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Black Oxide Vs. Titanium Drill Bits | A Clear Winner?

Different drill bits used in workshops can be confusing to understand. What material bit is the best choice to get the job done?

Black Oxide Vs. Titanium Drill Bits 1

Among the power tools, there are many drills with unique strengths and weaknesses used to get a specific job done. Similarly, different bits can determine how efficiently a job gets done with the best possible result. 

In this guide, we delve into the differences between a black oxide and a titanium drill bit. We’ll also choose the winner after careful consideration of a few crucial factors.

Read on to find out more!

Black Oxide Vs. Titanium Drill Bits

Black Oxide Vs. Titanium Drill Bits

Black Oxide Drill Bits

A black oxide drill bit is an HSS, or high-speed steel unit. Essentially, this means it is a standard bit that can be used individually, with an added layer that enhances certain qualities. 

In the case of the black oxide drill bit, this layer is a black oxide finish. The reasoning for having this layer is the attributes it adds to the standard HSS bit - one being stronger resilience and the other being speed. 

Additionally, the black oxide layer increases the lubrication of the drill bit, which helps in cutting down the heat formed due to friction between the bit and the material’s surface. As such, it can be used for a long stretch with little risk of overheating. 

Another feature that a black oxide drill bit has is the resistance to rust and corrosion. A tool that has such a safeguard is able to have an extended life period with no natural breakdown. 

To achieve these unique attributes, manufacturers heat the HSS bit to 950 degrees Fahrenheit to allow the black oxide layer to form on the bit. This helps speed up the drilling process on a number of materials. 

Using this bit type is suitable when working with woods like oak, maple, and pine. Additionally, metals and other materials, such as carbon steel, drywall, plastic, PVC, and alloy steels are ideal for these units. 

Evidently, the black oxide drill bit is seen as an all-purpose bit. What’s more, it is a popular choice for woodworking with a lifespan twice as long as a regular HSS drill bit. 

Titanium Drill Bits

Similar to a black oxide drill bit, titanium bits are also HSS variants with a special coating known as the titanium nitride (TiN) layer that has ceramic qualities. 

Although there are multiple variations when it comes to titanium drill bits, different types of titanium coatings can bring out certain characteristics in the bit. However, the most common option is the titanium nitride variant. 

The finish on this HSS drill bit implies a more durable tip. In turn, a higher surface hardness will increase its lifespan and efficiency. In particular, the titanium drill bit can last three to six times longer than the standard HSS bit. 

Additionally, it has exceptional heat and friction resistance, which are the key factors to drilling into more robust materials for more extended periods of time. 

In fact, when compared to other drill bits of various materials, the titanium bit is one of the best heat-resistant options. Consequently, materials, such as wood, iron, aluminum, steel, and magnesium are no match for the durability of these packs. Due to their surface hardness, rigid materials can be bored into them with ease. 

Another feature that a titanium coating lends to a drill bit is corrosion resistance. Breaking down due to rust and moisture is slowed down significantly with the protective covering surrounding the bit. 

Types Of Titanium Drill Bits

The titanium drill bit can have uniquely special functions with a few different coatings of various titanium compounds. Areas such as extended durability and life span are some added benefits with different types of titanium drill bits. 

  1. Titanium Nitride (TiN)

These drill bits are coated with a titanium nitride finish and increase the durability of the drill bit. A titanium nitride finish is commonly used as the default choice for titanium drill bits. 

  1. Titanium Aluminium Nitride (TiAlN)

Having a titanium aluminum nitride coating lends the HSS drill bit a more durable outer layer. The added protection can extend the life of the bit by four or five times. A titanium aluminum nitride coating is a step up from the basic titanium nitride variant in terms of lifespan. 

  1. Titanium Carbonitride (TiCN)

If there is a highly heavy-duty drilling job, then having a titanium carbonitride bit can come in handy. These bits are the most durable out of the titanium-coated HSS bits. This durability allows them to withstand high mechanical stress. It is also compatible with adhesives and abrasive materials. 

Comparing Black Oxide And Titanium Drill Bits

Choosing between a black oxide and titanium drill bit is a close call as they have very similar attributes. It comes down to the fine details of what you are looking for in a drill bit. 

  1. Special Qualities

The black oxide drill bit has adequate heat resistance as compared to standard drill bits. What is arguably the key feature is its strong corrosion resistance. Water and rust have a hard time forming with the black oxide layer protecting the bit. 

On the other hand, a titanium drill bit with the standard titanium nitride coating has its own share of exceptional attributes. It can withstand longer drilling times in more challenging materials with a superior heat resistance than their black oxide counterparts.

Running the titanium drill bit at high speeds for long durations increases the number of materials it is capable of boring into. The greater friction and heat resistance are also linked to a longer-lasting drill bit as opposed to the black oxide bit. 

As both are HSS types, they are susceptible to the eventual wearing away of the protective layer. Note that the black oxide and titanium are not part of the actual drill bit, just a coated finish to lend durability and resistance against heat and friction.  

