What does a metal drill bit look like?

Have you ever wondered, “What does a metal drill bit look like?” If so, you’re not alone! Metal drill bits are essential tools for various DIY and industrial projects, but their appearance can vary depending on their type and purpose.

We will explore the distinct characteristics of metal drill bits, helping you understand their appearance and how to identify them for your specific drilling needs. So, let’s dive in and look at what these versatile tools look like.

The Components of a Metal Drill Bit

A metal drill bit, also known as a twist drill bit, consists of several essential components that enable it to cut through metal surfaces effectively. These components include:

Shank: The shank is the drill bit’s rear part inserted into the drill’s chuck. It’s usually cylindrical and designed to fit securely within the chuck. The shank size and shape may vary to accommodate different exercises (e.g., keyless chucks or chucks with keys).

Flute: The flute is the helical groove or channel that runs along the length of the drill bit. It serves two primary functions: chip removal and lubrication. As the drill rotates, the flutes help remove metal chips or debris from the drilled hole, preventing clogging and overheating. They also allow cutting fluids or lubricants to flow into the hole, reducing friction and extending the drill bit’s lifespan.

Point: The point is the cutting tip of the drill bit. It is designed to penetrate the material and create the initial hole. Metal drill bits typically have a sharp, conical point with a specific angle, known as the point angle, which varies depending on the material the bit is intended to drill into. Common point angles for metal drill bits include 118 degrees and 135 degrees.

Body: The body of the drill bit is the section between the shank and the point. It provides stability to the bit during drilling and houses the flutes and cutting edges. The body may have a uniform diameter or be tapered in some cases.

Cutting Edges: The cutting edges are the sharp, hardened edges of the drill bit that cut into the metal. They are formed at the intersection of the flutes and the point. In many metal drill bits, two cutting edges slice into the material as the bit rotates. The number of cutting edges can vary depending on the bit type.

Lip: The lip refers to the part of the cutting edge immediately adjacent to the point. It assumes an essential role in beginning the hole by providing initial contact and preventing the bit from wandering or slipping when drilling.

Chisel Edge: The chisel edge is the cutting edge portion extending from the lip back towards the shank. It helps maintain the bit’s centring and stability as it penetrates the material.

Web: The web is the central core of the drill bit that connects the two flutes and separates them. It provides structural integrity to the bit. The thickness and design of the web can vary between different drill bit types.

Helix Angle: The helix angle refers to the rise of the flutes relative to the axis of the drill bit. It affects the chip removal efficiency and the speed at which the drill bit advances into the material. Different helix angles are used for various applications, such as standard drilling, high-speed drilling, or deep-hole drilling.

Understanding these components is essential for selecting the right metal drill bit for a specific application and ensuring proper drilling performance and longevity. Different metal drill bits are designed for various metals and drilling conditions, so choosing the appropriate bit is crucial for achieving accurate and efficient results.

Materials Used in Metal Drill Bits

Metal drill bits are constructed from various materials; each picked for its particular properties and reasonableness for drilling through metal surfaces. The primary materials used in the manufacturing of metal drill bits include:

High-Speed Steel (HSS): High-speed steel is one of the most common materials used for metal drill bits. It is an alloy of steel that contains tungsten, molybdenum, chromium, and vanadium, which enhance its hardness and heat resistance. HSS drill bits are known for their ability to withstand high temperatures generated during metal drilling. They are suitable for drilling various metals, including steel, aluminium, brass, and copper. HSS drill bits are available in multiple grades, with cobalt-coated variants offering even more excellent heat resistance.

Cobalt Steel (HSCO): Cobalt steel, often referred to as HSCO (High-Speed Steel with Cobalt), is an alloy that combines high-speed steel with a significant amount of cobalt. Cobalt enhances the drill bit’s heat resistance and hardness, making it ideal for drilling through tough and heat-resistant metals, such as stainless steel and high-temperature alloys. Cobalt drill bits are excellent for extended use and are less prone to wear.

Carbide (Tungsten Carbide): Carbide drill bits are tough and durable due to the inclusion of tungsten carbide particles in their construction. They excel at drilling through hard metals, including hardened steel and cast iron. Carbide drill bits maintain their sharpness for an extended period, making them suitable for high-production environments. They are often used in CNC machines and for drilling hardened materials.

Black Oxide-Coated HSS: Black oxide coating is applied to high-speed steel drill bits to increase their resistance to corrosion and friction. This coating provides a sleek black finish and helps improve the lifespan of the drill bit. Black oxide-coated HSS drill bits are suitable for general-purpose metal drilling tasks and are commonly found in drill bit sets.

Titanium Nitride (TiN)-Coated HSS: TiN-coated HSS drill bits have a titanium nitride layer applied to their surface, providing increased hardness and corrosion resistance. The gold-coloured coating reduces friction, allowing for smoother drilling and extended bit life. TiN-coated drill bits are commonly used for drilling metal, particularly aluminium and stainless steel.

