The Ultimate Drill Bit Set – Buyers Guide

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Drill Bit Set Buyers Guide

One size fits all. That definitely isn’t the case when it comes to drill bits. The drill bit you need will vary depending on the type and thickness of the material you intend on drilling, whether that be wood, metal, masonry (concrete or stone), tile or glass.

A combination drill bit set is the ideal way to make sure you’re always covered when it comes to drilling – containing a selection of the most commonly used drill bits, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that the drill bit you need is within your reach, even when it comes to those unexpected DIY emergencies! There are specialist sets available, which are favoured by the professionals, but for us, amateur DIY enthusiasts, a decent combination drill bit set, more often than not, will do the job just fine when it comes to carrying out basic home-improvements.

Using the right drill bit can mean the difference between doing the job right or doing the job twice. There are so many drill bits sets out there it can feel a little overwhelming when you’re trying to narrow down your search, so the best thing to do is to keep it simple: you want to choose a drill bit set which contains the type, material and size of drill bits that are best suited to the material(s) you intend on drilling. Ideally, you also want some accessories thrown in; a good-quality, durable case; and a decent manufacturer’s warranty. Just be sure to shop around so you’re sure you’re getting the best drill bit set for your money.

Only got 5 minutes

You own a drill. Chances are you’re going to need more than one drill bit. Agreed? The easiest, most cost-effective way of making sure you’ve got a drill bit suited to the task in hand is to invest in a decent drill bit set. For small sets with around 4-5 pieces, up to sets which contain 100+ drill bits, you can be sure you’ll find a set that gives you enough variety, without wasting your money on drill bits you’re never going to use.

Bosch 2607010608 X-Line Classic Drill and Screwdriver Bit Set, 34 Pieces
2,616 Reviews
Bosch 2607010608 X-Line Classic Drill and Screwdriver Bit Set, 34 Pieces
  • 34-piece X-Line classic drill and screwdriver bit set
  • Fits all power tools and brands, all you need for drilling and screwdriving
  • 13 screwdriver bits for 3 different screw types, as well as 3 standard nutsetters for use with key-headed screws, 5 high-grade, durable drill bits with versatile application options in wood, stone and metal
  • Premium Bosch quality
  • Dimensions (L x W x H): 172 mm x 46 mm x 164 mm

Choosing the best drill bit set

The world of drill bits is rather complex and can be a little overwhelming for us DIY novices, but leave the more technical jargon to the professionals. If you’re clear on the basics and take the time to shop around and compare a few different drill bit sets to ensure you’re getting the best deal for your money, then you’ve done what you need to do.

The three main points you need to be clear on before starting to shop are:

  • The material(s) you’ll be drilling
  • The type of hole(s) you’ll be drilling
  • The size of the hole(s) you’ll be drilling 

Once you’re clear on the above, you can make a decision on what material you want your drill bits to be made of. Many different materials are used for drill bits with the most common choice being HSS (High-Speed Steel), which can drill holes in a variety of materials and, depending on the material being drilled, can be combined with other materials if needed, such as carbide, titanium or cobalt, to strengthen the drill bit for drilling holes in really dense masonry and hard metals.

Sale
Bosch 2607019329 Titanium Drill and Screwdriver Set, 70 Pieces
1,614 Reviews
Bosch 2607019329 Titanium Drill and Screwdriver Set, 70 Pieces
  • Drill bits for metal, masonry and wood
  • Assortment of screwdriving bits; magnetic universal holder and moulded display carry case
  • Socket wrenches and adapter; measurement tape and countersink bit
  • Standard wood drill bits and titanium-nitride-coated spade bits for increased cutting speeds and drilling clean, precise holes in wood
  • Durable, carbide-tipped masonry drill bits; suitable for all power tool brands; not suitable for use in aluminium

The most common drill bit materials:

Material Use
Soft low-carbon steel Inexpensive, used for drilling wood, not particularly hard-wearing
High-carbon steel bits More durable than low-carbon steel, can be used on wood or metal
High-speed steel (HSS) Most-common material of drill bit, durable, more resistant to heat than high-carbon steel, can be used to drill the majority of materials including metal and wood, impressive cutting speed, easy to sharpen  
Cobalt steel alloys A variation on HSS that contains more cobalt used to drill stainless steel, aluminium and other hard materials, durable, pricey but widely regarded as being the best drill bit
Chrome vanadium steel Resists corrosion the chrome/vanadium combination creates a harder metal than HSS. Stays sharper for longer than HSS  
Tungsten carbide and other carbides Exceptionally hard (tough ceramic) Can drill virtually all materials, expensive – normally found on top-quality masonry, tile, and glass drill bits, more brittle than steel drill bits and so is mainly used for drill-bit tips

