The Best Drill Bits for Metal

Drilling through metal requires a drill bit that can take the heat. The best bit for your project is one that is meant to tackle the type of metal you’re working with and makes a clean, precise hole.

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The Best Drill Bits for Metal Options

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Home improvement centers often dedicate an entire aisle to drill bits, which come in a plethora of types and sizes for drilling holes in a variety of materials. Many drill bits can pierce through more than one type of material, but not all drill bits can drill through metal without heating up and snapping in half. Labels on drill bits indicate the type of material for which they’re suited, so it’s easy enough to find ones that are designed to drill metal. Depending on the type of metal you’re drilling, some bits suit the task better than others.

If you are working on a project that requires you to drill through metal, read on to learn about the factors you should consider before you go shopping for the best drill bits for metal. The following drill bit sets rise above the competition and will help you make holes in myriad metals.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Hymnorq Jobber Twist Drill Bits 15pc Set
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: amoolo Titanium Metal Drill Bits (10 pcs)
  3. BEST STEP-DRILLING BITS: TACKLIFE 5PCS Titanium Step Drill Bit Set
  4. BEST FOR HARDENED STEEL: Drill Hulk Cobalt Steel Twist Drill Bits, Pack of 12
  5. BEST FOR LIGHT-GAUGE STEEL: Bosch 21-Piece Black Oxide Metal Drill Bit Set
The Best Drill Bits Options

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Drill Bits for Metal

Most drill bits fit both standard corded and cordless drills. While these small pieces of metal all look pretty similar, each type of drill bit specializes in making holes in certain materials—including wood, plastic, and metal—but won’t work as well on other materials. Bits that drill through metal are further classified by the types of metal they puncture. For example, some bits are capable of drilling through ferrous metals, such as cast iron, and others through nonferrous metals, such as copper and tin.

Drill Bit Material

Most drill bits are made from high-speed steel, cobalt, or carbide. As you’ll see below, a bit’s material can influence how effective it is at drilling through different kinds of metals.

  • High-speed steel (HHS): This is an all-purpose drill bit that can be used to drill through both ferrous and nonferrous metals as well as carbon steel.
  • Carbide: Metal-drilling bits made from carbide are suitable for drilling nonferrous metals but not ferrous metals.
  • Cobalt: This type of metal-drilling bit works well for drilling ferrous metals but isn’t as good at drilling nonferrous metals.

Coating

Metal drill bits are usually coated with titanium or black oxide. This coating reduces friction, which keeps the drill bit from heating up and eventually breaking. Because the coating reduces friction, it also increases drill speed.

Shank Design

The shank is the non-drilling end of the bit that fits into the drill’s mandrel or “chuck.” It’s the end of a bit that you “plug in” to the drill. The shank size of the bit you choose (typically ¼-inch, ⅜-inch, or ½-inch) should match the chuck size of the drill.

Some shank designs are more conducive to drilling through metal than others. Most shanks for this type of drill bit are either no-spin or hex.

  • No-spin shank: This type of drill bit has a fluted shank that is designed to keep the bit from slipping when you’re drilling.
  • Hex shank: Similar to the shape of some screwdriver bits, a hex shake has six sides that help the bit remain steady while drilling into hard metals.

Tips for Buying and Using Drill Bits for Metal

Researching shank design, bit material, and bit coatings can be confusing, but fortunately, drill-bit manufacturers make shopping relatively easy for the customer. Drill bits are labeled not only by the size of hole they’ll drill but also by the type of materials they’ll drill. Look for the words “metal-drilling bit” on the package, followed by a list of metals the bit is designed to puncture. Here are a few additional tips that will help you drill smoother holes and keep your bits in tiptop shape.

  • Use a center punch to create a depression in the metal before drilling. This will reduce the likelihood of the bit slipping off the material to be drilled.
  • Use a lubricant as you drill. A drop of three-in-one oil or cutting fluid will lubricate the drill bit, making drilling easier and reducing wear and tear on the bit.
  • The friction generated by the bit drilling through the metal can cause the bit to heat up and break. This is especially true with larger bits. By drilling slower and taking breaks every few minutes to let the bit cool down, your bit will last longer.

Our Top Picks

The best drill bits for metal should be made from steel intended for the metal you want to drill. Bits should also be durable and able to withstand the friction and heat produced when drilling through metal. The following recommendations are all at the top of their class for metal drilling, and one (or more) may be an asset to your tool collection.

