I bought a small set of Porter Cable Forstner drill bits a few years ago, and always tried to use them with my drill press. I had to drill a 5/8″ hole in relatively thin polypropylene plastic today, and was reminded as to why I preferred to use them with a drill press.
Forstner drill bits need stability and pressure to create smooth-walled and flat-bottomed holes. They can be used in a cordless drill, but sometimes with mixed results.
For a while, the bit just spun and spun, heating the plastic. I applied more pressure than I usually do with other drill bits, and eventually the bit started cutting and worked its way through the plastic
The result? A very clean-cut hole. I was a little surprised.
I ordered two more bits – one Freud bit, and a Freud Precision Shear bit, to see which I like better for use on wood and soft plastic. I can’t see a cutting edge profile of the regular bits, but the Precision Shear bits have a serrated edge – which aren’t quite teeth.
If either performs better than my Porter Cable bits, I’ll probably be upgrading soon. I’ve been coming across more and more projects where I need in-between sizes, forcing me to use something else I have on hand, such as spade bits or hole saws.
Okay, I know it’s a little weird to be talking about Forstner bits and plastic. So let’s get back to talking about Forstner bits and their woodworking applications.
Sometimes they’re used to create counterbores for below-the-surface lag bolts.
Or to accommodate dowels or round tenons in furniture and home construction products.
They can be used to create straight holes, or can enter wood at an angle.
A lot of the time, Forstner drill bits are used to create flat-bottom holes that don’t go all the way through a wooden panel or board, but they can be used for through-holes too.
And when used to drill through-holes, better Forstner bits cut cleanly, with minimal or no tearout, even when you might not have a sacrificial backing board.
I’ve been using my Porter Cable bits for a while, and I know there are better Forstner drill bits out there, but I’ve got no regrets. I spent $20-30 on the 7pc bit set, which is a good value. In contrast, the 2 Freud bits I just bought cost me $22.
The larger of the 2 Freud bits I just bought is 1-1/4″ in size. The one shown at the top of the page is a lot wider, but I liked the way it showed off the Freud “Precision Shear” serrated edge profile.
For the briefest of moments, I considered buying a Festool Zobo set (via Amazon), but I just can’t justify the price – $233 for a 5-piece imperial size bit set. If I used Forstner drill bits daily, I probably still couldn’t justify it. $255 for a 5 bit set!!!
Freud’s sets are also a bit pricey, but I figure I’ll buy one or two sizes as needed and then upgrade when I can justify it.
Today was one of the rare times I’ve used a Forstner bit to drill straight through a workpiece. As an aside, I don’t recall ever using Forstner bits on plastic before – today was the first opportunity, as I couldn’t find a hole saw or jobbers bit of the right size.
But, I feel as if I’m seeing Forstner bits in a new light.
That brings me to my question: which are your favorite Forstner drill bits? Do you find yourself using Forstner bits for through-holes too?
Buy Now(via Amazon)
Has anyone used MLCS’s Forstner bits? They carry far more sizes than any other Forstner drill bit brand I looked at. I really need a 1-3/16″ size, but have to make do with 1-1/4″ because I wanted to go with Freud and need the bits pretty quickly (thank you Amazon Prime!).
In a lot of woodworking forums, you’ll see Famag and their Bormax bits touted a lot. What do you think of that brand?