Buying drill bits has become a tricky job owing to the assortment of shapes, sizes, and materials that have flooded the market. To help you understand which type is best suited for your needs, we have done a comparative study of the three most prevalent variants of drill bits: black oxide vs titanium vs cobalt drill bits. Made out of High-Speed Steel (HSS), these drill bits undergo treatment, altering their efficiency and durability following their usage.
Among the three best variants of drill bits: black oxide, titanium, and cobalt drill bits, it can get pretty confusing to choose one. You must keep in mind your needs and requirements very specifically, then only you can decide which of the types mentioned above is best for you.
After conducting in-depth research and tests, we have concluded that black oxide drill bits are best suited for amateurs, as they serve for all general purposes, can work on a vast array of materials, and are easily affordable. On the other hand, cobalt drill bits are best for professional work. Their high heat resistance and ability to cut through hard metals make them ideal for specialist work. Also, cobalt bits are quite expensive, so it is not advised to buy it for DIYs or hobbies.
Compared to titanium drill bits, both black oxide and cobalt drill bits are better. In addition to being non-corrosive, durable, and fast like titanium bits, cobalt and black oxide bits can be re-sharpened. While titanium drill bits have more or less the same uses as black oxide, the latter is much cheaper. Compared to cobalt bits, titanium bits are nowhere near it in strength, toughness, and durability.
Black Oxide Vs Titanium Vs Cobalt: Comparison Chart
|Hardness||Hard enough||Harder than black oxide||Hardest|
|Material drilled||Wood, metal, plastic||Wood, metal||Hard metal (cast iron, stainless steel, titanium)|
|Suitable for||Woodworkers, amateurs, DIYers||Professionals||Professionals and industrial works|
|Durability||50% more durable than HSS||Lasts 3 to 6 times more than HSS||Highest durability|
|Price||Cheapest||Fairly expensive||Highly expensive|
Black Oxide Vs Titanium Vs Cobalt: Differences
Out of the three, cobalt drill bits are the hardest.
While titanium is a pretty hard material, titanium drill bits are only coated with a thin layer of titanium nitride, which erodes quickly. Whereas, cobalt drill bits have a uniform concentration of cobalt throughout, making them harder. Black oxide, on the other hand, is a regular HSS bit heated to 950 Fahrenheit for black oxide finish, so it is not as hard as titanium, let alone cobalt drill bits.
Black Oxide drill bits are most versatile when it comes to drilling material. Black oxide can be used to work on wood such as oak, maple, pine, metals like steel, copper, aluminum, brass, etc., as well as plastic.
Titanium bits are used for drilling through iron, steel, magnesium, aluminum, and wood.
Cobalt drill bits are used only for drilling through hard material like cast iron, stainless steel, and titanium. Even though cobalt bits are perfectly capable of drilling through soft material as well, it is generally preferred to use cheaper bits for such purposes.
Black oxide drill bits are the best general-purpose drill bits, whereas cobalt drill bits are the best professional drill bits.
Being affordable and pocket-friendly, black oxide bits serve all kinds of purposes and are the right choice for handy amateur persons, DIYers, or hobbyists. Cobalt drill bits, being hard and tough, are used to drill through hard metal and used for industrial purposes.
Titanium bits are used for moderate drilling purposes.
Because of their hardness and strength, cobalt drill bits are the most durable of the three.
Black oxide and titanium drill bits tend to lose their edge when used constantly on challenging material. In contrast, cobalt bits are custom made for drilling on materials like cast iron, stainless steel, and one of the most demanding metal, titanium.
The TiN coating on titanium drill bits gets eroded over time, decreasing their durability. Cobalt bits, unlike titanium bits, are not coated with cobalt. Instead, they are made of a 5-8% cobalt alloy with high-speed steel. Due to the uniform concentration of cobalt in the drill bit, it can be sharpened if it loses its edge or gets worn at the head. Hence, cobalt bits are more durable.
Although black oxide drill bits can also be re-sharpened, they cannot defeat cobalt bits in durability because of their hardness.
