Drilling holes sounds simple enough and actually is.
Well, most of the time, that is.
After all, all you need to do is to attach a drill bit and go drill a hole. It can’t really get much simpler than that. However, while figuring out the right kind of drill bit for plastic, wood, and cement is simple enough, the same can’t be said for metal surfaces.
Harder than the three aforementioned materials, working on metal surfaces can be quite a pain, and you’ll need nothing but the best drill bits for hardened steel.
Why? This is because normal drill bits won’t be able to withstand the insane heat and durability that hardened steel has. Most drill bits will break off just a few seconds into you drilling a hole, which is, not only not ideal, but also potentially dangerous. You can’t really control where a broken drill bit will fly off and what it will hit.
With that said, we’ve decided to round up the 6 best drill bits for hardened steel, as well as tips on how to choose.
Read on below for our recommendations.
1. DeWalt DW1354 Drill Bit Set
If you’re looking to drill holes into hardened steel with minimal effort, look no further than the DeWalt DW1354 Drill Bit Set.
Made out of titanium, these drill bits last longer than typical black oxide drill bits and are much easier to use on tough surfaces, including hardened steel. These drill bits are also designed to start drill immediately on contact, so you won’t have to apply as much pressure, and because of its non-spinning shank, you won’t have to worry about the drill bit coming loose from the impact.
Lastly, these drill bits come with tapered web, giving it added durability and strength while also minimizing breakage.
As an added bonus, the drill bit set can be used for wood and plastic applications, making it the ideal solution for drilling needs, both in construction and for simple home fixes.
- Starts immediately on contact for neat-looking holes with minimal pressure or effort required
- No-spin shanks for slipping prevention
- Titanium pilot point for added durability
- The high-heat performance leaves a lot to be desired
2. Neiko 10193A Titanium Step Drill Bit Set
Whereas most drill bits will have you changing pieces just to drill a different size of a hole, the Neiko 10193A Titanium Step Drill Bit Set will let you dig different hole sizes, all without changing the bit used.
With as many as 28 total steps, all of which are visible via the laser-engraved flute, you’re free to dig 28 different hole sizes as well, with the smallest being 1/8 of an inch and the largest being 3/4 of an inch.
As for the set itself, you get two 1/4-inch shank bits and another 3/8-inch shank bit, all of which feature a tri-flat design that helps guarantee that the shanks don’t wobble when used.
The drill bits themselves are made out of high-speed steel with a titanium coating. This gives it optimal performance, even in high-heat environments.
This also allows you to use the bits for different kinds of applications, and with a 135-degree split point, you’ll be able to make cuts efficiently without losing sharpness at all.
- You can drill different hole sizes without changing drill bits
- 2-flute design allows for sharper and more efficient cutting
- Not for heavy-duty metalwork
3. Drill America M35 29-Piece Cobalt Drill Bit Set
This brand might not be the most recognizable name on our list, but the M35 definitely deserves to be on this.
The 29-piece set comes with its own case, features an intuitive design, and is made out of high-quality cobalt that gives it extreme sharpness and optimal performance, even in high-heat applications.
Precision will never be a problem with this set. It comes with fractional sizes with a 1/64-inch increase, and it’s coated with gold-oxide.
This means that you’ll always have the size that you need and you’ll almost always never need additional lubrication, although using one never really hurt anyone anyway.
These drills can cut through pretty much anything, including hardened steel like titanium and/or stainless steel.
- Extremely sharp
- Retains sharpness over time and needs only to be re-sharpened to make them perform like new
- Relatively affordable
- Conveniently-designed container for easy access
- Precision could be a bit better
4. COMOWARE Step Drill Bit Set
Made out of high-speed steel and equipped with dual-cutting blades with titanium coating, the COMOWARE Step Drill Bit Set is the ideal partner for in-house applications and small construction jobs.
These drill bits were made specifically to help you drill holes of different sizes without having to switch drill bits. It also comes with a drill holder for easier storage after using.
The COMOWARE Step Drill Bit Set comes with a 118-degree split point bit and a dual flute to help add penetrating power to the drill while making it abrasion-resistant and reducing the potential mess of usage.
- Comes with a drill bit holder and a carry case
- Sizes are conveniently laser-engraved on the drill bit themselves
- Ideal for lighter applications
- Not built for heavy-duty construction use
5. IRWIN 63221 Cobalt High-Speed Steel Drill Bit Set
Having made construction-grade materials and equipment for well over a century, IRWIN is one of the most established names in the game, which is why we have high expectations for the IRWIN 63221 Cobalt High-Speed Steel Drill Bit Set.
Now, we’re glad to tell you that these drill bits more than meet the said expectations.
