Drills & Drivers
Black Oxide vs. Titanium Drill Bits – What’s the Difference?
There are now almost countless options for any power tool that you might want to buy as technologies keep improving and more options come into the market. And even when choosing something as simple as drill bits, the many options can easily overwhelm you.
However, for many drill users, in many instances, their choice of drill bits often boils down to either going for the black oxide titanium drill bits given they are the two most popular and also most widely available.
These two differ in the quality of material and durability and also on their uses. And to make sure the choice between them is not very confusing whether you are pro or novice user, here we take you through their pros and cons and explain how they differ.
Black Oxide Drill Bits Overview
Black oxide drill bits are regular high-speed steel drill bits that are subjected to a heat treatment at a temperature of around 950 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat treatment not only gives them a cool dark look but also enhances their hardness and overall performance.
Besides the extra hardness and pleasant finish, the heat treatment gives the black oxide drill bits complete corrosion resistance to ensure they last much longer than regular high-speed steel drill bits.
And apart from their toughness, like many other drill bits, they can be re-sharpened when the head gets worn which further ensures they will serve you even longer.
If you are looking for something closer to regular high-speed steel drill bits but much harder, the black oxide drill bits are the closest thing to this you can get. Also, these bits will deliver faster drilling than the latter because their finish is additionally effective at minimizing friction when drilling.
When compared to others like titanium and cobalt drill bits, black oxide bits tend to be more affordable. Better yet, they are tough enough to drill through a wide variety of materials from woods and plastic to various kinds of metals.
However, the black oxide drill bits will be more likely to use up the edge when you use them to drill through harder materials. Hence, if you are planning to drill tougher materials, the black oxide drill bits might not serve you very long.
Titanium Drill Bits Overview
The fact that these drill bits have some titanium should be enough indication that they are designed to be super hard and hence last a long time.
But contrary to what many users think when it comes to the titanium drill bits, they are not entirely made from titanium. Instead, these are regular high-speed steel drill bits that come coated with titanium nitride.
Nevertheless, the coating still has some titanium which means that the drills will be tougher than both black oxide and regular high-speed steel drill bits.
This toughness makes these some of the best drill bits out there for handling tougher metals like cast iron and also ensures that they will last much longer which gives you greater value for money in the long run.
Better yet, the titanium coating ensures that these drill bits can hold the sharp edge much longer even when using them on harder materials. And with the reduced friction that comes with the titanium, these drill bits can drill super-fast and withstand higher temperatures.
And like the black oxide drill bits, these will also be completely resistant to rust and corrosion which further increases their service life.
What some users do not seem to like about the titanium drill bits is that they tend to be relatively pricier when compared to others like black oxide. Also, the fact that the head is hard to sharpen can be a significant drawback.
Black Oxide Drill Bits
Titanium Drill Bits
Regular woodworker, DIYers, and hobbyists
Professionals and Industrial applications
MDF, ABS plastic, PVC, nylon and most common metals
Stainless steel, cast iron, titanium and everything else that black oxide can cut
Black Oxide vs. Titanium Drill Bits
Black oxide and titanium drill bits are some of the best-performing that you can get out there, and they will work for almost any material. But because they are not built the same, it will be vital to understand how they differ as this allows you to choose what works best for your specific projects. Here are some key differences between the two drill bit options that you should know
Hardness is one of the main factors that set the black oxide and titanium drill bits apart. While both are hard enough to drill through a wide variety of materials with ease. The level of hardness varies significantly.
Black oxide drill bits will be made by subjecting the high-speed steel material to high heat which hardens the material and gives it a cool-looking black coat. However, this coating is still not as hard as what you get on the titanium drill bits, but it will outlast many other regular drill bits.
The fact that titanium is one of the hardest materials known to man should give you an indication of just how hard these drill bits can get. With a melting point of over 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, titanium drill bits are almost indestructible and some of the hardest you can get anywhere.
2. Best For
If you use drill bits for most of your projects, chances are that you will often have several types around as they can be useful for different applications. And when trying to choose between the black oxide and titanium drill bits, it is worth knowing who each serves best.
