Drill Bits for Woodworking: Best Forstner Bits Review

Filipp Sernoser, 2020-01-26

Low-quality bits become dull quickly, need a lot of efforts to drill, have poor temperature stability, etc. For precise and efficient work you need best Forstner bits – accurately sized, made of the durable High Speed Steel (HSS) or even tungsten alloys.

Best Forstner bit sets offer special technical features that help to drill and facilitate the use of hand drills.

  • Well-made center spur helps helps to accurately place it and avoid drifting. Some of them are made in a form of a screw to lower axial force needed to drill.
  • Many of good Forstner bits have a serrated cutting edge with ‘teeth’ cut onto the edge of the blade. Other have wave pattern along the inner edge of the bit. It helps to speed up drilling and reduce heat buildup.
  • Bits with extremely heat-resistant carbide inserts are durable and allows drilling at higher speeds

In our article we’ve prepared a short review to help you choose the best Forstner bits for your projects.

Quick spoiler table – best bit sets

TypeProduct photo and link to reviewCheck the price
Best Forstner bit set with waved cutting edge (review)Freud 16 Pcs. Precision Shear Serrated Edge  Set
High tech sawtooth Forstner drill bits (review)FAMAG Bormax Ws Long Centre Bit
Best carbide Forstner bits (review)Freud FC-107 7 carbide Forstner bit set
Good value for money – best
mid-priced Forstner bits (review)
PORTER-CABLE PC1014 
Best of the cheap Forstner bits (review)CMT 537.000.16 16-Piece Forstner Bit set

Serrated-Edge Forstner Bits

A serrated edge has less contact area than a smooth one, therefore, the applied pressure at contact point is relatively bigger. The contact points work at a sharper angle to the material, a longer cutting edge length also increases cutting efficiency.

Drilling with serrated bits requires less power and generally is more efficient. Serrated blades usually stay sharp longer than a similar knife edged drill bits. Serrated bits are best if you need a faster cut, but they are difficult to sharpen using a whetstone or rotary sharpener, you’ll need a diamond tool.

Waved-Edge Forstner bits

Freud Shear Serrated Edge bits

Freud are known as manufacturer of one of the best Forstner bit sets for woodworking. Their products have a high-quality forged construction, ultra sharp spur, steep angled cutting edges, and manufacturer’s limited lifetime guarantee – Freud made all to create the best Forstner bits.

The steel and production quality makes these bits so much better than Chinese counterparts that it is even hard to imagine. They cut quickly and the serrated edge seems to reduce blowout at the exit hole even if you don’t use scrap to back up the cut.

Freud 16 Pcs. Precision Shear Serrated Edge Forstner Drill Bit Set
Best Wave Edge Forstner Bits – Freud 16 Pcs. Precision Shear Serrated Edge  Set 1/4 In. to 2-1/8 In. (PB-100)

Sizes range from 1/4″ to 2 1/8″ in 1/8″ increments. Comes in wooden box.

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The quality rarely disappoints and every bit cuts smooth, runs true, and leaves a clean hole. No burrs, no tear outs, no difficult starts, no getting the wobblies, the holes placed just where you want. These cost a bit more but they are the superb quality bits, worth the extra money without a doubt. Using them in a decent drill press would provide even better performance.

Freud is one of the best brands for woodworking tools and it is not surprising that they make, in my opinion, the best Forstner bits. Freud PB-100 bit set is a great example.

It is 16 pieces serrated Forstner drill bit set made in Austria. It is made of  High Speed Steel with a great production quality. The sides and bottom of holes made my these bits are incredibly smooth, even if you drill with hand drill. When using it in a decent drill press you get even better performance. Just be certain to set low RPM for larger size bits.

I always prefer to buy the set set at first. It cost saving decision, the larger bits are about $15/each in retail stores. Later I buy one or two worn bits out of the most used ones. If you buy this set, you will not have to buy the bits soon, the quality is simply amazing. These are worth the extra money, highly recommended!

Sawtooth Forstner bits

Saw teeth tools produce many small splits in the surface of the material being cut, which helps to cut the material along the line of the cutting edge.

Sawtooth Forstner bits usually stay sharp longer than a knife edged ones. Such a blade performs a faster cut but a knife edge make cleaner side holes.

Bormax by FAMAG

These bits are produced in Germany, made of high quality instrumental steel and have precisely sharpen edges. Available in a wide range of diameters and shank lengths.

Bormax are pretty advanced Forstner bits that look more like a saw tooth bit. In addition to the tooth design of the cutting edge it has a special waveform design of the bit’s side that helps to reduce surface area and therefore – friction. Less friction means less amount of power used to rotate the bit and less heat. So you can drill with higher speed without burning and getting dull.

