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Beginner’s Guide to Drill Bits and Stainless Steel

If you’re like most, then it probably hasn’t even occurred to you that there is a difference between drill bits and drivers, or that hardened steel and stainless steel are not the same. Taking on home projects can be intimidating, and without proper background knowledge they can end up unsuccessful or even dangerous. But fear not. Here, we will be breaking down everything you need to know about drill bits, stainless steel, and which drilling bits are best for stainless steel.

Drill Bits

There are many different types of drill bits. There are tile bits,  masonry bits, screwdriver bit drills, etc. The most common and basic types of drill bits are twist bits, which is what you see pictured above. Drill bits are used to drill into all types of materials. The groves and twists ensure that the drill bits will stay in place. For the most part, all drill bits have twists or twisted segments, but different types of drill bits have different tips.

Drill Bits: Material and Coating

Twist bits are the most common and versatile type of drill bits, but they also differ in terms of the material they are made from, and the outside coating. Drill bits must match with the material they are drilling into in order to be effective.


The material of a drill bit refers to the material that the actual drill bit is composed of, at its core. Generally, drill bits are made from either carbon steel or high-speed steels. Both have their different uses.

Carbon Steel Drill Bits

Drill bits made from carbon steel can either be made from low carbon steel or high carbon steels, both serve different purposes.

Low carbon steel drill bits are inexpensive and are often used for simple woodworking projects as drill bits made from low carbon cannot cut through hard metals.

High carbon steels are more durable than low carbon steel and can cut through tough woods and softer metals.

High-Speed Steel Drill Bits

High-speed steel drill bits are also made from carbon, but the composition and durability of this specific carbon is completely different from standard carbon steel drill bits. Drill bits made from high-speed steel are able to drill through harder metals and higher temperatures- there is also more variety in the types of coating that is compatible with this type of material.


Coating refers to the material on the outermost part of the drill bits. Different coatings help carry out specific functions in terms of the material being drilled into. Three common coatings for drill bits are cobalt, titanium, and zirconium.


Cobalt coatings target temperature control. Carbon and High-Speed Steel on their own cannot withstand extremely high temperatures. Cobalt coating acts as an added layer of protection for the core material of the drill bit.


Titanium coating is used to combat corrosion so that the drill bit will last for longer. Titanium coatings also aid in cutting through steels, iron, wood, and plastics.

Zirconium Coating

Zirconium coating is used for precision drilling. This type of coating prevents friction and provides a hard exterior to be able to cut through brittle materials.

Stainless Steel

What is the difference between steel and stainless steel? For starters, stainless steel does not stain. Stainless steel has been cured so that chromium and other elements work together to form an extra layer to protect the outermost surface from corrosion and any damage related to it.

Common Uses for Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is not as time-consuming of a process as hardened steel is, and can be found in many household appliances, especially in kitchen appliances where protection from corrosion and staining is needed the most. Some common uses for stainless steel includes:

  • Refrigerator exteriors

  • Finishes for countertops and dishwashers

  • Hand Railing

  • Transportation and shipping containers

  • Car exhaust systems

  • Grills

  • Dental instruments

What are the Best Drill Bits for Stainless Steel

After discussing drill bits and the different types of materials and coating, and differentiating between steel and stainless steel, we are able to conclude that drill bits are not “one size fits all”. Therefore, certain drill bit materials work best with stainless steel.

Since stainless steel is not too hard of a material, drill bits made from high carbon steel and high-speed steel are both ideal materials drill bits to use. In terms of coating, many find that cobalt is ideal when it comes to precision, and titanium coated drill bits are also highly suitable against stainless steel material as both work to prevent corrosion and increase longevity.

Taking on home projects can be intimidating, especially without the proper knowledge and preparations prior to. With all the information above and added recommendations, you are now one step closer to being well on your way in terms of product knowledge and project success.


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