Stainless Steel Drill Bits: Types, Tips, & Top Picks – BitBuddy

Stainless Steel Drill Bits: Types, Tips, & Top Picks

Stainless steel drill bits

Stainless steel can be an excellent choice for building various tools and items for a project. However, drilling through stainless steel can be a major difficulty with the material. You can’t just use a standard drill bit to drill through the material properly.

While it may be difficult, it’s not difficult to do so. You can easily drill through a stainless steel piece with the right drill bit and some advanced tricks. That’s why, we are here with the ultimate guide to stainless steel drill bits.

We share the types of drill bits you can use, tips to drill through stainless steel, and give you several drill bit options. Without wasting any more time, let’s get right into the guide. 

What is Drill Bit for Stainless Steel?

A drill bit for stainless steel is specialized to create clean holes through stainless steel material. Since stainless steel is much tougher compared to other metals, you need to have a special type of drill bit to drill through it.

Unlike standard drill bits, these are made to resolve the problems with drilling through stainless steel. Usually, they are made from stronger materials like cobalt or carbide to withstand the sturdiness of stainless steel while drilling.

They often have special coatings or are made from heat-resistant alloys to prevent overheating and loss of cutting performance. Also, drill bits typically have a specific point geometry and flute design to improve chip removal and reduce grabbing issues.

What Type of Drill Bit is Best for Stainless Steel?

When it comes to drilling through stainless steel, you get three different types of material choices for your drill bits. These are cobalt drill bits, high-speed steel or HSS drill bits, and solid carbide drill bits. Let’s go through a little overview of each drill bit type to see how each of them stands out for stainless steel drilling. 

1. Cobalt Drill Bits for Stainless Steel

Out of all the drill bit choices, cobalt drill bits work the best for stainless steel. They are made from high-speed steel infused with cobalt, making them significantly more durable than regular high-speed steel (HSS) bits. With these drill bits, you can handle the tougher nature of stainless steel without wearing down. 

Also, cobalt enhances the heat resistance quality of the drill bits which is perfect for tackling the extensive heat generated from drilling stainless steel. Moreover, these bits are usually quite affordable making them a perfectly balanced choice for drilling stainless steel material. 

If you can’t find quality cobalt drill bits for stainless steel, then check out these top-notch choices.

Premium 6.5mm Cobalt Jobber Drill Bit

Premium 6.5mm cobalt jobber drill bit

 

With a premium cobalt steel construction these 6.5 mm Jobber drill bits by Alpha, are the perfect options to complete any project. As long as the hole you are trying to drill is 6.5mm, you can rely on this one without any second thought. 

Key Features 

  • Versatile to use for a wide range of applications 
  • Great durability and longevity with wear and tear resistance 
  • Excellent precision from the sharp cutting edge and high-accuracy tip
  • Works great for high-speed drilling with improved heat resistance 

8.0mm Cobalt Jobber Drill Bit

8.0mm cobalt jobber drill bit

Cruise through all the stainless steel projects requiring a precise 8.0mm hole with the Alpha 8.0mm jobber drill bit. Never worry about precision and durability if you have this drill bit in your toolbox. 

Key Features

  • Keep all the drill bits organized with convenient packaging 
  • Premium Cobalt Alloy material provides hardness and heat resistance 
  • Provides utmost accuracy with an optimized design 
  • Efficient chip removal and overheating prevention from spiral flute design.

Cobalt Jobber Drill Bit 4.0mm

Cobalt jobber drill bit 4.0mm

 

Take precision drilling to a new level with Alpha's 4.0mm jobber drill bit. It’s the perfect drill bit to drill those tiny 4.00mm holes in a stainless steel material. Even in such a small diameter, you can always rely on the durability factor of the bit.

