Black Oxide Vs. Titanium Drill Bits | Differences & Winner

To work on any construction project with precision, using the right drilling tool is of utmost importance.  

That’s where drill bits come into the picture, as they are key to achieving perfectly sized holes on any material. A drill bit is attached to an electric drill by means of a clamp or a chuck and is available in various sizes, designs, and finishes. 

Among these, black oxide and titanium drill bits are the more popular varieties and are preferred by most DIYers and professionals in the country. 

But if you’re relatively new to using drill bits, you might not be conversant with these varieties and the difference in their application. That’s why we’ve brought you this carefully curated guide on the various points of difference between the two. We’ve also included all the other essential details that you need to keep in mind. 

So, let’s get started.  

Black Oxide vs. Titanium Drill Bits

Replaceable drill chuck and old drill bits lie on a wooden plank background. Close-up.

  1. Black Oxide Drill Bits

These drill bits get their name from the high-quality triple-tempered black oxide coating that they come with. Such a coating offers great lubricity to ensure minimum heat accumulation, thereby enhancing the longevity of these bits considerably. 

Black oxide drill bits are made by subjecting high-speed steel (HSS) drill bits to a temperature of around 950 Fahrenheit. This works to enhance their overall performance and hardness and lends them an appealing dark look. 

Besides getting a pleasant finish and extra hardness, the bits become perfectly resistant to corrosion, further boosting their durability. As such, they are sure to last way longer than the regular HSS drill bits. And you’ll also be glad to know that they come at a very affordable price. 

Now that we’ve looked at some of the fundamental aspects of the black oxide drill bits, let’s move on to the other various beneficial features that it offers. 

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  • High Speed

These drill bits work with an incredible speed, thanks to the uniform black oxide finish that ensures minimal friction during drilling. Thus, even though regular drill bits are known to deliver high speed, they don’t stand a chance with the former, which drills three times faster. 

This is why users will take minimal time drilling holes on a range of surfaces for each project.

  • Versatility

Speaking of the versatility these drill bits offer, even that is equally commendable as the drilling speed. They can drill through various types of wood like pine, oak, and maple, metals such as steel and copper, and plastic materials like acrylic and PVC. 

  • User-Friendly

No matter whether you are a beginner or a pro in construction projects, black oxide drill bits will be really easy to work with. As such, both amateurs and professionals have praised their ease of use all along. 

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  • Split Point

A unique feature of black oxide drill bits is a split point at 135 degrees, which makes the drilling action start faster and ensures minimal skating. As a result, these bits remain centered and enable accurate and consistent drilling. 

  • Re-Sharpening

These drill bits can be re-sharpened easily when their head is worn, which also helps boost their service life considerably. 

  1. Titanium Drill Bits

The use of titanium in these drill bits makes them one of the strongest varieties available on the market. A coating of the ceramic material titanium nitride (TiN) makes the difference for this variety, lending exceptional toughness and durability to the bits. Note that the coating is applied using a method similar to electroplating, which makes it very long-lasting. 

As such, these drill bits are capable of handling tougher metals such as cast iron with ease. This feature allows professionals to get through a range of metalworking projects pretty smoothly. Titanium drill bits also offer superior longevity so that you can utilize them for the years to come. 

Now, let’s find out about the other features that these bits offer users.

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  • Retains Sharp Edges

The most significant feature is undoubtedly the ability of the titanium drill bits to retain the sharpness of their edges for a long time. In fact, you are sure to get the same sharpness even after using them on extremely tough materials. 

This naturally facilitates effortless drilling for a variety of projects. So, professionals need not worry about the sharpness reducing over time, unlike the regular high-speed steel (HSS) drill bits. 

  • Heat Resistance

Even the heat resistance on offer is excellent since these bits can comfortably withstand a temperature of up to 1500 F. 

Thus, it is unaffected by the massive heat produced while you’re drilling through rigid materials such as cast iron and stainless steel. It is the titanium nitride coating that does the trick, acting as a barrier between the bit and the different types of surfaces. 

Besides facilitating smooth functioning throughout different projects, such excellent heat resistance makes these bits entirely safe for even amateurs. 

  • Corrosion Resistance

Just like black oxide drill bits, these offer appreciable corrosion resistance due to the durability of the titanium nitride coating. Even the resistance to rust and other natural elements is praiseworthy. As such, they are sure to retain their efficiency and finish over the years. 

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  • Versatility

Titanium drill bits are considerably versatile since they can be used for a variety of wood and metal surfaces. This makes them suitable for general drilling purposes in any production environment. 

  • Speed

You can even complete your drilling projects quickly using these bits as the coating works to minimize friction. 

Even materials such as aluminum, which tends to adhere to the bits more firmly, can be drilled with the same speed, with the chips flowing through the flutes to maintain clarity. Thus, you can rest assured that the flutes would never be clogged despite the increasing hole depth. 

Differences Between Black Oxide And Titanium Drill Bits  

At this point, you must’ve developed a basic idea about both the types and their features, so it’s time to know about the differences between the two. For this purpose, we’ve based our discussion on several factors that will help you understand the 

  1. Application

Since these two drill bits aren’t built the same way, they are suitable for different purposes. As such, it’s essential to be clear about the purpose that each serves. Using the right type for every project will ensure that it is completed with the desired efficiency. 