You may also be interested in FAMAG Bormax Ws – Satz 5Tlg set supplied in a wooden presentation case. The set comes with another interesting feature. These bits combine the properties of a Forstner and brad point bits.

They allow to achieve accurate holes easily at any angle or material. The bits are specially designed for drilling at an angle, each have removable central spurs that you can replace with the included brad point drill bit.  The center bit easily enters the wood under desired angle and keeps it on course.

Featuring the same low friction waveform design as the other Bormax Forstner cutters, these bits are cooler cutting and stay much sharper for longer. Suitable for use with hardwoods, softwoods, plywood and plastic laminated boards, these cutters are precision machined to produce guaranteed diameters. This set contains 15mm, 20mm, 25mm, 30mm and 35mm Forstner cutters, a brad point drill and two allen keys and comes in a wooden presentation case.

Grizzly H7694 Master Forstner Bit

Best Forstner Bits for the Money - Grizzly H7694 Master Forstner Bit, 31-Piece
Best Forstner Bits for the Money – Grizzly 31-Piece Drill Bit Set

Unbeatable price – Master Forstner Bit 31 pc. Set


(for the money)

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This 31-pc master Forster bit set has a great size range bits starting at 1/4″ and all the way in 1/16″ increments to 2 1/8″

You just can’t beat this 31pc set for the

!

The set comes in a nice wooden box, inside bits are covered by a tiny plastic wrap with some oily residue on it. All the bits remain in their place so I am glad to see a good protected case. All wood drill bits have the size stamp on the shank, and all are hex-shaft that fits 3/8″ drill chucks.

The quality is not the best, of course. At first glance the cutting edges look a bit rough, but fine they cut fine – I can even say at least as well as some Porter Cable bits. I’ve only drill with them on a drill press and the chuck doesn’t wobble (some of them have the slightest bit of vibration), so they work. The sizes are within tolerance of the dimension on each bit. But some reviewers report about deviations up to 5%. But my bits are good.

Bit size,  Caliper reading:
2- 1/8,  2.131
2-1/16, 2.069
2, 2.005
3/4, 0.753
11/16, 0.692
5/8, 0.632
9/16, 0.567
1/2, 0.505
7/16, 0.441
3/8, 0.378

In general, as for the ability of these bits to make holes, I would say I am satisfied with the results. They don’t cut wood like butter, but they are definitely no worse than mid-priced bits. So if you agreed to use the bits being off by a few thousands of an inch this may be the set for you. The set is a great value for the “occasional craftsman”. There are expensive professional bits on the market, but if your need falls in the “every once in awhile” Forstners, you can’t beat the value of the H7694 Master set.

Knife-edged Forstner bits

Irwin Tools Marples Wood Drilling Forstner Bits

Irwin Forstner bit - cutting edges are roughly machined
Irwin Forstner bit – cutting edges are roughly machined

Irwin makes excellent tools, including twist drill bits, but Forstner bits are not so good. The “factory edge” is very rough machined, cutting surface is jagged and burred see the picture below. The center tip looks burned. Nevertheless, the bit makes the holes successfully. But it works much better if you’ll finish the cutting edge with a small, fine ceramic or diamond sharpening rod to deburr side cutting edges. You can also use a fine file to clean up the radius edges before it would leave a smooth bore and bottom cut in some soft pine.Overall, I’m not impressed by Irwin Forstner bits!

Carbide Forstner bit reviews

Freud FC-107 7 carbide Forstner bit set

OUR CHOICE!

Freud Carbide Forstner Drill Bit Set
Freud FC-107 7-Piece Carbide the best Forstner Drill Bits Set

1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″, 5/8″, 3/4″, 1″, and 1-3/8″

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Freud FC-107 7 set is an another example of the best Forstner bits. These are ideal for drilling in all composition materials, plywood, hard wood, solid surface materials, and soft wood.

You can use them to drill pocket holes, angled holes, overlapping holes, and flat bottom holes. The bits have a center spur that allows you to accurately locate the center of your hole. The bits are great for use in both hand held drills and drill presses.

Micro-grain carbide/titanium tips ensure cleaner cuts and long lasting sharpness. Wood case for easy storage and protection. Center locating spur. 1-year limited manufacturer’s warranty

This is the best Forstner bits set among carbide ones. It brings a technical level of excellence not found in a standard high-speed steel tools. They will drill through a multitude of materials.

Hex shank Forstner bits

Grizzly H7694 hex shank Forstner bits set

Grizzly Master Forstner Bit
Grizzly H7694 Master Bits, the best hex shank Forstner bits set – 31-piece (!)

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 Starting at 1/4-Inch and going all the way to 2 1/8-Inch this set includes every bit in between in 1/16-Inch increments.

