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Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
7/4/17 7:42 a.m.

I've never owned a set of step drill bits before, but with the HF 25% coupon that may change today. Dumb question - when should I use a step bit vs. regular, or vice-versa?

Knurled
Knurled MegaDork
7/4/17 7:48 a.m.

Step bits are awesome for drilling LARGE holes in THIN sections. When I had to make some 9/16" holes in a bumper shell to mount a tow bar, I went for the step bits. When I had to make some 5/8" holes in some 3/16" plate to make spring hats, I went for the step bits (and a drill press!). For the most part they keep a center and they always have a little chamfer built in if you do it right.

(images I can't hotlink: Spring top for Escort/Protege strut mount)

What step bits are not good for is deep, uniform-diameter holes.

I wouldn't waste a 25% coupon on them, I think the last set I bought was way under ten bucks. I'm buying a bench grinder with my coupon.

wae
wae Dork
7/4/17 7:54 a.m.

I like step bits for when I have to put holes in things and don't want to constantly snap regular drill bits.

They don't work that well for thick material (you get one size hole on the top and a smaller one on the bottom), but they stay centered and seem to hog material out a lot faster than using a small bit then a bigger bit then a bigger bit, etc. I've also found them to last a little longer than regular bits, but I did manage to dull out the HF one going through some thick steel plates for my RV frame extensions after 24 holes.

Patrick
Patrick MegaDork
7/4/17 8:00 a.m.

Step drills will change your life if you ever deal with sheet metal

KyAllroad
KyAllroad PowerDork
7/4/17 8:13 a.m.

I drill holes in metal doors for work pretty often. Step bits beat hole saws all the way around!

lrrs
lrrs Reader
7/4/17 8:22 a.m.

Step bits rock for drilling plastic and fiberglass. They don't bind, catch and pull through leaving jagged edges.

I have the cheap Harbor Freight set of three I purchased 5 maybe 10 years ago. They're still going strong but I've only used them on plastics, fiberglass and real thin aluminum, aluminum flashing thickness.

BrokenYugo
BrokenYugo MegaDork
7/4/17 8:39 a.m.

They don't have most of the problems a twist drill does drilling though thin sheet metal. No pulling, no triangular holes, less walking around, etc.

jimbbski
jimbbski Dork
7/4/17 9:35 a.m.

I have nothing to add. It's all been said. Step drills rock! They work great on anything under 1/8 inch thick unless the hole diameter is less than the thickness of the material being drilled. Than a regular drill bit works as well.

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler UberDork
7/4/17 9:48 a.m.

The only issue I can see is that they are difficult to sharpen.

Dusterbd13
Dusterbd13 UltimaDork
7/4/17 9:56 a.m.

I love mine. Harbor freight specials. Killed a few so far by over speeding them. Go slow.

I dont own many regular bits anymore because tjey rock so hard.

NOHOME
NOHOME UltimaDork
7/4/17 10:08 a.m.

I drill a lot of holes in sheet metal and thin wall tube. Step drills are my friend.

Anything over 1/8" thick and you might want to consider a standard drill bit.

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
7/4/17 10:14 a.m.

Thanks everyone, I picked up the set of 3 for $8.99 with a coupon for it. There wasn't any big-ticket items I really wanted/needed/had the money for. Although I stopped & looked over both the 12 & 20-ton presses, I just don't have a(pressing ) need for one right now & it would take up too much floor space.

I ended up using my 25% coupon on another box of nitrile gloves, the 20% coupon on a magnetic parts tray, and a free flashlight coupon while I was there. $21.04 total - probably my cheapest trip to HF ever!

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy UltimaDork
7/4/17 1:27 p.m.

Don't ever drill anything rusty with them. As said above, they are a bitch to sharpen, and rusty steel will take the edge off faster than just about anything.

I love them.

NOHOME
NOHOME UltimaDork
7/4/17 1:33 p.m.
Streetwiseguy wrote: Don't ever drill anything rusty with them. As said above, they are a bitch to sharpen, and rusty steel will take the edge off faster than just about anything. I love them.

I did not know about the rust bit.

Would never have occurred to sharpen one or that it was even possible.

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
7/4/17 1:55 p.m.

Different tools for different jobs.

Step bits will not replace twist drills, but now that you have them, you will wonder how you ever got along without them!

Dusterbd13
Dusterbd13 UltimaDork
7/4/17 2:19 p.m.

How to on sharpening????????

BrokenYugo
BrokenYugo MegaDork
7/4/17 2:50 p.m.

The single straight flute step drills are supposedly pretty easy to sharpen, just follow the original geometry in the flute with an angle grinder or cutoff wheel, I've not had to do it yet but I don't see why it wouldn't work. The multi flute and spiral flute ones are impossible to get right without a surface grinder and jigs.

Dusterbd13
Dusterbd13 UltimaDork
7/4/17 3:31 p.m.

In reply to BrokenYugo:

Im going to have to try this.

SkinnyG
SkinnyG SuperDork
7/4/17 4:03 p.m.

In reply to BrokenYugo:

That's how I've sharpened them.

Step drills ARE awesome for sheetmetal, unless they actually DO grab, and huck the metal into your nuts. That's less awesome.

einy
einy HalfDork
7/4/17 6:15 p.m.

In reply to SkinnyG:

I'm terribly sorry, man, but that visual had me laughing enough to get a dirty look from the wife!

jimbbski
jimbbski Dork
7/4/17 6:22 p.m.
Pete Gossett wrote: Although I stopped & looked over both the 12 & 20-ton presses, I just don't have a(pressing ) need for one right now & it would take up too much floor space.

A hint for those with the same problem. I built a wooden platform with sides and 4 HF caster wheels which the press sits on. All the various dies, bearing splitters, etc. that I use to press out/in bearings are stored on the platform. Now when I need the press I just go into the storage room and wheel it out to the work area and then wheel it back when I'm done.

EvanR
EvanR SuperDork
7/4/17 6:26 p.m.

I think I saved about $3 with the coupon. Nothing was really exciting, so I bought some 24" bar clamps and some hardware storage totes.

drillpro
drillpro None
11/21/17 7:46 p.m.

Recommend step drill bit. You can try spiral grooved step drill with Titanium finish, better than straight one.

Grtechguy
Grtechguy MegaDork
11/21/17 7:55 p.m.

Step bits are awesome.     I wish I knew how to sharpen them.  Irwin bit are a bit pricey to toss

Patrick
Patrick MegaDork
11/21/17 9:27 p.m.
drillpro said:

Recommend step drill bit. You can try spiral grooved step drill with Titanium finish, better than straight one.

Ummm, some sort of canoe?

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