For drilling holes of up to half an in diameter, the twist bit is widely used
Any material. This high-speed steel bit is coated with tough titanium nitride. It resists rust and spins with less friction.
An edge that is longer than uncoated or steel-oxide-coated steel. The 1/4-inch shown is $3.30; sizes range from 1/16 to 1/2 inches; stanleypta.com
Brad Point (for wood and laminates, as well as plastic)
The point helps keep the bit in place until the cutting flute touches the surface. Because its chisel edge tip bores its own hole, the beautifully machined bit drills faster and more efficiently than other brad points. $25 for 1/2-inch; 3/16 to 1/2 inches; woodcraft.com
This bit is a delight for woodworkers. It slowly bores flat-bottomed, smooth holes, and can be used to recess bolt heads when framing decks.
$7.40 for the 1-inch shown; 1/4- to 21/8 inches; Lee Valley
Spade (for wood).
These can be used to make rough-edged holes for electrical and plumbing lines. However, they require constant pressure. The spade bit’s threaded tip and angled spurs make it easy to pull through wood. You just need to pull the trigger. The 1-inch shown is $3; 1/4- to 11/2 inches; boschtools.com
Cobalt Twist (for cast iron, stainless steel)
While most twist bits are capable of drilling into mild steel or other thin metals with ease, you will need the alloy to drill through harder materials. The bit can reach temperatures up to 1,100° when drilling into steel. Cobalt heats efficiently so the cutting edge remains cool and sharp. $5 for 1/4 inch shown; 1/16 to 1/2″; craftsman.com
Spear Point (for tile or glass)
The carbide point is sharp and can be used to make smooth holes in ceramics or glass. You can stop the drill from skittering on the surface by pressing the chucked bit against the glaze/glass until it forms a small divot. Then, start the drill at a slower pace. $4 for 1/4 inch shown; 1/8 to 1/2″; Stanleypta.com
Masonry (for stone brick, plaster, and metals)
The distinctive winged tip, a solid piece of tungsten carbide, can penetrate concrete blocks, limestone, and even slate. To withstand shocks from drilling thick, hard materials, the shaft is made of durable spring steel. $25 for five sets; 1/8 to 5/16 inches; irwin.com
The corkscrew-shaped shape makes it easy to bore holes for wires, pipes, or landscape ties. The single-cutting edge of the screw tip is pulled by a screw tip. It’s rugged enough to cut through staples and nails. The bit’s hollow centre allows chips to easily exit. $25 for the 1-inch shown; 1/4 to 11/2 inches; 71/2 ins long; irwin.com
This tool is used to drill the perfect pilot hole in wood screws with tapering shanks. The integral countersink creates a cone-shaped recess to accommodate the screwhead. To suit different length screws, you can adjust the amount of the bit that extends past the countersink. $7 for #12; #6, #8, #110, #12 Wood-screw sizes; Wolfcraft.com
Multiple cutting edges aggressively shave the wood to make big holes for door locks and thread pipe through framing. You will need a corded drill or at least an 18-volt cordless to push this bit through the lumber. A side handle is needed to deal with the torque. $25 for the 29/16 inch shown; $11
This bit has six cutting surfaces. It can create a curved hole for running wire or PEX tubing. You can start by drilling straight through the wood at medium pressure. Next, angle the bit in any direction you like and let the side cutters cut the curve. $60
The Better Way to Hold a Bit
A six-sided hex shank bit is more stable than the standard round-shank bit and will not slip in high-torque environments. The drill can be fitted with a quick-change adapter that uses retractable ball bearings for bit grip. This allows you to quickly swap hex bits without touching the chuck. To release the ball bearing grip on the bit, pull the adapter back and insert the new one. Then push the adapter forward again to re-engage all the bearings. Similar models can be found at stanleypta.com.