The science of figuring out drill bits can be quite complicated.
While it’s true that for most household projects, you can get away with using a steel drill bit with a tapered point, the same isn’t true when working with hardened steel. This is obviously because, unlike wood, plastic, or other materials, hardened steel is decidedly tougher.
Drill bits specifically meant for hardened steel have certain characteristics that set them apart from other kinds, such as superior resistance to heat and a unique shape. They also tend to be made from tougher materials.
But instead of telling you, we’re going to show you. Find our top 7 picks of the best drill bits for hardened steel below, along with a comprehensive buying guide.
The 7 Best Drill Bits for Hardened Steel
So, after much research and analysis, we present our top picks of the drill bits most suitable for use with hardened steel. If you’re unsure what you’re looking for though, scroll down to our buying guide for further assistance.
1. IRWIN 316015 Cobalt Drill Bit Set
The first set of drill bits we’ve chosen for your consideration is a 15-piece set from Irwin, a name easily recognizable in the construction industry. This drill bit set offers commendable performance at very little maintenance.
With a 135 degree split point tip, these bits ensure that you can cut with less force. And because they start on contact, your project will be up and running in no time.
As the bits are made from cobalt steel, you can expect a long life for their cutting edge. They have been designed to be extra resistant to abrasion and heat for longer. And even when you feel like they might have started wearing out, just a little bit of sharpening goes a long way.
The same is true for lubrication. In the event of any unwanted friction—which won’t be happening any time soon anyway—just top them with lubricating oil, and you’ll be good to go.
- Comes in a range of different size options for various applications
- Strong and sharp cobalt construction makes it ideal for hardened steel
- Features a 135-degree split point tip starts quickly with less force
- Built to be extremely strong and hard-wearing
- Purchase includes a sturdy and protected storage case
2. Irwin Industrial Tools 63221 Cobalt Drill Bit Set
This 21-piece set we’re going to review next is also from Irwin, so you know it’s going to be good. Especially if you’re on the market for the best drill bits for metal, then this set is particularly going to appeal to you. Let’s find out why.
Just like the 316015, the 63221 drill bits also come with a 135-degree split point. Not only does this reduce the need for undue amounts of force, it also noticeably reduces feed pressure.
There’s a lot to love about the spiral flute design of these things as well. You will be enjoying faster chip ejection for a smooth and efficient job experience. Furthermore, because of the different bit sizes included in this set, you’re all set for any and all drilling applications.
But undoubtedly, the most impressive thing about these bits is their construction. Made from M-42 5% cobalt high-speed steel, these guys are super tough and extremely resistant to abrasion. That’s what makes them a perfect choice if you’re going to be cutting through tough metal.
- Shorter cutting lips work to decrease torque and drill tough materials
- 135-degree split point works to decrease feed pressure
- Spiral flute design is well-suited to heavy-duty applications
- Your purchase will include a durable and convenient metal storage box
- Extremely well-made and will last you for many projects to come
3. Drill America M35 Cobalt Drill Bit Set (DWDCO Series)
You may not recognize the name of this manufacturer right away, but there’s a reason this 29-piece set ended up on our list. With a high-quality cobalt construction and intuitive design, these things are extremely sharp and extremely high-performing.
First of all, because this is a 29-piece set, you’re bound to find the bits you need for any and all projects. The set comes with fractional sizes that increase by 1/64″, so precision will never be a concern as long as you know just which size you need.
The gold oxide coating is another huge plus about these things because it ensures higher durability and naturally provides lubrication.
With all of these features, it’s no wonder these things can cut through almost any material as if through butter. Particularly if you’re working with high tensile strength materials such as Inconel, titanium, or stainless steel, then this is a great and reliable option.
- Organized spirally in a convenient cylindrical canister for easy access
- Extremely sharp; can be counted on to reduce or eliminate burr
- Wide range of size options increase versatility in applications
- Cobalt construction enhances precision when drilling hardened steel
- Performs like new once you sharpen them
- Performs much better in comparison to other sets in the same price range
4. DEWALT DW1263 14-Piece Drill Bit Set
And now we’re back to the big names, which are big names for a reason. There’s no way you haven’t heard of DeWalt’s widespread popularity, no matter the extent of your experience. This 14-piece set is particularly impressive, for the following reasons.
This set of 14 bits has all the staple sizes that are most commonly used by DIYers and professionals alike. Made from industrial-strength cobalt, you can drill through stainless steel and even metal. That’s right; the best drill bits for drilling metal are sometimes not even the ones that advertise themselves to be!
