Home Improvements

How Stuff Works: Different Types of Drill Bits and Their Uses

Drilling is an important part of most DIY projects, but did you know that the different types of drill bits have different uses? Basic drill bits are fine for making holes to mount heavy objects, but if you need to do something intricate like run wire or drill all the way through a wall, you’ll need a specific drill bit.

Keep reading to learn all about drill bits! This way you can consider which one is best suited for the job before you tackle your next DIY project.

Man using a drill, unclear which of the different types of drill bits he's got in it from this distance.

Twist Bits

When you think of a drill bit, you’re probably imagining a twist bit. These drill bits are a staple in any handyman’s toolkit as they’re used for a wide variety of drilling tasks. These bits can be used to drill through wood, plastic, and even light metal.

These bits have a corkscrew design that allows the bit to expel sawdust and debris from the hole as it enters the material. This keeps the hole from becoming clogged during the drilling process. It also allows for quick and easy drilling.

If you don’t want to clean the entire room after drilling, it’s a good idea to create a trap for the debris expelled by the drill bit. You can use a paper envelope and tape the flap underneath where you want to drill. Open the envelope so that all the dust is caught inside during the drilling process.

Close up of twist drill bit drilling into some wood, with wood shavings piling up around it.

Driver Bit

Drill bits aren’t just used to make holes: certain bits, like driver bits, have other uses. These bits are mainly used for driving or loosening screws and other fasteners.

Driver bits are available in a wide variety of options to fit any type of screw or fastener imaginable. These drill bits are less versatile than twist bits, since you need a wide variety of drill bits. Otherwise, all the screws in your home need to have the same top, which isn’t realistic. 

Driver bits are less common to just have around since most people already have screwdrivers, but if you need to put together furniture or complete a project that involves a lot of screws, it might be worth it to invest in a few driver drill bits. Your hands and wrists will thank you for it!

Overhead photo of some tools spread out over a wooden surface, the most notable being a yellow drill with a masonry drill bit attached.

Masonry Drill Bit

Masonry drill bits are pretty straightforward. They’re used to drill holes through masonry material like:

  • Brick
  • Mortar
  • Cement
  • Concrete

These bits are made to withstand significant force. They need to be able to bore through these tough materials without breaking or seriously damaging the surrounding masonry. 

Masonry drill bits are usually used with hammer drills or rotary hammers. These drills don’t just spin the bit; they also hammer the drill bit into the material. This is done to ensure the drill bit can puncture through the tough materials, but it also means these bits need to be replaced more frequently.

Man holding a drill up to a wall, presumably using a masonry drill bit. This is one of the types of drill bits used for brick materials.

Spade Bit

If you’re planning on tackling a woodworking project, you’ll need a spade drill bit in your toolbox. These drill bits are used when making large-diameter holes in wood.

Spade bits are also often used when running cables, but their main purpose is for woodwork. These bits are identifiable by their flattened cutting blade with a sharp centre point. The point is needed for accuracy: without it, the blade would just travel all over your project.

Plank of wood with a hole drilled through it. This would have been made by a spade bit, which is one of the types of drill bits used to make holes through wood.

Get Drilling: Knowing the Different Types of Drill Bits

With these basic drill bits in your DIY arsenal, you’ll be able to complete almost any type of home improvement or crafting project. It’s a good idea to practise a bit first to ensure you have control over your drill and bit, otherwise you might have to do some repair work afterward!

While it’s always useful to have these tools available, it’s not always worth the cost of buying them if you won’t use them often. In these instances, it might just be better to hire a handyman to help you complete the project instead.

You’re in good company