If you’re like me, you probably learned about drill bits the hard way. I started out using a basic set of standard twist bits. As I learned more about the craft and communicated with other woodworkers, I became aware of the superior brad point bit with it’s sharp center point and sweet cutting spurs.
I quickly ran out and purchased the first set of brad point bits I could find and for a short while, I was in woodworker’s nirvana: clean, crisp holes with no tearout! But unfortunately, even brad point bits will eventually dull and overheat. It didn’t help that I was being excessively frugal by purchasing the cheapest sets I could find. Further exacerbating the issue was my frequent use of dense exotic hardwoods.
Eventually I got to the point that I was ready to buy a really good set of bits that wouldn’t need to be replaced any time soon. After buying several sets of bits, I already spent quite a bit more than I would have if I purchased the higher quality bits to begin with. Grrr! This this leads me to the reason for posting this video in the first place. Like me, many of you are ready to final plunk down the cash to get a set of bits that will last a good long time and stand up to years of abuse.
Enter the carbide-tipped brad point bit! I recently purchased this particular set from Lee Valley and I couldn’t be happier with the results! I think I’m in love! In regards to their durability, here’s an excerpt from Lee Valley’s sales page that explains the value of carbide-tipped bits and their relationship to High Speed Steel:
“High Speed Steel (HSS) drills stay sharp up to 10 times longer than carbon steel models; carbide outlasts HSS by another 10:1. These are the drills of choice for production work where you need a bit that can take continuous use.”
Of course, most of us aren’t doing production work. But if a bit can survive for a reasonable amount of time in a production environment, imagine how long it will last in a one-person wood shop! The bits aren’t cheap, ranging from $15-$25 each, but if you think about how much you’ve spend on crappy bit sets over the years, you can see how you are likely to save money in the long run.
I put these bits to the test on the recent Dogon Platform Bed project. I had to drill numerous holes into Bubinga end grain for the bed rail hardware. The bits performed flawlessly and showed no evidence of overheating. In fact, once I wiped the dust off I couldn’t even tell they had been used. So I am hoping this bit set will be with me for a good long time.
So if you’re one of the folks who emailed me asking for my recommendation on brad point bits, here it is. If you have recommendations for another manufacturer of good quality carbide-tipped brad point bits, please feel free to leave it in the comments section.