Cobalt vs Titanium Drill Bits: What’s the Difference?

Cobalt vs Titanium Drill Bits: What’s the Difference?

Learning to use tools properly is a good investment. By practicing simple tasks around the home, you are giving yourself skills that you can use for life – and it will save a lot of money if you can avoid hiring someone to do those jobs for you!

It can be overwhelming to know where to start, however, especially if you’ve just moved into a new property, or are renovating your house. How do you know what tools to buy? Why are there so many different types? A drill is a great multi-purpose tool that can help you complete a lot of projects – but there are a lot of different types of drill bits to choose from. Today we’re looking at two types of HSS (high-speed steel) drill bits – cobalt vs titanium.

Sometimes, you will need to drill through tough materials, and a standard drill bit might not cut it. If you’re drilling through metal for a project – for example, if you’re making a piece of furniture from scratch that involves metal materials – then you need something that is going to do the job properly.

Cobalt and titanium drill bits are both very durable and tough. They’re designed to avoid overheating by coming into contact with other metals – this is one of the big reasons why it is so important to use an HSS drill bit for drilling into metal.

Cobalt and titanium can be used for a lot of the same jobs. How, then, do you choose between them? Ultimately it will depend on your budget and what task you need to complete. We’ll start this comparison by taking a look at the main differences to help you pick which one is best for you.

The Main Differences Titanium Drill Bits vs Cobalt Drill Bits

The Main Differences Titanium Drill Bits vs Cobalt Drill Bits are:

  • Titanium Drill Bits are made of steel and coated with either titanium nitride or titanium carbonitride, whereas the Cobalt Drill Bits are made from a mixture of cobalt and steel alloy.
  • Titanium Drill Bits can lose their coating which may impact their heat resistance over time, whereas the Cobalt Drill Bits are more expensive but they may last longer than titanium drill bits.
  • Titanium Drill Bits work better for softer materials like wood, soft metals, plastic, whereas the Cobalt Drill Bits work well with tougher materials like cast iron or other metals

How to Choose a Drill Bit

There are a lot of projects that require the use of a drill – building furniture or hanging up pictures, are just two common examples of when an electric drill will come in handy.

You can buy a drill bit set that includes a variety of drill bits, which is a good option if you are just starting out. However, when it comes to getting down to work, you will need to pick the right kind of drill bit for your project.

Type

Drill bits are designed to do different things, depending on their shape.

Wood drill bits – some kinds of drill bits are designed to be used with wood-like brad point bits, auger bits, and paddle bits. They come in a variety of sizes and have different uses depending on the project.

Metal drill bits – these are known as HSS (high-speed steel) bits. HSS Drill bits are the type we are looking at in this article. They are designed to cut through hard metals easily without overheating. You can use metal drill bits for wood, too, but generally, it’s best to stick to using them with metal materials.

Multi-purpose drill bits – as the name suggests, these can be used for multiple materials, including plastic, wood, ceramic, and hard metal. You may not get as good results with a multi-purpose drill bit as you would do a specific type of drill bit. However, they are quite handy to have around for a quick job.

Special drill bits – these are used for specific jobs, for example, bits for safely drilling into the glass, or hole-cutter bits – slightly more advanced jobs than standard DIY tasks. Special drill bits are useful if you need a specific job done, but you probably won’t use them as often as a standard twist drill bit.

Masonry drill bits – these are used to drill into very hard masonry surface. They include diamond bits for use on porcelain and other types of hard surface.

Size

Drill bits come in a variety of widths and lengths. Obviously, the size you use will depend on the size of the hole you want to make! You can purchase a drill bit set that gives you the most commonly used sizes for household projects – this is a good option for people just starting out.

Material

Finally, drill bits can be made from different materials (such as cobalt and titanium). They increase in strength depending on what material you need them to cut through.

Low-carbon steel drill bits are best for working with softwood, while tungsten carbide is the hardest drill bit. Carbide drill bits are able to cut through the toughest of surfaces. Sometimes drill tips are coated in materials such as black oxide, titanium nitride, or diamond powder, to give them extra durability and protection from heat.

Cobalt Drill Bits

Cobalt drill bits are made to last. They’re made of a mixture of steel and cobalt, and they are not titanium coated. You can buy drill bits with different concentrations of cobalt: M35 grade cobalt drill bit set contains 5 percent cobalt, whereas M42 grade cobalt drill bits contain 8 percent cobalt. A high amount of cobalt can make a drill bit a little more brittle, but more heat resistant.

Although cobalt drill bits are more expensive initially, they do offer good value for money in terms of longevity. A good quality cobalt bit should last you a long time. They’re able to be sharpened, which means you can get a lot of use out of them, but they’re also well-made and tough, meaning they will not dull quickly. They’re gold in color, making them easy to spot amongst your tools.

In terms of heat resistance, they can cope with up to 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit. This means it can withstand spinning against other metals without being damaged.

They’re also versatile, suitable for commercial use and engineering as well as home use. They can be used on various materials, such as stainless steel and cast iron – they work particularly well with abrasive metals.

