While wood is one of the most versatile of all materials, it does have some issues depending on what is being made from the wood itself. When creating bookshelves and cabinets, for example, the holes created to hold the pins which keep it together may not be snug enough to properly work. The regular twist drill bits are hard to locate precisely and may skate around the board making the hole in the wood larger and not at the right spot. This is where a Brad point drill bit comes in handy.
What Is a Brad Point Drill Bit?
A brad point drill bit is a modified twist drill with a long sharp point at the end of the bit that resembles a brad nail (hence the name). This central point helps to position the drill accurately and prevents the bit from skating. The two spur cutting edges of the brad point bit produce clean holes with very less splintering or tear outs on wood. Hence the brad point drill bits are also known as spur point bits or wood bits.
These bits are mainly used in woodworking and for drilling other soft materials like plastic.
Drill Bit Material
Brad point drill bits are generally made out of carbon-steel, HSS (high speed steel), or carbide. The black color carbon-steel bits are good for softwood. For hardwood I recommend getting high speed steel bits.
Uses of Pilot Point Drill Bits
A Brad or Pilot point drill bit creates clean holes in both soft and hardwood that are straight and do not “wander”. The bits have a pin in the center that keeps them aligned properly when precision is needed.
It is true that you can use Brad point drill bits for all types of drilling work. The function is basically the same, but the difference is that Brad point drill bits will drill straighter and leave less excess room. This makes little difference in drilling standard holes, but it quite important when drilling holes for pins that hold together shelves, cabinets, and the like.
However, you will need to use separate bits that are designed for either hardwood or softwood. The differences between these wood types are significant enough to create two different types of Brad point drill bits. You will need to choose both if you are working with combinations of woods.
A good choice is using carbide-tipped drills for greater longevity and continued sharpness. While more expensive, they will last considerably longer.
Can Brad Point Drill Bits be Sharpened?
The answer is yes, but the process can be a little involved. You may want a professional to sharpen your Brad point drill bits if you do not have the experience or proper tools to do the job. To sharpen the bits, you will need to customize your grinding wheel, or you may use one or more of the following manual tools.
- Diamond cards
- Taper saw files
- Rotary cutting tools
- Flat Swiss files
Keep in mind that if your Brad point drill bits are tipped with carbide, then only diamond grinding wheels or files will sharpen the material due to its hardness.
Spurs First: Start with the spurs of the drill before moving to the point. It should only take a few strokes to properly sharpen the spurs when kept at the correct angle. The same is true when using a grinder.
Point: Once the spurs are complete, then focus on the point. You’ll need to focus on the edges of the point to ensure it becomes sharp again. Each side should be set at a five to ten-degree angle. Plus, the same number of passes should be used for each side as well.
The key to the sharpening process on the point is to keep it centered. Otherwise, you risk having the bit not spin in a uniform fashion. The result will be the size of the hole widens which creates the “wandering” issue. To keep it centered, try sharpening the bit on a drill press. The rotation will help you keep the point centered properly, so you can effectively sharpen all sides evenly.
Can Brad Point Drill Bits be Used on Metal?
Brad point bits are not suitable for drilling metals because, unlike on wood, the sharp point in the center of the bit cannot be forced to penetrate into hard materials such as metals. To drill metal, what you need is a twist drill (multi-purpose drill bit) made out of high-carbon steel, HSS or carbide.
Start by punching at dot using the center punch at the spot, to locate the bit accurately on metals. In case you are drilling bigger diameter hole, you may need to drill a pilot hole first.