Forstner Bit vs. Spade Bit – Things You Need to Know

Indeed, drill bits are essential for woodworking.

There are many kinds of drill bits, and which one serve a specific purpose. Whether you want to make a large or small hole, make it quickly or slowly but precisely, affects the choice.

People often compare forstner bit vs. spade bit because in many cases, they can do the same job, but give different results.

The primary purpose of this post is to help you find out in which cases each one of the two serves the most efficiently.

I will start by giving a quick look at the two kinds of drill bits, and then continue to analyze its effectiveness in specific cases.


What is the use of a spade bit?

forstner vs spade

Spade bits can rapidly bore a hole through the timber. However, they usually leave a rough cut surface. It’s not so good-looking if you let the hole visible after finishing the woodwork.

So, we can understand that once the holes are covered or invisible (for example holes to insert pipes or wires), the bits are beneficial.

Spade bits are more popular in the US than in the UK and other European countries. A best spade bit set is an essential part that electricians and plumbers cannot leave out of their toolbox.

They work the most efficiently on softwoods, but we can also use them on chipboard, hardwood, plasterboard, fibre board, acrylic and plastic-laminated wood. Many people say they work the best on plywood, too.

To use the bits, you have to insert them into a drill or an impact driver (in case you are going to drill a hole in a tree stump or tough timber).


- The speed: spade bits can create a hole in an incredibly short time with acceptable preciseness.

- The price: they are often cheaper than other types of drilling bits. It’s safe to say that the one is the most affordable part in a woodworking toolbox.

- Modifiability: their simple design makes spade bits easy to modify. That means you can bore smaller holes than the size of the bit you own or create a tapered hole by angling its sides.


- Tearing out: Unless you have prepared a piece of wood as a backing “sacrifice”, spade bits can cause splintering when you drill all the way through the timber.

- Power drill required: Due to the rapid spinning, you cannot use hand-powered drills to deal with a spade bit. To use the tool, you should own a drill press or power drill.

- Rough cut surface: The holes created by the bits are untidy, and they can be worse if the tool gets blunt.

- Adverse effect on hardwoods: While the bits work excellently on softwoods, the holes they bore on hardwoods are very rough and untidy due to the timber’s increased resistance.

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  • Features a full-cone threaded tip for fast and effortless drilling
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  • Hex shank power groove to reduce slippage
  • Spur and reamer tips for cleaner holes
  • Provides a cleaner hole quality with reduced breakout

Why would I use a forstner bit set?

spade bit vs hole saw

If what you want is cleanliness and precision instead of expediency, a Forstner bit set is what you are looking for. They give you the perfect holes that could be present under people’s eyes.

The tools focus on the look and somehow don’t care much about the speed. You have to drill at a moderate pace and control it tightly. If the drill goes too fast, the bit could be damaged due to its delicacy.

Sometimes, the damage is irreparable, and you will have to get a new set of Forstner bits. The cost for one set is not as affordable as spade bits’.

You can use the bits on hardwoods, but remember to keep an eye on the speed.


- Perfect bored hole: Forstners bits give you beautiful results with a clean cut surface. With some Forstner bit tricks, you can even decorate a wooden deck with a set of these bits.

- Precise boring: You can bore a hole in exactly where you want since the bits require you to do the task slowly and carefully.


- Delicacy: The bits need using with a drill press instead of a hand-held drill because the latter cannot control the drilling speed as efficiently as the former does. Can you use a Forstner bit in a drill? Yes, but you shouldn’t. Only use it when you don’t have other choices, and remember to do the task with a lot of care.

- Cannot work for a long time: Whatever you are going to do with a set of Forstner bits, remember to let it “relax” for some minute after a moderate period. If it gets too hot, the bit will be blued, and you will have to find a new one.

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  • Optimized Cutting Angles For Flat Bottom Holes
  • Open Tooth Design For Clean Fast Holes
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  • Designed For Durability And Long Life

Can the Spade bits and Forstner bits be compared with Auger bits: What we call classic?

auger bit vs spade bit

Auger bits might be the oldest member in the family of drill bits.

Living through several centuries and still holding an irreplaceable position in the toolbox of most family, the bits have proved their usefulness.

Auger bits can work as a replacement of both spade bits and Forstner bits. But, of course, it cannot give us the best results as the two specifically designed ones do.


- The holes’ depth: Auger bits are able to drill nice and deep holes (up to 600mm). That means they are suitable for most of the cases of woodworking and furniture making. You can use auger bits for construction too since it can bore holes through the thick decking.

- Smooth and identical holes: Auger bits have sharp spurs on the edges that make sure the created hole is tidy and resembles each other.

- Ease of boring: You don’t have to put much pressure on the drill to make the bit go through the timber. The guide screw’s thread makes boring holes extremely easy, that saves our energy and ensure the efficiency.


- Modest speed: The boring speed of auger bits is not something to be complimented. Because of the cutting lips’ sized and angle, you must use the bits at a lower speed than the way you often conduct with other kinds of drill bits.

- Versatility shortage: Auger bits are meant to use for wood, so they can be damaged pretty quickly if you use it on wrong material. However, there are specialist augers such as the concrete ones designed to make holes through concrete.

- Vulnerability: There are some cases in which the gimlet point or the guide screw of an auger bit has broken due to hitting a knot in the timber. If you want to improve the vulnerability, you may consider using a carbide tipped bits instead of augers, but it’s more expensive.

Drill Master 7 Piece Auger Bit Set*
  • Lead screw pulls bit into work eliminating extra pressure and strain
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  • 7-1/2" length
  • 3/8" hex shanks, 1/4" bit has 1/4" hex shank
  • Includes bit sizes 1/4", 3/8", 1/2", 5/8", 3/4", 7/8" and 1";

Auger bit vs. Spade bits vs. Forstner bits

1. Spade bits vs. Auger bits

In term of efficiency, Auger bits work much better than Spade bits

The latter tends to leave an untidy finish since it focuses more on the speed than the appearance of the finish.

2. Auger bits vs. Forstner bits

Forstner bits work faster and are better at cutting flat-bottomed holes. Due to the large guide screws, it’s hard for augers to do the task.

However, they can clear waste material from a hole more effectively that Forstners do.

The bottom lines

The comparison of Spade bit vs. Forstner bit is mostly about the speed and the precision of the two. Each one is better than other in some cases, so you need to inspect the wooden deck before choosing a drill bit to bore holes.

Good luck with your projects!

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