Additionally, they have a 135-degree split point at the tip, which is essentially a design on the end of the bit that brings both spiraled edges of the bit into one long edge at the tip.

A singular long edge of the drill bit can be beneficial in easing the amount of pressure needed to bore into the material’s surface. What’s more, the split point helps in carrying debris out of the material and into the flutes of the bit to be removed. 

Having a 135-degree split point implies it can be used on more rigid materials with no chipping of the bit. It also has the benefit of faster starts and little to no skating. Essentially, the bit will be able to dig into the surface right away and maintain contact with the material with no moving around. 

  1. Lifespan

Between a titanium drill bit and a black oxide bit, the lifespan is dramatically different. Both have been put into context using a standard HSS bit as a frame of reference. 

Due to the tough nature of the titanium coating, the titanium drill bit is the longer-lasting of the two. With a lifespan of up to six times that of a standard HSS bit, it is one of the more robust options when it comes to coated HSS variants. 

On the other hand, the black oxide bit lasts only twice as long as an HSS bit. Compared to the triple lifespan of the titanium drill bit, there is no competition when it comes to which is the better option. 

  1. Usage

Due to the added protection afforded by their protective outer layers, the black oxide and titanium drill bits can be used on similar materials. The toughness of the material is not a limitation for either bit with a similar 135-degree split point. 

Where one bit pulls ahead of the other is in durability. As both can handle the same material types, it all comes down to how long you can use each bit with a particular material. The titanium drill bit takes the lead due to the more robust build; it can handle longer sessions than the black oxide bit. 

Choosing A Drill Bit

Selecting the perfect bit for a job can vary depending on many factors. The depth of the hole needed, the material being drilled, how many holes must be made. These are all parameters you should take into account when choosing a bit. 

To simplify the process, the material of the surface being drilled is the critical factor to be considered. 

  1. Soft Wood

Wood is one of the lighter-duty materials that are usually drilled. They do not require any robust build in the drill bit. Instead, the ideal bit to be used in softwoods is sharper ones to pierce into the surface cleanly. 

Using a dull bit or one that has toughness over sharpness can cause the wood to heat up due to friction. The blunt edge is unable to pierce the wood and will just cause the wood to eventually smolder and potentially catch fire. 

The shape of bits designed for wood can vary depending on the type of hole needed. A unique design is a flat design that is not found in any other kind of drill bit. This chisel-shaped construction allows the entire bit to meet at a sharp point for a smooth, circular recess to be created. 

Woodworking bits usually have a golden finish to them as they do not require any protective layer added to them. The bit itself is adequate in handling most wood types; however, there are separately designed bits for durability and toughness for tougher woods. 

  1. Metal

Another common material that is drilled into in workshops is metal. A metal bit is very similar in design to a woodworking bit. The giveaway to distinguish between them is a difference in color. 

While woodworking bits are usually golden in color, metal bits have a dark blue or grey hue to them. This is due to the HSS drill bit at its core with a protective layering of a compound on top. This compound is usually cobalt or titanium with other materials lending more excellent durability or toughness to the HSS bit. 

In order to pierce metal and have a clean result throughout, the drill bit designed for metal should be more rigid than the wood bit. A bit that is both tough and sharp enough to break the upper layer is essential when drilling into metal. 

While it is one of the strongest bits in terms of the material it is designed for; the metal bit is still its most efficient when working with metal. For example, in materials that do not require sharpness but durability, the metal bit will be useless despite its sharpness.

  1. Plastic

In a workshop, the need to drill into plastic is not common enough to merit a specially designed bit. It is not a robust material that requires heavy-duty bits or tools to pierce, but it can become messy if not drilled correctly. 

The best choice for plastic is one that has been designed for metal. The reasoning for this is the build integrity and sharpness that a metal bit has. It is adequate enough to cut through the plastic cleanly. 

Additionally, it is precise enough to make a cut without damaging the surrounding material being drilled. Being weaker than metal, the plastic will not chip or damage the metal bit. 

  1. Masonry

Masonry is a very particular material to work with when it comes to drilling due to its fragile nature. Even tougher masonry materials such as concrete can be damaged or can cause damage to a bit and drill if not used with an appropriate bit. 

Masonry bits are usually a bright silver in color to differentiate them from the wood and metal bits. However, this finish varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, so keeping a note of what is a masonry bit is imperative. 

To safely make a recess into masonry, a masonry bit prioritizes the toughness of the bit rather than sharpness. In order to preserve the structure of the masonry as well as maintain the bit, a “hammer-drill” setting is used on the drill. 

This setting allows the bit to penetrate the surface with no damage taken to the bit or drill while removing the upper layers bit by bit. Truly, a unique material with an equally unique bit to match. 

Maintaining Drill Bits

A drill bit’s performance is only as good as the state of wear it is in. Depending on the condition of the drill bit, it can perform like brand-new or be worse than lower-quality bits. 

The eventual breaking down of the drill bit is inevitable, no matter what it is made out of or the layered finish it has. With regular use, these layers will break down and expose the HSS at the core of the bit. 

