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How To Use Drill Bits Efficiently

by Jenny Mae Talaver March 05, 2020

How To Use Drill Bits Efficiently

How To Use Drill Bits Efficiently

Drilling is one of the basic tasks in the construction and home improvement industry. You can do it on many different materials from wood to tiles. Every little bit of the drilling process counts when you want consistent good outputs for your work.

Yes, pun intended. A drill bit is a little tool, barely a handful but it is crucial in the drilling process. You use it to bore holes into materials, remove layers and more! You can find drill bits in varying sizes and shapes.

The drill bit is a key factor in the success of drilling. If you don’t use the right drill bit or install it right, you risk ruining your work or injuring yourself or others.

The RockHardToolz team presents this beginner’s guide on using drill bits efficiently every time.

In this guide, we shall discuss the following areas of contention:

  1. How to Use Drill Bits in Drilling
  2. Choose Drill Bits by Size and Material
  3. Prepare and Set Up Your Drill Bit in Your Drill
  4. Drilling Through Wood
  5. Drilling Through Metal
  6. Drilling Through Stone and Brick
  7. Drilling Through Glass
  8. Drilling Through Tile
  9. How To Sharpen Drill Bits
  10. Check If the Drill Bit is Sharp
  11. Tools for Sharpening Drill Bits
  12. How To Install And Change Drill Bits Safely
  13. When to Change a Drill Bit?
  14. Change A Keyless Drill
  15. Change A Drill Bit With A Chuck
  16. Change A Keyed Chuck without A Key
  17. Conclusion

How to Use Drill Bits in Drilling

Choose Drill Bits By Size And Material.

This is the most important step. You need to choose drill bits that go well with the size and material you will be working on.

A few basic rules are 1/64” method. Do not use a drill bit exactly the size of the hole when working with wood, make it about 1/64” smaller. For other materials, use the correct size. 

In order to determine the drill bit size, use a drill bit size card. It is a plastic card with round holes in it and marking on the side. This allows you to size the drill bits easily. 

When drilling through the most compact and hard-to-reach spots, use a  90-degree drill attachment.

Prepare and Set Up Your Drill Bit

Keep your drill bits organized so choosing which one to use in each task would be quick and easy.

Once you found the right one, install your drill bit securely to the drill.

Drilling Through Wo​​​​od

Wood is the most common material workmen drill into. In fact, wood drill bits are the most common drill bits in the market.

These bits designed with a pointed tip and spurs on the sides for better capability to bore into the wood. For best results, use drill bits made in coated black oxide. 

Drilling Through Met​​​​al

For metal, you need to choose specially designed metal drill bits. These drill bits have wide angled points. Some metal drill bits are made of regular steel and HSS (High-Speed Steel).

Drilling Through Stone and Brick

If you want to drill into stone and brick, get masonry drill bits. These are designed with a gentle sloped tip and coated with tough metals such as diamond, hardened steel, and titanium.

Drilling Through Glass

Use a carbide-coated drill bit that is especially designed for glass. You can also get drill bits that are made of steel.

Drilling Through Tile

Tile can be a bit more difficult to bore through with your drill bit than glass. But you can do it with a masonry drill bit coated in carbide, diamond hard tips and twist drills.

How To Sharpen Drill Bits

As with any tool, you need to keep your drill bits in top working condition all the time. In this sense, it means that you need to keep a drill bit sharp for every task.

Without a sharp drill bit, your drill is useless. It’s the drill bit that takes all the toll from all the work you do. This makes sharpening it paramount to keep the drilling output to the optimum.

Other reasons why you should sharpen your drill bits? Replacing them is expensive. And you don’t want to risk injuries from blunt drill bits.

Check If Your Drill Bit Is Sharp

  1. Wear safety goggles or a face shield.
  2. Examine your drill bits. Do a quick trial run with your drill.
  3. You know when the bit is dull when:
  4. It spins quicker while drilling and heats up.
  5. You will see smoke or smell it.
  6. Immediately stop and remove the drill bit from your drill.

Once you determined which bits need sharpening, you need to choose the sharpening tool that fits with your budget, skills, and work routine.

Tools for Sharpening Drill Bits

Bench Grinder

Bench grinders are popular in sharpening drill bits. With this, you can sharpen flat wood, twist bits, masonry, and spur point bits.

It works fast to fix dull and broken bits. However, it is not easy to master.

To sharpen your drill bit with a bench grinder:

  1. Switch the bench grinder on.
  2. Hold the drill bit so the cutting surface is in contact with the wheel.
  3. Work the angles freehand until you get the sharpness you want.

Diamond File

A diamond file is the oldest sharpening tool for drill bits but it’s a classic for a reason. It’s cheap, easy to use, lightweight and works on all types of drill bit to provide a precision finish.

You can work them in any direction to sharpen bits such as auger bits, pilot screws, countersink bits and spur points. You can use the tapered end of the file to get into the hard-to-reach places.

But the sharpening takes longer and requires an eye for accuracy.

