A Beginner’s Guide To Diamond Drill Bits

Diamond drill bits are a powerful and versatile component that can be used with almost any type of power drill. Yet people often shy away from them simply because they don't understand their potential uses--and abuses--well enough. This article will present important things to know about diamond drill bits.

Appropriate Drilling Materials

Diamond is one of the hardest materials on the planet. Diamond drill bits, therefore, are specially intended for use on materials too dense and hard for regular bits. Such materials may include:

  • glass
  • stone
  • gemstones
  • ceramic
  • porcelain
  • shell
  • bone
  • ebony and other very hard woods

Be aware, however, that diamond drill bits are not intended for use on metal or most types of wood. That's because such materials are simply too soft. As a result, they will cause the diamonds on the exterior of the bit to clog up.

Two Basic Varieties

Diamond drill bits can be broken two into two categories: diamond coated and diamond sintered. Of the two, diamond coated bits are the more common--and the more economical. Also sometimes referred to as bonded diamond drill bits, they are comprised of steel shank coated with a single layer of diamonds. Once this exterior layer has worn away, it will be necessary to replace the drill bit.

Diamond sintered drill bits, on the other hand, boast a much longer lifespan--and a much higher price tag. That's because they are made not of just one, but of multiple layers of diamonds. Thus even when the outer layer has begun to wear away, the bit will retain its cutting power thanks to the diamonds beneath. As a result, a diamond sintered bit may last between 30 and 50 times longer than a diamond coated bit. 

Drilling Techniques

Diamond drill bits require slightly different drilling habits than regular bits. It is common for those new to using diamond bits to use either too much speed or too much pressure. Be aware that if your diamond bit is hot--or even warm--too the touch, chances are you're overdoing it.

To be on the safe side, always use diamond bits at the slowest possible speed, especially when starting your hole. Not only will this help to extend the lifespan of your bit, but it will also reduce the risk of material breakage. Cracks in the drilling surface are a strong indication that your speed is too high. Likewise, if you notice diamonds flaking away from the shank of the bit, this is an indication that you're using too much pressure. Lighten up a bit for best results.

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