Drilling into wood seems easy, but there are also risks involved. It is best to use special drill bits when drilling in wood. What are brad point drill bits?
If you have been in woodworking for a while, you must have searched for dedicated woodworking drill bits. Multipurpose drill bits do the job, but they are not as good as those designed especially for woodworking.
Brad point drill bits are specifically designed to be used with wood. They have a sharp tip which bites into the wood, ensuring that the tip drills where you intend it to without slipping or sliding along the surface.
The spur design minimizes the chances of splintering and delivers a smooth finish.
Drilling in wood seems easy. You need a drill machine with a drill bit, and you can easily make holes as you require.
But there are many chances of things going wrong, such as using the bit, getting stuck or drilling too fast.
However, if you have the right tools and use the correct techniques, you minimize the chances of slip ups.
Some woodworking experts believe that brad point drill bits make conventional multipurpose drill bits redundant for woodworking.
What Are Brad Point Drill Bits Used For?
Brad point drill bits sit somewhere between conventional bits and spade bits. Where the shaft of the bit is similar to a traditional bit, the brad point protruding at the end is like a spade bit.
These bits come in two categories: hardwood and softwood.
When drilling into wood, you may have noticed a lack of efficiency when using conventional drill bits.
Since these bits cannot bite appropriately onto the wood, they often slip and slide across the surface, especially if you are drilling into hardwood.
You usually require a center punch to hammer a little hole for the bit to sit in before you begin drilling.
But with brad point drills, their tip is sharp and often pointed like a pin, which enables them to grip onto the wood.
Due to this, you can begin drilling precisely where you need to without requiring a center punch. The extended tip also allows you to see where you are making the hole, further adding to the precision.
But the best feature of brad point drill bits is how they control tear-outs and splintering. It is easy to tear the wood or splinter it with conventional bits. But the cutting edges of brad points ensure a clean and smooth finish in all types of woods.
Tear-outs are bad to look at and can cause trouble with other processes. For instance, a splintered or torn-out edge will not allow you to apply glue evenly to the surface.
Although these drill bits are designed for woodworking, some DIY project enthusiasts find them to work quite well on plastic and even thin metal sheets.
For maximum efficiency, experts recommend using brad points with drill presses. This lets you secure the workpiece and ensures that the drill is at the desired angle before it is presented to the surface.
But this does not mean that they cannot be used with handheld machines. However, due to their cutting power and abilities, you need to ensure that the drill is always at the correct angle to the workpiece.
Some woodworkers prefer to use a jig with drill bushings, which help keep the bit straight, and at the correct angle throughout the drilling process.
While working with conventional drills, you may have noticed that some parts of the wood are harder than others. You will hardly even feel this inconsistency when working with brad points due to their cutting ability.
What Are Brad Point Drill Bits Made Of?
Since the drill bits are available for different types of wood, they come in various materials. The softest bits are steel and chrome vanadium.
These are suited for softwood. If you are working on tougher materials, you can get brad points made of high-speed steel, tungsten carbide, or polycrystalline diamond.
You may use high-speed steel or tungsten carbide on the hardest of woods easily. But if you are working with tougher materials such as Kevlar, it would be best to use polycrystalline diamond drill bits.
These have excellent cutting power and are also able to absorb more heat. This allows them to be used for longer without waiting for them to cool down.
How To Use Brad Point Drill Bits
You may use the brad point drill bits like conventional bits. However, one thing that you will want to pay attention to is speed. Here are the steps you will need to follow:
- Start by selecting the correct drill bit size. Once you have determined the diameter and depth of the hole, like a drill bit that is slightly longer than the intended cut. This ensures that the dust and shavings escape freely and do not clog the drill bit.
- Using a machine with variable speed is recommended when using brad points. If you use a 1/8” drill bit, you will have to keep the speed at 1000 rpm for hardwoods. However, as the size increases, you will need to slow down. For a 1-inch drill bit, the best speed will be approximately 250 rpm. For softwood, you can begin at the speed of 1700 rpm for 1/8” and vary it down to 1000 rpm for 1-inch bits.
- It is best to mark where you plan to make the hole before presenting the drill tip to the workpiece. This practice minimizes errors as it gives you a chance to double-check the location before drilling.
- Once you are ready, you can place the bit on the mark and start drilling. Remember to apply steady pressure on the drill and not force it too much. Remember, in woodworking, slow and steady wins the race.
Disadvantages of Brad Point Drill Bits
Brad points are complex to manufacture. They are comprised of advanced alloys and long manufacturing processes, making them significantly more expensive than conventional drill bits.
Many newbies often make the mistake of purchasing the cheapest brad point they find. However, we do not recommend this since they are not of the proper quality, leading to performance and longevity issues.
A common issue with cheap brad points is wobbling. This results in a larger hole than intended and can cause tear-out and splintering.
The wobbling problem often arises when you purchase a set of drill bits, where many will perform fine, but some will wobble.
Another challenge is that they are not easy to sharpen. If a bit loses its sharpness, it stops cutting into the wood.
If the bit is sharp in some places but not in others, it will start to vibrate and move around irregularly, causing an uneven or larger than intended hole.
Brad points are not suited for enlarging existing holes. This is due to their extended tip, which needs a surface to sit on.
The head of these bits does not have cutting edges on the sides and thus cannot be used to make a hole larger.
Sizes of Brad Point Drill Bits
Since brad point drill bits are mainly used for precision work, they come in smaller sizes.
Most of these drill bits can be found in sizes between 5/64” and 1 inch.
However, in terms of length, there is a large variety available. You can even get a brad point as long as one foot. These long bits are used for drilling through wall studs or similar jobs.
Summing Up Brad Point Drill Bits
Brad point drill bits are great when you’re looking to cut some wood down to size. There are a few different types of brad point drill bits, including those for softwood and those for hardwood.
Make sure you don’t buy cheap brad point drill bits, however, as this can cause wobbling and create a sloppy job of the wood you’re cutting. Investing in quality brad point drill bits can make your project look professional and clean.