Drill Bit Guide: What Drill Bit Do I Need?

Are you looking for the right drill bit for your project? This drill bit guide from SGS Engineering will help you choose the best fit for the job.

Drill bit guide: What Drill Bit Do I Need?

Knowing what drill bit to use and when to use it means you’re more likely to do the job right first time. However, with so many uses for these tools, there are lots of different types of drill bits out there that are dedicated to specific tasks. Understanding what they all do will go a long way towards making sure your project is a success.

If you’re new to drilling and using drill bits, or you’ve always wanted to know more about the different drill bits that are available, then look no further. Here at SGS Engineering, we’ve put together the ultimate drill bit guide to make sure that buying and using them is easy for you. Read on to find out more about this toolbox essential.

What does a drill bit do?

A drill bit is the removable tool that’s fitted to a drill which makes the hole in the material you’re working on. These come in lots of shapes and sizes because some are more suited to cutting through certain materials than others. So, by knowing what size drill bit to use you’ll be able to make the right hole in the right position. Here are the main things to consider:

  • The material

Before you start shopping for a drill bit, it’s important to know exactly what job it is that you need it for. Are you drilling into stone or wood? Or do you need to carry out some precision drilling on rigid materials such as glass? What you’re drilling into is the first thing you need to consider.

  • Accuracy

Once you’ve matched the tool to the material, you’ll also need to consider how accurate you need to be. Some are ideal for creating clean holes while others are for creating rough ones. Again, having a clear understanding of the job you’re doing is important here as you’ll be able to find the best type of drill bit for your project.

Drill Bit Features and Useful Terms

While there are many different types of drill bits, there are some universal features across all kinds. Knowing the various parts can help you when you’re buying for the project you’re working on:

  • Point - The cone-shaped, pointed end that does the cutting. This section consists of a spur and cutting lip.
  • Spur - The spur sits at the dead centre of the point. This helps to get the drill into position.
  • Cutting lip - The cutting lip scrapes away the material. This is the feature that generally varies from bit to bit.
  • Flutes - Starting from the cutting lip, a flute or channel spirals its way up the body of the drill bit where it ends with the shank. The flutes help the cutting lip remove the displaced material.
  • Shank - The portion of the drill bit that is either clamped into a spindle or straight into a drill's chuck, with a straight shank drill bit.

You may see these terms when you’re searching for drill bits, so it’s worth taking the time to learn what the different parts of a drill bit are called as well as the function they perform. And if you’re looking for the perfect drill to pair with your drill bits, be sure to check out our drill buying guide.

Choosing the best type of drill bit for your application

To help you work out how to tell which drill bit to use, here’s a summary of the different types that we offer. This overview is your at-a-glance guide so you can easily find the product that fits the job.

Multi Purpose Drill Bits

Useful for: Everyday use

When searching through the different types of drill bits, you’ll find that the multi-purpose ones are widely available and most common. Used for a broad range of everyday jobs, these can be applied to a range of materials.

We stock a range of multi-purpose drill bits by leading manufacturer, Milwaukee. If you’d like to shop for individual bits in this range, you can select anything from our 4mm to the 10mm options. These feature tungsten carbide tips, making them a robust option for drilling into metal, wood and stone, but in rotary mode only. Alternatively, if you need several multi-purpose drill bits, you can buy a set.

For diameters of 12mm and more, the drills are supplied with a hexagonal shank, eliminating the risk of slippage in the chuck.

Auger Drill Bits

Useful for: Making neat holes in wood

These are similar to multi-purpose drill bits, except that they are just used for drilling wood and have a more pronounced central point or spur. This pronounced feature makes it easy to locate the point that’s being drilled and keep on course, making them ideal for precision drilling. In addition, they produce holes with very neat edges, meaning that this type of bit is favoured over others when appearance is important.

Our range of auger drill bits start at 8mm and go right up to 32mm, so you can work on everything from small jobs to floor boards and joists. If you’re wondering what size drill bit to use from this line-up, think carefully about the wood you’re working on and how big you need the hole to be. Whichever size you opt for, you’re sure of a clean finish as these bits include a Lewis flute design to quickly remove chips. Plus, the hex shank offers a secure grip, so you’re sure to get the accuracy you’re looking for

Whichever size you opt for, you’re sure of a clean finish as these bits include a Lewis flute design to quickly remove chips. Plus, the hex shank offers a secure grip, so you’re sure to get the accuracy you’re looking for

Spade Drill Bits

Useful for: Large, rough holes in wood

Spade Drill Bits are designed for drilling large holes quickly and roughly in wood. They can cause splintering around the entry and exit of a hole, however. Available in large diameters, they are ideal for cutting holes in timber posts for cables, wires, pipes and ropes. You can find a seven piece spade drill bit set here, offering you a range of different sizes, from 10mm up to 32mm in a sturdy moulded plastic case, ideal for caballing and home DIY

We offer a seven-piece spade drill bit set by well-known brand, Ryobi. This includes a choice of different size drill bits in large diameters, from 10mm up to 32mm. They come in a sturdy moulded plastic case, so they can be easily packed away after use.