Key Features

  • Perfect jobber length for both metalwork and woodwork. 
  • Precision machined accuracy provides clean and precise holes 
  • High-quality cobalt build for exceptional hardness and heat resistance 
  • Carded packaging for easy storage and proper organization 

Premium 12.0mm Cobalt Jobber Drill Bit

Premium 12.0mm cobalt jobber drill bit

 

Need to tackle some heavy-duty stainless steel projects with your drill? Well, then this 12.0mm cobalt jobber drill bit can be the perfect companion to that. A combination of precision and durability of these bits will leave you utterly satisfied with the results. 

Key Features

  • Multi-purpose drill bit usable on various materials 
  • Practical carded packaging with eco-friendliness 
  • Balanced reach and stability with the perfect jobber length
  • High-quality cobalt built provides durability and strength 

Cobalt Series 6.0mm Jobber Drill Bit

Cobalt series 6.0mm jobber drill bit

 

Work on those light DIY projects involving stainless steel, with the amazing 6.0mm cobalt jobber drill bit from Alpha. You can get precisely measured 6.0mm holes in the material that will surely satisfy the requirements of your projects. It doesn’t disappoint on the durability or precision at all. 

Key Features

  • Robust cobalt alloy built for extra hardness and resistance 
  • Accurate and clean holes from the precisely engineered design 
  • Works on versatile materials including metal, wood, plastic, etc. 
  • Secure and visually appealing packaging with added convenience 

2. High-Speed Steel (HSS) Drill Bits

If you are looking for a more affordable option compared to cobalt drill bits, you can go for high-speed steel drill bits. While they are great for wood, they are also decent enough for drilling through stainless steel metal less than ⅛ inch in thickness. 

These bits are also readily available at almost every hardware store and online shop. However, if we compare the bits to cobalt bits, then they aren’t as strong as them. Also, they tend to go dull very quickly when you use them for drilling stainless steel. Excessive heat from stainless steel drilling can also damage the HSS drill bits in the long run. 

Still, you can find some high-quality HSS drill bits that can get the job done for you. Check out these choices below:

High-Speed Steel (HSS) 3-1/2in Pilot Drill Bit

High speed steel (HSS) 3-1/2in pilot drill bit

Creates precise pilot holes for accurate drilling and prevents larger bits from wandering with the HSS 3-½ inches Pilot drill bit. This drill bit features a smaller diameter tip compared to its overall length, creating a pilot hole for larger drill bits.
 

Key Features

  • Ensures precise starts for larger drill bits.
  • Solid HSS construction for both affordability and functionality 
  • Reaches deeper materials for pilot hole creation with extended length 
  • Creates pilot holes and prevents larger bits from wandering. 

Makita D-47363 5-Piece HSS Forstner Drill Bit Set

Makita d-47363 5-piece hss forstner drill bit set

When you need to create some clear, and flat-bottomed line holes on a stainless steel sheet metal, the Makita D47363 might just become your best friend. It’s a 5 Forstner bit set, that’s ideal for clean, flat-bottomed holes.

Key Features

  • Delivers superior quality on the drill bits for consistent performance 
  • Comes in 5 different sizes for versatility in working projects. 
  • Premium wooden carry case to keep the bits organized 
  • Great wear resistance for long-term use 

Makita 5 Piece Assorted Brad Point Drill Bits Set

Makita 5 piece assorted brad point drill bits set


Get an extreme level of precision and make clean holes on stainless steel sheets of varying sizes with the Makita Brad point drill bit set. With 5 different and the brand point tip, you can get clean hole starts and prevent material from tearing out. 

Key Features

  • Exceptional durability from the premium HSS construction 
  • Great compatibility for both corded and cordless drill machines 
  • Provides a centering point for clean hole starts and prevents wood tear-out.
  • Assorted sizes for various needs ensure the versatility of projects

HSS Pilot Drill 4-1/2in

HSS pilot drill 4-1/2in

 
Never struggle to reach the deeper stainless steel workpieces with an accurate pilot hole placement from the HSS Pilot drill 4-½ inch. This pilot drill bit boasts an extended length for creating precise starting points in deep materials. 