Best Overall

The Best Drill Bits for Metal Option: Hymnorq Twist Metal Drill Bits Set
Photo: amazon.com

The tapered noses and twisted side grooves of the bits in the Hymnorq Twist Metal Drill Bits Set quickly penetrate many hard metals including iron to drill a steady, self-centering hole. The bits also work well for drilling softer metals, such as aluminum and copper. The downside is they are not suitable for drilling the hardest types of metal, including titanium and high-carbon steel. Made from cobalt steel combined with molybdenum for added durability, the Hymnorq bits are friction and heat resistant. This set features 15 bits that range in size from 1/16 inch to ⅜ inch to cover your metal drilling needs and includes a plastic storage case.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Drill Bits for Metal Option: Amolo Titanium Metal Drill Bits Set
Photo: amazon.com

A good set of metal drill bits doesn’t have to be expensive. The amoolo Titanium Metal Drill Bits set comes with 10 titanium-coated, high-speed steel bits that drill ⅛-inch holes in softer metals, including aluminum, copper, and alloy. These drill bits won’t work on iron, stainless steel, and other hardened metals. We like how the bits’ twisted side grooves help stabilize the bits while you’re drilling; these grooves also direct metal shavings up and out for a cleaner, smoother hole. amoolo also makes 10-bit sets in other sizes, including ¼-inch, ⅜-inch, and 3/16-inch. The bits come in a plastic case for easy storage.

Best Step-Drilling Bits

Photo: amazon.com

For drilling several hole sizes in sheet metal, it’s tough to beat TACKLIFE’s five-piece titanium step drill-bit set, which comes with four step bits that can drill holes in 50 sizes. This kit also comes with a center punch for creating a guide dimple in the metal before you start drilling. Each bit in the collection has easy-to-read, laser-etched measurements that won’t wear off.

Made from high-speed steel coated in titanium to reduce friction, these bits are plenty durable for drilling holes in soft sheet metals such as aluminum, alloy, tin, and copper. The step bits also feature an X-type opening shape that helps remove metal shavings from the hole as you drill. The set comes in a protective aluminum storage case.

Best for Hardened Steel

The Best Drill Bits Option: Drill Hulk Cobalt Steel Twist Drill Bits, Pack of 12
Photo: amazon.com

When you need to drill through hardened metals such as wrought iron or stainless steel, look no further than the Drill Hulk’s cobalt metal drill bit set. The set comes with a dozen ⅛-inch twist drill bits made from high-speed steel and cobalt for durable performance and heat resistance. The bits’ tapered split points can penetrate metal quickly and cleanly, and their fluted side grooves will remove metal shavings as you drill. These bits do not come packaged in a storage case.

Best for Light-Gauge Steel

The Best Drill Bits for Metal Option: Bosch Metal Drill Bit Set
Photo: amazon.com

For easy drilling into light-gauge steel such as aluminum, copper, or alloy, check out the Bosch Metal Drill Bit Set. Manufactured from high-speed steel and coated in black oxide, Bosch drill bits can withstand friction and heat so you can drill continuously without the bits heating up. The grooves on the sides of the bits’ twisted shanks will bring metal shavings up and out of the hole as you drill. Their tapered tips can quickly penetrate the metal, balance the bit, and produce a clean, even hole. The set includes 21 bits ranging in size from 1/16 inch to ½ inch and are packaged in a plastic storage case.

FAQs About Your New Drill Bits for Metal

Whether you’re just getting into metalwork or you want to expand your drill bit set, adding metal-drilling bits to your arsenal of tools is a good investment. If drilling through metal is a new endeavor for you, you likely have some questions.

Is a cobalt or titanium drill bit better?

It depends on what kind of metal you’re drilling through. Titanium bits are suitable for drilling through soft metals, such as aluminum, while cobalt bits are better suited for drilling through hard metals like cast iron.

How can you drill through thick metal?

The best way to drill through thick metals is to use a drill press rather than a hand drill—a press will get you a clean, smooth hole. Be sure to drill slowly and use cutting fluid to lubricate the bit too. Let the bit cool down every few minutes to keep it from overheating and breaking.

How can I sharpen my drill bits for metal?

Many DIYers don’t bother sharpening their bits when the cutting edges become dull and they have trouble drilling a hole, but it’s tool maintenance worth doing. You’ll get a longer life out of your drill bits if you sharpen their cutting edges with a bench grinder.

Do I need to clean drill bits after each use?

It’s not a bad idea. After drilling, wipe away any residue on the bit with a soft cloth and then rub a bit of cutting fluid on it before storing it.

How do I remove a broken drill bit from metal?

Add a drop or two of lubricating oil to the bit and then grab the broken end of its shank with a pair of pliers. Twist counterclockwise to remove the bit.