Know About The Best Forstner Bits For Woodworking

Anyone that's worked with metal, wood, plastic or any other material knows that drilling perfect holes in them is practically impossible without using drill bits. There are a variety of drill bits on the market today for each of these materials, and each is optimized for a particular material.

With a specialty to wood, particular drill bit types come out as preferred. At the very top of the list are the Forstner drill bit models, whose applicability on wood is unmatched. Whether it’s for professional work or just everyday DIY action, the Forstner drill bits are preferred by experts and novices alike for a very good reason.

When it comes to drilling holes in any wooden surface, this model does have an edge over other models in both design and workability. Their precision is to die for, as are the holes they make that come with soft edges and flat bottoms. That a professional may choose a Forstner drill for their woodwork is not a surprise; it's an illumination of just how applicable their functionality and unique design is.

How Does a Forstner Bit Work?

Like any other drill bit, Forstner drill bits cut into the wood by drilling to form a hole. They can be attached to a hand drill or a cordless drill. The drill comes with a central spur that is surrounded by a rim. The rim is designed to be sharp edged so as to easily cut through the wood surface. The sharper the rim edge, the sharper the edge of the hole created. With exertion of pressure, the spur is guided into the wood by the rim, which also enables the creation of a sharp edged hole with a flat base.

In addition to creating holes whose surfaces need no further finishing, Forstner bits are also known to leave a small depression at the base of the hole, caused by the spur as it drills into the wood.


What Makes Forstner Bits Popular?

There may be many other drill bit models on the market, but not all are as popular as Forstner drill bits when it comes to woodworking projects. Even with distinct variations in project requirements, most woodworkers vouch for Forstner drill bits, mainly because of their vast attributes. Below, we look at some of the reasons or characteristics that render this drill bit type very popular.

They create the smoothest walls

Courtesy of having really sharp rims, Forstner bits rank high among the drill bit types that can create very smooth walls in the sides of any hole. Most users also relate that the holes drilled by Forstner bits do not require smoothing after. Well drilled holes with sharp edges and of accurate size are commonly required in professional woodworking.

They are good for creating overlapping holes

Unlike some other drill bit types whose drills tend to come off as messy, the Forstner bit's rim design and sharpness always come in handy when drilling holes that overlap each other, and allow for a clean cut that also looks professional.

They create a simple, clean edged and flat based hole

Forstner bits have another unique ability over other bit types. The holes they bore have a flat base, with only a tiny hole at the bottom created by a spur. In some models such as those with an adjustable spur, the hole can also be done away with by pulling back the spur as the drilling continues. Due to their ability to drill without plugging (especially the models with a larger diameter), they also cut clean holes.

They can also drill well at an angle

Starting a drill at a steep angle is not as difficult with a Forstner bit as it is with some other drill bit models, courtesy of its sharp rim. Forstner bits are guided by the outside rim of the bit during drilling, unlike other drill bit models that are guided by the tip. This ability also renders them ideal for drilling holes on the edge of material, which is something some other drills cannot finish perfectly.


Factors To Consider Before Getting a Forstner Bit

A few factors should come into consideration before you make your final pick of a Forstner bit. The factors differ with individual needs, but some get to cut across. Below are three of the main factors

Budget

With a wide variation in models comes a vast range of prices that buyers have to choose from. Budgets can be very limiting, but don't really mean only the low quality stuff can be afforded. Between some of the brands on sale, there is a gap so wide in price that most woodworkers may never afford to buy the highly priced Forstner bits until they really need them.

Your budget is a direct determinant of the type of Forstner bit you can buy. With a smaller budget, a number of cheaper options are available, although they may not be as sharp or last as long as the more expensive options. Bigger budgets allow individuals more room to choose and afford the more expensive drill bit models and tool sets.

Type of job in question

Woodworking jobs can be done by almost everyone that possesses the knowledge of how to fix a nail. They are not very complex once studied, but necessitate a touch of professionalism every once in a while. Individuals partaking of woodworking as a hobby tend to work differently from those working on wood in professional design studios.

