Are Drill Bit Sets Universal? (Any Size, Any Material)


When it comes to drills and drill bit sizes, it can be pretty confusing. So does there exist a universal drill bit that fits any sized drill?

Not all drill bits fit in all drills. ½-inch drills accept ½-inch drill bits and smaller ⅜-inch drill bits. ⅜-inch drills only accept ⅜-inch drill bits. Regular drill bits that do not have a hex shanked bit holder are not able to be used in an impact driver. On the other hand, hex shanked bits can be used in regular drills.

Later on, we’re going to look at drill bits that are supposedly universal, being able to drill into any material.

Can Any Size Drill Bit Fit Any Drill?

There are drill bits for every type of material. Some commercial power drills need specialist bits with bespoke shafts and slots to prevent them from twisting apart in the material.

And you can drill wood, metal, glass, and ceramics – if you use the correct drill bit type and size.

What Are the Different Drill Bit Types and Sizes?

Common drill shafts sizes are ½-inch and ⅜-inch – this is the bit size limit. You can also find far smaller and larger shafts on specialist drills, namely for model making or industrial uses.

The drill bits intended for certain materials are as follows:

Metal Drill Bits

HSS (High-Speed Steel) is often what you find in drill bit packs – these are robust, heat resistant, and make quick work of soft steel. HSS bits can overheat if you do not use lubricating fluids.

HSS bits will also blunt in time and with bad treatment. But most of the time, you can bring HSS bits back to life by sharpening them.

Cobalt bits are an alloy with a melting temperature far above most other metals that you would drill on a DIY project. Cobalt bits are a trade favorite, and one set can last a lifetime if you do not snap them.

You can buy bits made from tungsten and titanium – these are expensive compared to cobalt and HSS. Most domestic projects do not need tungsten or titanium bits as these are for professional use.

Concrete Drill Bits

Masonry drill bits spin slower and have wider heads than most other bits – this helps to push material from the tip out to the exit of the hole. These bits will often have tungsten carbide tips, which work on brick and most stones.

Wood Drill Bits

There are many types of wood drill bits, including the self-feeder and the installer bit, but the most common are:

  • Brad-point – This has a needle-tip to help with the positioning of the entrance hole. These bits give you high accuracy and clean holes in wood.
  • Auger – The auger is self-pulling and will drag the bit into the wood as long as it is spinning in the right direction. These bits are useful for drilling long, straight, and wide holes for putting bolts through.
  • Wood spade or paddle – For wide and shallow holes, good for making space to countersink a screwhead. Hardwoods can snap the spade if you try to advance the drilling too quickly.

Special Drill Bits

Other types of special drill bits that expand the potential uses of your drill are:

  • Tile – A tile bit can still crack the tile if you push the drill too hard. But the special abrasive coating on the tip grinds into the glazing on the tile rather than trying to cut through.
  • Glass – Glass bits are similar to tile bits but use tungsten carbide arrow-head tips to grind out the material. Drilling glass is a delicate procedure and easier to do on a drill press.
  • Saw – These come in a range of sizes from less than an inch to many feet across and are for cutting holes in all types of material. Useful when trying to run piping through a home.
  • Screwdriver – Giving you the flexibility to use your drill as a high-power screwdriver, so you can get a lot more out of your drill.

Can I Use Normal Drill Bits with an SDS Drill?

A regular drill bit will begin to slip in the chuck if not done up tight enough. The Slotted Drive System, or SDS, is more common on heavy-duty professional drills. It is also common to find SDS slots on impact drivers.

The idea is that SDS bits slot into an SDS lock on the drill head. You do not need to tighten a chuck or have to worry about how deep the bit is in the shaft of the drill. These types of bits are quick to change, which is why they are so popular with professionals.

The square shape of an SDS slot is specific to SDS bits and prevents twisting under high torque.

This makes SDS bits ideal for drilling wide holes in concrete or through thick metals. You can also buy SDS chucks, which slot onto SDS drill heads and allow you to use regular drill bits.

Do Hammer Drills Need Special Bits?

Small hammer drills use standard masonry bits that rotate and oscillate into the material to make a round hole. Large hammer drills will offer a non-rotational oscillation for breaking through reinforced concrete.

The more torque the drill has, the greater the chance that you will need SDS bits to prevent spinning in the chuck. Most smaller hammer drills will use the regular bits, but you still need masonry spade-heads to get through concrete and stone.

Can You Use Normal Drill Bits in an Impact Driver?

Unless it is an SDS impact driver, most will have a ¼-inch hex shaft. This shape and the lack of a chuck limits what type of bit you can put into it.

These standardized ¼-inch designs make changing out the bits quick. Hex bits are far more capable of resisting the torque of an impact driver than a rounded bit.

Is There Such Thing as a Universal Drill Bit That Can Drill Into Any Material?

All these variations in drill shaft designs, chuck sizes, and bit types do serve a purpose, though this may seem more complex than it needs to be. They say, “use the right tool for the job,” but you may want to limit your drill bit collection with universal bits.

Are There Universal Drill Bits? One Bit for All Materials

You can buy universal drill bits, but there are still limits on what you can do with them. You will still need specialist bits to drill glass, ceramics, and some metals.

Universal bits will work on most metals, woods, plastics, and concrete. Universal drill bits come in various shapes and sizes, depending on the depth and width of the hole you want.

Because you are using the same bit for drilling all your materials, you may find that it blunts faster on concrete. Universal bits will take longer to get through metal and make rougher holes in wood.

Are Drill Bits Universal Between Brands?

As with any product, certain brands of universal drill bits are better than others. But as long as the bit has the correct shape and is the right size to fit into the drill shaft, it will work.

For example, a DeWalt drill bit set will work in a Makita drill if it fits the chuck or socket. What you cannot and should not try to do, is to fit a drill bit larger than what the drill can handle.

Even though the bit may fit the drill, using too large a drill head can overload the motor and kill your drill. SDS and ¼-inch hex are industry standards across many manufacturers. Your drill will have clear labeling if it accepts SDS or ¼-inch hex bits.

Graham Walsh

I want to share everything I know about home improvement in order to help you. Whether you're a home enthusiast or an industry professional, I have the information that you need.

Recent Posts