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Essential Drilling Equipment

by Jenny Mae Talaver October 28, 2020

Essential Drilling Equipment

Drilling is an intense work process that is used in many industries. This is a broad sector of work, encompassing  onshore and offshore drilling, and surface and underground drilling. You can find this used in industries such as oil and gas, mineral exploration and production (including coal), geothermal energy production, water well drilling, civil infrastructure and agriculture. If you want to take up whether for personal or industrial purposes, you should note that your hard work is best complemented with the right tools and equipment to work with. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, you need to be familiar with the essential drilling equipment.

The Rock Hard Toolz team has prepared this comprehensive guide on essential drilling equipment. Here you will learn about the following:

  1. Safety Gear
  2. Drilling Machinery
  3. Drill Bits
  4. Support Tools

Safety Gear

For any work routine to be efficient all the time, workers should practice caution in every way possible. That includes wearing the proper safety gear to protect yourself from all harms in the jobsite.

Learn More - Drilling Safety Tips

Here are some of the safety gear you should equip yourself when drilling, based on the standards set by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM):

FR clothingFlame resistant clothing is important for industrial drilling. This protects workers from fire hazards such as flames, embers, and flash fires. It must be worn during drilling, servicing, and production.

Safety glasses: These eyeglasses protect your eyes from dust and debris from the drilling process. Depending on the brand and model you get, you can find features such as  anti-fog lens, bifocal, outdoor or indoor lenses, tinted, shooting, polarized lens, clear, changeable, low-light or filtered. 

When it comes to drilling, get safety glasses that fit tightly around your eyes, have side shields and protective seal. The side shields and protective seal will prevent foreign particles and debris from slipping around the safety glasses’ lenses.

Work gloves: You need to wear them to keep a steady grip on the tool. Aside from that, they can protect your hands from the vibrations and heat generated while you drill. When you drill in industrial applications, you need to get electrically insulated rubber gloves.

Face mask: Face  masks are made to keep out dust, filter out and protect the worker from airborne contaminants such as fumes, mists and silica dust. For drilling, you should get not the common surgical masks or N95 masks, but the  FFP1 (standard light filtration), FFP2 (heavier filtration) or FFP3 (heavy-duty filtration).


Sturdy shoes: When it comes to drilling, you shouldn't wear just about any shoe. Rather, invest in properly rated, electrically insulated footwear. This will reduce the risk of electrocution.

Ear muffs: You should also take care of your ears while working. In particular, you should get earmuffs to  reduce the noise exposure level and the risk of hearing loss.

Drilling Machinery

These are machines that drill holes in materials, including the ground. They include drills which range from small manual tools to big, drilling machines. 

Learn More - 60 Types of Drills

Now we will discuss machinery used for industrial activities such as prospecting, well sinking (petroleum, natural gas, water, and salt), scientific explorations, tunneling, mining, and other excavating.

Well -  an open hole that penetrates into the water bearing strata below the surface of the ground. It can be made by hand digging, drilling, driven into the ground with its casing.

Its walls are lined with sturdy casing such as plastic, metal, or rock. Holes within the wall's casing are designed to allow entry into the well from which it is extracted.

There are three types of wells that can be made relatively cheaply. These are the driven wells, hand augered wells, and hand dug wells. 

Drive Hammer - drives a well screen through overlying soil and into the water-bearing formation. There are three basic types of drive hammers: a) hand driver, which consists of a sliding weight and an attached pipe that fits over the riser pipe; b) an internal driving bar, which strikes directly upon the driving point; and c) a sliding weight and drive stem or guide that attaches to the uppermost riser pipe coupling. 

Drill Bits

Drill bits make drills versatile, in which you can just change the bit to match the material and task you work on. 


Aside from the drill bits discussed in a previous article, you can also find other types of drill bits for both personal and industrial use. 

Twist Drills: They are the most universally used drill bits. They cut everything from wood to concrete. Made from M2 high-speed steel, they are designed with two cutting edges and two to four flutes to offer enough cutting power for almost anything you want to drill into.

Masonry Bits: These strong drill bits are designed with tips wider wider than the body. Use them on bricks, stones, and mortar. Turn the hammering action on your drill with this bit lest the bit tip will suffer wear and tear.

Forstner Bit: Patented by Benjamin Forstner, these are designed as finishing bits. They can make large flat-bottom holes.

Dowel Bits: Dowel bits are designed with sharp tips and cutting edges at the opposite direction. Use them to drill clean and precise holes in wood.

Flat Bits: These are low-cost, imprecise drill bits that can make rough holes in wood. 

Step Drill Bit: Conical in shape, this unique drill bit enables you to increase the size of an existing hole or drill in different sizes. This is covered in a titanium-nitrate coating to prevent excessive friction from damaging the metal edges.

Brad Point Bit: These drill bits are designed with a unique, W-shaped point that enables them to create very clean and precise holes in wood. They also have rubber stoppers that allow users for equal hole depths.