This generates a difference in the Forstner bit requirements of each user. Depending on either job type, different Forstner bit models may prove more appropriate than others, cost wise and functionality wise. Smaller, home-based projects may require cheaper but practical models unlike huge design projects that need top notch tools that are usually highly priced.

Materials used

The Forstner bits sold today have evolved greatly from the original and are now made from a wide range of materials. With increased competition between manufacturers to produce the bit with the sharpest cut and the smoothest edge, a number of materials have been incorporated in Forstner bit metals to improve qualities such as durability and resistance to rust.

Steel still ranks as the commonest and most used metal. Beside it are a few other materials. In any tool shop, you will be presented with Forstner bits made of either stainless steel, plain steel, titanium coated steel or carbide. Depending on your knowledge of each material's functionality, you might not have trouble making your pick. If not, a few tips should get you up and going. The first is that steel models are known to start out with sharper edges than carbide models, while carbide models end up having a longer edge life than any variation of steel.

Design

While some features may stay permanent, different models come with certain variations, depending on the manufacturer. In consequence, user needs always vary. The commonest variations in Forstner bits occur in rim length, spur function etc. With rims, the common variations include the standard rim, which is long, straight edged and sharp and the toothed rim, which is similar in design to the standard rim but has jagged teeth instead of a straight edge. Other models lack a long rim; instead they have more cutting spurs.

Longer rim models are preferred for their ability to create better angled and overlapping holes than shorter rim models. As for variations in the central spur, some models come with adjustable screw spurs that can be pulled back during drilling to prevent the formation of the small depression that forms in models with un-adjustable spurs. These models are usually preferred for very professional woodwork projects.


What are the Best Forstner Bit models out there?

There may be lots of Forstner drill bit models out there, but a few stand out for their impeccable qualities and workability. And although all Forstner drill bits naturally come with a set of standard features that they all share, some models still perform better than others in one aspect or another.The commonest features of each model below have been highlighted.

Quality wise, the European made Freud Forstner drill bits have an edge over their counterparts. This model comes designed with a variety of materials such as steel and carbide and a wide range of sizes.

Pros:

  • Some makes of the Freud model come designed with carbide, which has a longer edge life span than steel
  • Undergoes only minor plugging during drilling
  • Creates very good angled holes
  • Easy to access, are available in many locations
  • Has really sharp edges that make cutting easier

Cons:

  • Tend to rack up a good amount of heat during drilling
  • May require sharpening after initial use

Common among DIYers everywhere, Porter Cable drill bit models are designed to accomplish most woodworking tasks with ease.

Pros:

  • Models with smaller diameter bits have excellent bore rim quality
  • They are affordable
  • Porter Cable Forstner drills are easy to find in many stores
  • Create holes that are accurate and sharp edged.

Cons:

  • Tends to heat up during drilling and may burn the wood or leave burn marks.
  • They tend to lose edge sharpness really quickly.

With bit sizes ranging from ¼ to 2-1/8 and features such as precision grinding and improved back angles, it is no surprise that this model is highly favored among woodworkers everywhere.

Pros:

  • Quite inexpensive and affordable for everyday tasks
  • Made of good quality steel that has a long edge life
  • Comes with a wide range of sizes to choose from

Cons:

  • Smaller diameter bits tend to clog up during drilling, which requires intervals for clearing.
  • The rims are not sharp enough when new, and tend to blunt up quickly after use.

#4 CMT 537.000.07, 7 piece

Among customers, CMT is known to manufacture only high quality products, and this model is no exception. Designed for all types of wood and drills, the model also comes with the stagger tooth design incorporated.

Pros:

  • Set at an affordable price with most retailers
  • Makes very good cuts and drills holes with precision

Cons:

  • May require excess force during drilling due to lack of sharpness, even when new
  • Tend to over heat up during drilling; they may even burn up.
  • May require sharpening soon after initial use.