Once you’ve figured out which material of drill bit is best suited to you and your DIY plans, choosing the best drill bit set becomes much easier as you’ll be able to narrow down your search considerably. In terms of the size of your drill bit set (how many pieces), generally, the more ambitious your DIY projects are, the bigger the set you’ll need to purchase as you’re likely to need a variety of drill bits to hand, in a variety of sizes, capable of drilling into a variety of materials. Of course, there’s always the option to add to your drill bit set further down the line – adding more specialist drill bits – but a decent-sized combination drill bit set should be sufficient for the majority of DIY household tasks.            

Desirable features

The higher your budget, the more swanky your drill bit set and case is likely to be. If you’re looking at around the £30+ mark, you’re likely to get a good number of drill bit pieces, made from good quality HSS, with a range of accessories and features, all designed and included with the aim of making your drill bit set easier to use:

  • Magnetic bit holder
  • Durable, waterproof, lightweight storage case
  • Transparent case cover
  • Roll mat keeps drill bits and accessories safely stored and easily accessible
  • Screwdriver bits to fit most common screw types
  • Ratchet and sockets
  • Hex key set for loosening and tightening of nuts, bolts and screws
  • Duplicates of the most commonly used drill bits
VonHaus 246pc Drill Bit Set & Carry Case for Metal, Masonry, Wood & Plastics Includes Titanium HSS Drill Bits
79 Reviews
VonHaus 246pc Drill Bit Set & Carry Case for Metal, Masonry, Wood & Plastics Includes Titanium HSS Drill Bits
  • COMPLETE SET - Comprehensive, high quality 246pc drill bit set – made for masonry, wood, metal and plastic drilling as well as multiple screwdriving and fastening applications
  • VARIETY - Full set includes 87 X HSS twist drills, 22 X wood drill bits, 21 X masonry drill bits, 4 X drill stops, 66 X 25mm bits, 30 X 50mm bits, 6 X nut drivers, 2 X hex keys, 1 X counter sink, 4 X hole saws, 1 X arbor adaptor, 1 X nail punch and 1 X bit holder
  • UNIVERSAL - Compatible with all VonHaus drills and many other popular models. Comes in a durable carry case with a distinctive black and orange colourways and clearly laid out moulded placeholders
  • STRONG - Bits made from chrome vanadium for long-lasting strength and durability. Includes specialist accessories such as hole saws, a countersink and wood flat drill bits
  • CASE SIZE - 29.5 X 6 X 41.5cm (Height X Width X Depth) Weight: 3kg

An overview of drill bits

Drill bits are to drills what hammers are to nails: you can’t achieve much without them! Depending on the material you want to drill, there’ll be a drill bit specifically designed for that purpose. Metal, stone and even glass can all be drilled with the use of specially designed drill bits. There’s a big difference between the drill bill that results in a perfectly round and smooth hole drilled in ceramic for holding a soap tray, compared to a rough-and-ready hole drilled in the wooden frame of a garden shed. Ideally, you’ll want to choose a set that has a variety of drill bits, which are suitable for a range of different scenarios. Having the best drill bit is crucial to the successful outcome of any DIY project.

Choosing a set

When it comes to choosing a drill bit set you’re faced with two options – buying a drill bit set that contains the same type of drill bit in various sizes or choosing a combination drill bit set which is often the preferred option for DIY enthusiasts as they contain wood, steel, and masonry drill bits, all in the same case.

The different types of drill bits

There are so many drill bits out there to choose from but there’s no need to overcomplicate your search if all you’re looking for is a general-purpose drill bit set. Most sets, which class themselves as combination sets, will include the most common types:

  • Step bit: ideal for drilling thin metals and wood; the stepped design allows holes of different diameters to be drilled using just the one drill bit.
  • Wood drill bit with a ‘brad-point’ – the fine point enables you to drill more precisely; also commonly used for drilling plasterboard.
  • Flat/spade drill bit: used for drilling large holes in wood.     
  • Tile & glass drill bit: used to drill bathroom and kitchen tiling with minimal risk of cracking due to the carbide tip.
  • Masonry drill bit for drilling into brick, cement, concrete or plasterboard; you’d need to use this kind of drill bit with a wall plug.