Spade Bit: This drill bit is unique with its broad, flat heads, lack of fluting and W-shaped tip. It can bore large, rough holes through wood.

Multi-Purpose Bits: These bits have a special diamond ground tungsten carbide tip that can (generally) be used in both rotary and hammer modes. They are capable of drilling nearly every type of material, including wood, masonry, ceramic tiles, plastic, and metal.

Reduced Shank HSS Bits: With these drill bits, you can drill a larger hole than what most drill chucks allow. They can drill through wood, metal and plastics.

Special Direct System (SDS) Bits: One of Bosch's innovations in the power tool industry, SDS (Special Direct System) drill bits can be used in rotary hammer drills (on rotary hammer drilling mode) to boring holes into dense masonry. There are two common types of SDS drill bits: SDS-Plus and SDS-Max. They are great for extensive and efficient masonry drilling because they last longer than standard masonry drill bits.

Self Centering Bits: They are made to drill accurate pilot holes in hinges and other hardware. These bits are designed in such that the the end of this drill bit type sits comfortably in the hardware’s countersunk holes and automatically aligns itself to the center of the hole. It leaves a perfectly centered hole when you apply pressure on the bit.

Plug Cutting Bit: Also called plug cutters, these drill bits are used in drill presses. They help make timber plugs that fit into and conceal recessed screw holes. Basically, you cut the plugs out of separate timber pieces to preserve the color and grain of the wood.

Saw Bit: These conical bits have a normal HSS drill bit tip but it also has a unique abrasive pattern. Use this to saw holes into wood or metal.

Countersink Bit: Countersink bits are a specialized type of drill bit, designed to make beveled openings at the top of a pilot hole. They are short with conical tips and almost no shaft. They make shallow bores as necessary on wood and metals while preserving the underlying pilot hole.

Spear Point Bit: Spear point drill bits are made only for glassworkers and ceramic artisans. They are designed with flat, arrow-shaped tips are able to safely bore holes in ceramics and glass without damaging these materials' structural integrity. Use them with drills operating at a low RPM.

Rivet Bit: Rivet bits are made simply to drill rivets. They are designed with short shanks, narrow diameter, and double-ended tips. This helps them to make double the number of holes they drill before replacing a bit. But they are also don't last long due to their sole application. 

Tile Bit: Tile bits are often known as diamond bits because they are made with a diamond coating. This makes them great for boring through fragile tiles and porcelain. They work by being placed against the work surface at a 45-degree angle before you drill at a very slow speed and very little force while straightening out the bit.

Drill Bits for Outdoor Industrial Use

Rotary Drill Bits
Rotary drilling is a type of drilling mostly done in industries such as mining, offshore drilling and exploration. There are three kinds of rotary drill bits:

  1. Drag bits - cut rocks (mostly soft rocks) with two, three, or four wings, sometimes tipped with tungsten carbide
  2. Roller bits - works with a crushing action by means of wedge-shaped teeth and drills into hard rocks
  3. Diamond bits - grind away rocks and makes annular holes, the core of which provides a sample cross section of the strata penetrated, and is used for prospecting.

Cable tool drilling - chisel faced drill bit that breaks and pulverizes the materials.

Percussion drill bit: A percussion drill bit works together with hand auger equipment. It works well in breaking up and loosening hard soil and boulders makes drilling in all work conditions easier and more efficient.

Support Tools

Fork - When placed around a drill rod or auger, the fork supports the drilling tools. With this, you can add or remove rods and augers from the drill string without risk of dropping sections down the bore hole. A rod fork can be made out of either steel or hardwood.

Tripod - Made of wood or pipes, tripods help you drill through extreme terrain where most rigs cannot reach. These include thick tree growth in wetlands or job sites with harsh land or water. You can set up tripods on the ground or any available platform on the job site.

Drill rods - Made from galvanized or black iron pipe. or stainless steel, these are bar stocks that form a drill string. The drill string connects the drilling rig at the surface to the drilling head at the tunnel face. This drill rod offers rotational torque to the drilling head, and supplies drilling fluid from the surface to the cutting face.

Rope and pulley - They are necessary to handle other equipment such as drill rods, well casings, wet bailers, and percussion bits. They help continue the well even when there are water saturated or hard-pan formations. This saves workers both time and effort.

Center punch or awl: These are hole makers that push material to one side without removing it. This also helps keep the drill in place. For wood and other soft materials, you use an awl. While for masonry or metal, get a center punch.

Countersinks - special angled cutters used to countersink holes for flathead screws so they are flush with the surface when mounted. The most common countersinks are cone shaped with angles of 82°.

Counterbores - are special cutters that use a pilot to guide the cutting action to enlarge a portion of a hole. They are used to enlarge a hole to make a bolt head fit flush with the surface.

Combined Countersink and Center Drill - This special drilling tool starts holes accurately. They center drill and countersink the end of round stock in a lathe machine.

Reamers - cutting tools that enlarge a drilled hole for a precise fit.