Masonry Bits

Useful for: Drilling masorny, concrete and stone

If you’re drilling into brick, light concrete, limestone, natural or artificial stone, then masonry bits are the best type of drill bit for the job. The cutting tip is usually made from tungsten carbide on a steel shaft, making it a robust, durable tool that’s designed to cut straight through the stone.

We have a selection of masonry bits that start at 5mm and go up to 16mm, so there is sure to be something to suit most projects. If you’re looking for a few different bits in a range of sizes, the Milwaukee 5 Piece Drill Bit Set is a useful addition to the toolkit. The diamond ground percussion carbide tips offer two cutting edges, while vibrations are curbed and impact energy is transferred directly to the drill tip.

Self Feed Drill Bit

Useful for: Large, rough holes in heavy duty wood

Of all the different types of drill bits, self-feed drills are the high-impact choice for big jobs, such as boring large holes in wood when working on pipes or conduit. They’re the perfect choice for professional plumbers and electricians who need to make large, rough holes in wood.

The self-feed bit drills into materials without pressure, which provides clean, fast holes. We have a range of self-feed drill bits to choose from at SGS. The Milwaukee Self Feed Drill Bit Set is a practical choice for drilling a few different-sized holes in one go as it comes with seven drill bits that are packed away into a case that can be easily moved around.

HSS Drill Bits

Useful for: Drilling metal and hardwood

If you’re wondering what drill bit to use for metal and harder woods, you’ll find that high speed steel (HSS) bits are the perfect fit. They are hard and resistant to heat – much more so than high carbon steel – which means that they can be used at high speeds.

We offer a range of HSS drill bits, each designed to drill through tougher materials. These high-speed drill bits by Milwaukee include an oxide coating, enabling quick swarf removal. They're suitable for drilling into steel, cast iron, alloyed and non-alloyed material up to 800 N/mm². Plus, this is a 19-piece set, so you’re sure to find the different types of drill bits for the job all in one set.

Selecting Screw Driving Bits

As well as drilling holes in a variety of materials, most drills will also have a driving function for fixing screws. So, once you’ve selected what drill bit to use, you’ll need to choose the right screwdriving bit. To help you decide, we’ve put together a couple of simple steps so you can grab the right bit for any given application.

Step 1: Find the Shape of the Screw

Look at the screw’s drive, or shape pressed into the head of the screw. The most common screw types you’ll come across are Phillips, Pozi-Drive, Slotted and Hex drive heads, however you might find screws with Square, Torx and Security Torx+ drive heads too.

Use the table bellow to work out what screw you’re looking at and what type of bit you need.

Step 2: Find the Size of the Screw

After you have established the shape of your screw head and picked the appropriate shaped bit drive, you need to select the correct size bit. Doing this will ensure it doesn’t slip when you’re inserting a bit or driving the screw.

It’s easy to find the one that fits: if it moves in the recess when you turn the screw by hand, try a larger bit! Beware: a bit that fits very snugly in the screwhead is likely to strip the head.

Choosing the Best Driver Bit Set for You

Now you know which bit to choose, selecting an appropriate bit set is simple. The more ambitious your projects are, the bigger the set you should purchase. You can always add more specialist sets later on, but a good combination bit and driver set can take you through the vast majority of household tasks.

Ryobi RAK16FP 16 Piece Screwdriver Bits Set for Flat Pack Furniture

This 16-piece accessory set from Ryobi includes various screwdriver bits including Hex, Phillips, Pozi-Drive and Slot heads, making it perfect for all those jobs around the home, such as assembling flatpack furniture. It includes a magnetic 60mm bit holder for easy access to your bits, making bit changes simple and easy.

Milwaukee 4932430907 56 pc Shockwave Drill/Screwdriver Bit Set

This 56-piece kit by Milwaukee features custom-engineered steel that makes the bits more resistant to shock from impact. In addition, the materials these are made from mean they are more durable and long-lasting than similar products on the market.

Still need help?

Our in-house experts are always on hand to help you with any questions you have about the different types of drill bits available and can offer advice to help you work out what drill bit to use for the job. If you’d like to speak to the team, call 01332 576 850 or fill out our contact form today.