The most notable feature of these things, however, is the “Pilot Point” tips. With an unmatched sharpness and intuitive spiral design, these bits start on contact. They go through almost any material you can think of with a clean and smooth efficiency that will make you forget how affordable the set was.
We also greatly appreciate the heavy-duty case that comes with the purchase. Made from high-quality ABS material, the case comes with a sliding rubber lock and interlocking hinge. Keep your bits protected both on the go and on the job!
On the whole, there’s nothing not to love about this set, especially given the price—you can’t go wrong with DeWalt!
- Comes in 14 sizes ranging from 1/6 inches to 3/8 inches
- Constructed from industrial-strength cobalt for maximum durability
- Bits have a unique Pilot Point tip that starts on contact
- Comes in a heavy-duty carrying and storage case
- Pilot Point tip ensures precise and focused performance on tough materials
- Relatively highly affordable compared to other sets of the same quality
5. DEWALT DW1354 Titanium Drill Bit Set
Yep, our next pick is also from DeWalt, and for a good reason too. While this is a much more affordable set compared to the others by DeWalt we’ve already reviewed, it certainly performs as though it costs much more.
No matter whether you’re a DIYer or professional, these extremely strong and sharp titanium-coated drill bits are bound to impress you. Truly, the efficiency of DeWalt’s patented Pilot Tip can’t really be overstated. Not only do they start on contact, they also eliminate walking completely. The result is a smooth operation that produces incredibly clean holes every time.
There’s more to love about the design. The 3-flats shank work to decrease spinning in the chuck. Furthermore, because of its tapered web, each of these bits is guaranteed to surprise you with its long life, especially when you consider how low a price you’re paying for them.
However, do keep in mind that due to their titanium construction, these bits aren’t the best option if you’re working with very tough metals or steel. If you need your drill bits to do that, it’s better to invest in a pricier cobalt set. Still, given the price and the range of sizes, we still think the performance of this set is top-notch for plastics and wood.
- Titanium coating ensures greater longevity and performance
- Tapered web design makes it tougher for the bits to break
- Features patented Pilot Point tip that starts on contact
- Highly suitable for drilling plastic and wood
- Comes in a variety of 14 sizes from 1/6 inches to 1/2 inches
- The bits are stored in a sturdy and convenient plastic case
6. HYCLAT Titanium Step Drill Bit Set
If you’re on the hunt for a drill bit set that will easily allow you to perform multiple applications, this 5-piece step set from Hyclat is bound to fit your needs. With a rust-resistant titanium construction and two-flute design, these bits are worth your consideration, especially if you’re not looking to spend a lot.
So let’s look at some features. Able to provide up to 50 different size configurations, each of these one-step bits can drill a wide range of bore diameters. One important benefit of this is that you won’t have to continually replace the bits.
The high-speed steel construction with titanium coating offers time-tested longevity and performance, allowing you to drill through materials like aluminum, plastic, copper, and stainless steel with ease.
We’re also quite impressed by the X-type openings and double cutting blades, which allow for drilling smooth, clean holes many times over before you have to sharpen the bits. This is also what makes the bits versatile in the range of applications they can be used in: you can use them to bur, drill, chamfer, and enlarge holes, hassle-free.
- The purchase involves sturdy and convenient aluminum case
- Three-sided shank and double cutting blades ensure smooth and efficient cutting
- Can be used for a wide range of drilling applications
- Unique performance is able to effectively reduce waste
- Minimizes shocks and prevents against snapping
7. Migiwata Metric M35 Cobalt Steel Drill Bit Set
It’s true that the last set of drill bits we’ve chosen for you to consider is not from a very well-known brand. But there’s a good reason for us having given this set a place on our list, and it will especially appeal to you if you’re on a budget.
Despite the low price point, this set is made from a cobalt steel and molybdenum alloy, Cobalt, as you may have guessed by now is a prime choice for drill bit material. But more importantly, these bits have a surprising ability to resist heat, while offering a Rockwell hardness of 67.
In fact, you can even confidently expect these things to cut smoothly through decently tough materials such as cast iron, copper, iron, and stainless steel. And if you’re working with materials such as plastic or wood, it’ll be a long, long time before you even feel the need to sharpen your bits.
Do note, however, that these drill bits are not suited for drilling high carbon steel and heat-treated steel. If that’s what you’re concerned about, you should consider getting drill bits made from carbide. Given the price of these, though, the performance ability for suitable materials is still highly impressive.
