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To pick a drill bit, you have to first make two determinations: what kind of drill are you using, and what are your drilling into? Once you answer those two questions, you will narrow the choices of bits. Once you make a selection, you should find one or two bits that do most of the work. And, unless you are working on something special, they will be the only bits you need around.

The basic terminology

To select a bit, it's best to know what you are talking about. A bit is a removable part of the drill that actually cuts the surface. It fits into what's known as the chuck. Certain bits only fit into certain chucks.

Choosing bits for hand tools

When we think of drills these days we usually think electric. But, there are three quality hand drills; the push drill; hand drill, or eggbeater; and the bit brace. Only one bit fits into the push drill, so your choice is easy; it's called a drill point. The hand drill has to choices, the twist bit or screwdriver bit. The twist bit is for smaller holes. The chuck of the bit brace fits several different bits, including the expansion, Forstner, and traditional. The bit brace can handle many specialized bits, but this is more for an experienced woodworker.

Keep in mind, most of the hand tools are for wood work. It is difficult for anyone to drill into metal with a hand drill. So, whichever bit you choose will likely be for woodworking.

Choosing a bit for power drills

Although there are several types of bits for power drills, selection is fairly easy because the chucks on power drills are standardized. In other words, you basically need to know what you are drilling into and select a bit based on the work. A standard twist bit will drill into most surfaces, wood, plastic and some metal. For concrete, stone, brick or plaster, a masonry bit is best. Bits come in different sizes and lengths. Choose the size and length based on what you are drilling into. Obviously, to simply drill a hole into a wall, you wouldn't need a bit that is an inch in diameter and 3 inches long. It would ruin your wall. Select the appropriate size and length based on the job.

There are several different types of specialty bits. These are for ornate wood working. If you get to that level, ask about the step bit, hollow spiral bit, Brad-point bit or the Spade bits.