Forstner Bit vs Spade Bit

Drill bits are standard tools for DIYs. It helps you to drill correctly and precisely. Forstner Bit and Spade Bit are both popular types of drill bits. But the difference between Forstner Bit vs Spade Bit will make you clear which one is best.

Both drill bits are superior in functionality, but many people prefer Forstner Bit. Forstner bit is perfect for drilling holes into hardwood as they are more robust and contain a larger cutting surface than the spade bits. On the contrary, spade tips are ideal for utility projects, for example, drilling holes in walls for plumbing and electrical cables.

They have other points to consider. So, read till the end of this article and find out more about it!

What is a Forstner Drill Bit?

Forstner drill bits drill a flat hole and make them indispensable for different hardware installations when precise insertion depth is required. Also, you can use them with the drill press for drilling corner holes, overlap holes, and edge holes.

Whereas today’s Forstner noses have a slightly different design, with a slotted ring shape and a “pointed tip” instead of a “lead screw.” However, the goal remains essentially the same.

When absolute precision and cleanliness of drilled holes are required, Forstner tips are used in drill presses. However, you can also use them with hand drills.

Forstner Drill Bit

Advantages: Forstner bits provide excellent results with a clean cutting surface. With some Forstner tricks, you can even decorate a wooden deck with a set of these items. You can drill the hole exactly where you want because you need to work slowly and carefully. Also, it supports angle drilling.

Disadvantages: These drill bits are more costly in comparison to the spade bits. But the function will surely satisfy you. Also, the operation is a bit slower and sometimes heated up.

What is a Spade Drill Bit?

Spade bits, also called shovels because of their shape, are tools designed to pierce wood. They are often used for demanding tasks where speed is more critical than cleaning holes.

After thoroughly drilling wood, they tend to loosen up when they reach the other side. So, if you want a cleaner finish, the hole is usually drilled on both sides to match the wood.

Spade Drill Bit

Advantages: These bits can drill a hole accurately in a short time. Price is usually lower than other bit variants. It’s benign to express that this is the most reasonable portion of a carpenter’s toolbox.

Disadvantages: They don’t have much variety out there in the market. These drill bits have only small sizes with no variation. Also, they don’t support angle cutting.

Key Differences: Forstner Drill Bit vs Spade Drill Bit

Forstner Bit allows carpenters to drill holes without the long “lead screw” that effectively destroys the workpiece. Also, it will enable them to drill clean holes with a flat bottom.

The Spade drill bit’s simple design allows for easy blade adjustment. You can drill smaller holes than your section or make a pointed hole by tilting the sides.

Now, it’s time to find out the key differences between them. So, here we go!


Forstner bits leave gaps with much cleaner sides and bottom. On the other hand, spade bits always go a lot of chaos in their work.

Of these two options, a Forstner drill bit can produce the most precise holes. Though they are not as fast as the spade bits, you can drill very clean and accurate holes. This bit allows you to drill holes in surfaces at a specific angle.

Moreover, you can use those bits to decorate the wooden deck. However, you cannot drill a tree with them. You can also make multiple flat-bottom holes.

As for the spade bit, it is messier than the Forstner bits. There is a common problem with these bits. Those bits can cause chipping where it comes out. But if the tidying up is ok for you, spade bits are best.


Forstner bits work with a comparatively slower drilling rate. On the other hand, to cut faster, the spade bits are good. It is designed for speed.

Forstner knows how to drill clean holes. Yet it’s slower than the spade bit. This bit is thin. Therefore, it is impossible to pierce quickly, as you can damage the drill bit.

Sometimes you can’t repair the damage. The Forstner product can be heated for a long time. It may lead to wear on the bit and irreversible damage. So be sure to take a break from those tools.

The spade bit is the fastest between the two. Also, it uses high torque plus penetrates wood quickly. But it takes plenty of strength to keep things in place.


Forstner bit can drill hardwood as they are more robust and have a larger cutting surface than the spade bits. Also, you can have some decorative drilling with it. Moreover, a spade bit can be great for engineering work, like drilling holes in walls for plumbing or electrical wiring.


Forstner drill bits can drill accurately. But when it comes to cleaning, spade bits are not that good. The spade bit creates more chaos compared to the Forstner drill bit.

Using this drill bit on wood may produce a roughened surface. And it results in fragments.

The spade bit is also challenging to control during drilling. Sometimes the drill can slip out of hand. But Forstner bits provide more control when drilling. That’s because their torque is not similar to the Forstners.

Hole Size and Depth

Forstner bits and spade bits are available in a variety of sizes. Forstner usually ranges from 1/4″ to 2-1/4″. It is about 10mm-90mm.

On the other hand, Spade bits typically range from around 1/4″-1-1/ 2″. It is roughly 10mm to 36mm. Also, some spade bits are about 6mm in size. In addition to the diameter, you must take the depth of the hole into account.

Spade bits can drill deeper holes. And lastly, Forstner reveals the minor holes between the two bits.

Forstner Drill Bit Set

Forstner Bit Set

PORTER-CABLE Forstner Bit Set

  • These premium Forstner bits are made of hardened steel to ensure long service life.
  • The Forstner drill bits have loose teeth for fast piercing, cleaning, and a smooth finish.
  • This Forstner Porter-Cable tip set is designed with optimised cut angles for creating flat-bottom holes.
  • The Forstner drill set is available in a carrying case for ease of use and portability.

