still have it. Other bits I've acquired in the meantime are in it and a few have been replaced - 3mms and 6mms. The half mm sizes are useful if you do repair work or deliberately want to make a hole a bit tight or slightly sloppy for any reason. As said above, unless you're buying good quality (expensive) lip and spurs there's little point - often the point isn't ground central. For a lot of joinery you'll be countersinking (and filling) the holes anyway so a tear here and there isn't going to matter. I've five or six sets of bits and would struggle to find a lip and spur bit.
 

JobandKnock

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I'll run at odds to all the other answers, so far. As someone who spends the majority of his time on builds and fit-outs, I'd say the same as a lot of my colleagues, namely for fixing skirting boards, etc into position with screws you'll ideally want to sink the head of the screw under the surface then either pellet it or fill it. For that twist drills alone are far from the best of solution. Best tool I've found for the job are these Trend Snappy drill/countersink bits:

Trend Snappy HSS Drill_CSK no.12.jpg

which will sink neat holes big enough to hide the screw head out of sight. The no. 12 size, which takes a standard 3.5mm twist drill, is ideal for 4, 4.5 and 5mm screws. There are other brands, but the Trend Snappy ones, whilst not the cheapest, have a major advantage - the firm sell matching tube plug cutters in 3/8in and 1/2in sizes to match the diameter of the counterbored holes produced by the drill/countersinks (the no.12 bit requires a 1/2in plug cutter).

Trend Snappy Tube Plug Cutter.jpg

All these tools can be used in a cordless drill, the replacement twist bits can be sourced from any supplier of HSS drill bits (try Toolstation - they sell or sold Milwaukee Thunderweb and/or Heller) and the lower cost steel bodied drill/countersinks can be resharpened using a file - as opposed to the much more fragile TCT Snappy bits

In point of fact most softwood skirting boards these days are fixed using either a grip adhesive, such as GripFill, or using a low-expansion PU foam, and 16 gauge nails are driven through the face of the skirtings to hold them in place whilst the glue sets.

The old technique was to cut wedges with a side axe which were then hammered into gaps chiselled out of mortar joints in the masonry to which the skirting was then nailed (with oval nails in more recent times) is seldom used these days except on listed building work (where we might well be using cut nails instead), although it does still have its' uses for tasks such as securing wooden window linings to masonry where there are no timber grounds to work onto
 
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Yorkieguy

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I get all my drills from UK Drills, and have one of those 170 piece magazines. Top notch drills.

I use their lip and spur wood bits and find them excellent:


Likewise, their auger bits are excellent too, despite their low prices:


Also their 'step drills', which I use for drilling holes in acrylic sheet. No snatching or cracking:


Don't take my word for it - read the feedback reviews.

The attached chart is quite handy. It give the optimum speed ranges for different types of drills and materials, both wood and metal.

Hope that helps.

David.
 

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Doug71

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I have a nice set of brad point in the workshop for the good stuff but mainly use the coated "jobber" type bits that Cabinetman shows.
 

Cabinetman

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I get all my drills from UK Drills, and have one of those 170 piece magazines. Top notch drills.

I use their lip and spur wood bits and find them excellent:


Likewise, their auger bits are excellent too, despite their low prices:


Also their 'step drills', which I use for drilling holes in acrylic sheet. No snatching or cracking:


Don't take my word for it - read the feedback reviews.

The attached chart is quite handy. It give the optimum speed ranges for different types of drills and materials, both wood and metal.

Hope that helps.

David.
Also similar to that stepped drill I have cone cut ones, got me out of many a pickle in wood.
 

baldkev

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Ive got a large array of bits, depending on the job. For basic pilots, it twist bits, bosch cobalts. For countersinks i have cheapy basic ones, a couple of alpen with centrebore clearance hole thingys and the disston drill and plug sets.

For pipes etc, ive got dewalt flatbits ( no edge spur ) a few augers and absolutely loads of holesaws.
 

