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How Do I Choose the Best Small Drill Bit?

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  • Written By: K'Lee Banks
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 02 February 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Choosing the best small drill bit involves several strategic considerations, beginning with recognizing that the concept of “small” varies, based on many factors. Since there are numerous types of drill bits, the first variable is the material you need to drill, as this will refine the options. Other key factors to choosing the correct small drill bit for your project include the drill bit’s length, diameter, shank design, and composition of the drill bit itself, since numerous alloys and coating options are available.

When you drill holes in common materials such as wood, plastic, or ordinary sheet metal, you can usually accomplish the task with an ordinary “off-the-shelf” drill bit. Make sure you choose the correct small drill bit to accommodate the material, because a drill bit designed for drilling holes in steel, for example, is not going to last long if you attempt to drill concrete. Likewise, if the project calls for extreme precision or multiple holes, then you should look into other available options to help you choose the best small drill bit for the job.

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If you are not sure what drill bit size you need, many kits cover a range of sizes, with anywhere from five or six drill bits per kit to hundreds. The drill bits within the various kits generally increase in size incrementally, by fractions of an inch/centimeter, such as 1/8 inch (about 0.32 cm) and 1/16 inch (about 0.16 cm), down to thousandths of an inch/centimeter. For example, one drill bit may be 21 thousandths (0.021) inch (about 0.053 cm) in diameter, while the one next to it may be only 0.022 inch (about 0.056 cm) in diameter. You can find a small drill bit in nearly any diameter up to 2 inches (5.08 cm); anything beyond that is not usually considered “small.”

Once you select the desired diameter to accommodate your material, you should consider the drill bit length. These lengths vary based on certain size ranges. For instance, longer drill bits are sometimes needed to ensure hole depth, or simply to reach the other side of the material. Another important characteristic is the shank shape, as some drill bits are designed to accompany certain machines or drills. The straight shank is most common and fits standard drill chucks.

A final option to consider when choosing a small drill bit includes whether it has wear resistant coating, such as titanium nitride (TiN). In some cases, the composition of the drill bit itself is an even stronger alloy, such as cobalt, to maximize the life of the drill bit. Some of these options can actually make drilling holes much quicker or easier, but they will also add to the overall cost of the drill bit.

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