Speaking about black oxide drill bits, these are more capable of handling relatively softer materials such as plastics and several types of wood. That’s because the coating used for these bits doesn’t possess the toughness of the titanium ones. As such, DIYers and regular woodworkers will indeed find them to be useful for most of their projects. 

But titanium drill bits are more robust and hard and, hence, more suitable for contractors and woodworkers who regularly work with harder material. This robustness also makes them ideal for industrial use since they will be able to drill into nearly all materials. 

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  1. Hardness

One of the major differences between titanium and black oxide drill bits lies in their hardness. Notably, titanium is among the hardest materials available, so you can very well understand the hardness and strength that these bits offer. This makes them much more resistant to regular wear and tear compared to other varieties. 

However, black oxide drill bits are not as hard as the titanium ones, though the high heat that they’re subjected to makes them tougher than the regular HSS bits. 

  1. Resharpening

One of the few areas where the titanium bits lag behind their black oxide counterpart is the scope of re-sharpening. 

While you can easily keep the black oxide bits in good shape by sharpening them whenever needed, that’s not viable in the case of titanium bits. Actually, the extreme hardness of titanium and the erosion of the coating makes sharpening impossible. 

If the edge of a titanium bit loses its sharpness, recoating it with titanium nitride is the only way to bring it back to its original form. And since that’s quite costly, it’s best to purchase a new titanium bit if you spot such an issue. 

  1. Longevity

Although both varieties offer fairly long-lasting performance, titanium bits are slightly ahead of black oxide ones in this regard. That’s because the edges of black oxide bits are used up to a greater extent. So, in case you are working with harder materials, the edges of these bits will lose their sharpness much faster. 

But for titanium bits, you won’t notice any marked difference in the edges even if you use them for a long time, irrespective of the material you’re dealing with. 

That said, black oxide bits will be suitable for users who work with drill bits occasionally, as they can even last for years in that case. For more regular users, it will be better to go for titanium bits. 

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  1. Price

When it comes to the cost, black oxide bits are undoubtedly the winner since the coating used for them is relatively cheaper than that of other varieties. In comparison, the coating on titanium bits is more expensive, which naturally increases their final price.

  1. Speed

Even though both the drill bits are less prone to friction during drilling, the titanium variety can drill relatively faster. This is owing to the greater strength and toughness of the latter, which facilitates ultimate speed while they are being used on most materials. 

How To Choose The Right Drill Bit For Your Job?

After looking at the differences between the two varieties, you need to consider some critical factors for choosing the right drill bit for your purpose. Going for any of these two options randomly might cause damage to the area to be drilled and even the electric drilling machine you’re using. 

  1. Type Of Surface

It is crucial to consider the surface you’ll be drilling for selecting the ideal drill bit for the job. As we’ve mentioned earlier, titanium drill bits can yield the desired results on tougher surfaces such as metals. But the black oxide ones are more suited for relatively softer materials. Hence, keep in mind the surfaces you’ll be working on while making a choice. 

Also, the sharpness of the drill bits might have an impact on some materials such as wood. This is why it’s important to ensure the sharpness of the chosen variety doesn’t affect the surface you’re drilling in any way. 

You can even refer to the customer reviews of the drill bits that you’re considering. This will give you an idea about whether the bits are really capable of drilling efficiently into the surface you’ll have to work on. 

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  1. Drilling Depth

The drilling depth that you’ll require for your projects is also an essential factor in this regard. Drilling holes to the right depth would ensure the fixtures or joints are created in the proper way, which would ultimately determine the success of your woodworking or metalworking project. 

Since titanium bits are tougher than black oxide ones, they are able to penetrate most materials quickly, which implies they will always be able to create deeper holes. 

  1. Number Of Holes

If you need to create a number of holes, you must ensure that the drill bit you’re using is equally sharp all along. Though titanium bits can remain sharp for a longer time, they cannot be resharpened in case their coating gets eroded. In comparison, you can always resharpen a black oxide drill bit, which is why it’s more suitable for drilling many holes at a time. 

But then, if you’re working with a very hard material such as aluminum, you will need to use titanium bits for the purpose. Purchasing more bits at a time will be best in that case. 

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Maintaining Drill Bits

After you’ve purchased the drill bits, you must maintain them in the right way to make sure they offer the desired drilling performance every time. And for that, you need to take proper care before and after using them. Here are some ways to ensure the drill bits are in good shape throughout. 

  1. Be Careful While Honing Them

While you hone the drill bits, you must see to it that their structure isn’t affected as a result of pushing too forcefully. That’s because applying more pressure than required might eliminate the material of the bits, thereby reducing their size. 

  1. Safe Storage

Despite the fact that these drill bits are extremely corrosion-resistant, you must ensure that they are stored in a protected place. Keeping them exposed to a humid atmosphere or near any water source might reduce their efficiency gradually. This way, you can be assured that the bits can be utilized for a longer time. 