Given their relatively cheaper price and ability to handle softer material like woods and plastics better, the black oxide drill bits seem to work best for regular woodworkers, DIYers and hobbyists. These drill bits are strong and fast enough to handle the typical materials these users handle often.
The harder and more robust titanium drill bits, on the other hand, will be more preferred by professional woodworkers and contractors that deal with hard material more often. Also, these will be the perfect drill bits for industrial applications as they can drill into almost anything.
Black oxide and titanium drill bits can handle a wide variety of materials from woods to metals but given their different strengths, they will be suitable for different kinds of materials.
Starting with black oxide, these drill bits will drill into everything from PVC to the drywall. But since the coating material is still not as tough as titanium, it is best to use it for relatively softer material like wood, MDF, ABS plastic, nylon, acrylic, and polycarbonate. However, the black oxide bits will still be good enough for drilling metals like aluminum, copper, steel and many alloys.
Since titanium drill bits are harder than black oxide ones, they will be able to handle every material that the latter can drill and much more. You can use these drill bits to drill into wood, plastic, nylon, PVC, acrylic, and metals like steel, stainless steel, iron, and even magnesium. Better yet, it will drill through each of these materials relatively faster than black oxide.
One area where the hardness of titanium seems to let it down is when drill bit users what to re-sharpen drill bits to increase their service life as this super hard material makes it almost impossible.
With other drill bit materials like black oxide and high-speed steel, you can easily keep the bits in great drilling condition by simply sharpening them. This not only saves you cash but also ensures the edge on your bits remains in perfect drilling shape.
With titanium drill bits, the tough material will be super hard to sharpen no matter what you use, and you are more likely to end up damaging the bit completely.
The only way to restore the edge on the titanium drill bits will be to recoat it. While this might be possible and quite easy for some users, for many others, coating the titanium bits comes with a lot of unnecessary work, and it is often cheaper just to buy new bits.
You do not want to keep buying new drill bits after every few uses because besides being more expensive, the time you spend shopping for new ones often means more downtimes for your project. Luckily, both black oxide and titanium drill bits are built to offer a long service life.
But, here titanium still comes out on top as it will offer you a much longer service life when compared to black oxide, and you can always be confident of getting value for what you pay for these bits.
The problem with black oxide bits is that the edge is used up more when drilling into harder materials, and so if you are dealing with hard materials, your bits will get used up within a shorter time. With titanium, you will hardly notice any difference in the edge for a long time no matter what materials you might be drilling.
With that said, overall the black oxide and titanium drill bits will both be highly durable. For the occasional users, it might be months or even years before you need to get another set of drills. Better yet, they are both highly resistant to rust and corrosion which further increases their longevity.
Drill bits might only cost a fraction of what you pay for that top tier drill from a leading brand, but this does not make their price insignificant. Price is even more important when trying to choose from two top-performing types like black oxide and titanium.
What you pay for either of these drill bits depends on the set composition and also where you are buying from. But the cost will be higher for both when buying individual bits instead of a set.
For example, you can easily pay up to $5 for a single titanium drill bit but when buying as a set the same drill bit will hardly cost anything more than a couple of bucks.
With that said, the titanium drill bits tend to be relatively more expensive than the black oxide ones. Prices for a 14-piece set of black oxide drill bits will start at around $10 while for the same set size, the titanium drill bits will cost around $15. But with both types, there are still more expensive and cheaper options than this as it often depends on the brand.
At some point, you will need to invest in new drill bits if you are a woodworker, DIYer or even a hobbyist that uses drills a lot. And when buying a drill bit set requires you to choose between the black oxide and titanium types, you will be better off if you know how they differ.
The differences between the two should be clear enough now from our comparison above. They will mostly differ on the hardness of the coating, best uses, price, and a few other aspects.
Using these differences for recommendations, the black oxide drill bits will be perfect for those that handle softer materials often. The titanium bits will be more resourceful to have around, and this is more so for those that drill a lot thanks to their longevity, and the fact that they can handle almost any material you throw at them with ease.