Top 4 Best Drill Bits for Clean Holes in Wood

Most of the time woodworking is centred around carving and cutting wood. Though one important aspect of woodworking is boring or drilling clean holes in it. Many projects require you to drill clean holes for dowels and screws. However, drilling clean holes require you to have good drill bits at hand. It becomes difficult to choose a good drill bit due to such a wide variety and choices. These days drill bits are milled out of different metals to perform better. So to help you choose, read further to find out the top 4 best drill bits for clean holes in wood.

The best bit to make small clean holes in wood are brad point bits. Nothing beats them when it comes to making small clean holes in wood. For bigger holes, you definitely need to have Forstner bits. They can be a little on the expensive side but work great to make holes with a flat bottom. When drilling pilot holes, nothing beats countersink drill bits. They allow you to drive screws in wood flush with the wood thanks to the counter sink. Lastly, to drill at an angle you can always depend on the 118-degree twist bits. Having a set of these is imperative if you own a drill.

Nowadays you can find drill bits that specialise for one task but aren’t meant for another. Then we have drill bits that do a clean job at making holes while others are just there to get the job done. This is why you won’t find spade bits at a professional woodworker’s shop since they have a high chance of ripping wood on the way out. Though when speed is of the essence, spade bits work best, which is why people in construction since a clean hole isn’t important there.

The Four Best Drill Bits for Clean Holes in Wood

1. Brad Point Bits

Brad point bits are best when you want to make clean straight holes. They have a pointed edge that penetrates into the wood which helps avoid the drill bit from walking. They use the spurs to make clean holes into the wood while the sharp points on the flute clean out the rest of the material. The larger the flutes, the easier they clean the chips.

Brad points are only found in half-inch size in most sets. For bigger holes, you will have to choose either spade bits or Forstners. Another issue with brad’s points is that they cannot cut at an angle. You can only drill into wood perpendicular to its surface.


  • Makes clean holes in wood.
  • Does not walk thanks to the pointed edge digging into the surface.


  • Does not come in large sizes.
  • Cannot drill at an angle.

2. Forstner Bits

If you are planning on drilling large holes straight into the wood and want them to be clean without any rip-outs or splintering, then your best bet is to buy Forstner bits. They make the cleanest holes in any wood and are great if you aren’t planning on drilling all the way through. They leave a clean and flat bottom on the wood.

Forstner bits are very expensive compared to any other drill bit out there. Spade bits are very inexpensive and readily available, but for a good quality Forstner bit set, you will have to pay a good amount. Though they are worth their money, as they last a good time and provide the best results. Another problem with them is that they can’t drill at an angle either, similar to brad’s points.


  • Bits make very clean holes and leave the bottom of the wood flat if you plan on not drilling all the way through.
  • Can be found in large sizes to make bigger holes in wood than brad points.


  • Expensive.
  • Cannot drill at an angle.

4. Twist Drill Bits

Lastly, we have the most common drill bits that you find with a drill set, the twist drill bits. They can also work with metal so if your woodworking project involves making holes in metal sheets, then these are the best option to go with. They can drill holes into wood and that too perpendicular and at an angle as well. This makes these quite handy to have at hand at all times.

However, these bits do not cut wood as clean as brad point bits. Not to mention they have a tendency to walk since they do not have a pointed edge but rather have a conical shape that tears into the wood instead. To prevent that you might need to use a smaller twist bit first and then move your way up gradually to a bigger size. This will help in preventing the bit from walking and ruining your wood.


  • Great to make holes at an angle.
  • Can be used for drilling holes through and making pilot holes for screws.


  • Holes are not as clean.
  • Drill bits tend to walk and scratch the wood.

What Kind of Drill Bit Makes the Cleanest Holes in Wood?

If you are talking about smaller holes in wood then brad point bits definitely take the trophy. They do their job exceptionally well when you want to drill through straight into the wood. The only bad part about these bits is that they can’t drill at an angle. However, they make the cleanest perpendicular holes of small size.

For larger holes, nothing beats the Forstner bits. They can be used with a drill and a drill press both, favouring the drill press more though. They make the cleanest holes in wood and most professional woodworkers use these instead of spade bits for their clean quality.

Guide to Making Clean Holes in Wood

To drill clean holes in wood, there are a few things that you can do that will help you avoid and prevent errors.

  • Mark your holes before you start drilling them. This will help you know where you are going to start off. It also helps with concentration and prevents mistakes.
  • Let your drill bit do the job instead of pushing it or forcing it. Bits like Forstners are slow to work, so instead of pushing the drill just take your time and you will achieve cleaner results.
  • When using brad points thoroughly penetrate its edge into the surface of the wood before you start drilling. Also when going through and through the board, slow down at the end and let the spurs cut through first. If you push it through with force instead of letting the spurs cut first you might end up with a rip out.
  • Use quality bits as some cheaper companies have bad alignment. They are also not as sharp so they don’t make very clean holes in wood.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my wood splitting when drilling? 

Wood splits when drilling when the bits aren’t sharp enough. 

How do you prevent wood from cracking when drilling?

You can tackle this by making smaller holes first and gradually increasing the bit size.

Final Thoughts

Many people don’t consider specialised drill bits since they can be slightly expensive. However, if you can spend money on wood and other cutting tools, only to cheap out on the drill bits, you might end up ruining the cleanliness of your project. It is best to have a set of all the drill bits of good quality as they will last you for a long time and will pay back their worth with clean holes with every drill.

Martin Swizz

Hi! This is Martin, I like to research, experiment, and learn new things related to wood carving and other kinds of woodworking.

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