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

Shop for Spoon Bits

Image of a spoon bit which is a drill bit designed to bore through wood Spoon bits can be seen as specialised tools, although they are versatile enough that they can be used in a range of woodworking projects. What are their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to wood boring?

Advantages

Round-bottomed holes that have been drilled into a wooden workpiece using a spoon bit

Proficiency for drilling partial holes

Boring part way through a piece of timber is the main strength of a spoon bit. They leave round-bottomed holes, which are sturdier than square-bottomed holes, as the base is better supported by the amount of material that is left intact.

Image showing that the deepest part of a round-bottomed bore hole is the centre, which allows a spoon bit to bore almost all of the way through a wooden workpiece without compromising its reverse surface. As the deepest area in a round-bottomed bore hole is the centre, spoon bits can drill almost all of the way through a piece of timber, leaving only one point where the remaining layer of wood is thin. The advantage of this is that the bottom of the hole is much stronger than if it were flat, and the curved sides help to reinforce the hole.
Image of a tapered tenon being inserted into a tapered mortise Examples include making holes for circular mortises.
Image to illustrate that spoon bits do not have gimlet points or guide screws to help to keep them on course in a wooden workpiece While some types of wood bit use sharp spurs that are threaded (guide screws) or unthreaded (gimlet points) to centre themselves, spoon bits do not, meaning there is no risk that either one will break out of the surface of the wood ahead of the main body of the bit.
Image of two wooden egg cups with visible round-bottomed bore holes that have been created with a spoon bit drill Round-bottomed holes are also ideal if the inside of the bore hole will be visible once your woodworking project is finished, such as in the case of wooden egg cups, small bowls or smoking pipes.
Image of a tapered spoon bit making an angled cut in a piece of material

Angled holes

Once a spoon bit has a niche, or “dish”, to grip onto, it is capable of drilling a hole at any angle.

Image illustrating that a tapered spoon bit can be used effectively even when drilling at a shallow angle into a wooden workpiece Drilling at an angle will work even if it is very shallow to the surface of the wood. The bit will bore into end grain or across the grain equally well.
Image showing that a spoon bit is symmetrical

Symmetrical bit

As spoon bits are symmetrical after production, they can be used equally well whether you turn them clockwise or anti-clockwise.

Disadvantages

Image advising DIYers not to use powered drill drivers with spoon bits, as they are intended for use with hand braces or lathes only.

Hand powered

It is generally not recommended to use spoon bits with hand-held drill drivers, as they can be unstable. Using a lathe or drill press, or using a hand brace (which has a turning speed that is dramatically reduced) are the safest options.

Image of a clock to illustrate that using a spoon bit in a hand brace to drill through a wooden workpiece will take much longer to accomplish than it would if you were using a Forstner bit or auger bit. Boring a hole by hand with a spoon bit is a much more time consuming process than being able to use a powered hand-held driver with another bit, such as an auger bit or Forstner bit.
Image showing that spoon bits can be significantly more expensive than other drill bits

Hand made

As spoon bits tend to be forged by hand, they can be significantly more expensive than other drill bits.