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Best Drill Bits for Hardened Steel in America

Hardened steel can be a bit tough unlike wood, plastic or other material. That means if you have to drill through it, you’ll need to get the right tool. Not every drill bit can help you do the job. There are specific ones that are designed for such jobs, and you need to have familiarity with them. This article takes you through the best drill bits for hardened steel that you can use to get your job done. It explains what hardened steel is, provides details of the top five selected drill bits for hardened steel, and finally ends with useful information on factors that determine a good drill bit for hardened steel. Keep in mind that the DW1354 and the Hyclat are multi-purpose drill bit sets while the rest of the list are specially made with cobalt for drilling hardened steel. I recommend getting cobalt drill bits if you are going to operate on harder material.

Here are The Best Drill Bits for Hardened Steel

#1: Drill America 29 Piece M35 Cobalt Drill Bit Set in Round Case (1/16″ – 1/2″ X 64ths), DWDCO Series – Top Choice

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Want an old and reliable brand? It is also my favorite brand. The manufacturer of Drill America DWD29J-CO-PC has been in the industry for decades and still offers you the excellent drill bits for hardened steel. This product comes as a set, and you can use it to drill deep holes. DWD29J-CO-PC has a splint point to prevent slipping when it is at its maximum operating speed. It is also worth noting that this drill bit is made of cobalt material that makes it durable provided it is kept well. Most importantly, note that this is also a high performing type that always does the best when it comes to drilling hardened steel.


  • Highly versatile since it comes in a wide range of sizes
  • Drills deeper holes compared to other types
  • Has a nicely designed casing for storage and easy carrying
  • Cobalt drill bits – Delivers precision cutting through hardened steel easily and hassle-free


  • You may need to handle it professionally if you want to get excellent results

#2: DEWALT DW1263 14-Piece Drill Bit Set

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The DEWALT DW1263 14-Piece Drill Bit Set is another great drill bit for hardened steel manufactured by the renowned DEWALT Company. With its unique pilot point design, the drill bit can perform nicely without any risk of walking while it is drilling. Aside from that, the bit can cut through hardened steel and other metals faster owing to its making of industrial strength cobalt. Most importantly, its neat packaging and casing give it the ability to withstand harsh environmental conditions. You can thus acquire it, and rest assured of using it multiple times for years without having to get another one. That is, however, dependent on how you handle it. If you can use it like a pro, then this is a drill bit worth buying. It is available on Amazon.


  • Comes in various bit sizes to handle a wide range of drilling tasks
  • Comes with its own storage casing for easy handling and durability as well
  • Designed uniquely for maximum performance, speed, and life
  • Cobalt drill bits – good for cutting hardened steel, and other hard metals


  • Nothing reported on any weakness about this product

#3: IRWIN Industrial Tools 316015 Cobalt Drill Bit Set

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Available in various sizes, the IRWIN Industrial Tools 316015 Cobalt Drill Bit Set ends our list of top five selected drill bits for hardened steel. It has a sharp cutting ability and will help you do your job for a long time without any need for special maintenance. In addition, the product is made of cobalt steel hence can easily drill through tough surfaces including hardened steel. It is, therefore, undoubtedly one of the tools to consider when it comes to drilling hardened steel.


  • Drills accurately and is highly durable
  • Comes in different sizes to suit different applications
  • Cobalt drill bits – designed to drill thru hardened steel


  • You may need to find a way of dealing with heat buildup when using it

#4: COMOWARE Cobalt Drill Bit Set – Best Budget

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As its name suggests, these drill bits are made of cobalt high-speed steel. They are, therefore, durable and strong enough to do the job. Also, the set includes various sizes hence suitable for anyone who wants to drill various sizes of holes into a glass. Whether you need some small drilling tasks at home or for commercial use, you can be sure to get the best drilling results.

Unlike the other bits already reviewed, the COMOWARE drill bit has a twist design with a precise 135-degree split point. This design not only enhances its performance but it also clears chips faster and keeps the bit from walking. The shanks are also round and straight and have an oxide finish to durability.

With these bits, you can successfully drill hardened steel easily and a couple of other materials. They include woods, plastics, and other softer materials. You also get a drill bit holder with a size index for easy carrying and storage when you acquire these bits. From these features, these might just be the bits you need to make your work easier.


  • Heat and wear-resistant owing to its high-speed steel material that’s also coated for durability, strength, and performance
  • Its twist design increases its drilling speed while preventing walking as well


  • Some users complain that the bits get dull quickly despite using water to cool it while drilling

#5: DEWALT DW1354 – Top Pick for Versatility

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DEWALT has been and continues to be among the top manufacturers of drills, and other products. Our first selected top drill bit for hardened steel is, therefore, DEWALT DW1354. If you have never used it, then this is something that you need to give a try soon. Its special design makes it a top-quality drill bit for hard metal drilling. Also, its tapered web makes it a durable type that can last for many years besides giving you top performance. Furthermore, the fact that it starts working on contact means that it is a type that can give you clean holes. One more point to note is the fact that it comes in a variety of pieces not only for versatility but also to meet the varying needs of buyers.


  • Very strong and works best especially when it comes to drilling hard metals
  • Its pilot point eliminates walking when drilling


  • Limitations when it comes to drilling very hard steel

#6:HYCLAT 5pcs Titanium Step Drill Bit, Hss Cobalt Multiple Hole 50 Sizes High Speed Metal Steel Step Drill Bit Set with Aluminum Case

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If you are looking for drill bits that can be used for multiple purposes, then the HYCLAT HSS0501 is all you need. This brand comes as a set of 5 pieces and the way it’s packaged makes it impressive both in the look as well as the way it works. For durability, this brand is made to be rust free, and you can rest assured of using it for many years. Furthermore, its two flute design makes it easy to operate and also reduces waste. It also has a splint point to keep it from slipping especially at high speeds. Indeed, this is something to consider, and you have no reason not to include it in your list of the top drill bits for hardened steel.


