Long drill bits reach where ‘regular’ drill bits just can’t.
Aircraft drill bits are long drill bits originally designed for use in the aircraft industry where they often need to drill holes reaching through deep cavities, and then through thin materials. I find them invaluable in my shop for drilling holes in tight spaces, and drilling holes through long or wide pieces of wood. Now aside from those somewhat obvious uses, I’ll show you two other uses, and then give you some buying advice.
My set. I own ten 6″ long aircraft bits ranging from 1/16″ to 1/4″ diameter. I bought mine individually over many years. I’m missing a few of the 64thinch increment bits, but that’s no big deal. If I were buying them today, I’d just start with a 13-piece set ranging up to 1/4″ diameter. You can buy larger diameter aircraft bits, up to 1/2″ diameter, but my experience in the shop is you don’t need any long bits larger than 1/4″ diameter, other than maybe one long 3/8″ diameter bit. I own a few other long drill bits, but they only get used for house repairs.
Drill pilots holes. Here’s a great example of using an aircraft drill bit. I was attaching table extension slides to the underside of a new dining table, and I needed to drill pilot holes for the screws. Of course this could be done other ways, but using an aircraft bit saves a lot of time. I was able to drill the holes, insert the screws, and not have to move the slide even.
Drill pocket holes. This type of drilling is where an aircraft bit really shines. You can’t do this with a ‘regular’ drill bit. I drilled the counterbore hole using a brad point bit, and now I’m drilling the clearance hole with an aircraft bit. I do own a pocket hole jig, but often I find it can’t drill the hole I need, and I then drill them this way.
6″ bit set. This 13-piece set is very inexpensive, and a great way to get what I consider to be close to, if not all the aircraft bits you should ever need. The set, including the case, can be bought from Grizzly Industrial (see Sources). The bits are made from high-speed steel, and they range from 1/16″ to 1/4″ by 64ths. You can also buy individual bits online from Drill Bit Warehouse (see sources), or at some hardware stores, or some fastener supply companies.
12″ bit set. Grizzly also sells this longer and more expensive whopping 29-piece set. It goes from 1/16″ to 1/2″ in 1/6″ increments. If you owned this set, I doubt you’d ever be looking for a missing bit!
Photos By Author
Grizzly Industrial, Inc.
Drill Bit Warehouse