Key Features

  • Reaches deeper workpieces for pilot hole placement with 4-½ inch length.  
  • Top-grade HSS material maintains sharpness and provides heat resistance 
  • Special flute design prolongs drill life by reducing heat buildup
  • Great compatibility and ease of use for a variety of drill machines

Alpha No.30 for 1/8inch Rivets Double-Ended Drill Bits

Alpha no.30 for 1/8inch rivets double ended drill bits

 

Get the convenience of two drill bit sizes into one with this Alpha No.30 for ⅛ inch rivets. You can use the drill bit to set rivets in your stainless steel material without damaging it at all. This drill bit makes the whole process much more seamless and easy for you. 

Key Features

  • Features two drill bit sizes in one tool with a double-ended design 
  • Streamlines the process of drilling holes for setting rivets 
  • The added tin-coated protection reduces friction for smoother operation 
  • Comes in a pack of 10 pieces to provide sufficient supply for the projects 

3. Solid Carbide Drill Bits

When durability is the most important concern for you in a drill bit, the solid carbide drill bits can be the perfect option. They can withstand drilling through the toughest and thickest stainless steel with heavy-duty application. 

These drill bits can handle heat exceptionally well, making them perfect for extended drilling sessions in stainless steel. The hardness of carbide allows for clean and precise hole edges, even in challenging materials like stainless steel. The only drawback with them is the high price of these drill bits. 

How to Make Drilling Stainless Steel Easier?

Drilling through stainless steel is a skill that you have to master in various ways. It’s not something that you can perfect on your first attempt. However, there are certain things you can do, that does make the job a little bit easier. Four crucial aspects make drilling stainless steel much easier. They are -

Speed 

One thing you can do to make drilling through stainless steel easier is to control the speed and feed properly. Whenever you drill stainless steel, try using a lower RPM to ensure the material isn’t heating up and getting hard. That way you will have a much easier time in drilling. 

Feed Rate

Along with a lower RPM, you should also increase the feed rate of the drill. Having a high feed rate lets you remove more material from stainless steel resulting in easy drilling. Just make sure, the feed rate isn’t absurdly high enough to cause overheating issues. 

Cooling 

Another key consideration to ease the drilling process of stainless steel is cooling. Drilling through stainless steel produces a lot of heat, which is one of the primary concerns of the job. If you simply use the stop-start method where you drill for a while, then stop, and then start again, it can keep the heat under control. This way drilling on stainless steel becomes much easier for you. 

Lubrication 

Apart from the start-stop method, lubrication can also help you keep the heat under control. It also increases the cutting performance of the drill when you use lubrication to keep the drill cool. And when you pair this up with the method of drilling in stages, you end up with very effective drilling results for your projects. 

The 7 Factors to Consider in Selecting a Bits for Drilling Stainless Steel

When it comes to drilling stainless steel, it requires the right drill bit to achieve clean, precise holes without damaging the material. That’s why, it’s very crucial to choose the right drill bit capable enough for drilling stainless steel. 

Here's what you should always consider when choosing a bit for your stainless steel project:

1. Identify Key Objectives

Even before you go out there looking for drill bits, you have to think about your purpose first. Identify what you want to achieve with the drilling project. Think about where you want a larger hole or a smaller hole. This will help you understand the appropriate drill bit diameter needed for your project. 

All the other factors will depend on this, such as the size of the drill, the weight, the geometry, and so forth. So, make sure to figure out your requirements and understand your objectives for drilling. 

2. Geometry of the Drill Bits 

The geometry of a drill bit usually refers to the shapes and angles of a bit. There are two key characteristics here, the point angle and the flutes. 

Point angle 

Point angle refers to the angle at the tip of the drill bit where the two cutting edges meet. Typically, most standard drill bits have a 118-degree point angle. However, if you are drilling through stainless steel, then the point angle of the drill bit should be 135 degrees. 

Because of such a steeper and sharper angle, you will get better penetration with reduced wandering. There will be no issues with the drill bit slipping, resulting in cleaner and more precise holes. 

Flutes 

flutes are the spiral grooves that run along the length of the shaft, typically starting just below the tip and continuing almost to the shank. These flutes are responsible for chip removal and cooling mechanisms. For stainless steel, you should have a helical flute design. 