While HSS drill bits are still a feasible option to use, they are considerably weaker than when they were coated with a layered finish. Be it in increased heat and friction resistance or more excellent durability; the bit is not the same once that outer layer is gone. 

Regular maintenance of drill bits is the key to preserving their top-quality performance. While it may not be enough to keep them from deteriorating completely, regular maintenance can extend the life of the drill bit. 

  1. Honing

Ideally, the best step you could take to increase a drill bit’s life is regular honing. Either done at a hardware shop or using a drill sharpener or mill at home will keep the bits sharp. A sharp bit means greater efficiency when drilling; the bit can remove more material with less effort. 

Honing or sharpening the bit must be done a certain way in order to keep the shape of the drill bit. Shaving away too much of the bit can result in a loss of performance when using the bit again. Pushing too hard on the bit while honing it can destroy the bit and leave you with a smaller-sized drill bit. 

Additionally, the angle at which a bit is sharpened should be kept in mind. It is these angles that allow the bit to cut through the material and give the bit its sharpness. If sharpened at the wrong angle, they can become blunted or stunted and not perform as well. 

It should be noted that honing an HSS drill bit is not recommended. The reasoning for this is the removal of any part of the bit will only speed up the deterioration of the outer layer. 

Once this outer layer is removed, the HSS bit will be exposed, and the bit’s durability, as well as resistance, will decrease substantially. Maintaining the outer layer of an HSS drill bit is only possible by keeping rust and corrosion at bay. 

Once the outer layer of an HSS bit begins to wear away, it is advised to use a new drill bit to ensure the best performance. This is the reason the lifespan of many HSS bits is a deciding factor; once it is worn away, it is no longer useful. 

  1. Corrosion

The greatest obstacle when it comes to the lifespan of any metal tool is rust. Rust can form on the surface of your bits if they are not stored away correctly. All it takes is a little humidity and being exposed to air. 

A rust-resistant drill bit can be helpful in keeping any corrosion at bay; however, this is not a fix-all solution. Keeping your drill bits and other metal tools away from humidity and water is a good idea regardless of having rust resistance or not.

Covering the tools or cleaning them off after use is a way to ensure no rust can form on the metal. 

Black Oxide Vs. Titanium Drill Bits FAQ

How can a black oxide drill bit be maintained?

Cleaning the black oxide drill bit may be impossible with a honing or sharpening tool, but its lifespan can be extended in other ways. Cleaning the drill bit is the best way to keep it performing at its best efficiency.

Wiping the bit with a clean cloth will remove any dirt clinging to the bit. A toothbrush or any other fine brush can take care of any other fine debris. After removing any debris, a coating of machine oil will keep it clean while stored away.

Can a black oxide drill bit be used for cutting metal?

Typical HSS drill bits are too weak to cut through many metals easily. However, a black oxide coating is enough to increase the durability of the HSS bit to bore into metals.

The titanium drill bit is a better option than the black oxide drill, as it is more heat resistant. This allows the bit to be used for a longer amount of time. Cutting through any metal is more feasible when the bit can be used without any extreme overheating.

Why is a specialized drill bit necessary?

Being able to use a drill bit with certain features and specialties can determine the difference between an average product and a high-quality piece of work. Various attributes of a specialized drill bit lend the work a higher grade of quality and efficiency.

For example, a heat-resistant drill bit can give a cleaner recess due to its consistent boring into the material’s surface. Additionally, a bit designed for hard materials will drill easier into a rigid surface than a weaker rated drill bit.

Overall, the importance of using an appropriate drill bit for a job is not just in the efficiency and output but the safety it provides. A drill bit that is not suited for the job can damage the drill by overheating the motor.

Additionally, the surface of the material can become messy when using the wrong drill bit for the job. A good instance of this is the masonry drill bit which requires a tougher drill bit over a sharp one. Using the wrong bit can make the bit snap or crack the masonry.

Furthermore, the bit itself can become damaged if used on a surface that it is not rated for. Chipping and wearing away the edges of the bit is expedited when used on the wrong material.

Increasing the bit’s life as well as having a more excellent quality result with high efficiency are just some benefits of using an appropriate bit. As such, it is recommended to always use a proper bit for the material you are working with.

Drill close-up, drilling machine at the workplace of a toolman locksmith

Concluding Words

Selecting a drill bit to use or making a choice between the black oxide and titanium is a simple matter. Both have similar use cases when it comes to the materials they can be used with. 

If the more general-purpose and lightweight uses are what you are looking for, a black oxide drill is an ideal choice. However, the titanium drill bit is a great performer when it comes to heavy-duty use. 

With a greater heat resistance and life span, the latter is the better performer. Alternatively, the black oxide drill bit has decent water and rust resistance; it can only go so far in lengthening the longevity of the drill bit. 

Regardless of the drill bit you choose, the performance will be similar in either choice. The only defining difference is the longevity of the drill bit. Investing is always a good idea in the long run when it comes to tools, so, if possible, the titanium drill bit is the best choice. 

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