Boring tools - they can bore holes using the power-feed drilling machines. These tools consist of an arbor with a tool bit attached that cuts a preset sized hole according to the distance that the tool bit protrudes from the arbor.

Field Expedient Cutters - you can make simple flat drills quickly from a high-speed steel lathe tool bit or a drill blank. If a grinder is available, then a crude drill can be ground that has a point and two flat edges.

Tap and die work - you can do this on a drilling machine. The drill chuck is used to align the tap or die.

Drill Holding Devices

The revolving vertical spindle of the drilling machine holds and drives the cutting tool. There are three types of drill holding devices: 

  1. Geared Drill Chucks - Drills with straight shanks are held in geared drill chucks which have three adjustable jaws to clamp onto the drill. Smaller size drills are made with straight shanks because of the extra cost of providing these sizes if tapered. You can buy them in various sizes, most commonly the 3/8 or 1/2-inch capacity chuck. 
  2. Drill Sockets and Drill Sleeves - Drill sleeves and drill sockets are designed to add to or subtract from the Morse taper of shank drills for fitting a drill into the chuck spindle. You can fit a drill too small for the machine spindle into a socket or sleeve which has a taper hole of the proper size to hold the drill and a taper shank of the proper size to fit the drill spindle.
  3. Drill drifts - flat, tapered keys with one rounded edge that are designed to fit into a spindle chuck's slot to force a tapered shank drill loose. The rounded top of the small end of the drill drift is designed to face upward while inserting the drift into the slot. There are two types of drill drifts, the standard type and the safety type. The standard drift must be inserted into the chuck's slot and then struck with a soft hammer to jar the taper shank drill loose. The drill will fall quickly if not held by the hand and could break or cause injury. The safety drill drift has a sliding hammer weight on the drift itself to allow for a free hand to stay constantly on the drill as it comes loose.

Other drilling support tools include tools that keep a stable work setup for drilling.

Machine table vise - is equipped with jaws which clamp against the workpiece, holding it secure. The vise can be bolted to the drilling table or the tail can be swung around to lay against the column to hold itself steady.

  1. Standard machine table vise is equipped with two precision ground jaws for holding onto the work and a lead screw to tighten the one movable jaw to the work.
  2. Swivel vise is a machine vise that has an adjustable base that can swivel through 360° on a horizontal plane.
  3. Angle vise - similar to a table vise, but can be tilted to 90°. to be perpendicular to the work table.

Step blocks - designed like stairs to allow for height adjustments in mounting drilling jobs and are used with strap clamps and long T-slot bolts.

Clamps - small, portable vises or plates which bear against the workpiece and holding devices to steady the job. Common types of clamps are the C-clamp, the parallel clamp, the machine strap clamp, the bent-tail machine clamp, the U-clamp, and the finger machine clamp (Figure 6-25).

V-blocks are precision made blocks with special slots made to anchor clamps that hold workplaces. The V-slot of the block is designed to hold round workplaces. The V-block and clamp set is usually used to hold and drill round stock.

Angle plates are made in a 900 angle with slots and bolt holes for securing work to the table or to other work holding devices.

Drill jigs are devices designed for production drilling jobs. The workplaces are clamped into the jig so that the holes will be drilled in the same location on each piece. The jig may guide the drill through a steel bushing to locate the holes accurately.

Blocks are used with clamps to aid in securing and supporting the work. These blocks are usually precision ground of hard steel for long life.

Parallels are precision ground rectangular bars are used to keep the workpiece parallel with the worktable when the workpiece must be raised above the worktable surface, such as when drilling completely through a workpiece. Parallels come in matched sets and can be solid or adjustable as needed.

T-slot bolts: Designed with a T-shaped head so that it slides into the T-slots of the drilling machine's worktable. A heavy duty washer and nut are used with the T-bolt to secure the work.

Cutting fluids - These include lubricants, and coolants which lubricate the chip being formed for easier removal, to help dissipate the high heat caused by friction, to wash away the chips, to improve the finish, and to permit greater cutting speeds for best efficiency. You can spray, drip, or machine pump cutting fluids onto the work and cutting too! to cool the action and provide for maximum tool life. You can greatly improve the drilling, reaming, and tapping output using cutting fluids. These can be made from animal, vegetable, or mineral oils.


Drilling is one of the most versatile and significant tasks in many trades from home repair to explorations. Aside from a drill, you should know about the different essential equipment that will help you drill efficiently every time. 

We hope that this comprehensive guide on drilling equipment for both DIY and industrial use can help you work more efficiently in your drilling applications. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

To learn about drills and other tools of the trade for DIYers and professionals alike, go to Rockhard Tools. We offer you everything from product reviews to how-to guides.  Rockhard Tools  provides top quality masonry drill bits, jobber twist drill bits, anchors and fastening systems, hacksaw blades, jig saw blades and more.

Jenny Mae Talaver
Jenny Mae Talaver

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