Grizzly bits have hex shanks, for 3/8-Inch drill chucks. Hex shanks simplify fixing and prevent chuck slippage.

This is the best Forstner bits set – 31-piece (!). Each bit is precision ground and sharpened. The sizes are clearly marked, bits are organized in a fitted wooden case.

The set comes in a nice wooden box, each of the bits has a soft plastic cover that protects the cutting edge of the bit. That is a nice touch for keeping them in good condition over the long term. It is the best Forstner bits among universal sets. The bits are good enough for almost everything you might need them for, and it’s not easy to find an affordable set, like this one, that has 31 bits in 1/16 inch increments.

When spun up in a drill press, the bits should look like they are almost standing still as they are spinning. These had the slightest bit of vibration in them. This causes the bit to chirp as it is plunged and withdrawn from the wood.

Once the bit is started, material removal is fast and efficient. Shavings come out of the back side of the bit in nearly hand plane like thin wispy curls.

Great set.

Best mid-priced Forstner bits

PORTER-CABLE PC1014

PORTER-CABLE Bit Set
PORTER-CABLE PC1014 – the best Forstner bits among mid-priced ones  14-Piece

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These are the best Forstner bits among mid-priced ones. Includes 1/4 in., 3/8 in., 1/2 in., 5/8 in., 3/4 in., 7/8 in., 1 in., 1-1/8 in., 1-1/4 in., 1-3/8 in., 1-1/2 in., 1-5/8 in., 2 in. Forstner bit

Porter-cable bits have open tooth design, that helps to create a fine smooth finish. The set includes most used sizes from 1/4 to 2 Inch.

For the money, these seem like good bits, clear chips out quite well. The plastic where the bits sit in is relatively substantial. For occasional use, these are the best Forstner bits set to give you precise and clean holes. But the quality is slightly worse, compared to Freud

As with any Forstner bit, better to drill at low speeds or bit will overheat and ruin the temper of the metal. In hard wood the speed must be lower than in soft wood.

Steelex D3573 Bit Set with Hex Shank, 16-Piece

An interesting feature of the best Forstner bits is the hex shank. They reduce slippage in the drill chuck and you can use the bits directly in your drill or use them with extenders or quick change adapters as shown below. Another sign of the best Forstner bits is a serrated cutting edge wich ‘teeth’ reduce friction and increase efficiency. It means that you will generate less heat and can run the bit at a 25 percent faster speed. With a serrated edge, you will get up to 3x lifespan when compared to other bits. Personally, I also felt like I only had to use about half the pressure than I normally would need when using these bit.

best Forstner Bits Set with Hex Shank
Steelex D3573 Bit Set with Hex Shank, 16-Piece

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Several years ago it was under the Grizzly label. They seem to be made of good quality steel and cut fine.

0.25;0.75;0.5;0.625;0.75;0.875;1 inches, high carbon steel, wood storage box included

You could go to another supplier and get a much higher quality set for 5 times the price, but for the casual user, these are the best Forstner bits.

The set comes in a handy box that keeps them safe, but be careful when you pull them out. They are sharp and the box holds them tight.

Bits leave a nice and clean edge on both sides of the hole, however, if you’re not drilling a through hole, the bottoms are not as clean as expected. Not bad but not great either. The walls are nice and smooth though.

Cheap Forstner bit reviews

MLCS Best Forstner bits 16-Piece Set in Wooden Box

MLCS 9146 – best Forstner bits among the cheapest 16-Piece Bit Set in Wooden Box

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It is the best Forstner bits set among the cheapest.  1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″, 5/8″, 3/4″, 7/8″, 1″, 1-1/8″, 1-1/4″, 1-3/8″, 1-1/2″, 1-5/8″, 1-3/4″, 1-7/8″, 2″, 2-1/8″. Shank size is 3/8″ and overall length is 3-1/2″ for sizes 1/4″ through 2 1/8″.

The teeth are shaped, but not sharp. If you take a few minutes to hand sharpen the bit you want to use, it then does a decent job.

Not for the fine craftsman looking for a nearly flawless cut, but great for hogging out holes with a decent quality cut for things that don’t require real attention to detail.

CMT Forstner bits with saw teeth

These are the best Forstner bits for not very critical jobs. I use these bits to replace the worn in the set. They have 2 spurs, 2 cutting edges, cutting performance is not bad

Use them to drill flat bottom holes with no chipping in any thickness of soft wood, for drilling holes in any direction and making arched openings, partially overlapped flat bottom holes or niches used to fix supports.

Center pointer gives a clear indication if it’s centered correctly. A step on the shank Once you get to the correct depth, the center point will be almost all the way through the last ply, approaching the veneer on the other side.

