HSS vs Cobalt Drill Bit

Our HSS vs cobalt drill bit comparison we’ll begin with the assertion that the “cobalt bits” are one of the types of HSS – High Speed Steel bits.

HSS tools show nice toughness and capable of withstanding against the intermittent or cyclic loading. The performance of HSS tools can be further improved by application of the coating.

The cobalt-base superalloys have their origins in the Stellite® alloys patented in the early 1900’s by Elwood Haynes.

Cobalt alloys are widely used because of such reasons:

  • Cobalt alloys have high hot corrosion resistance.
  • Cobalt alloy has higher melting point than other HSS alloys. So cobalt drill bits better absorb stresses to higher absolute temperatures.
  • Cobalt alloys have good thermal weldability and fatigue resistance.

Cobalt vs HSS Drill Bit Comparison Table

 HSS vs Cobalt – General Information
HSS is a tool high carbon steel, containing a significant dose of tungsten. A typical HSS alloy has: about 15% tungsten, 5% Chromium, 1% Vanadium, 0.7% carbon.

 

Best HSS Set - Dewalt Black-Oxide
Best HSS Set – Dewalt Black-Oxide

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 For better wear resistance and higher
strength manufacturers add to alloys 5-8% cobalt. Drills made with the cobalt addition usually are called “cobalt drills”.

29 Pc Cobalt Drill Bit Set M42 HSS 29pc USA Drills Lifetime Warranty Made in USA
Best Cobalt Drill Bit Set – Drill Hog

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 Cobalt vs HSS drill bits – application
 HSS drill bits are good for drilling in materials such as plastic, wood, and mild steel. Drilling with dull bits slows the process and causes overheating. You need to sharpen bits with a bench grinder, or better a drill doctor.  Using cutting fluid keeps the bit cool and prolongs a lot the life of the bit.Cobalt drills are good for drilling tough materials: hardened and stainless steel.

You can drill with them plastic and wood too, but cobalt bits are more brittle than regular HSS ones, so you can easily break it.

HSS vs Cobalt – Reliability
 High-quality HSS bits work nice and precise and reliable. If you keep them sharp it’s a reasonable
investment.A good HSS bits are fine if they are from a quality source. As long as you keep them sharp it’s a reasonable investment.You can generally use HSS bits and when a stainless job comes up, you get cobalt for those jobs.Cobalt will do everything HSS will do and more. But they are brittle, and if you’re not real careful they tend to break.
 For home and DIY use, cobalt bits have better “hot” hardness. and this is an important characteristic.  Most non-industrial users using hand driven drills blunt the HSS bit’s cutting edge because of uncontrolled feeding and imperfect alignment. Cobalt drill bits are more resistant to overheating, work well without cooling and stay sharp much longer.

Craftsman 9-64085 Professional Cobalt Drill Bit Set
Most Reliable Cobalt Drill Bit Set from Craftsman

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Cobalt drills can cost from 1.75 to 2.5 times more than normal HSS drills. A right compromise between increased tool life and increased productivity has to be arrived at to effectively balance the increased cost of the tools.

HSS vs Cobalt – Prices

hss vs cobalt drill bits
HSS Drill Bits

cobalt vs hss drill bits
Cobalt Drill Bits

 

HSS vs Cobalt Drill bits – Conclusions

Just for me, the best choice is a low-cost bit with using a cutting oil at low speeds. It prevents overheating and dulling. The HSS bits in some applications can be better. When cutting plastics they tend to have a sharper, finer edge. Carbide is largely overkill for home use. I’d want a mix of both, but better to have more HSS than carbide just based on price.

Unless you’re drilling in stainless, or doing boring more than three times deeper than the diameter, you will not know the difference between quality HSS or quality Cobalt. HSS requires being heated to a dull red before it loses its temper. Cobalt holds its temper to even higher temperatures.

Summary
HSS vs Cobalt Drill Bit
Article Name
HSS vs Cobalt Drill Bit
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HSS tools show nice toughness and capable of withstanding against the intermittent or cyclic loading. The performance of HSS tools can be further improved by application of the coating. The cobalt-base superalloys have their origins in the Stellite® alloys patented in the early 1900’s by Elwood Haynes. We've prepared HSS vs cobalt drill bit comparison table to help you choose the best tool for your project
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BestDrillBit.com
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9 thoughts on “HSS vs Cobalt Drill Bit”

  1. I have cheap TiN bits. They cut into my steel C-channel trailer frame to get me the holes I needed cleanly. My only concern is that they may dull faster than expected but will need more time to know how they hold up.

  2. If you work with hard metal, Dewalt cobalt is the drill bit set you need. These bits will not dull and the pilot point comes in handy. I drill through stainless steel often and these drill bits make short work of the job.
    P.S. When working with hard metals make sure you go slow and apply firm pressure. Let the bit do all the work. If you go too fast you will still burn up these bits and dull them. Cutting oils can help but are not necessary.

  3. My choice is cobalt ones – Irwin 316015 Cobalt Drill Bit Set. Bought the set to remove a bolt for the transmission mount on my 2001 Jetta. Most people would just go in with an extracting bit, which would probably have done the trick, but 9 times out of 10 they break. My trick is to drill a pilot hole, spray it with PB Blaster, heat around it, then go in with a reverse thread (lefty) drill bit, and pray that it catches. I got lucky here.

    Later I drilled a lot with them and the bits are still sharp, straight, drills cleanly at the right speed. These are the ones you want. Absolutely terrific quality, these hold up to serious abuse. I have used them in metal and wood applications and they handle it no problem. Highly recommend if you use drill bits much.

  4. I bought Drill Hog set primarily for the steel – M42 is the best steel for general usage with wood and metals. But I was impressed with everything else. Even the case is a cut above others I have, and hearkens back to the days whe US manufacturing was in its prime. Simple, no gimmicks, but with a heft and precision that is satisfying. The surprise for me was the lifetime guarantee… if a bit ever breaks they will replace it. I don’t really know how that would pan out with shipping and all, but it represents the manufacturer’s pride in the product.

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