Best HSS Drill Bit Set for Professional Use

A Complete Guide for Selecting the Best HSS Drill Bit Set for Professional Use!

If you are a professional or trades-person whose job requires drilling holes in steel or other tough materials you need the best HSS drill bit set for professional use.

Selecting a set of drills can be confusing, even for the experienced professional. New alloys are regularly being introduced as well as new drill bit technology.  Additionally, many drill bit sets have incomplete information that you should know which only adds to the confusion

My Background?

As a professional toolmaker, drilling holes in all types of metals and other materials is almost a daily activity.  Unfortunately, I seldom know in advance what project I will be working on next.  Most of the time I end up machining low carbon steel, tool steel, and occasionally various grades of stainless. Consequently I have found that with only a few exceptions HSS drill bits deliver the best overall performance.

That’s why I own a Combo set of HSS drill bits that includes a full range of Number (wire gauge), Fractional, and Letter sizes up to 1/2″.   Additionally, I have individual sets of each Series for back-up or for making service calls.

For the larger sizes I have a set of HSS Silver and Deming bits up to 1″. All of these drill bit sizes cover about 98% of all my drilling requirements.

From my own experience, research, and trial and error I have learned what features to look for when ordering a set of HSS drill bits.  I’ve written this article to help you select a HSS Drill Bit Set that is best suited for your professional application.

What is the Best HSS Drill Bit Set for Professional Use?

My RECOMMENDATIONS

Depending on the trade or profession you are associated with, a small or large set might make the most sense.  A set with just one Size Series may be all you need.  Or perhaps your job demands that you have access to a wide variety of sizes.

Here are my recommendations starting with Number (Wire Gauge), Fractional, Letter, and Metric size sets.  Each set is manufactured in the USA by established reputable companies.  These sets are for commercial use by professional craftsmen and contractors in a variety of trades and industries.

Each set has bits with features that make them an excellent choice for drilling steel or other metals in a production environment.  They cannot be purchased in “big box stores” or your local H. Freight outlet.

It is my sincere opinion that these are the best HSS drill bit sets currently available for professional use.

Number (Wire Gauge) Series:

CHAMPION General Purpose HSS Wire Gauge Series, 60 Piece Drill Set

Features:

CHAMPION General Purpose HSS Wire Gauge Series, 60 Piece Drill Set

  • Series: Number (Wire Gauge)
  • Type Bits: Jobber Twist Drill
  • Sizes: #1 thru #60
  • Material: HSS (High Speed Steel)
  • Coating: Black Stream Oxide
  • Recommended for: General purpose drilling of low and high carbon steel
  • Special Features: 118° Conventional Point
  • Case: Metal

Champion Cutting Tool Corporation is an American company. They make wide variety of commercial grade metal cutting tools typically used by the machine/tool industry as well as other industries.

These NUMBER series HSS bits have a traditional point and will perform well for most applications on mild to annealed high carbon steel, aluminum, and other soft materials.

check price of CHAMPION General Purpose HSS Wire Gauge Series, 60 Piece Drill Set at amazon

 

Fractional Series:

Viking Drill and Tool 29 Piece Fractional HSS Premium Drill Set

Features:

Viking Drill and Tool 29 Piece Fractional HSS Premium Drill Set

  • Series: Fractional
  • Type Bits: Jobber Length, Twist
  • Sizes: 1/16 – 1/2 by 64ths
  • Material: HSS (High Speed Steel)
  • Coating: Gold Oxide
  • Recommended for: Low and high carbon steel alloys, stainless grades, cast iron, aluminum and other softer metals
  • Special Features: Split-Point
  • Case: Metal

Viking Drill and Tool is an American corporation specializing in precision high quality cutting tools for the metal machining industry.

Their drill bits are ground to close tolerances that comply with the National Aerospace Standard (NAS) 907 which is the strictest standard there is.

The Split-Point enables self-starting without center punching the work piece. It prevents skating and cuts more efficiently with less feed pressure.