They are the best Forstner bits for simple jobs, inexpensive, sharp, and hold an edge, high-speed steel, the quality is acceptable.

Forstner vs Spade Bits Efficiency Comparison

You can drill holes with a spade bit, hole saw or Forstner bit (wikipedia). Each has own advantages, but with Forstner one you can make highest quality accurately sized, clean cut, and well-made holes.

A Forstner bit is the best tool for drilling flat-bottomed holes that are perfectly located and sized. It’s center spur helps you to accurately place the bit and avoid drifting. Some of better Forstner bits have a serrated cutting edge with ‘teeth’ that cut into the edge of the blade. Other have a wave pattern along the inner edge of the bit. But in general, all high-quality drill bits work accurately and effectively and can be used to create straight or angled holes.

Forstner Drill Bits

forstner bit and it's hole

Forstner bits, (by inventor’s name), bore flat-bottomed holes in any orientation. They can cut on the edge of a block and cut overlapping holes. (see our best Forstner bits review) The bit includes a center point which guides it throughout the cut. The cylindrical cutter shears the wood fibers at the edge of the bore. Forstner bits have radial cutting edges to plane off the material at the bottom of the hole. Forstner bits have no mechanism to clear chips from the hole, and therefore must be pulled out periodically.

A Forstner bit can be used in a handheld drill, but are a little hard to control. They tend to skip around. Very difficult to get a clean start and maintain a clean hole, require great force to push them into the material. They are intended for use in a  drill press.

In handheld drill you may use bits with smaller diameters, consistent, slower speed. Use an old, worn out Forstner bit – one tap with the hammer creates the perfect little guide mark for these bits.

Forstner bits are generally better than paddle bits or a regular auger in a brace for door mortises. They will give a nice flat bottom and will give you a more accurate start than a spade bit.

Spade (Paddle) Drill Bits

A spade or paddle bit is about like a chainsaw (see our best spade bits review), where a Forstner bit is more like a table saw with a good blade. If you just need a hole, not very precise and spade bit will do, but if you need a consistent diameter hole with smooth sides, use the Fortsner.

spade bit and it's holeIf you are running wires through floor joists, that might be where you would use a spade bit. If you are making holes for dowels or round tenons that’s where the Forstner would be best. A jig to keep the bit from drifting is a good idea. Router on a rail could be quicker if the holes were in line, but would not produce as flat of bottoms as the forstner.

A lot of the cheaper forstner bits are ground rather badly with a very shallow or flat angle on the bottom of the cutting edge, this means heavy feed pressure is needed before they cut. A touch up with a dremel makes them cut a lot quicker.

Cheap china made sets really are crap in my opinion compared to a good quality set like Freud. The cheapies don’t eject the chips as well if at all, loose sharpness quickly, etc. Get a good set or at least a few good ones at 10 to 15 dollars per drill bit. They will last a long time unless you drill into the drill press table. Woodcraft has some nice ones. My main workhorse drill bits are 3/4, and 7/8.

Summary
Drill Bits for Woodworking: Best Forstner Bits Review
Article Name
Drill Bits for Woodworking: Best Forstner Bits Review
Description
For precise and efficient work you need best Forstner bits - accurately sized, made of the durable High Speed Steel (HSS) or even tungsten alloys. Best Forstner bit sets offer special technical features that help to drill and facilitate the use of hand drills. Well-made center spur helps helps to accurately place it and avoid drifting. Some of them are made in a form of a screw to lower axial force needed to drill. Many of good Forstner bits have a serrated cutting edge with 'teeth' cut onto the edge of the blade. Other have wave pattern along the inner edge of the bit. It helps to speed up drilling and reduce heat buildup. Bits with extremely heat-resistant carbide inserts are durable and allows drilling at higher speedsIn our article we've prepared a short review to help you choose the best Forstner bits for your projects.
Author
Publisher Name
BestDrillBit.com
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6 thoughts on “Drill Bits for Woodworking: Best Forstner Bits Review”

  1. I have a Porter-Cable 1014 set and it is the best Forstner bits set for my.
    Freud are great too, but personally I haven’t noticed any significant difference.

  2. Freud Forstner Drill Bit Set 1/4″ to 2-1/8″ is my best Forstner drill bits set. I use it to make holes for inserting wood dowels. Very nice bits, sharp, holes are super clean, even with a hand drill, great quality.
    They will serve my purposes forever if used at the recommended speed and cared for with common sense.
    This is exactly the tool I needed.

  3. My favorite are Freud Outstanding quality and sharpness. Clean accurate and take almost no pressure to bore through wood, even hardwood. If you are hesitant to spend the extra money then you are missing out on all the quality and sharpness. Trust me I have had low quality and then these bits far exceed, The cheap way is not the best way.

  4. I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this topic? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further.

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