Cobalt-Alloyed Titanium (TiCo): TiCo drill bits are a cobalt steel and titanium nitride coating hybrid. This combination results in excellent heat resistance, hardness, and durability, making them suitable for drilling through various metals, including stainless steel and hardened alloys. They often have a distinctive gold colour due to the TiN coating.

Solid Carbide: Solid carbide drill bits are made entirely from tungsten carbide and are exceptionally hard and wear-resistant. They are ideal for high-speed drilling in tough metals and are commonly used in the aerospace and automotive industries.

Ceramic: Ceramic drill bits are specialized tools for drilling through rigid materials like porcelain, ceramic tiles, and glass. They feature a carbide or diamond tip for cutting and are not typically used for traditional metal drilling.

Choosing the suitable material for your metal drill bit depends on the type of metal you’re working with, the drilling application, and the desired longevity of the bit. Different materials offer varying hardness, heat resistance, and durability levels, allowing you to select the most suitable drill bit for your specific needs.

Coatings on Metal Drill Bits

Coatings on metal drill bits serve several vital purposes, enhancing their performance, longevity, and overall effectiveness when drilling through various materials. These coatings are applied to the surface of the drill bit and can significantly improve their cutting abilities. Here are some standard layers used on metal drill bits:

Black Oxide Coating: Black oxide is one of the most basic coatings used on metal drill bits. It serves primarily as a rust inhibitor, protecting the drill bit from corrosion and extending its lifespan. The dark black colour also helps improve lubricity, reducing friction during drilling and aiding in chip evacuation. 

Titanium Nitride (TiN) Coating: The tiN coating is known for its distinctive gold colour and excellent wear resistance. It significantly increases the hardness of the drill bit’s surface, making it ideal for drilling abrasive and harsh materials. TiN-coated drill bits offer reduced friction, which leads to smoother drilling and extended bit life. They are commonly used for drilling aluminium, stainless steel, and other hard metals.

Titanium Carbonitride (TiCN) Coating: TiCN coating is similar to TiN but provides even higher hardness and better wear resistance. It is suitable for drilling abrasive materials and high-temperature alloys. TiCN-coated drill bits are often used in high-speed machining and milling applications.

Cobalt Coating (Cobalt-Alloyed): Cobalt is sometimes alloyed with drill bit materials, such as high-speed steel (HSS), to improve heat resistance and hardness. While not a traditional coating, this cobalt alloying enhances the performance of the drill bit when dull through extreme metals like tempered steel and high-temperature alloys.

Diamond Coating: Diamond-coated drill bits are designed for drilling through rigid materials, including ceramics, glass, and specific composites. The diamond particles on the bit’s surface provide exceptional hardness and abrasion resistance. These drill bits are commonly used in the construction and electronics industries.

Zirconium Nitride (ZrN) Coating: ZrN coating offers excellent wear resistance and is known for its ability to withstand high temperatures. It is often used in high-speed machining applications and drilling operations involving exotic metals and alloys.

AlTiN (Aluminum Titanium Nitride) Coating: AlTiN coating combines aluminium, titanium, and nitrogen to create a complex, heat-resistant surface. This coating is suitable for high-speed drilling and extended tool life. AlTiN-coated drill bits are commonly used in the aerospace and automotive industries.

Chromium Nitride (CrN) Coating: CrN coating provides good corrosion resistance and is often used for drilling and milling metal and non-metal materials. It helps reduce friction and extend the tool’s lifespan.

The decision of covering relies upon the particular material you intend to drill and the type of drilling operation. Coated drill bits offer advantages such as increased durability, reduced friction, and improved chip evacuation, resulting in more efficient and precise drilling processes.

Specialized Metal Drill Bits

Specialized metal drill bits cater to specific drilling applications and materials, offering tailored solutions for enhanced performance and precision. These technical bits are purpose-built to tackle the unique challenges of various metals and drilling conditions.

First, step drill bits are capable of creating holes of varying diameters without the need for bit changes, making them ideal for applications like sheet metal and electrical conduit. On the other hand, countersink bits fashion conical recesses in materials to allow flush seating of screws and bolts, commonly used in woodworking and metalworking. 

Tap and drill sets include both a drill bit and a tap for creating threaded holes in metal components. Left-handed drill bits rotate counterclockwise and are valuable for extracting broken or stripped screws and bolts. Cobalt drill bits, crafted from high-speed steel alloyed with cobalt, boast exceptional heat resistance and hardness, ideal for tackling tough metals like stainless steel. 

Carbide drill bits, composed of tungsten carbide, offer extreme hardness and wear resistance, making them suitable for drilling through tough metals. Meanwhile, diamond-coated drill bits, covered with diamond particles, are indispensable for shooting through glass and ceramics. Each of these specialized bits serves specific needs, ensuring efficient and precise results in various metal drilling applications.