User-friendly and ergonomic with a spiral design, these drill bits also come with spiral flutes to allow you to have a better grip on the machine as you drill holes through all sorts of materials, including but not limited to, hardened steel.
Arguably the only issue we have with this drill bit set is how it is pricier compared to its competition.
Then again, you do get what you paid for.
- Hardened steel and other hard materials are a piece of cake to this drill bit set
- Available in different sized bits for convenience
- Perfect for high-speed and high-heat applications
- Made out of M-42 5% cobalt high-speed steel
- Needs to be sharpened for better performance out of the box
6. Hiltex 10005 Industrial Drill Bit Set
Built for general purposes, the Hiltex 10005 Industrial Drill Bit Set is just as convenient to use for beginners and enthusiasts alike. It comes with 8 pieces that are arranged and securely stored inside its storage box, with the smallest size being 9/16 inches and the largest being 1-inch.
However, all share the same 9-inch length.
Despite being made for general purposes, the Hiltex 10005 boasts a heat-treated carbon steel construction.
What makes this material superior is that it’s capable of retaining its edge and sharpness despite multiple uses. The added black enamel coating then helps increase the lifespan of the drill bit while minimizing the heat and friction produced when drilling.
The 135-degree split point also makes sure that the drill doesn’t move around while drilling, allowing for quick and precise cuts and holes on hardened metal as well as on plastic and even hardwood.
With a tri-flat designed shank for a tight fit, the only issue with the Hiltex 10005 we see is how each set only comes with 8 drill bits.
- Accurate, fast, and clean operation
- All 8 pieces come organized securely inside its own wooden storage box
- Made out of heat-treated carbon steel construction
- They’ll have to be sharpened for use on hardened steel out of the box
How to Choose the Best Drill Bits for Hardened Steel
Buying a drill bit is usually a no-brainer exercise. You just need to choose the right drill bit for the material that you’re going to drill holes into or cut and that’s it.
But, the thing is, hardened steel is different.
Hardened steel, as the name suggests, is much more durable and is harder to cut and drill holes through compared to other types of material. Conventional drill bits just won’t be enough, and if you don’t choose wisely, you could be risking yourself to injury.
This is why it’s important to put in the necessary amount of effort and research when choosing a drill bit for hardened steel.
Below are a couple of points that you should consider when choosing the best drill bits for hardened steel.
Because hardened steel is so much more durable, the drill bit used should be just as durable as well.
Ideally, for these types of applications, you’ll want to use a drill bit made out of either cobalt steel or a mix of cobalt and titanium. The added durability of these materials minimizes any chances of breakage.
Not to mention, because they’re so much more durable, you don’t have to exert a lot of effort nor force to cut or drill holes.
2. Resistance to abrasion and corrosion
When used on hardened steel, drill bits are subject to high-speed, high-heat, and high-pressure use. This means that it’s important that the drill bit be resistant to corrosion and abrasion.
This added protection allows the drill bit to work their way through the surface of hardened steel without overexerting the machine.
Keep in mind that proper drilling techniques also help in this regard.
Oiling or lubricating the drills regularly or giving them enough time to cool in between uses can help minimize heat build-up.
3. Ability to remove broken bolts and studs
Not all drill bits can remove broken bolts and studs, but it is the reality that you’ll have to deal with when working on tougher materials like hardened steel.
A drill bit with swift-reverse action can help you remove stuck bolts and studs without incurring any damage onto the material.
How Do You Drill Hardened Steel?
Drilling through hardened steel is not easy, even with the right materials.
Even if your drill bit has no tapered-point and is made out of cobalt, you’ll have a hard time working with hardened steel if you don’t know the proper technique.
Luckily, it’s not as hard, especially with a little practice.
First off, before you start drilling through the material, you’ll want to lubricate it first with a few drops of oil. Olive oil is a material that a lot of veterans swear by, and the best part is that it’s readily available.
The reason why you oil the material is to reduce the amount of heat and friction, allowing the drill bit to retain its edge for much longer.
Speaking of reducing heat and friction, working with steel means that you’ll have to be careful. You don’t want to drill right through the material carelessly. Instead, you’ll want to drill slowly. Some even put a softer material such as a block of wood under the metal.
This is to make sure that the drill bit doesn’t penetrate through a harder material once you’ve finished drilling.
Another trick used by many experienced handymen is putting a small piece of emery cloth over the hole when drilling over holes, such as when they want to drill a larger hole. By doing so, it helps guarantee a smooth hole. Not to mention, drilling won’t be as noisy anymore because of the presence of the emery cloth.
As you can see, there is no single best drill bit for hardened steel. It all depends on how you’re going to use it and what you’re going to use it for.
This is why we rounded up a number of recommendations.
Using our tips and our recommendations, it should be easier for you from now on to choose the ideal drill bits for hardened steel.