The heavy duty cross section insures non-flex drilling even in the toughest materials.

check price of Viking Drill and Tool 29 Piece Fractional HSS Premium Drill Set at amazon

 

Letter Series:

Chicago Latrobe High Speed Steel NUMBER Jobber Drill Set

Features:

Chicago Latrobe High Speed Steel NUMBER Jobber Drill Set

  • Series: Letter
  • Type Bits: Jobber, Twist Drills
  • Sizes: A – Z
  • Material: HSS (High Speed Steel)
  • Coating: Black Oxide
  • Recommended for: General purpose drilling in mild to high carbon steel, stainless, cast iron, aluminum, plastics, and other soft materials
  • Special Features: 118° Conventional Point
  • Case: Metal

Chicago Latrobe is an American based company and one of the  most trusted makers of professional grade metal cutting tools.  Their drill bits are precision made to close tolerances.  This set has a Black Oxide which increases lubricity for better coolant flow to the point.

The Jobber length accommodates most drilling applications associated with the metal machining industry.

check price of Chicago Latrobe High Speed Steel NUMBER Jobber Drill Set at amazon

 

Combination Set:

Viking 115 Piece Premium Grade 135 Degree HSS Split Point Combo Drill Set

Features:

Viking 115 Piece Premium Grade 135 Degree HSS Split Point Combo Drill Set

  • Series: Number (Wire Gauge), Fractional, and Letter
  • Type Bits: Jobber Length, Twist
  • Sizes: #60 – #1, 1/16” – ½” by 64ths, and A – Z
  • Material: Special Hi-Molybdenum HSS
  • Coating: Gold Oxide
  • Recommended for: All low to high carbon steels; all stainless grades, aluminum, brass, cooper, composites, and most plastics.
  • Special Features: 135° Split-Point
  • Case: Metal w/ General Tap drill size information. Tilt out indexes

The Viking Premium Grade 93840 SP-115 Drill Set has all three Series of sizes including Number, Fractional, and Letter. The drills in this set have all the best features for commercial applications. The 135 Degree Split-Point provides optimum drilling in mild steel, tool steel alloys, stainless grades, aluminum and other soft non-ferrous metals.

Each drill bit is crafted to comply with National Aerospace Standard (NAS) 907 which is the most stringent quality control standard on the planet.

This professional grade set is especially suited for machine shops, high volume auto repair and restoration garages, mill wright, metal fabrication, and commercial HVAC businesses.

The Viking Premium Grade 115 Piece is the best complete HSS drill set available for the professional engineer or tradesman.
check price of Viking 115 Piece Premium Grade 135 Degree HSS Split Point Combo Drill Set at amazon

 

 

Silver and Deming Series:

Triumph Twist Drill Co. Silver and Deming HSS Drill Set

Features:

Triumph Twist Drill Co. Silver and Deming HSS Drill Set

  • Series: Silver and Deming
  • Type Bits: Twist Drill
  • Sizes: 9/16″ to 1″ by 16ths
  • Material: HSS (High Speed Steel)
  • Coating: Bronze Oxide Coated
  • Recommended for: General drilling applications in low and high carbon steel, stainless, aluminum, and other non-ferrous metals
  • Special Features: 118° Split-Point
  • Case: Blow Molded plastic w/ drill sizes

Established in 1952, Triumph Twist Drill Co. is an American corporation that manufactures mostly twist drills the metal machining industry.

Their tools are characterized by high quality; the drills in this Silver and Deming set are made from High Speed Steel with a 118 degree Split-Point. This feature is especially important when using these bits in a marginally powered drill press, milling machine, or lathe. The point prevents the troublesome “skating” when starting and noticeably reduces the required feeding pressure.

These Made in the USA drills are packaged in a rugged plastic carrying case with each drill size, 9/16” to 1” (by 16ths) clearly labeled for easy identification.

The Triumph Silver and Deming set is most suited for machine shops, mechanical shops, mill wright, and metal fabrication, or other shops where larger drill sizes are needed.

check price of Triumph Twist Drill Co. Silver and Deming HSS Drill Set at amazon

 

Metric Series:

MORSE Cutting Tools Jobber Length HSS METRIC Drill 25 Pc. Set, 18107

Features:

MORSE Cutting Tools Jobber Length HSS METRIC Drill 25 Pc. Set, 18107

  • Series: Metric
  • Type Bits: Jobber, Twist Drill
  • Sizes: 1mm to 13mm by 0.5mm
  • Material: High Speed Steel
  • Coating: Black Oxide
  • Recommended for: Mild,low and high carbon annealed steel, non-ferrous metals
  • Special Features: N/A
  • Case: Molded Plastic

Morse Cutting Tools is one of the oldest American manufactures of drill bits. The 18107 Metric set includes a total of 25 bits from 1mm up to 13mm by 0.5mm increments.