  • Comes with a carry case that makes it easy to keep, and move it from place to place
  • Can drill at high speed while reducing waste, and keeping the hole as smooth as possible


  • You may have to spend more for the extra features and top quality

While there are a couple of other drill bits for hardened steel, these five are among the best that you can consider if you have been planning to acquire one soon. Based on their details ranging from design, sizes, advantages, and others, it is pretty simple to narrow down the list and get one that meets your needs. Fortunately, all these five are capable of handling heavy-duty jobs like drilling through hardened steel and other metallic surfaces.

Hardened Steel

First, even before diving into the top options you should consider when making your drill bit purchase decision, it would be great to understand what hardened steel is. What is important here is to understand how it is made, how it works, and, of course, how to drill it. Remember that it is not ordinary steel. Instead, it is a highly treated material that’s a bit tough to drill. Do you know how it is made? It is very vital.

To make hardened steel, ordinary steel is taken through two treatment processes that transform it from the ordinary form to a tough material. The processes are namely: tempering and quenching. Wondering what these processes are all about? Well, tempering is simply heat treatment. It is done to increase the toughness of the material. On the other hand, quenching means rapid cooling of the heated material. It is normally done to stop undesired reactions and to harden it for greater strength.

What Determines a Good Drill Bit for Hardened Steel?

Let’s face it, when you buy a drill bit, you definitely want something that will offer you the best possible performance. But often times, many buyers miss getting that best performing drill bit even when there are lots of such bits in the market. So what’s the secret to getting a good one? Well, it is simple. You just need to know the determinants of a good drill bit. Here are the top ones you need to know:

  • Material

If you didn’t know, then you should now get it that the material used in making a drill bit determines important factors including efficiency as well as its performance. Also, you ought to understand that drilling through hardened steel is not a simple task. We need to choose a drill bit made of a strong and resistant material that is harder than the material you want to cut so we can get the job done well.

Examples of such materials include:

    • Cobalt material. Most recommended drill bit material for drilling thru hardened steel. It can drill mild steel, spring steel, tool steel, and hardened steel. It is good for hand drills and most drilling applications.
    • High-speed steel material. Most HSS are usually coated with titanium. It can drill normal steel just fine with good drilling techniques. Cheap and versatile and also good for hand drills.
    • Carbide. Will drill through every steel even the hardest ones. Problems? It is not for hand drills and needs special care with proper feeds and speeds when drilling not only to be optimal but to not just break. Not recommended for DIY and home users.
    • Diamond Coated Drill Bit. It can cut through most steel but the durability is horrible. Once the diamond grit wore off, and trust me, it wore off quick, you will have an overpriced HSS bit. Not recommended.
  • Type of Coating

The coating is very vital for durability, and a good drill bit should have a coating of a strong material that can keep it from corrosion and rust. Various types of good coating that you should check when selecting a drill bit include black oxide and TiCN coating. If you get one with any of these, rest assured of top performance as well as durability.

  • Drill Bit’s Flute Design

When it comes to flute design, there are two types that you should know when making your purchase decision. There is a parabolic flute design, and the other one is the 30-degree angle flute design. If you are cutting through soft materials, then the flute design that is recommended is the parabolic design. On the other hand, for tough drilling tasks including hardened steel, your choice should be the 30-degree angle design. Now you know what to go for when it’s time to buy one for yourself.

Tip: it is all about your drilling method

Dare I say, the material of your drill bits, although being a vital part of your operation is not the most important factor when drilling, especially if we are going to drill through hardened steel. If you got the technique right, you can drill thru many hard surfaces even with HSS drill bits(which is why I recommended the Dewalt 1354 and the Hyclat). First of all, any cobalt drill bits above can do the job just fine, you will need to buy a good drilling lubricant – I used this cutting oil but other good ones can work just as well. Let’s start:

  • Go in nice and slow, did I say slow? Now go a bit slower.
  • Add the cutting oil continually as you drill.
  • Now, you need to steadily apply constant down pressure and do not stop until you go all the way through. Remember, when you stop, the steel in the bottom of the hole will get even harder and will burn your bits when you drill again.
  • Use a drill press if you can.

Question: Is a 135 degree bit necessary? It is good to have but don’t sweat it if you don’t.

If you just start drilling hardened steel, don’t be discouraged if your bits got burnt a couple of times. We’ve been there, it is going to get better.

What to do when your bit got broken in the process? A good left hand drill bit can be useful in this case. I also presented a small guide for how to get the broken bit out of the work-piece in that article.

Take Home Point – Conclusion

Our top pick is Drill America DWD29J for its power and solidity, it just works great while being very versatile.

Getting the good drill bits for hardened steel is a process that requires one to do some homework. As explained, you need to understand how hardened steel is different from ordinary steel. That is not, however, enough. You also need to have knowledge of top drill bits that can drill through hardened steel. Important is also the process of determining which one among the many options is the best for your job. With that, you are good to go, and getting the best drill bit for hardened steel becomes an easy task.

Updated December 2019:

– Added budget choice for hardened steel drill bit due to popular demand.

– Added more information from our trusted sources:

Source: Familyhandyman, Napaonline.com, Lowes, Quora.

If you are looking for a good drill bits set to cut porcelain tile, take a look at our guide. Check out our other guides, for a special drill bit set for masonry, wood, countersink bit or aluminum. A drill guide is necessary in case you are looking to perfect your workpiece, check out our picks for drill guide here. August Updated: latest contribution from our readers, advise on how to choose a top-rated magnetic bit holder.