Storing them in a safe place will also help prevent rusting, so keep them covered or enclosed when you’re not using them. Notably, the majority of drill bits come in cases that have space for holding each bit in position. 

This ensures the bits are never scratched or nicked due to rubbing against each other accidentally. Furthermore, they come in such a way that each spot is marked for the type and size of the bit, making it simple to identify the bit ideal for any particular project.  

  1. Maintaining Your Drilling Machine

No matter how efficient your drill bits are, the electric drilling machine you’re using must be in proper condition to ensure the job is done perfectly. As such, you should maintain the drilling machine regularly to make sure it delivers a consistent performance. 

After each use of the machine, cleaning it thoroughly is a must to remove the debris stuck on the tip and other parts. A soft and clean cloth will be sufficient for the purpose. Also, if you feel that the drill is no longer performing the way it used to, take the machine to your nearest hardware shop as soon as possible. 

On a side note, if you need to work with drilling machines regularly, buying a drill mill or sharpener will make the job much easier. But that would require investing much more money than getting it done from a hardware shop.

  1. After-use Maintenance

Here are some quick steps you can follow after each use to ensure your drill bits are in good shape. 

Step 1

Keep the bit idle for some time till it cools off.

Step 2

Wipe it with a cleaning cloth or dry towel. 

Step 3

Using a toothbrush, brush off the debris and shavings clinging to the drill bits. 

Step 4

Apply some machine oil on the bits lightly using a microfiber cloth or a tissue. Wait for some time till it sits in, then wipe off the extra oil using another tissue. 

Step 5

Inspect each bit for any damage caused while drilling and remove the damaged bits to replace them accordingly. 

Step 6

Put the bits into a case and store them in a dry and cool place. 

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Sharpening Black-Oxide Drill Bits

If used extensively for a long time, black-oxide drill bits may lose their sharpness, which would obviously affect their drilling performance. But you might not want to buy a new set of drill bits immediately. In such situations, knowing how to resharpen drill bits can help save both money and time. 

If you have a bench mill by your side, you can easily sharpen the bits freehand so that they get back their efficiency. 

Another piece of equipment you can use for this purpose is a grinding wheel. This device is actually made by bonding fiberglass layers and abrasive grains into a wheel-like shape. Here are the steps for sharpening a drill bit using a grinding wheel. 

Step 1

Hold the bit so that its cutting face is positioned parallel to the surface area of the grinding wheel. You should aim to remove the metal as much as possible to ensure that the cutting edge is cleaned up. 

Step 2

Now, bring the bit slowly in contact with the grinding wheel. Make sure the bit is perfectly straight and isn’t rotating since you don’t need to duplicate the original curvature. Instead, you will have to make a flatter-cutting face. 

Step 3

Note that the wheel should grind the heel portion of the cutting face more compared to the edge. This way, the edge can touch the drilled area first during use. 

Step 4

While the bits are being honed, the metal is removed, which would cause their steel material to heat up. That’s why you should dip it in water many times to ensure that it remains cool. In case you find it too warm to hold, that implies you’re either not cooling it frequently or grinding it too fast. 

Step 5

After the cutting edge becomes sharper, spin the drill bit by half a turn and then start sharpening the cutting face. The performance of the bit will depend upon how evenly the edges are ground. 

Step 6

When both edges have been sharpened, check whether their width is the same. The two edges must meet to form a center point in the bit, with a short line between them. If you don’t find this line, you just need to grind the wider side a bit more until the edges are even.  

Frequently Asked Questions On Drill Bits

How Will You Fix A Small Drill Bit In Any Drill?

Drill bits of smaller sizes, for instance, ⅛-inch, can seem hard to insert into the clamp or chuck of most drills. And if they are not secured properly, they can slip while in use.

Hence, it’s a must to consult an online tutorial video or manual instead of inserting it by hand. While you’re using it, be careful not to press it down too hard so that the drill can do its job.

Which Drill Bits Are The Best For Stainless Steel?

Titanium drill bits can be great for boring into stainless steel and many other harder steel variants. Note that carbide drill bits are equally strong, but these should be used only in the most demanding production settings. Moreover, you would need special equipment for using these.

What Is The Procedure To Be Followed For Changing Drill Heads?

Although the procedure would slightly vary from one model to another, there are three fundamental steps in this regard. Firstly, you should select the right bit for the surface you’re planning to drill, considering its depth and size.

Follow this by opening the chuck, holding the bit in place, removing the old drill bit, and inserting the new one therein. Ensure that it clicks firmly in position before you close the chuck again.

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We hope you’re much more confident about choosing the ideal drill bit now. So, start gathering all the essentials for your new project and bring it on! 

Before we call it a day, here’s a small observation that we’d like to share with you. From our experience and research, we feel it would be incorrect to label either the black oxide or the titanium drill bits as inferior or superior.  

Both of them are suitable for a variety of purposes, the primary difference being that while the former can handle softer surfaces, the latter is more suitable for harder materials. As such, titanium bits will be better suited for heavy-duty applications, whereas black oxide bits can be useful for smaller projects using materials such as wood or plastic. 

That’s all for today. We’ll be back with more guides soon. Till then, take care!

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