Best Drill Bits for Hardened Steel 2020

The handmade goodies that can be created with a drill is beyond imagination. The drill for a DIYer, enthusiast or a professional, is a handy tool they can't afford not to have in their toolkit.A drill without an appropriate drill bit is just a disaster waiting to happen and a misuse of this creative machine.

Drill bits are of different types and sizes depending on the materials to be worked on. Majority of DIYers and enthusiasts make use of the regular drill bits with tapered points to work on woods, plastic and metal sheets.

However, cutting through thick metals is another thing entirely.It requires some level of expertise and exposure as well as picking up the right drill bits. Without doubt, hardened steel and stainless steel are two of the most thickest metals out there.

Drill bits that are needed to cut through hardened steel have some special characteristics and properties. It is dangerous practice to pick up a regular drill bit to cut through hardened steel or any other tough metal.

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Drill Bits for Hardened Steel

As earlier stated, drilling through hardened steel might become gruesome and a kind of nightmare if you don't come prepared. It requires the know-how and the right tools.

Drill bits for hardened steel are made from extremely strong materials such as cobalt. They are astonishingly resistant to heat and can work under very high temperature. The tip of a hardened steel drill bit is usually coated and blunt. 

They are not the most fanciful but they get the job done. Using fanciful regular bits will most likely result in accidents as they are likely to break a few seconds into the job. Hence, for your safety and comfort as well as to protect the workpiece and drill, you need to get the drill bit that is fitting for hardened steel. Also here's a videoshowing the step by step guide on how to drill through hardened steels.

So, how do you get the best drill bit for your project? Below are features to consider when choosing a drill bit for hardened steel, which are discussed in detail below.

Features to Consider When Selecting Drill Bits for Hardened Steel

There are many types of drill bits of varying styles, brands and specifications out there that it is so easy to mistake one for another. Though, it is worthy of note to say, the task of choosing the right drill bit for hardened steel only becomes complicated if you head into the market uninformed

Here we have put together the features you need to consider in a drill bit to determine if it is the right tool to get the job done.

1. Drill Bit Materials

In order to efficiently drill through a hardened steel, you need a drill bit made with a material that is considerably stronger. This is due to the fact that the strength of the material will determine the durability and efficiency of the bit.

Also, hardened steel is extremely wear and tear resistive, and as such, you will need a drill bit that can retain its sharpness for an extended period of usage.

Below are some of the drill bits materials you will find in the market.

  • Soft Low-Carbon Steel: The cheapest amongst the materials used for hardened steel drill bits. As the name implies, it contains low percentage of carbon and needs frequent sharpening.
  • The durability of this type of drill bit is also low. If you are drilling through hardened steel as a one off Job, you can consider this type of drill bit. But if you are a professional and cut through hardened steel often, this drill bit is not advisable for you.
  • High-Carbon Steel (Carbide): These drill bits are very tough and durable. They are made tough through the hardening and tapering process.
  • They are well-suited with metals and hardwood. The only downside to this material is that loses its sharpness when it is exposed to high temperature for a long period of time.
  • High-Speed Steel (HSS): They are considerably better than the high carbon steel bits. They are harder, and notably more resistant to heat.
  • HSS drill bits are well-suited to drilling through hardened steel for an extended period of time and does that at high speed.
  • Cobalt Steel Alloys: It is abetter version of the high speed steel and one of the most reliable drill bits for working on hardened steel. As the name goes, they contain a high amount cobalt. Amongst all drill bits, they are probably the most suitable for drilling through hardened steel.
  • They can work under high temperature for long period of time without losing their sharpness or hardness. The only downside to cobalt steel bits is that, they are notably more brittle than other high-speed drill bits.
  • Tungsten Carbide: The most effective and expensive of all. They can drill through virtually any type of material. They also retain their sharpness, edge and strength longer than other types of drill bits.
  • Due to the fact that tungsten is very much expensive, they are majorly used as tip for drill bits that's not as hard instead of being a whole drill bit. They are very strong, hence, they are used for the toughest drilling jobs such as production drilling.

2. Coating

The neatness and quality of the holes drilled by a drill bit is largely dependent on the coating.There are majorly three types of coatings that can be found on drill bits for hardened steel.

  • Titanium Nitride: One of the most efficient coatings that can be used to coat a drill bit. It is made of ceramic and increases the durability of a drill bit to two or three times the normal span.
  • It is usually used for coating of high speed drill bits. It is very hard and durable and well-suited to wear-resistant surfaces like hardened steel.
  • Black Oxide: A cheaper type of coating that has low friction and high heat resistance. It is also corrosion resistant which makes it durable and effective. It notably improves the durability and efficiency of high speed steel drill bits.
  • Bronze Oxide: Mostly used as a secondary coating to already coated drill bits. They can sometimes be found on black oxide coated drill bits.
  • Most times when you find a drill bit that carries a bronze oxide coating, it means it has a very high grade of high speed steel.

3. Flute Design

The deep groove-like indentations that is found around the drill bit is called the flute. It gives a way out to waste materials and provides a clearer view of your drilling activity.

