When it comes to drilling through hardened steel, you have to know what you’re doing before you can get started. Unlike wood, there is a bit of a learning curve with this kind of material, so you don’t want to begin without knowing the basics. The first thing you should be sure about is your drill bit. If you don’t have the right kind of bit to power through this sort of material, then you will be creating a lot more work for yourself. So, with that in mind, we are going to go over the important steps to picking out the right bit for hardened steel, as well as show you some of the best examples we can find. Overall, the more prepared you are for the job, the easier it will be.
Drill America KFDRSD Series Killer Force High-Speed Steel Reduced-Shank Drill Bit
Irwin Tools 3018002 Cobalt M-35 Metal Index Drill Bit Set
DEWALT DW1263 14-Piece Cobalt Pilot Point Drill Bit Set
Drill America KFD29J-PC KFD 29-Piece High-Speed Steel Jobber Length Drill Bit Set
Chicago Latrobe 550 Series Cobalt Steel Jobber Length Drill Bit Set
Unlike wood, there are only a few kinds of drill bits that work well on steel. For that reason, you won’t have to worry about finding a specialty bit to get the job done, as you will almost always be using a twist style bit anyway. If you were drilling through soft or sheet metal, then you could get away with different bit types, but for hardened steel, there are only two primary features you should be looking at.
This is by far the most crucial component as it will dictate whether or not you can complete the job. Essentially, you want a bit that is as hard or harder than the material you’re trying to drill through; otherwise, you’ll be working hard and getting nothing done. There are three types of material you can pick, although only two will be necessary.
● High-Speed Steel (HSS): this material is ideal if you are punching holes through thinner pieces of metal or stainless steel. To make sure that it’s up to the challenge, look for HSS bits that are coated with black oxide, as this will extend the life of the bit.
● Cobalt: these bits are far better at hardened steel than HSS, but they are more expensive. The added cobalt strengthens the bit so that it doesn’t break under pressure. Most of these bits are a mixture with up to 8% cobalt.
● Carbide: unless you are in need of some professional drilling, you won’t have to worry about getting this kind of bit. It’s designed for only the toughest metals out there, and you need a specialized kind of drill to make it work, as it can be extremely brittle if handled improperly.
For most twist bits, they come with a point that is cut at 118 degrees. The reason for this is that the sharper tip can penetrate most materials with ease. However, when drilling into hardened steel, you need a tip that is 135 degrees so that you don’t blunt the bit or damage the metal. Overall, unless you are working with sheet metal, never use an 118 degree bit.
Kicking off our list is an individual bit from Drill America. This high-speed steel (HSS) bit is designed to work with most soft metals, as well as stainless and hardened steel. To help ensure that it operates effectively, the bit is coated in black and gold oxide so that it stays smooth and sharp for much longer.
The tip is a straight cut 135-degree point, which reduces walking when drilling and ensures a cleaner hole. The shank of this bit is round so that it can fit into most drill chucks, making it a versatile and reliable piece of equipment. Finally, if you run the bit counterclockwise, then it will remove debris automatically.
While high-speed steel can work for a lot of different materials, if you want the best performance then you have to get cobalt. In this case, a set of 29 cobalt drill bits from Irwin Tools is just the ticket to provide you with the right kind of material to get the job done.
As with all bits built for hardened steel, these come with standard 135-degree points and heavy duty web construction. These features ensure that your bit doesn’t walk when trying to drill through the metal, nor does it dull or wear down very fast.
The other thing that we like about this set is that it comes with a rugged carrying case for all the bits. Also, each cartridge is removable so that you can work with them before putting them away. Finally, the box is even lockable, so you never have to worry about people stealing your bits.
When it comes to high-quality brands, no one does home power tools quite like DeWalt. That being said, this set of 14 drill bits is the ideal choice for anyone who wants to work with hardened steel on a regular basis. Considering that these are cobalt bits with a gold oxide finish, that means that they can handle most jobs without any problems, and they are built to last.
What we like most about these bits is that they come with a proprietary point system designed by DeWalt. The angle is still 135 degrees, but it is shaped in such a way that you get better results each time you use the bit. While we always recommend working with a drill press when punching through metal, these bits are so good that you could also use a handheld drill and not experience walking or dullness. Overall, these bits are the literal gold standard for hardened steel.
We’ve already seen what one bit from Drill America can do, but in this case, you get 29 bits to do a wider variety of jobs. The same quality and reliability are still there, but now you have so many more size options from which to choose.
As with the bit from above, these are made of durable high-speed steel with a black and gold oxide finish. That means that they will work on most metals and are built to last. Also, the tips are cut at 135 degrees to reduce walking and ensure a precise cut every time.
What makes this kit unique is that all of the bits come in a plastic canister that you can wear on your belt. This makes them far more convenient when you’re on the job, and since each hole is labeled for its size, it’s easy to find the right bit when you need it.
Our final set comes from Chicago Latrobe, and it is a decent set of cobalt bits that can chew through most hardened steels in no time. While we do wish that there were more size options for this set, the quality and reliability of these bits is still top notch, which is why we highly recommend them.
In addition to being made of cobalt, these bits come with a durable gold oxide finish that reduces wear and tear while using them. The 135-degree point ensures better accuracy when drilling as well as pristine holes every time. The bits come in a durable metal carrying case with a removable cartridge for your convenience. Overall, these are some incredible bits that will last for years.
When comparing these bits to each other, we have to say that our top pick has to be the 14-piece set of cobalt bits from DeWalt. We are already fans of that brand, but these bits are designed for high-performance quality and reliability, more so than the other ones we’ve seen.
I believe there is a handyman in all of us as long as you have the right tools. I started this blog to help anyone who is interested in fixing things to learn their way around the different tools and to know how to perform different DIY tasks. I have been doing this for years and believe I am a master of this art.