- Can cut easily through tough materials like cast iron and stainless steel
- Surprisingly resistant to heat and abrasion gave the price point
- The 135-degree Quick-Cut point are able to center themselves and drill with less pressure
- The straight shank ensures precise hold and intuitive centering
- Set includes bits of sizes between 1.5mm to 6.5mm
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Buying Guide For Choosing Best Best Drill Bits
Regardless of whether you take our reviews at face value, it’s still good to know what you’re spending your money on. Accordingly, here is a comprehensive list of factors to keep in mind when choosing the best drill bit for steel.
The material from which the drill bit is constructed is of the highest importance because it will determine the level of performance and efficiency you can expect from the drill bit.
The more resilient the material is, the easier it will be for you to drill through-hardened steel, which can be a decidedly difficult task.
Here are the main materials used in making drill bits.
Cobalt: This is the most popular choice because of its versatility. Cobalt drill bits can drill through mild steel, tool steel, spring steel, and hardened steel. They are particularly suited to hand drills.
High-speed Steel: A cheaper option, high-speed steel material, is usually coated with titanium. As long as your drilling technique is sound, you can easily drill through normal steel. This type is also suitable for hand drills.
Carbide: This material will be able to drill through every steel type, no matter how hard. One big drawback, though, is that it’s not suitable for hand drills. Furthermore, quite a bit of caution is required in handling carbide drill bits. If you’re a DIYer, skipping this is a better idea.
Diamond Coated: This kind can cut through the majority of steel types. Do note, however, that the durability of diamond coated drill bits is unreliable.
The kind of coating on your drill bit has a direct effect primarily on the drill bit’s durability, and also on performance. Without a good coating, the bit will wear out faster. The best drill bits for drilling steel will undoubtedly be the ones that have a strong coating, such as TiCN or black oxide.
The “flute” of the drill bit refers to the deep groove-like indentations that twist around the bit; its purpose is to give waste material a way out. There are 2 main types of flute design that you should know about.
First is the parabolic flute design. This kind is highly recommended if you are cutting through a softer material.
On the flip side, if you’re drilling through hardened steel, then you should go for the 30-degree angle design.
Drill Point Length and Angle
These considerations are related to the design of the drill bit.
First, let’s talk about drill point length, which should vary according to what material you’re working with. When you’re working with metal, shorter drill bits are ideal, because they are more rigid, and also allow for higher accuracy. With a longer bit, you run the risk of breaking the bit.
Next, we have the drill point angle. The standard angle is 118 degrees; however, if you prioritize faster drilling, then a 135-degree self-centering angle would be more suitable. This is particularly true if you are working on a steel surface.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the right design for drill bits meant for hardened steel?
Ans: Take a good look at your drill bits. If it has a tapered point, that’s usually a sign that it is not suitable for drilling through steel.
Q: What material should drill bits for hardened steel be made from?
Ans: Bits made from cobalt are ideal as they are strong and durable relative to other types. Carbide also works; however, if you’re a DIYer, then it might not be the best option.
Q: How can I sharpen my drill bits?
Ans: Sharpening your drill bits is a popular and effective way of extending their longevity. Using a bench grinder or diamond file are common ways of doing this. Some even prefer to do it by hand. You can find several tutorials online.
Q: Does the length of the drill bit matter?
Ans: Yes, definitely. When working with steel surfaces, especially, shorter drill bits will allow for greater speed and precision.
Q: What is the best drill bit for hardened steel?
Ans: We are big fans of all of the drill bit sets we’ve reviewed. However, the cobalt construction and unique Pilot Point tips make the DeWalt DW 1263 our top pick.
The best drill bits for hardened steel come in many specifications.
However, in terms of performance and quality, the reasonably priced DeWalt DW1263 is undoubtedly our favorite.
If you’re on a bigger budget, don’t hesitate to get the Drill America set we reviewed. For those with smaller budgets, the DeWalt DW1354 is a great pick. And if our reviews don’t convince you, you can always refer to our buying guide. Whichever route you take, we wish you happy drilling!
Hi, this is Sam Maxi. It’s been almost nine years I’ve been doing woodworks and my passion is still touching the sky. I love talking about woodwork tools and my reviews are mostly based on the experience I have from my work. Apart from reviewing, I am a huge fan of surfing. Also, I love watching horror genre movies.