When it comes to working with steel, you have to make sure that you’re using tools and components that can handle the job. For example, when using a drill, it’s imperative that you have bits that are hard enough to not only punch through the metal but also not wear down from the heat and friction.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best drill bits for steel that will enable you to make as many holes as necessary without shattering or turning into a dull mess. Not only will we look at the bits themselves, but we’ll also go over the various features to look for when making a final decision.
Irwin Industrial Tools 316015 Cobalt Drill Bit Set
DEWALT DW1263 14-Piece Cobalt Pilot Point Drill Bit Set
FeelGlad(TM)5pcs Titanium Step Drill Bits Set with Aluminum Case
Drill America KFD29J-PC KFD 29-Piece High-Speed Steel Jobber Length Drill Bit Set
Champion Cutting Tool BlackGold XG12-3/4 Silver & Deming 1/2" Shank Drill
Considering that steel is rather tough, that means that your drill bit has to be as strong or more robust so that it can make its way through. Three primary types of bits can work well with steel, so choose according to your needs.
This is a stronger form of the metal that is treated to withstand higher speeds and temperatures. Nonetheless, HSS bits are usually the cheapest and easiest to find, so they are not quite as durable as some other models out there. To make sure that you’re getting the most out of the bit you want to buy ones that come with an oxide coating (we’ll discuss that in a bit) that keeps it lasting longer than normal.
Unless you are working on industrial pieces, cobalt bits are a fantastic choice for any kind of steel work that you may do. Typically, these bits are a mixture of both steel and cobalt, so pay attention to the percentage as it will dictate how durable they are. If you want sturdier bits that can chew through more metal, get a higher proportion of cobalt and make sure that they are coated.
This is the ultimate bit material that can penetrate the hardest of metals. As such, this is both the strongest and the most brittle of the bits, so you have to use a specialized drill press to ensure that they don’t snap. Carbide can also be modified for masonry work as well.
While the material of the bit is most important to ensure that it won’t break or wear down easily, the tip is another indication as to whether it’s designed to work with steel. Most all-purpose bits have a tip angled at 118 degrees to deliver a sharper point and work faster in wood and plastic. However, 118 degrees works well only with sheet metal, so if you have something thicker, then you need a wider 135-degree point. This larger tip ensures that the drill won’t start walking along the metal before you make your hole, and it will keep it from getting dull too fast.
As we mentioned, to get the most out of your drill bits you need to have a specialized coating so that they won’t get melted from the heat and friction. There are two primary kinds of coats you can find: black/gold oxide and titanium. Here are the benefits of each.
Sometimes, these will be mixed, but it’s more common to see bits with either black or gold oxide. Neither one is necessarily better than the other, but black oxide is a bit cheaper, so you can take that as you will. Overall, oxide coatings will keep the bit in good condition even after making multiple holes so that it will last longer. One thing to remember is that, no matter how good the bit is, the coating will rub off eventually, so you will have to replace it at some point.
If you want a surface that will stay on much longer than oxide and provide even better protection, then titanium is the way to go. These bits are more expensive, but they are far more durable and reliable. Titanium dissipates heat remarkably well and won’t wear off as quickly as oxide, so these kinds of bits will stay in prime condition for much longer.
Starting us off is a collection of high-quality cobalt bits from Irwin Industrial. While these are a bit on the lower side (5% cobalt mixture), they are still durable enough to handle most metal projects, including steel.
What we like about these bits is that they come with a gold oxide finish to reduce wear and tear, they have fifteen different sizes from which to choose, and they have a 135-degree split point tip to reduce walking. Also, they come in a killer carrying case that will ensure that you never lose a bit again.
As far as power tool companies go, DeWalt is consistently one of the best. As such, this set of robust and reliable cobalt bits from the brand is guaranteed to deliver the results you want every time. They are almost 100% cobalt to ensure longevity, and they also have a gold oxide finish to reduce overall wear and tear.
What makes these bits from DeWalt even more unique is that they come with the proprietary Pilot Point tips. These are similar to a 135-degree split point, but they are sharper and will reduce walking even more. That, coupled with the no spin shanks means that these bits are built much better than the competition.
When looking at different bit types, you may have seen step bits like these before. What makes these unique is that you get a variety of sizes in a single bit, meaning that you don’t have to get an enormous set to get all of the widths that you need. Each one has about ten different size options, making these an ideal choice for anyone looking for convenience.
As far as performance goes, these bits are made of high-speed steel and are coated with titanium to reduce overall wear and tear. They also have 135-degree tips to reduce walking and wider flutes to remove debris as you drill. The only limitation is that they can only go so deep for each width, so be sure that you use these on sheet metal or other thin pieces.
If you’re looking for a cost-effective and versatile drill bit kit, then this set from Drill America is an optimal choice. With high-speed steel construction and black and gold oxide finish on each bit, these are built to last.
What we like most about this set is that you have 29 different size options between 1/16 and ½ inches. This means that you can be much more precise with your holes than other sets, and you don’t have to worry about running out of bits.
Also, we like the durable carrying case that clips to your belt for extra convenience.
Our final drill bit is a single model from Champion Cutting Tool. As such, if you want a complete set you’ll have to buy them all individually, but some people may prefer that as you won’t get any sizes that you don’t need.
As far as performance goes, this bit is made with high-speed steel and has a black and gold oxide finish. Not only will this make the bit last longer but it holds lubricant even better so that it doesn’t overheat as quickly. The shank is triple-sided to prevent slipping, and it comes with an 118-degree point for sharper holes.
When comparing these drill bits against each other, the clear winner in our book is the set of cobalt bits from DeWalt. We already like the company itself, and combined with extra durable bits, it means that you can get more reliability and dependability with those bits than you could with anything else. Overall, they are the best for any steel work you may do.