Threaded Tip Spade Drill Bits

Spade drill bits are normally used only when you only need a hole that’s “good enough” and you care more about how much time and effort it takes to drill the hole. For example, holes through studs for electrical wiring will be hidden in the wall when you are done, but you need to drill a lot of them. That’s when a spade drill bit is useful.

I recently purchased a set of Bosch Daredevil Spade Bits at a big box store because they were a good deal (set of 6 for $10) and my existing bits were dull and not hex shank. I thought the threaded conical tip, like a wood boring bit, was an interesting feature.

I was amazed at how much better these worked than other spade bits I have used. The threaded tip serves several purposes:

  • Keeps the bit centered when starting.
  • Literally pulls the bit through the material. I did not have to push the drill at all until it got to the point the tip came through the other side (and if you were drilling something backed with scrap wood you wouldn’t need to, or you could switch to drilling from the other side).
  • Prevents vibration/chatter and the bit bouncing around the hole.

The resulting holes were where I wanted them, were more round than holes from other spade bits, had fewer blow out” splinters, and were easier to drill.

I also looked at Irwin Speedbor MAX (which have three cutting blades) as they also have threaded tips, and probably work as well or better due to the extra cutting edge. But I like that the Bosch bits lay flat (taking up less room in a tool box) and were cheaper.

-- Matt Taggart  

Bosch Daredevil Spade Bits
6-piece set $15

Available from Amazon



Kreg Pocket Hole Jig

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I’ve used the Kreg pocket hole jig to repair a broken chair, build shelving, and customize framing around a media box. I like it because it’s simple to use, requires no glue and little woodworking experience, yet it results in a tight professional joint.

I also bought the right-angle clamp (basically a Vise grip with a pocket hole clamp end, model KHC-RAC), and it works very well. It helps keep boards straight and steady when making a 90-degree joint, and therefore made this unit superior to a more-portable plastic jig I had previously used. The best thing about the Kreg jig is it’s simple, doesn’t require a lot of space, and all you need is a drill to make it work.

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-- Joesph Mayerik  

Kreg Jig K4 Pocket Hole System
$100

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Kreg Tool Company



Twist-Lok

As a gadget writer, I get sent a lot of stuff. Much of it’s junk, some of it’s interesting, and an even smaller portion is useful. The Twist-Lok initially intrigued and never ceases to satisfy whenever I find myself drilling and driving, especially when perched precariously on a ladder. You just attach a basic keyless hybrid chuck to your drill, insert your drill bit, then slide the silver cover over the drill bit (the magnetized tip of the silver attachment keeps one of the 11 provided Philips or flathead bits secure).Need to drive a screw, you’re set. Need to drill a starter hole, just pop off the silver attachment. Now, I’m no journeyman or contractor, but for my occasional use, the Twist-Lok just works. My only real complaint is the silver piece has to be removed in order to fit my drill back in its case. Of course, that minor annoyance is well worth the time I’ve saved this past year.

-- Steven Leckart  

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Twist-Lok
$23 — 11 bits, 2 nut drivers
Manufactured by Lyropa Tool Corp

Available from Amazon



Festool Domino Joiner

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Never before has a woodworker been able to make loose tenon joinery simply, quickly, accurately and anywhere. Loose tenon work is a process that has long been done by hand and/or large expensive stationary machines. With the Domino, you can now bring the tool to the wood. Anywhere. No back and forth to the shop, which can take hours. The Domino has locator pins in the face for precise alignment, meaning you can actually build something and test fit it together with no glue; the tolerances are that tight and perfect. The Domino really has the ability to turn a neophyte weekend bookcase maker into a pro — I am a professional trim carpenter and in my line of work that’s scary! Here’s why it work’s so well: the cutter is an oscillating carbide plunge bit similar to a router bit and it’s interchangeable. It takes 5 seconds to set up for plunge and 2 seconds to do the deed. The time savings can be counted in days if not weeks on a big project. I used to scoff at overpriced stuff like this. Silly me. It’s well made and, in the short and long run, it really increases productivity, which both saves and makes me money.