The MLCS brand is known for its carbide drill bits whose edge lasts longer than steel's. This model is noted for its ability to cut through thin and regular stock, veneers etc.

Pros:

  • Have an adjustable centre spur that doesn't leave a small hole in the centre of the hole
  • Some models come with carbide finishing
  • Very affordably priced

Cons:

  • They plug up during drilling
  • Are not very sharp even when new and may require regular sharpening
  • They tend to heat up and burn during drilling.

The Features of an Ideal Forstner Bit

A good Forstner bit should be able to work favorably in a number of areas. The factors to look at when choosing a Forstner bit include chip clearing, quality of bore rim, ability to create overlapping holes, angled ability and heating rate.

Chip clearing

Per the Forstner bit’s working method, the bit drills into the wood surface, guided by the surrounding rim. During drilling, it is common for bits to get covered by wood pieces/flakes from the process as it goes deeper into the wood. The pieces can always be removed with a stick, but the process can get really tiresome and messy over time. Additionally, holes drilled with plugging tend to have rougher edges than others.

To make a clean, precise, sharp edged hole, one needs to work with efficiency and without unnecessary breaks. A good Forstner bit should clear the wood pieces out of the hole in consonance with the bit’s drilling. This allows for a steady process that is uninterrupted with breaks to clean out the plug. Bits with smaller diameters (1/2 in.) are more likely to plug up than hose with wider diameters.

Ability to create overlapping holes

Woodwork practices such as excavating a mortise require drilling a series of overlapping holes with perfect precision. Most drill bits can do this, but not all are as good as Forstner bits. Even with this generality, some models are better than others in this quality.

Temperature

All Forstner bits, like any other drill bit, have issues with heat gain as a result of the friction between the rim and the wood surface. Most will gain heat as the process goes on; some will even leave burn marks on the wood (especially when they grow out of shape). Nevertheless, Forstner bits tend to have lower heat gain rate than other drill bit types, with temperatures that range from 130F to 180F. A good Forstner bit shouldn’t go beyond that temperature.

Angled hole ability

Forstner bits are generally favored for activities such as creating holes on the edge of wood surfaces and drilling holes into surfaces at steep angles. A good bit should do this quite easily since they come with sharp rims that guide the bit with ease into any steep sided workpiece.

Quality of bore rim

The quality of bore rims directly determines the edge sharpness of the hole that the drill bit may create. Blunt bore rims always make holes with rough, messy surfaces that require further smoothing to render them perfect. With Forstner drill bits, the quality is usually high. Whether straight, toothed or rimless, the bore rim is always sharp and ready for its purpose.

Tips for better workability with Forstner bits

  • Apply more pressure and ensure stability during drilling in order to bore better holes.
  • For more productivity, try using lithium ion batteries instead of NiCads when using a hand drill. The latter produce more power to sustain the drilling process.
  • Control your speed throughout the drilling process. Higher speeds increase the friction between two surfaces, resulting in heat gain and a shorter lifespan for the edge. Forstner drill bits need to operate at lower speeds to function right and have a longer life span.
  • Look out for drill bit models with a shank finish on the bits when making a choice. The finish plays a major role in minimizing friction, which directly controls heating up.
  • Take your bits for sharpening when they blunt out. Blunting may occur after some time, but doesn’t mean you should throw them out or replace them. Have them sharpened to better the edges.

Conclusion

Finally, it comes down to what you intend to use your Forstner bit for. Smaller DIY projects may require less expensive models; more professional work will ultimately call for better drill bit models that may cost more. With such variations in models and design, choosing shouldn’t be so difficult.

The tips above have been provided to guide you through a better choosing process for your next Forstner drill bit. In case you need further help, contact a professional or customer care at any local tool dealership and make any queries. If you prefer reviewing all the bit drill models first, take a look around the web for genuine consumer reviews.Happy drilling!

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