Norm's Notebook: Bits for Drills
Master Carpenter Norm Abram's techniques for the bits
Every time you tighten a three-jawed chuck onto a six-sided bit, make sure the jaws come down firmly on the flat faces of the bit's shank—not on the shank's corners. Otherwise, no matter how tightly you crank down on the chuck, the bit will slip when you start the drill.
Work the Clutch
If you're driving screws into unfamiliar material with your cordless driver, set the speed switch to "slow" for maximum torque and better control. Also, experiment with the clutch, the numbered dial near the chuck that stops the driver when it feels a certain amount of resistance. You'll know the setting is right when you can sink the screw at full throttle without the bit mangling or jumping off the screwhead.
Sharpening a Spade Bit
When a twist bit gets dull, you might as well buy a new one because it's tricky to get it sharp again. Spade bits are another story. With a narrow mill bastard file, you can easily sharpen one until it's almost as good as new.
Clamp the bit upright in a vise, then rock the file on the bit's cutting edge until it rests flat against the bevel. Push the file across the edge about five times. Do the same thing to the opposite edge and to the two bevels on the bit's point. Finish up by holding the file flat against each of the bit's faces and making one stroke to remove any burrs left behind.
My Must-Have Bits
I have to laugh at the supersized bit sets out there that have 300-plus pieces, most of which you're never going to use. This is what I look for instead.
Twist bits: There should be a range of small bits, between 1/16 inch and 3/8 inch in diameter. I prefer smaller increments because it gives me more control over a hole's size. Anything bigger than 3⁄8 inch and I'll switch to a spade or auger bit.
Driving bits: Phillips and square-drive bits, in sizes 1–3, with an emphasis on no. 2s. I don't need bits for slotted screws because I only tighten them with a screwdriver, which is less likely to slip and gall the screwhead.
Storage: I like a case that's small enough to carry in my toolbelt or bag. It doesn't need to have a lot of bits, but it should hold them firmly enough so I can open it upside-down with nothing falling out. and if they doget mixed up, it's nice to have the size labeled on both the bit and its spot in the case.
TOH Tip:You'll drill more cleanly if you don't try to punch a hole through the wood all in one shot. Instead, pull the bit out partway as it's spinning to clear away the chips from the cutting edges.