JobandKnock

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For pipes etc, ive got dewalt flatbits ( no edge spur ) a few augers and absolutely loads of holesaws.
Just curious, why not keen on spurs? I dislike the ones with a threaded centre point - they pull in too fast and can make a mess of the wood, buy I've found the Irwin spade bits with spurs to be fine

For pipe holes, have you come across the Hultafors Talmeter tapes? They have a scale on the back (2m and 3m versions which directly converts circumference to diameter which can be a handy time saver, as well as direct reading internal measures (and a few other tricks), Got mine a few years back having seen a recommend from @petermillard

Hultafors Talmeter.png
 

baldkev

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Just curious, why not keen on spurs? I dislike the ones with a threaded centre point - they pull in too fast and can make a mess of the wood, buy I've found the Irwin spade bits with spurs to be fine

For pipe holes, have you come across the Hultafors Talmeter tapes? They have a scale on the back (2m and 3m versions which directly converts circumference to diameter which can be a handy time saver, as well as direct reading internal measures (and a few other tricks), Got mine a few years back having seen a recommend from @petermillard

View attachment 127035
Ive got a roll of irwin flat bits which are now my workshop set, but a while back i needed an odd size flat bit and found a dewalt extreme ( no spurs) so i ordered it. Wow. Firstly it cut great ( probably because it was new 😆 ) and because theres no spurs, it can very quickly and prescisely be sharpened. Theres a downside, which is minor, but the edges have a 45° pitch , which when you drill a blind hole, leave the inside edges at a 45° taper of a mm or 2. Not really an issue

But i since bought a full set and i love them.

Thanks for that reference on the hultafors tape, i havent seen them before!

Edit to add that previously ive just binned flat bits when the spurs got wrecked
 

Ollie78

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Forgot to mention the flip driver, wasn`t really thinking of it as a drill bit as such but very handy, just lives in my small drill permanantly.

Currently have the dewalt version like this DeWalt DT7612-XJ ' Flip Drive Set , 12 pieces : Amazon.co.uk: DIY & Tools

I used to prefer the Makita ones but the quality dropped to total garbage, they used to have brass collars and really nice sharp counterbores but the last one I had wasn`t even straight and popped the bearing after a week. Similar to the trend snappy which aren`t as good either.

The quality problem has crept into the dewalt as well, my original was rock solid but my new one has grub screws of cheese. Other issue with the dewalt is it wont fit in standard hex fittings like impact drivers etc.

Ollie
 

Chris Needham

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Thanks all, a lot to consider here. My initial thought rewind to get a good set of Brad points but then for general / everyday work HSS seems the way forward. I’ve not used auger bits in an electric drill but have used them manually (old style bit and brace) for drilling larger diameter holes (say over 10mm).

JobandKnock - you mentioned countersink drills. I nearly always countersink holes to hide screw heads but do this with a separate countersink bit. I’ve not used the bits you mention so it might be worth me checking out.

I will check out UKdrills too.
 

Limey Lurker

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Unless u buy expensive qual spur point bits the cheapo's r just carp......
given up with them and pract impossible to resharpen prop anyway.....Like cabinet man upto 10mm I use norm HSS drill bits....
over that depending on the job either spade bits for awful jobs but save my best power auger's for the good jobs..
I find it easier to sharpen brad-point bits than 118 degree bits. In fact, I find them easier to grind freehand than chisels or plane blades. If you take a new, say 6mm, brad point bit, and hold it against the corner of your (switched-off) grinding wheel, you will find that the bit sits at an angle down and to the right, and the ground faces are contacting the wheel with no gaps. Remember this angle; it is the angle that all brad-point bits are ground to. This angle stays constant throughout the grinding process; there are no twisting, or swinging, inputs: the bit is advanced onto the wheel along its longitudinal axis. I repeat; there are no rotating, lifting, sliding or tipping inputs: you feed the bit onto the corner of the wheel as straight as you would feed your pencil into your school-teachers hand-cranked pencil-sharpener.
Please try; it is much, much easier than you think! Remember that most brad-point bits are hand-ground in Third World countries by lowly-paid (possibly child) labour.
 

Stevekane

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And its also quite easy to grind your own lip and spur drills, an old chap showed me how to do it and its reasonably easy, the best way to see how its done is to hold a shop bought version againt your grinder like our friend above and it becomes clear what you have to do, bigger bits are easier but small is possible providing you have a well dressed stone. When you find your getting tear out around the top of a hole even a home ground lip and spur makes all the difference.
Steve.
 
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