They can be used with softer materials, but with caution. For example, if you’re using cobalt drill bits on wood, you run the risk of splitting the wood. This is because cobalt drill bits do not have a brad (a sharp piece on the end that stops the drill bit from slipping). You can easily split or damage your project if you use a drill bit that is too tough.

Titanium Drill Bits

Titanium drill bits come in different varieties. They are not actually made of titanium – their core is steel. They’re actually coated in different types of titanium. Titanium Nitride coating (TiN) is durable and tough, and able to withstand high temperatures.

Titanium aluminum nitride is another type of coating. TiAIN can extend the life of a tool by four or five times, making it an upgrade from TiN.

Titanium Carbonitride (TiCN) is very tough and works well in machines that encounter high mechanical stresses. It can be used with adhesive and abrasive materials.

Titanium drill bits are heat resistant up to 1500F, with the coating acting as a barrier between other types of metal. They are tough and able to drill into hard materials. The coating makes them heavy duty, durable, lasting longer than a standard drill bit.

In terms of materials, they work well with harder types of wood, included knotted wood that ordinary drill bits might not work so well with. They can also be used on plastic and PVC. They work very well on steel, copper, brass, or aluminum materials, too. They work well in metal cutting machines, drilling precise holes.

Although prices vary, titanium drill bits are a little cheaper than cobalt drill bits. However, they will begin to lose their coating if sharpened, meaning you lose the benefit of the coating (and the heat resistance) over time. This means that, in the long run, you may end up having to replace titanium drill bits much more quickly than if you had purchased a cobalt drill bit instead.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few frequently asked questions about cobalt and titanium drill bits:

Are cobalt drill bits good for wood?

They can be used for wood, but you do run the risk of splitting it.

Are cobalt drill bits worth the money?

Yes – most people seem to think they’re worth the investment as they last for so long.

What color are cobalt drill bits?

They are a dull gold color.

What color are titanium coated drill bits?

They are usually gold or blue-grey in color, depending on what exactly they have been coated in.

Are titanium coated drill bits better than standard drill bits?

They are tougher and more heat-resistant, meaning you can use them with tougher materials.

Can titanium drill bits be sharpened?

Yes, but you run the risk of losing the coating and thus the extra strength and heat resistance

Where’s the best place to purchase drill bits?

You can buy drill bits very cheaply on websites from other countries. However, you cannot guarantee the quality of what you are buying, or even if they are actually made of the materials that are advertised. If in doubt, visit a hardware store or purchase from a brand that you know and trust.

Can I use either titanium or cobalt drill bits on masonry materials?

No – you will run the risk of damaging the drill bits.

Can I use drill bits that are designed for use with wood on metal?

No – again, you run the risk of not only damaging the drill bit but also injuring yourself – it’s always best to use the right drill bit for the job.

Taking Care of Your Drill Bits

To get the longest life out of your drill bits, you can follow a few steps to take care of them.

  1. Clean your drill bits as you work, just by carefully wiping with a cloth intermittently. The debris can cause damage to scratch the drill bit, possibly damaging the project you’re working on as well
  2. Apply a small amount of machine oil to all bits after cleaning and before storing
  3. Store your drill bits out of the elements to avoid rusting
  4. Consider the use of cutting fluid or lubricant. This can help to keep the bit cool, therefore preserving it for longer. Just take care to make sure you buy the current fluid for the job, as you don’t want to risk ruining your project.
  5. Use the correct speed for the job. Some types of material can withstand quick drilling. Others require you to move more slowly in order to stop the drill from slipping. Using the correct speed for the job not only prevents accidents but also helps to maintain your tools for longer – if you go too fast you could dull the tip of the drill bit.

Conclusion

HSS (high speed steel) drill bits are a great addition to your toolkit. If you need to drill through tough material like metal, either cobalt or titanium drill bits are a good choice.

As titanium-coated drill bits are cheaper, they might be the choice for you if you don’t think you will be using them often, or if you don’t have a lot of money to pay upfront. If you’re only looking to use them for a specific project, it may make more sense to invest in them. Their coating is tough enough to withstand a few uses, and they have the advantage of working slightly better on softer materials, too.

However, if you’re looking to invest in a drill bit that’s going to last you for a long time – or if you think you will be doing a lot of DIY projects that will involve using a drill – then cobalt is the better choice. In terms of longevity and durability, it comes out to – the ability to sharpen it again and again without worrying makes it a great choice. It’s good to know that, even if you use it often, it will still be able to keep cool even when drilling through metal. If you can afford to pay a little bit more upfront, it’s probably worth springing for a cobalt drill bit.

Jodie Chiffey

Whether it’s a minor home-fix project or a turnkey home renovation project, Jodie can help you. She’s an avid blogger as well as a home renovation expert. Having helped renovate numerous properties in the past, she understands what bothers homeowners, and works on useful tips, and recommendations to help you take your home renovation project to the next level.

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