These premium grade bits have a traditional point and are for general purpose drilling. They can be used to drill low and high carbon steel and non-ferrous metals such a as aluminum, brass, and copper.

The Black Oxide finish helps improve wear and coolant flow. The plastic index clearly displays each drill size.

check price of MORSE Cutting Tools Jobber Length HSS METRIC Drill 25 Pc. Set, 18107 at amazon

 

Also SEE:  Best Drill Bit Set for Home Use

 

Why Choose a Set with HSS Bits?

Before the turn of the 20th century and the 2nd industrial revolution, cutting tools were often crafted by hand out of high carbon steel, heat treated and then tempered.  These tools were hard and tough and could cut mild or low carbon steel easily by hand.

But, as consumer demand increased and technology evolved the machining of metal parts required a new kind of alloy.  It needed to be able to withstand the high heat and wear associated with machine-powered metal cutting tools.

Break-Through Technology

The first alloy formally classified by the AISI as “high speed steel” was alloyed with molybdenum.  This break-through technology greatly increased the life of metal-cutting tools and enabled and fueled the revolution.

Because of the shortage caused by WWII molybdenum was substituted for tungsten producing a ally with similar or better characteristics than the earlier T1 alloy. This new high speed alloy was designated as M2 steel.

As the demands of industry have changed HSS alloys have improved, increasing their high wear and high heat resistance properties.  HSS is the best all-around alloy for most metal cutting applications such as drilling.

HSS vs Cobalt

For any person who drills harder steel alloys or different grades of stainless, Cobalt (HSCO) is considered an upgrade from HSS. Cobalt alloy drills contain from 5 to 8% Cobalt.

The 5% alloy is designated as M-35 and the 8% alloy is designated as M-42. The use of Cobalt creates a tool that stronger plus withstands higher temperatures than HSS.

What to Look for When Choosing a HSS Drill Bit Set!

If you are an experienced trades person or perhaps an engineering professional, you might already be familiar with the different types of drill bits.  In addition to the material they are made from, twist drills have various geometric features; length and size designations.

It is important that you consider which features are important for the drill bit set you will be using.

Size Series

In the United States, there are four different SIZE SERIES that drill bits are designated by.

Number (Wire Gauge) Series:  Number drills are available in sizes from #80 @ 0.0135″ up to size #1 @ 0.228″.  This size system was established to provide drill sizes that would fill in the gaps of smaller size fractional drills.  Machinists and toolmakers require access to these drill sizes especially for tapping smaller size holes.  Hobbyists and inventors also find that the number series accommodates most of their drilling requirements.  Drill sets are available in number size only or in large, professional sets that include Fractional, Letter, as well as Number sizes.

Fractional:  Fractional drill bit sizes range from as small as 1/64″ all the way up to 2″ and larger.  Most fractional drill sets include sizes 1/16″ to 1/2″.

For larger fractional sizes a set of Silver & Deming drills are available that usually range in size from 1/2″ up to 1″.  Some sets can go as high as 2″ diameter.

Letter Series: Letter drills range in size from “A” (.234) to “Z” (.413).  This drill size series was developed to fill the gaps of fractional sizes.  These drills are also necessary in the trades and professions where holes are tapped.  Letter drills are available in sets and with large professional drill sets that contain Number, Fractional, and Letter sizes.

Point Design

Conventional:

Traditional twist drills have a chisel point which forms opposing negative rake angles.  This negative rake is very inefficient for drilling steel materials.  Instead of cutting the steel it scrapes it causing heat build-up and eventual break-down of the chisel point, especially if too aggressive a feed is used.

Another problem with a chisel point drill is they tend to “skate” when you first start drilling. This is why its important to center punch the location of the hole to help the drill get started.

Split-Point:

A better design is a Split-Point!  Drill bits with “Split-Points” cut more efficiently; they are self-starting and they won’t skate on you.

 

 

 

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