Tips for Choosing the Right Metal Drill Bit

Selecting the right metal drill bit is essential for achieving efficient and precise drilling results while prolonging the life of your drill bits. Here are some valuable tips to help you pick the suitable metal dull tool for your specific needs:

Identify Your Material: Determine the type of metal you’ll be drilling. Different metals have varying hardness levels, and choosing a drill bit designed for the specific material ensures optimal performance. Common metals include steel, aluminium, stainless steel, brass, and copper.

Consider Coating: Coated drill bits offer improved performance and durability. Choose a coating that matches your material and application. For example, TiN-coated bits are suitable for aluminium and stainless steel, while cobalt-coated bits are ideal for high-heat applications.

Know Your Drill Type: Consider the type of drill you’ll be using. Some exercises are designed for specific bit types. For instance, hammer drills are suitable for masonry bits, while standard routines are versatile for various materials.

Determine Bit Size: Select the appropriate bit size based on the hole diameter you need. Be sure to measure or mark the hole’s required diameter before choosing a bit.

Understand Point Angle: Different drill bits have varying point angles. Joint angles for metal drilling include 118 degrees and 135 degrees. A 118-degree point angle is suitable for general-purpose drilling, while a 135-degree angle is ideal for harder metals.

Choose the Shank Type: Ensure the bit’s shank matches your drill’s chuck type. Common shank types include round and hexagonal. It’s essential for a secure fit in the drill chuck.

Evaluate Bit Material: Consider the material composition of the drill bit. High-speed steel (HSS) bits are versatile and suitable for most metals. Cobalt bits provide enhanced heat resistance, making them ideal for tough metals like stainless steel.

Specialized Bits: If you have unique drilling requirements, consider technical bits such as step bits, countersink bits, or tap and drill sets. These cater to specific tasks and offer enhanced precision.

Check for Quality: Invest in high-quality drill bits from reputable manufacturers. Quality bits are less likely to break, wear out quickly, or produce subpar results. They are a cost-effective choice in the long run.

Consult Experts: If you need more clarification about the best drill bit for your application, consult with experts at your local hardware store or seek advice from professionals in your industry.

Test and Practice: Practice drilling on a scrap piece of the same metal before tackling your project. This allows you to fine-tune your technique and verify that the chosen bit is suitable.

Special Features

Metal drill bits can have various unique features that enhance their performance and versatility for specific drilling tasks. These features include split points, which eliminate the need for a centre punch by ensuring self-centring and preventing wandering when starting a hole. 

Flatted shanks provide a secure grip within the drill’s chuck, reducing slippage, especially under high speeds or heavy torque. Tapered bits are designed to gradually widen from tip to base, making them essential for countersinking or enlarging holes. Titanium coating offers improved durability, heat, and corrosion resistance, while hexagonal shanks securely fit in hexagonal drill chucks. 

Spiral flutes aid in efficient chip evacuation and heat reduction during deep-hole drilling. Some industrial-grade bits have coolant holes for injecting cutting fluid directly, reducing heat buildup. Reduced shank diameter helps drill larger holes with less material removal. Variable helix designs reduce chatter and enhance stability, and pilot points at the tip provide precise hole starts. 

Carbide-tipped bits combine carbide’s durability with metal drill bit versatility, making them ideal for hard metals. Additionally, some bits feature depth markings along the flutes for precise hole depth control without extra measuring tools. Understanding these special features empowers users to choose the right metal drill bit for their specific drilling needs, whether precision, durability, or versatility across different applications.

Care and Maintenance

Taking care of your metal drill bits and maintaining their condition ensures their effectiveness and longevity. After each use, clean the bits thoroughly to remove metal shavings, debris, and any residue from cutting fluid or lubricant. 

Regularly inspect them for wear, damage, or dullness, such as chipped cutting edges or worn flutes. Dull bits should be sharpened using a suitable sharpener or grinder, following the manufacturer’s guidelines. Store your drill bits in a protective case or organizer to prevent damage and rust, applying a rust inhibitor or a light oil as needed. 

When drilling, always use the correct speed and apply the right amount of pressure to avoid overheating and premature wear. Use cutting fluid or lubricant to reduce friction and heat, especially when drilling harder metals. Match the bit to the specific metal you are preparing to maximize performance. Rotate and flip multi-edged bits regularly to ensure even wear distribution.

Replace severely worn or resharpenable bits promptly to maintain drilling efficiency and safety. By adhering to these maintenance practices and well-being safeguards, you can delay the existence of your metal drill bits, saving costs and ensuring optimal drilling results.


Understanding what a metal drill bit looks like is essential for anyone involved in drilling tasks, whether for DIY projects, construction, or industrial applications. Metal drill bits typically exhibit a distinct appearance characterized by a slender, cylindrical shape with a pointed tip and flutes or spirals running along their length. These flutes help to remove material as the drill bit penetrates the surface. 

It’s crucial to recognize the features and characteristics of a metal drill bit to select the right tool for the job, ensure safety, and achieve efficient drilling results. So, whether you’re a seasoned professional or a novice DIY enthusiast, knowing what a metal drill bit looks like is the first step towards successful and accurate drilling operations.