Some types of drill bit will be more relevant to you than others, so decide which ones you’re most likely to use and these will be the priority when it comes to choosing your set.

Drill bit coatings

The important thing with any coated drill bit is the thickness of the coating. Buying from a reputable brand will normally ensure you get a drill bit set with a decent thickness, however, the downside of buying a cheap drill bit set is that often the coatings are thin, and so aren’t particularly hard-wearing, meaning the coating will soon wear away, exposing the core metal.

Three main types of drill bit coating:

Black-oxide Titanium-coated Diamond-coated
Resists corrosion DurablePopular choice for both domestic and professional use Resists corrosion DurablePopular choice for both domestic and professional use, gold in colour Used for drilling glass and making large holes in masonry

Drill bit sizes

The best drill bit sets will offer drill bits with a range of diameters:

Drill bit type Commonly used for Common size range
Standard twist drill bit Small holes in wood, plastic, some metals 0.8 – 12mm 
Masonry drill bit Brick, stone, concrete, masonry 4-16mm    
Bullet pilot point drill bit Drilling clean holes with minimal breakthrough damage 1.5 – 13mm
Spade drill bit   Large holes in wood ¼’’ to 1½’’ 
Hole saw drill bit   Large holes in wood and light metal ½‘’ to 6’’
Adjustable wood drill bit Drilling multi-diameter holes ¾‘’ to 3’’

 

Compatibility

When choosing your drill bit set it’s important to check whether the set you’re going for is compatible with your type/brand of drill. Some drill bit sets will be universal fitment, meaning they’re compatible with the majority of drill chucks (the part of the drill that the drill bit fits into), whereas more specialist drill bits may only work with particular brands or types of drill, so it’s important to check this before clicking the all-important ‘Buy Now’ button.

Cost

With so many options of drill bit sets out there on the market, it can make the process of finding the ideal set a little overwhelming but, as drill bits as used for such demanding work, it’s worth bearing in mind that buying cheap may well result in you buying twice, particularly if you plan on drilling steel and masonry – cheap, poor-quality drill bits just simply won’t be up to the job. Stick with a reputable brand that you trust; check the reviews and buy the drill bit set that is best suited to you and your drilling needs. You can pick up a basic drill bit set for around £10 which can contain anything from around 5-40 drill bits. At the top-end, you can expect to pay anything up to around £100 for a larger, branded, good quality drill bit set, which is likely to come with some extra accessories.

Makita Power Drill Accessory Set (100 Pieces)
326 Reviews
Makita Power Drill Accessory Set (100 Pieces)
  • A truly cost effective range of accessory sets, the 'trade' Range has a comprehensive array of essential bits to suit most general applications.
  • 100 piece trade set full of everything you may require for different jobs. 50x screwdriver bits and an array of brad points, masonry, hess, outdrives and hole saws
  • Suitable for PVC, wood, metal, masonry

Frequently asked questions

What is the best drill bit set for drilling metal?

Cobalt drill bits are the best choice for drilling holes in stainless steel and harder metals because they are stronger than HSS bits; this is usually reflected in the price. Copper in colour, cobalt drill bits also stay cooler than HSS bits, which makes them a better option for drilling hard metal.

What is the best type of case for my drill bit set?

The best drill bit sets are normally contained in a durable plastic case, which is both hardwearing and water-resistant. Inside, a magnetic bit holder is great for keeping drill bits organised and secure. A transparent front/lid means you have a clear view of your drill bits and a lightweight case means your drill bit set is easily portable.

What accessories will I get with a drill bit set?

The best drill bit sets will come with at least a few accessories to help you get going with your drill bit set. Obviously, the higher your budget, the more accessories you’re likely to get. The most common accessories included with a decent drill bit set are an arbor adaptor; bit driver; centre punch; and a countersink.

Last update on 2020-04-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

About Mike Jones 155 Articles
I started doing DIY around the house and it soon developed into a hobby. I look for tools and products that are genuinely useful and get the job done. I enjoy writing product reviews, researching my buyers guides and putting tools through their paces. In my downtime, I like to run and I am a bit of a Netflix documentary geek.

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