With such a design, you can efficiently remove the stainless steel chips while preventing them from building up which causes overheating. As a result, the heat produced in the drilling will also be under control. 

3. Material of the Drill Bits 

Coming to the material of the drill bits for stainless steel, you will get 3 material choices in general, Cobalt, HSS or High Speed Steel, and carbide. 

Out of all the materials, Cobalt is the ideal choice in terms of effectiveness and cost. They are strong enough to drill through most stainless steel whether it be tough or soft it doesn’t matter. 

As for the other two, they both have their fair share of drawbacks. For instance, HSS drill bits are not strong enough to handle all kinds of stainless steel. They are only useful for sheets that are less than ⅛” in thickness. On the other hand, carbide steel bits are great for heavy-duty use, but they can be pretty expensive.

Unless you need to work on a heavy-duty project, Cobalt drill bits mostly get the job done with a balance of affordability and performance. 

4. Drill Bit Coating

Another consideration you have to go through for choosing the perfect stainless steel drill bit is the coating you have on them. The purpose of coating is to improve the performance of the drill bit. Generally, there are two common coating types on drill bits for stainless steel. 

Single Layer Coating: 

Single-layer coatings are simply coatings that only have one layer. A common single-layer coating for drill bits is titanium nitride (TiN). It improves wear resistance and heat dissipation which works great for drilling on stainless steel. The coating is perfect for extending the life of the bit, and occasional stainless steel drilling. 

Multi-Layer Coatings: 

Multi-layer coating on the other hand is where there are multiple coatings on the drill bit. It’s the best coating type on a drill bit for heavy-duty drilling or frequent use. These coatings combine TiN with other elements offering even better wear resistance and heat dissipation, maximizing bit life and performance.

5. Size of the Drill Bit

Now, this is a very specific consideration that entirely depends on your project requirements. You simply have to look for what kind of holes you need for your work and what should be the size of the hole. By size, we usually refer to the diameter of the hole. 

For instance, if you were to drill for a small screw, then the drill bit size should be between 1/16 inch and 1/8 inch in diameter. Whereas a larger hole which is meant for pipe connection will require you to use a bigger diameter like 1/4inch or more. 

Look for your project requirements, and if you are not sure then consult with a professional to learn the drill bit size needed for your work. 

6. Drill Bit Weight 

While it may not be as important as the other considerations, the drill bit weight can have an impact on the control and speed of the drill bit. You get two choices here, one is to use a heavier bit, other is to go for a lighter bit. 

Heavier bits will offer more control, especially when you are drilling larger holes or very hard stainless steel. The additional weight of these bits can help you prevent the bit from wandering and ensure a cleaner hole.

Whereas, lighter bits allow faster drilling speeds, which can be effective for smaller holes or thinner stainless steel. However, you will need to focus a lot more while using a lighter bit to maintain control and prevent overheating.

7. Coolant Capability of the Drill Bits 

A great way to ensure that there are no overheating issues in your stainless steel drilling project is to use a through-coolant drill bit. These drill bits are designed in such a way that they are resistant to excessive heat which results in a greater bit life for them. 

While these kinds of drill bits are expensive, if you have to tackle a lot of stainless steel projects, or you need drill bits for long hours, these can be a great choice. Otherwise, you can simply use lubricants to provide that additional coolant ability to your regular drill bits. 

8 Tips for Stainless Steel Bits for Drilling

By now you know that drilling on stainless steel is not a cakewalk. But there are certain ways to make that job a little bit easier. So, here we share some expert tips from professionals to help you drill through stainless steel without much trouble. 

1. Picking the Right Drill Bit

The most important part of drilling through stainless steel is to choose the right bit. You can’t just use a standard drill bit for this job, you need a specific type of drill bit for this. Select a drill bit specifically designed for stainless steel by following the factors we just discussed earlier. 