To sharpen drill bits with a file:

  1. Clean the drill bit – wipe off any form of dirt, debris, or grime with a wet rag.
  2. Clamp the drill bit on a table or hold it firmly in your hands.
  3. Place the file on one side of the lip at a 60-degree angle. Use an auger file for auger and brad-point bits, and for a spade bit use a mill file.
  4. Run the file down the edge of the lip five to eight times, and do the same on the other lip. While you run the tool across the surface of your drill bit, guide the motion in a curvy direction.
  5. File off any other blunt edges and metal burrs by drawing the file across the underside of the areas you have sharpened.
  6. Rub a drop or two of machine oil on the drill.

Drill-Powered Bit Sharpening Tool

These drill attachments are cheap to buy but effective at transforming your drill into a bit sharpening tool. These lightweight compact tools are easy to set up. But it’s a little limited in what it could sharpen.

  1. Attach your drill to a small grinding wheel mounted in a special frame.
  2. Insert the bit into a slot and hold it in place by hand as the wheel sharpens the cutting edge.
  3. But this method is only suitable for twist drill bits.

Smart Tips For Keeping Drill Bits Sharp

  1. Use the right drill bit for each task and material to avoid them wearing out.
  2. Practice your drilling technique. Make sure that you blow debris in between every drilling operation.
  3. Keep the bit cool by dowsing it in cold water after drilling each hole. This helps avoid overheating.
  4. Keep spare drill bits. This helps drill bits not be overused.

Now that you know how to keep a drill bit sharp all the time, it’s time to know and master how to install and change drill bits before every drilling task.

How To Install and Change Drill Bits Safely

Changing the drill bit is one of the most vital prep parts before every project.

There are three ways to install and change drill bits (keyless drill, with a chuck key, or without a key).

When to Change a Drill Bit?

Drill bits do need to be changed on a regular basis, especially if you see visible cracks and the usual signs of wear and tear.

But the most significant reason why you need to change drill bits is the tasks you will work on. Different materials require different specific drill bits.

Changing A Keyless Drill

A keyless drill is your basic drill driver with a threaded chuck that allows you to loosen or tighten the bit into drill just by twisting it on the threads.

To change the drill bit on a keyless drill:

  1. Loosen the Drill Bit. Using one hand, grasp a portion of the chuck while you grip the drill driver with the other. Twist the chuck in a counterclockwise direction to open the jaws of the driver slowly and loosen up its grip on the drill bit.
  2. Pull Out Your Bit. Once the chuck and jaws have loosened, pull out the drill bit and inspect it for damages before storing it. Dispose of it if it shows relevant wear and tears as it could snap while you’re using it the next time.
  3. Install The New Drill Bit. Hold the new bit between your thumb and index finger as you slowly insert the smoother part of the bit into the jaws of the drill. Fully insert it, and then pull it out about a centimeter or so to give it allowance once you tighten it.
  4. Squeeze the Trigger. Twist the chuck on a clockwise direction as you hold the drill driver with the other hand. You can also opt to plug the drill driver back in, and then squeeze the trigger, a few short pulses at a time.

Changing a Drill Bit with a Chuck Key

Some drills would come with a chuck key whose purpose of existence is to loosen your chuck and lets you replace the bit.

A chuck key looks similarly to an Allen wrench, but it has a cog that should line up with the teeth of the chuck. A small handle is welded on the end to provide a better grip and improve traction once you start using the key together with the chuck.

To change the drill bit with a chuck key:

  1. Insert the key on one of the holes that line up the thinner shaft of the chuck. The cogs of the key should line up with the teeth as well.
  2. Turn the chuck key in a counterclockwise direction, and watch as the jaws of the chuck begins to open. Continue turning your key until it opens wide enough for you to slip the drill bit out.
  3. Pull the Drill Bit Off. Using your thumb and index finger, pull the bit out and inspect your drill bit for any damage or visible wear and tear. Throw bits with corrosion or corruption.
  4. Push the Drill Bit in. Insert the new bit in while the jaw of the chuck is wide open. Hold the bit between your fingers and then turn the chuck key in a clockwise direction to tighten the chuck and grip the bit in.

Changing a Keyed Chuck Without A Key

In case you lost your chuck key, you can use screwdrivers (cross-slot and slotted) to change your drill bit.

To do this:

  1. Place your drill on an even surface.
  2. Insert the cross-slot screwdriver into the chuck.
  3. Put the slotted screwdriver into one of the teeth.
  4. Use the cross slot as the main winch and twist it on the surface of the slotted screwdriver to move it.
  5. Swap out the used drill with the new one and reverse the process to tighten it back again.


Drilling is one of the most significant tasks of any builder, craftsman or tradesman. To do it efficiently, you need to use the right drill bits and practice drilling regularly.

To use drill bits efficiently, you need to sharpen and install it safely every time before you work. Get consistently good output when you have mastered skills and well-maintained tools for your work. This will save you a lot of time and money on the job.

To know more about the tools and trade of masonry and construction, go to Rockhard Tools. We offer you everything from product reviews to how-to guides. 

Rockhard Tools offers a wide variety of different drill bits for hammer drills and other power tools. These include 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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