It’s expensive, but I’d still recommend getting the set, as opposed to just the Domino itself. The set comes with two attachments that are a must for two different applications. One is for end joining, as you do with a face frame (the front of cabinets, which are made out of 1×2 or slightly larger stock). This attachment allows the machine to fit the narrow piece of wood perfectly on the end and it prevents wobbling (without it, the mortise would not be straight and at 90 degrees). The attachment also adjusts to take a 2 ¾ inch wide board, meaning you can mortise anything from an inch wide up to 2 ¾ inch. If you are making face frames you have a lot to do, but with this attachment, once you set to your size lumber, there is no more thinking. The other attachment allows you to align dominos that are farther apart than the factory pins. The factory pins allow mortise’s spaced about a 1 1/2″; apart. With this attachment, you can space them anywhere from 4 1/8″; to 8 3/8″; and the pins hook into the last hole/mortise made, so all your holes are evenly spaced and line up exactly. No marks or measuring.

-- Per Swenson  

Festool Domino Joiner
$825

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by and also available from Festool



IRWIN Unibit Drill Bit

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I’ve been easing into more and more metal work over the last year and half (propane art, collapsible fire fans and fire hula hoops a la Burning Man), so I drill a lot of multi-size holes in aluminum tubing. This is by far the best bit I’ve found for drilling through such thin materials. To get precise placement and a clean hole, normally I’d drill a small pilot hole, then run a larger drill bit in that hole to get the size and placement right. With this bit, I do not need to create a pilot hole (though, a center punch can help). I simply drill until I get to the right size (1/4″ and 1/2″ mostly). Because the bit has a single flute (cutting edge), it makes very clean holes. It’s also very accurate: the bit is very stiff, so it wanders less when starting a hole. Since I don’t need to change drill bits in my drill press to successively drill larger holes or change the jig I’m using to hold the part, it’s become a real time saver.

-- Sean Rutledge  

IRWIN Unibit
$18 (3/6″ – 1/4″)

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by IRWIN



Schroeder Hand Drill

A hand-powered drill allows a subtlety and control you don’t get from a power tool, so very much more direct and satisfying to use. From a sheer utilitarian perspective, my Schroeder 1/4″ drill is a wonder to behold and use. The gearing is all-metal, so it’s built to last. For the price, you won’t find a tougher drill. I’ve used it for building cabinets and tables, puttering around the house and garden, pre-drilling screw holes, and mounting things to walls, etc. and it works like a champ. I used Fiskars hand drills for years but their inner gears are made of plastic and will strip out if you apply too much torque. They also can’t be opened up for repair either, so once that happens it goes straight to the landfill, which is really disheartening. With the Schroeder, the solid, single gear is right there in the open. You have to hold it in your hands to appreciate it. Like the engineering in a 1970′s Beemer or a piece of Shaker furniture, it’s logical and simple, direct and pure. It makes me happy just to spin it.

-- Charles Henry Frieder  

Schroeder Hand Drill
$23

Available from Amazon



Bosch 10.8V Pocket Driver

The Bosch has the power of earlier, more cumbersome cordless screw guns at half the weight (under two pounds), meaning its capabilities really surpass its diminutive appearance. As an old guy in trades for thirty some years, I’m on a continuing quest for the smallest, lightest tool that can still accomplish a tough job. The Skil iXO Palm Screwdriver is great for household chores, but the Bosch — a step up in power, capability and price — can drive one hundred 3″ screws on one charge. It can really be used for all but the heaviest job site uses, and still fit into the tight spots. Typical screw guns require their own holster, separate carry bag, or just hand carry. The Bosch fits easily in my tool belt bag. It takes lithium-ion batteries and features a variable-speed trigger, 10 setting clutch, 1/4 quick change chuck, and LED light.

-- Jerry Garner  

Bosch 10.8V Pocket Driver
$82
Manufactured by Bosch

Available from Amazon