2. Using Lubrication for Drill Bit

When drilling through stainless steel, friction is your biggest enemy. It’s the culprit that causes extensive heat production during the drilling process. And to solve that issue you can use lubrication. Apply a cutting oil or tapping compound to reduce friction, improve chip removal, and prevent overheating of the bit and the stainless steel.

3. Slow Down Drill Speed

Using a slower speed when drilling on stainless steel has proven to be quite effective. Start slow and gradually increase to an optimal speed of around 400-800 RPM for smaller bits and 200-500 RPM for larger bits. If you drill too fast you are more likely to face overheating and a bit of damage issues on your drill bits.

4. Maintain a Steady Pressure

To ensure accuracy and consistency in the drilling process, always maintain a steady pressure on your drill. The pressure should be firm and even. But try to keep the pressure under control because excessive force can damage the bit or the steel.

5. Drill a Pilot Hole

Drilling a pilot hole goes a long way for your project. Especially, for larger holes or projects requiring high precision, drilling a pilot hole with a smaller diameter bit can be very helpful. This creates a guide for the larger bit, ensuring a clean and straight final hole on your material. 

6. Avoid Overheating During Drill

Heat is a major concern for drilling on stainless steel. To manage that heat you can resort to taking breaks in between. This allows the bit and the steel to cool down.  Always pay attention to signs of overheating like burning smells or smoke. Maintaining speed, feed, and lubrication can help a lot in this case. 

7. Using Clamps and Fixtures

If you are working on pieces that are prone to moving a lot during drilling, make sure to use clamps and fixtures. They will help you stabilize the material and ensure accurate hole placement from the drilling. 

8. Using a Cutting Fluid

While you can do lubrication with oil or compound, it’s great if you can go for cutting fluid specifically designed for metal drilling. These fluids often contain additional properties for cooling and chip removal which can be very effective for managing the heat buildup during stainless steel drilling.

FAQs About Stainless Steel Drill Bits

Not sure about stainless steel drill bits yet? Well, then check out some more popular questions on the matter to get a better understanding of them. 

What is the best method for drilling metal?

The best method for drilling metal is to, use the right kind of drill bit made of stronger cobalt, titanium, or carbide. Next, start at a slow rotation speed and only go faster if necessary. Using a slower speed in the beginning helps the metal and the bit stay cold which prevents the overheating issue when drilling metal. 

What is the fastest method of drilling?

The fasted method of drilling has to be the rotary percussion drilling method. The method uses a hammer tool to create percussion on a rock formation for drilling grout holes in rocks. It’s an economical method of drilling holes in rock. 

What is the easiest way to drill stainless steel?

To drill through stainless steel, you need an HSS (High-Speed Steel) or cobalt drill bit. Cobalt drill bits are stronger in construction which makes it easy to drill through hard metal like stainless steel. Also, HSS drill bits have sharp edges that can cut into tough metal, like stainless steel. It all comes down to the thickness of the material, if the stainless steel is thicker than ⅛ inch, then use cobalt, if it’s thinner then you can use HSS bits. 

How do you know if a drill bit is for metal?

Usually, drill bits that are of metal can be distinguished by their black color. They are also usually made from tungsten carbide, cobalt, or titanium, which should be noted on the packaging if you’re buying new. Another easy way to distinguish these from conventional drill bits is to check if they have a wide-angled point at the end.

Are cobalt or titanium drill bits better for stainless steel?

Cobalt drill bits are much better than titanium drill bits. In fact, titanium is just a coating used in either cobalt or HSS drill bits for drilling stainless steel. Whereas cobalt itself can drill through stainless steel without requiring any coating or additional properties. Simply put, cobalt is a base material for drill bits which is much better than a titanium drill bit. 

Conclusion

To conclude, now you have your guide to stainless steel drill bits. With the help of this guide, you can start working on all your stainless steel projects without any second thoughts at all.

It’s simple, choose the right bit, learn the techniques to keep the heat under control, and lubricate. These are the secrets to professional stainless steel drilling. And now, you have them as well.

You have successfully subscribed!
This email has been registered