Why would you choose a spade bit over other drill bits?

 
     
     
 Shop for Spade Bits 
     
     
 An example of a spade bit 

Spade bits are more popular in the US than they are in the UK, so what is it that the Americans see in them that some Britons don't?

 
     
   

Advantages

 
 Image to show that buying an expansive bit can save money in comparison to buying a set of drill bits 

Spade bits can often be cheaper than other types of wood boring bits, meaning they can be an affordable way to tool up for a woodworking project.

 
     
 Drilling part way through a wooden workpiece with a spade bit 

They bore holes at a rapid speed.

 
     
 Spade bits that have been ground to a tapered shape so that they can be used to drill tapered holes 

Thanks to their simple design, spade bits are easy to modify. This might be necessary if you need a hole that is slightly smaller than one of the sizes of bit that you own, or if you want to angle the sides of your bit to drill a tapered hole. 

 
     
   

Disadvantages

 
 An illustration of tear out caused by a spade bit 

Spade bits cause tear out (splintering) when drilling all the way through a wooden workpiece unless you use a sacrificial piece of wood as a backing.

 
     
 Reminder to DIYers that spade bits should be used with power tools only 

They need to be spun too quickly to be used in hand-powered drills. To be effective, they should be used in a power drill or drill press.

 
     
 An untidy borehole that has been created by a spade bit 

Spade bits bore rough holes, which are even more untidy if the bit is blunt.

 
     
 The ideal material for spade bit use is softwood 

They are most effective on softwoods. While they can be used on hardwoods, they bore much more untidily in these materials due to increased resistance from their tougher fibres.

 
     
   

Head to head

 
 Image comparing a spade bit to an auger bit 

Spade bits vs auger bits

Auger bits require much less downward force to operate than spade bits, meaning they require less effort to use.

 
     
 An auger bit clearing waste wood from a bore hole as it drills 

Auger bits clear waste from a bore hole much more efficiently than spade bits.

 
     
 Image illustrating the differences in speed between auger bits and spade bits 

However, they sacrifice a lot of speed for these benefits, and therefore bore holes more slowly than spade bits.

 
     
 Image comparing a spade bit to a brad point bit 

Spade bits vs brad point bits

Brad point bits are much neater than spade bits.

 
     
 Image showing that you may have to spend more money on a brad point bit than you would on a spade bit 

However, they are more expensive, and better suited to drilling smaller holes as they do not come in sizes as big as spade bits.

 
     
 Image comparing a spade bit to a Forstner bit 

Spade bits vs Forstner bits

Spade bits are much messier than Forstner bits, which drill very clean, neat holes.

 
     
 Comparison of maximum sizes of Forstner bits and spade bits 

Forstner bits are also available in much larger diameters than spade bits.

 
     
 A Forstner bit drilling at an angle, which spade bits cannot do reliably unless the user has a great deal of strength to hold them in place 

Additionally, Forstner bits can be used to drill into surfaces at an angle. This is not easily done with a spade bit, as a lot of strength is required to hold the bit in place and prevent it from going off course due to its flat shape.

 
     
 A spade bit drilling quickly through softwood 

Spade bits bore holes much more quickly than Forstner bits, though, making them better suited to jobs where a lot of holes need to be bored in a short space of time, and where neatness is not an issue.

 
     
 Image comparing a spade bit to a hole saw 

Spade bits vs hole saws

Spade bits are not capable of boring holes as wide as hole saws, and they are not as neat.

 
     
 A borehole that does not extend through the whole of a workpiece, which may have been created by a spade bit 

However, hole saws cannot bore partial holes, unlike spade bits. They can also get plugged with waste material very easily if they are drilling a large hole.

 
     
   Wonkee Donkee explains that spade bits are best suited to jobs where there are a lot of holes to drill in a short space of time 
     
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