There are majorly two types of flute designs you can find on a drill bit; the parabolic flute design and the 30degrees angle design.

For efficiency and neatness, the best type of design you can get for hardened steel is the 30degrees angle design.

4. Shank Design

The shank of a drill bit is the part that connects it to chuck of the drill. The firmness of a drilling operation is dependent on how well connected the shaft of the drill bit is to the drill.

Majorly, the hexagonal and circular shanks are the most common types of shanks. The hexagonal shank is well suited to high speed and high power operations because the arms of the chuckis able to hold them tightly.

The round shank on the other hand, is difficult to hold onto and can be slippery during high speed operations. Though, they can still be used if you can properly tighten the chuck.

5. Drill Point Length

The length of the drilling point varies with the type of materials you will be working with.

For metals generally including hardened steel, a shorter drill bit is the most preferred. This is because they are closer to the surface, making them more rigid and accurate.

A longer bit is at risk of breaking if it is used rigorously.

6. Drill point Angle

The widely accepted angle standard is 118 degrees. For faster drilling operations such as that of a hardened steel, a 135 degrees self-centering angle bit is the most suitable.

7. Drill Bit Number

The varieties of jobs you can do with a drill bit set is dependent on the number of bits in the pack. Some drill bits brands produces different models of drill bits based on the size and number of drill bits in the package.

For an enthusiast or professional, a drill bit set with bits between the range 14 and 21 will do.

It is advisable you get a product with higher number of drill bits. This gives you flexibility and saves you from the need of purchasing a new set entirely when another variety of job pops up in the future.

8. Price

Drill bits for hardened steel are usually more expensive than the regular drill bits. This is due to the types of materials that are used to manufacture them and the quality.

The price of a hardened steel drill bit like other products is dependent on the quality and the style you want.

It is advisable you get the best drill bit that suits the job even if it is a little be more costly. This will save you from accident and unnecessary stress.

To save you from the headache of having to select a drill bit, we have selected and reviewed 6 of the very best available in the market.

6 Best Hardened Steel Drill Bits


Do you need a drill bit that makes drilling through metals as effortless as drilling through a wood? You can rarely get one better than Bosch cobalt drill bit. It is a fascinating drill bit that is suited to tough applications.

This drill bit can effectively work under high temperature of about 1100 degrees farenheit without losing anything in its sharpness and strength. The design is a thick and rigid one which gives it the desired stability in extremely tough applications.

The thick web helix removes materials with high speed and efficiency. It also gives it maximum durability (4 times the life span of regular metal drill bits) and a high performance level. Each bit incorporates a split point start without walking or skating i.e it only starts when it comes in contact with the work surface. This allows you to work without a center punch.

Bosch cobalt drill bit is specially designed for drilling through hard and abrasive materials like hardened steel, treated-stainless, titanium, cast iron, light-guage metal and high-carbon steel.

Pros

  • Durable and efficient.
  • Highly heat-resistant.
  • Does not slide into the chuck thanks to its triangular shank.
  • Drilled holes are neat.

Cons

  • Needs to be sharpened often.
  • It sometimes needs to be lubricated for efficient drilling.

Drillforce cobalt twist drill bit is a highly efficient drill bit that cuts through tough metals with ease. The pack contains 20 pieces of 1/8 inch high-speed steel twisted cobalt drill bits.

It is made with high quality HSS Cobalt M-35 steel material. This makes it effective in drilling hardened steel, stainless steel, mild steel, aluminum, copper and zinc alloy. It has a very sturdy design and produces a neat and finely finished hole.

It has a 118 degree split point tip for efficient and comfortable drilling. The drill bit starts immediately it is powered and does not walk or skid on the workpiece. It also does not require excessive force to start drilling.

In terms of durability, it is one of the strongest and most durable drill bits for hardened steel available. The shank connects to the chuck tightly, ensuring that it does not slip into the chuck and does not slip off during drilling.

Pros

  • Sturdy and durable.
  • High quality materials and reliable.
  • Does not walk on workpiece.
  • Clean and neatly drilled holes.
  • Pocket friendly and effective.

Cons

  • Measurement is a bit inaccurate.

Dewalt black oxide drill bit set is another high quality drill bit for hardened steel. The package contains 20bits of different sizes to suit your needs. It is has a rugged build that makes it amazingly strong and tough.

This drill bit set is very easy to use and cuts through tough metals with relative ease. It has a 135 degree split point design that prevents it from walking and slipping on the workpiece. This allows it to have an effective and no slip starting. It make use of parabolic flute design to eliminate the particles. This in-turn gives them greater strength and ensures their longevity.

The coating on these bits is black oxide coating. This gives optimum wear protection and ensures it works under high temperature without losing its sharpness and strength. It has a wide range of application as it can drill holes in wood, plastic, meta sheets, hardened steel and some other materials.

Dewalt drill bit set comes in a tough case container which has a sliding soft grip lock. This ensures the 20 drill bits are well arranged and kept safe. The size of the bits in this set ranges from 1/16 inch to 1/2 inch. All in all, it is a great and reliable drill bit.

