Cobalt vs Titanium Drill Bits: Which is Best?
You’ll see a wide range of different drill bits out there. One is not necessarily better than all the others, but they each have their pros and cons. Choosing the right one is essential for doing any project correctly and efficiently. For most more challenging projects, you’re going to be choosing between cobalt and titanium drill bits.
Both of these bits are designed to drill through metal, making them durable and tougher than most drill bits. However, there are subtle differences between them. As we said, neither of these drill bits is necessarily always going to be the best choice. They are very situational, and your choice will largely depend on what projects you’re doing.
Cobalt Drill Bits
Cobalt drill bits are designed for cutting through all sorts of metal, including stainless steel and cast iron. They are not made of pure cobalt, which we will discuss in-depth shortly. However, they do contain a bit of cobalt, which is where they get their name from.
Despite their primary use for metal, they can also be used for softer materials. They’re very tough bits, making them suitable when others just won’t do.
Cobalt drill bits are made with a mixture of cobalt and steel alloy. They’re usually around 5% to 8% cobalt, with the rest being steel. This makes them extremely tough and able to go through the most rigid materials out there, like cast iron. The cobalt also prevents the bit from getting too hot as it spins against other metals.
Cobalt bits have no coating at all, which differs from titanium drill bits.
Cobalt bits are pretty easy to sharpen. They do not have a coating, so there is no surface stripping when sharpening them. This gives them a longer lifespan, which saves you money over the long-term. You can sharpen cobalt bits many times before they become unusable.
All metal-on-metal bits are going to heat up. That is just the nature of rubbing two pieces of metal together very quickly. However, cobalt blades are made to dissipate heat. Cobalt is particularly good at dissipating heat over the contact surface. They can dissipate heat very quickly, even at top speeds.
You don’t have to worry about one of these blades getting very hot.
Cobalt bits tend to be quite expensive. However, they are more durable and long-lasting than other options, including titanium. Because of this, they can often save you money in the long run. It depends on whether you want to spend more money now or later.
In general, despite their higher price, cobalt bits tend to provide pretty good value for the cost – mostly because you can use them for so long.
Titanium Drill Bits
Titanium drill bits are similar to cobalt drill bits. They are also made to drill through tougher materials, like metal. However, there are a few slight differences that set them apart from their Cobalt cousins – though both do look very similar at first.
Titanium drill bits are not entirely made with titanium. Instead, they have a metal core and a titanium coating. This titanium is essential for preventing overheating, as we discuss below. However, these bits do not contain any cobalt.
While the differences in material are a significant difference between cobalt and titanium drill bits, in practice, you probably aren’t going to notice a huge difference. There are only a few situations where the material sets the bits apart.
Titanium blades have a coating. Over time, this coating will wear off. When the coating is completely gone, the bit would have lost much of its heat resistance. This is a problem when you’re drilling metal since metal-on-metal can get very hot, very fast.
When you sharpen titanium drill bits, this coating comes off as well. Because of this, you really can’t sharpen the titanium drill bits very much before they become unusable. They have a short lifespan.
When you’re drilling metal with a metal bit, things are going to get hot. Most drill bits out there designed for tougher materials have some design feature that is made to dissipate heat. For titanium drill bits, it’s the titanium coating. This coating protects the metal core from the heat and dissipates it along the surface.
However, this coating does wear down over time. Once it gets thin enough, it won’t do its job correctly.
Titanium drill bits are usually cheaper than cobalt bits. However, they don’t last as long because the coating comes off over time. As you might imagine, this can cost you more money in the long run.
Of course, some people don’t need a durable bit that is going to last a long time. If you need to drill a few holes, a titanium drill bit is likely sufficient. However, those who drill into metal often will need to replace their titanium bits, which can add up.
Which One to Use?
Once again, neither of these drill bits is better than the other. It depends on what material you’re working with and what you’re trying to accomplish.
For Versatility, Go With Cobalt
If you work with a wide variety of materials, you probably want a set of cobalt bits. They are just going to last longer and can be used with even the toughest materials. They are best for professionals, though DIYers, with lots of projects, will appreciate them as well.
Of course, this is assuming that you have a bit of money to spend upfront. Cobalt bits are quite a bit more expensive than titanium ones. But they last longer, so you’ll save more in the long run.
Our Favorite Cobalt Drill Bits
- Designed for maximum speed and life
- Pilot point and split tip design
- No bit walking - more user control
For Working with Wood and Soft Metal, Choose Titanium
With that said, titanium bits are best for wood and softer metals. They cost you less up front and won’t wear down super quickly when put up against these softer materials. With harder materials, they will need more frequent sharpening, which can wear their coating down quickly.
Our Favorite Titanium Drill Bits
- Titanium pilot point for longer bit life
- Starts on contact for cleaner holes
- No spin shanks. Clip latch for secure closing
All in all, both of these bits dissipate heat well and can handle tougher materials. Which option you choose is going to depend on how much money you have to spend upfront, how often you plan on using the bit, and what material you need to drill.