Black oxide drill bits win this round. They are the cheapest, most easily affordable of the three.
Cobalt drill bits are the most expensive, which makes them impractical for daily casual use. Titanium bits are also relatively high priced owing to the costly titanium coating on its surface.
Black oxide drill bits are reasonably priced, 50% more durable than regular high-speed steel drill bits, and can be used for various purposes, making them the best all-purpose bits.
Black Oxide Vs Titanium Vs Cobalt: Similarities
Black oxide, titanium as well as cobalt drill bits are made of non-corrosive, rust-resistant material.
All three drill bits are fast. Owing to their black oxide finish, titanium coating, and cobalt constitution, all of these three drill bits produce minimum friction while drilling, which speeds up the drilling process to a considerable extent.
Black Oxide Vs Titanium Vs Cobalt: Features And Technical Specifications
Black Oxide Drill Bits Features And Technical Specifications
- Non-corrosive: When HSS drill bits are heated to 950 Fahrenheit to create a black oxide finish, it produces a rust-resistant material that enhances the performance and life of these drill bits.
- Speed: The black oxide finish lends regular high-speed steel more incredible speed due to minimum friction produced during drilling.
- Durability: Black oxide drill bits are 50% more durable than regular drill bits.
- Versatility: Black oxide drill bits are incredibly versatile. They can quickly drill through wood such as oak, maple, pine, etc., metal like steel, copper, aluminum, brass, and plastic as in PVC, acrylic, etc..
- Re-sharpening: If the head gets worn off, black oxide drill bits can be easily re-sharpened to regain the edge.
- Affordability: Black oxide drill bits are very economical and can be easily afforded without burning a hole in your pocket.
- User-friendly: Black oxide bits are user-friendly because they are cheap and can be used for various purposes. They are the best general-purpose drill bits that are most well-suited for novice, amateurs, and hobby drove handy persons.
Titanium Drill Bits Features And Technical Specifications
- Non-corrosive: Similar to black oxide bits, titanium drill bits are resistant to corrosion and rust. The electroplated coating of titanium nitride (TiN) on the surface of titanium drill bits impart rust resistance to the bits.
- Speed: The TiN coating reduces the friction to a minimum, increasing its speed and making the drilling process considerably faster.
- Durability: Titanium drill bits last 3 to 6 times longer than regular HSS drill bits.
- Versatility: Titanium drill bits have moderate use. They are used for drilling through metal as well as wood. However, it tends to lose its edge when continuously used to drill hard metals. It is also considered to be rather costly for the sake of drilling wood only.
- Re-sharpening: Titanium drill bits cannot be re-sharpened. Due to being coated with TiN, when they lose their edge, the TiN coating gets eroded from their surface. That is why it cannot be sharpened to regain its edge, until and unless it is re-coated with titanium nitride. The process of re-coating is comparatively quite expensive, so it is advisable to buy a new drill bit in that case.
- Affordability: Although not as expensive as cobalt drill bits, titanium drill bits are priced higher than black oxides. If you have a nice budget and moderate needs, you can go for a titanium drill bits set.
Cobalt Drill Bits Features And Technical Specifications
- Non-corrosive: Cobalt drill bits are made from 5 to 8% cobalt alloy with high-speed steel. This gives them a high resistance from rust. Like black oxide and titanium drill bits, corrosion is not a problem with cobalt drill bits.
- Speed: Cobalt drill bits are designed to drill fast.
- Durability: Cobalt drill bits are exceptionally durable. They are highly appreciated for their toughness. They are more durable than black oxide or titanium drill bits.
- Versatility: Cobalt bits can drill through hard metal such as cast iron, titanium, etc., due to their high resistance to the heat produced while drilling into more rigid metal.
- Re-sharpening: Like black oxide, cobalt drill bits can be re-sharpened if they lose their edge. Unlike titanium bits, cobalt bits have a uniform concentration of cobalt in their composition, so they do not have to be re-coated. They can be sharpened to regain their edge.
- Affordability: Cobalt drill bits are costly.