Pros

  • Pocket friendly and easy to transport.
  • Durable, effective and very sharp.
  • Shank stays securely in the chuck of the drill.
  • High quality and dependable.

Cons

  • Bits aren't labeled.
  • Drill dex does not close.

Are you in need of a drill bit that drills hardened steel with as much accuracy as speed? You can rarely do better than Viking drill and tool drill bit set. It is made with insanely strong materials like the special Hi-Molybdenum steel which gives it its ultimate strength.

The set contains 29 pieces of well crafted drill bits. They are tough and suitable for really hard metals like stainless steel and hardened steel. Each bit in the set is coated with gold oxide, which makes it wear-resistant and gives it an attractive look.

The shanks of these bits have 3 flats. This holds it firmly to chuck of the drill and ensures it does not slip inside the chuck or remove during operations. It also features a 135 degree split point. This eliminates walking and skating and in-turn ensures accurate centering and quick, effortless penetration.

Viking drill and tool drill bit sets have an impressive flute design that removes dirt from the drilled hole. This improves the durability of your drill bit and gives an accurate and finely drilled hole. The ground point and body are of precise measurements.

Pros

  • Durable and very accurate.
  • Drills fast and cleanly.
  • Sharp and doesn't slip in the chuck.
  • Shank holds up well.

Cons

  • The diameter markings is strenuous to the eyes.
  • A bit pricey.

Durability is no doubt a valuable feature in any product and IRWIN cobalt drill bit set is the perfect illustration of this feature. It is made with high quality cobalt steel material which gives it its superb strength and durability.

The cobalt steel in these drill bits enables it to cut for long period of time without loss of strength. Another advantage of the cobalt steel is that it can be sharpened, hereby, increasing longevity and workability of the bits. They can drill holes effectively on tough metals like heavy duty abrasive, alloy metal, hardened steel, stainless steel and cast iron.

IRWIN cobalt drill bit set have 135 degrees split point that minimizes walking and slipping. This in-turn allows for accurate and less stressful drilling. With 8 percent cobalt composition, it can work under high temperature for a long period of time. The cobalt composition also makes it highly abrasion and wear resistant. The shank is also very effective and does not slip into the chuck during high speed drilling operations.

The 15 drill bits of different sizes are safely secured in a tough storage case. The case makes use of the sliding latch design to ensure that the bits are very secured and well arranged. It is recommended you use a lubricant with this drill bit set in order to get the best results.

Pros

  • Storage case is well designed and extremely safe.
  • Very sharp and cuts neatly.
  • Really sturdy and durable.
  • Easy to use.

Cons

  • It gets dull quickly if it is not used with lubricant.
  • A little bit expensive.
  •  

This is another very strong and reliable drill bit set. This high speed drill bit set is made with heavy-duty cobalt steel which makes it very hard and durable.

Chicago cobalt steel drill bit is notably harder and durable than other normal high speed drill bits. It is coated with gold oxide which provides lubrication  during drilling operations and makes it wear-resistant. It also has extra thick web that provides increased strength and rigidity compared to other regular drill bits.

It incorporates a 135 degrees split point. This makes it self-centering and eliminates walking and wandering. This feature also allows it to penetrate hard materials with ease without needing a pilot hole. It also produces small chips during drilling to reduce clogging.

The set contains 21 drill bits that are well arranged and secured in a storage box. The size of this drill bit set ranges from 1/16 inch to 3/8 inch with 1/16 inch increment. Being a jobber length twist drill bit set, they have a wide range of application and can work on numerous materials.

Pros

  • Very sharp and durable.
  • Pocket friendly and really reliable.
  • Sturdy and effective.
  • Easy to use and sharpen.

Cons

  • The shank does not fit well.
  • Needs to be sharpened often

FAQ on Hardened Steel Drill Bits

Q. How do I go about sharpening my drill bits?

A. Sharpening of drill bits is a widely accepted way of extending their workability and longevity, provided you sharpen them with the right material.

You can sharpen your drill bit effectively by using a bench grinder or a diamond file. For additional insight on this you can search online for tutorial videos.

Q. What type of material is most suitable for hardened steel bits.

A. The best material for hardened steel drill bit is cobalt. This is due to its strength, durability and effectiveness compared to the other types available.

Carbide (high-carbon steel) is also a good option as it is also very strong and durable.

Q. What effect does the length of drill bits have on effectiveness?

A. The length of a drill bit definitely affects its effectiveness and accuracy.

For hardened steel and metals generally, a short steel drill bit is the most suitable as it offers more rigidity and accuracy. Using a longer drill bit might lead to the breaking of such a drill bit.


Conclusion

With everything that has been discussed, it has been made obvious that what makes the best hardened steel drill bit is largely dependent on various specifications.

We have also shown that the best drill bits for hardened steel is not dependent on fanciful design. But rather having the right information on what makes a good one.

Finally, always make sure you get the right drill bit for the job. Using the wrong drill bit on hardened steel can lead to serious injury and destruction of the drill.

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