Get tips on how to find the best drill bit for your project. Find out when to use an electric drill and when to go with a cordless drill.
TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: And we love our tools around The Money Pit and one of the most popular ones to have in your tool chest is a power drill. It’s definitely one of the handiest tools to have on hand but it’s the working end of that drill that really counts.
LESLIE: That’s right. You know, a lot of people forget but it’s the drill bit that actually does all the work. So with us to review the best assortment to have on hand for your house is a guy who knows an awful lot about that topic and so many more. We’ve got Tom Silva  from TV’s This Old House .
TOM SILVA: Well, thank you. It’s nice to be here.
TOM: Hey, it’s our pleasure to have you back, Tommy. And you know, you’ve got a lot of tools and …
TOM SILVA: Yeah, I have a few. (all chuckle)
TOM: And I’m sure there are a lot of folks that watch the show that get tool envy by seeing everything that you get to play with everyday on the program. Let’s talk a bit about power drills. If you don’t have one and you want to buy one, what’s your advice for how to find the best one for your particular situation?
TOM SILVA: Well, it depends on, really, what you’re going to do. I mean if you’re going to be drilling a lot of holes, sometimes an electric drill really works out well. If you’re going to drill big holes and you’re in tight spaces, right-angle drills make a huge difference. They’ve got a lot of power and they won’t knock you off your ladder if you’re up in high spots.
But cordless drills today, with the lithium batteries, they really work great; they pack a punch, as long as you’re not drilling holes that are too, too big.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and they’re so lightweight so it really does help if you’re working for a long period of time.
TOM SILVA: Exactly. Always have a spare battery, though.
LESLIE: Yeah, charged and ready to go; not just blank in your case. (chuckles)
TOM SILVA: (chuckles) Many times I’ve gone halfway through a hole and ran out of a charge, so I ended up having to get the electric one.
TOM: See, it even happens to the experts.
TOM SILVA: Yep.
TOM: Alright, let’s talk about the working end of the drill – the drill bit. Now there are a lot of drill bits out there. I think people don’t realize the very wide variety of bits there are available and the choice really comes down to the particular job you want to tackle, doesn’t it?
TOM SILVA: Oh, sure. There are twist drills, there are brad point twist drills, there are spade bits, Forstner bits. There’s a twist drill with a screw shank on the tip that will help pull the drill in through the hole. Really depends on what you’re doing and how fast you want to drill that hole.
LESLIE: Is there a basic set that you should sort of keep on hand – you know, a go-to bit – or do you really need to be specific to the project?
TOM SILVA: Well, basically you can have a nice set of twist drills. I would recommend a good-quality because there are some cheap ones and there are some good ones. The twist drill can be used in steel or wood. A good one will hold up better. A cheap set can break pretty easily; they’re kind of brittle. And then if you’re dealing with wood and you like twist drills, they actually have a little cutting edge around the perimeter of the nose with a little tip on it that helps guide it through. They call it a brad point drill.
TOM: Now what about spade bits? These are flat bits that work very well with very wide holes. What I like about spade bits is that I find them very easy to sharpen with a small file.
TOM SILVA: Absolutely. You can definitely resharpen a spade bit. They’ve come out with the newer spade bits today where they actually have the hex head that you can snap into a quick-release – a screwdriver attachment on your drill. They’re great for extending and getting into hard-to-get places; really long ones, short ones, wide ones.
I mean I used three different sizes today when we were setting some sills. I drilled my big hole first for the washers and then a small hole for the anchor bolts on the sills and they drill fast and they’re quick.
LESLIE: And some people might call those paddle bits as well, right?
TOM SILVA: Exactly.
LESLIE: Now what about a hole saw? I mean they’re pretty cool-looking tools and, if used correctly, you can really make some amazing-sized holes in whatever you’re working on.
TOM SILVA: Oh, absolutely. You can put recessed lights in with a six or a seven-inch hole saw. You can drill holes in cabinets for plumbing. And you can get different types for wood, metal or even stone. They’re fantastic. But again, you want to make sure you hold onto yourself if you’re using a big one (Tom chuckles) because they can throw you around.
LESLIE: They do. (chuckles)
TOM: The idea is for the bit to spin, not you.
TOM SILVA: Exactly.
TOM: Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House, great advice. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
TOM SILVA: My pleasure.
LESLIE: To catch more of Tom and the entire This Old House team including information on their current project, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by Cub Cadet. Cub Cadet – you can’t get any better.