- Professional Use: Cobalt drill bits are not meant to be handled by a novice. They are best suited for industrial and professional use since they are quite costly. Black oxide and titanium drill bits are more than enough to carry out every day drilling needs. If, however, you need a lot of drilling through hard metal, then you should undoubtedly opt for cobalt drill bits.
Black Oxide Vs Titanium Vs Cobalt: Overview
Overview Of Black Oxide Drill Bits
Black oxide drill bits are manufactured by heating HSS bits to 950 Fahrenheit to create a black oxide finish. The black oxide finish enhances the practical function of drill bits by producing a rust-resistant, non-corrosive material. It also reduces the friction generated by bits while drilling, due to which they drill faster than standard drill bits. Not only speed but black oxide drill bits also have 50% more longevity than standard HSS drill bits.
Black oxide drill bits are closest to regular HSS bits. Being affordable and pocket friendly, they are the right choice for handy amateur persons, DIYers, or hobbyists. Black oxide drill bits are best known for their versatility. They can be used to work on a huge array of materials ranging from wood, such as oak, maple, pine to metals like steel, copper, aluminum, brass, etc., as well as nylon, PVC, acrylic, and so on.
Apart from their strength, speed, and versatility, black oxide drill bits also offer the facility of re-sharpening them, in case the head loses its edge or gets worn. This adds to their durability. That is why black oxide drill bits are considered to be the best all-purpose drill bits that can be used for all sorts of general purposes with much efficacy and speed.
Overview Of Titanium drill bits
Titanium drill bits are often thought to be made entirely out of titanium. However, it is not so. Instead, they are regular HSS drill bits coated with titanium nitride (TiN), hence, the name. Titanium nitride is a ceramic material that is electroplated on the drill bit, thus increasing its hardness. Because of their TiN coating,
Titanium drill bits are non-corrosive and durable. The TiN coating also helps in reducing friction to a minimum, increasing the drilling speed. Titanium drill bits are suitable for drilling through iron, steel, magnesium, aluminum, and wood. However, constant use of hard material causes these drill bits to lose their edge. Unlike standard HSS drill bits or black oxide drill bits, titanium drill bits cannot be sharpened to regain the edge.
They have to be coated with TiN to function correctly. Although titanium drill bits are known for their toughness and strength, their titanium nitride coating, responsible for these features, reaches only up to the surface. Once this coating is eroded, the drill bit must be changed since it cannot be re-sharpened, and re-coating it with TiN is far more expensive than the drill bit itself.
Overview Of Cobalt drill bits
Cobalt drill bits are manufactured by high-speed alloying steel with 5-8% cobalt. They are rust-resistant, strong, and tough drill bits that are fairly durable. Unlike titanium drill bits, which consist only of a coating of titanium nitride, cobalt bits have an even concentration of cobalt throughout the drill bit, making them easily re-sharpenable in case they lose their edge.
Cobalt drill bits have a high resistance to heat due to which they are best suited for drilling hard metals such as cast iron, stainless steel, and titanium. However, since cobalt drill bits are more expensive, they are not suitable for general purposes. They are more suitable for professional work, which involves drilling through hard metals.
1. How to clean black oxide drill bits?
Must be wiped with a clean cloth or toothbrush after every use. Oiling is also essential.
2. I like DIY projects. If I have to choose between black oxide and titanium drill bits, which one should I choose considering that my project involves a lot of metalwork too?
Black oxide drill bits should be able to carry out your metal and woodwork. Also, it is cheaper than titanium bits.
3. Can a professional handyman carry out all the work with cobalt bits?
Cobalt drill bits are highly efficient. But, it is preferable to have black oxide or titanium drill bits around for softer work.
After knowing all the pros and cons of black oxide, titanium, and cobalt drill bits, we hope it is easier for you to decide which type of drill bit is best for you. As we said earlier, you must put your requirements above all. We know that cobalt drill bits are best in performance and longevity, whereas black oxide bits are most economical.
If you need to drill mostly through metal, you can get titanium or cobalt drill bits. But, if your needs are limited to softer materials, black oxide is right for you.