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    What Drill Bits Do You Need?

    Everyone I know owns a drill, even if they aren’t building furniture or actively remodeling their home. Most folks arm their drill with standard twist bits, which can be fine for a lot of jobs.

    Twist Bit

    They are relatively cheap and available everywhere, from small hardware stores to big-box home centers, so they are easily replaced. The biggest problem with a twist bit is that they tend to wander at the start, which is frustrating if you need to drill a clean hole in an exact location.

    If you want to do really fine woodworking, you need to step up to better bits. I’m not saying you should ditch your twist bits; just save them for basic jobs, where precision and neatness aren’t totally required. Examples include some shop jigs and fixtures.

    Get a good set of brad-point bits. These are available in a wide range of sizes and are only a bit more inexpensive than a set of twist bits.

    Brad-point bit

    A brad-point bit has a sharp point on the tip that allows you to start a hole without worrying about the bit wandering off target. They cut cleanly and precisely.

    The next step up will be Forstner bits, which cut larger holes cleanly and precisely (the smallest Forstner bit you’ll find is typically around 1/4 in.).

    Forstner bit

    These bits are more expensive, and are best used in a drill press. The latest generation of Forstner bits allow you not only to drill clean individual holes, but they also can cut overlapping holes, which means you can rough out mortises and clean them up by hand. They work well for drilling angled holes, say, for chair joinery, and they also can drill counterbores for screw-and-plug joinery.

    In addition to these other bits, you should get some countersink bits, which drill the pilot hole and countersink (locating the screw head below the surface) in one step.

    Counter-sink bits

    With this collection of bits, you’ll be set for a lifetime of drilling jobs.