First of all, this is a fantastic Forstner kit that definitely won’t disappoint. PORTER-CABLE has been one of the leading manufacturers of power and cordless tools, accessories, and woodworking equipment for over 100 years. Like all ideal drills, it has optimized cutting angles that make it easy to drill flat bottom holes and create flowing finish lines.

In addition, the hardware of the components ensures that they will retain their strength and durability for many years without visible damage. You don’t need to worry about the correct size and whether this kit contains what you need.

Forstner bits can drill flat bottom holes, angled holes, and overlay holes. Spade bits can make flat bottom blind holes. It allows several holes to be drilled in a short time. These bits are generally preferred for softwoods. Using this bit on hardwood may generate more debris. Also, it makes the surface sharp for the coarse fibre.

Forstner bits have flat blades and peripheral cutting edges. And the spade bits have a plane blade with a sharp tip in the middle.

Moreover, this drill bit has fourteen different parts from 1 “to 2”. Since this quality is available at an affordable price, you definitely won’t want to miss out on a product that’s perfect for woodworking and makes your life easier.

  • Made from hardened steel, this set is optimised for cutting angle to quickly create a flat hole with repeatable properties. The Forstner accessory is reasonably priced, available in a variety of sizes from 1/4 “to 2”, and offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

  • Carrying cases should be of better quality. This is one of the most dangerous mountains. Frequent overheating may cause the product a bit of a hassle.

Spade Drill Bit Set

Spade Bit Set

IRWIN Tools Blue-Groove Pro Spade Bit Set

  • This drill bit with sharp chip evacuation is 4x faster than the standards.
  •  Each bit has two ends to close the hole and reduce breakage.
  • A large cutting shaft offers greater strength.
  • The blade tip has a slotted hex bar to minimise drill slippage or beak deformation.
  • This bit fits most standard chucks.

This beautiful 17-blade set from Irwin Tools is part of the SPEEDBOR series of pliers. The duct uses Irwin’s patented Blue-Groove design, which is faster due to faster chip evacuation.

To prevent breakage during drilling, a double bar is used at each end to mark the outside of the hole for a cleaner finish. Each blade also has a thicker cutting surface and a significantly larger shank than other Irwin bits for added strength.

These bits have a small cutting surface which provides less friction. It also overcomes the heat generated. Thus, you can utilise these bits for a more extended period. But be cautious not to drill at low speed.

The drill bit set has hex grooves that minimise slippage in a standard chuck and are compatible with all-inch bits. Executives are also asked to make small changes faster and more conveniently.

  • Blue-Groove removes chips from perforated surfaces faster, increasing overall speed. Every spur follows the hole’s outer surface during drilling for clean holes with more minor spatter. Each bit has 40% thicker cutting edges and 25% more stem than previous IRWIN components for increased reliability and endurance. The attached 1/4″ shanks reduce slippage on standard chucks. And you can use it with all 1/4″ chucks, even impact drills.

  • Some clients complain about the case. It has a plastic sheet that folds and unfolds on each side. They work well, but be sure to cut over the scrap wood.

Which One Should I use?

Now, it’s time to know which one I should use. Both drill bits have superior functionality with special features.

If you want to drill cleanly, you can use the Forstner PORTER-CABLE. Also, they offer angle cuts. You can find variations in the different rim sizes.

Forstner tips are ideal for precision corner drilling. Available in small and large sizes. But the price is higher compared to the SPEEDBOR Knife Set from IRWIN Tools.

On the other hand, if you want to make flat holes faster, you can use the IRWIN Tools SPEEDBOR. It is great for custom drills but is difficult to drill at an angle.

You should have realised that the main difference between the two is not only appearance but also precision, clean-cut, and speed. However, each item has its unique use, and this should be the most important factor in deciding which one to buy.

FAQs on Forstner Bit vs Spade Bit

Are Forstner bits better than spade bits?

The use of bits depends on the job you are using them for. If you want a neat and clean hole, you should choose Forstner. Therefore, if you want to drill a lot of holes, consider purchasing a Forstner. Spade drill bits are often used to make rough holes. So, if you are not very fond of cleaning, you can go for a spade bit. It is ideal for drilling a large number of holes in a short time.

Why would I use a Forstner bit?

The main goal of cutting is to clean the smooth holes on the bottom of the wood. That’s what a Forstner bit can deliver. Also, it can be used to drill brass holes, high-diameter holes, and angular holes. This accessory is also suitable for working with clean sheets. They have variations in size. When you need any precise or decorative drills, you can undoubtedly use this one.

When would you use a spade bit?

The bit is intended for wood processing, plywood, and some plastics. It drills things quickly with amazing accuracy. Since they have a ragged hole, you can usually use them for drilling through areas that are later covered up or generally not visible. An excellent example is that plumbers and electricians drill through the wood when they need to go through pipes or wires.

Can you use a spade bit in a drill press?

You can use spade bits both for manual drilling and drill press. But usually, you don’t want to use them. These drill bits tend to stick more often elsewhere. If you are using hand drills, you can switch the trigger and stop rotating immediately. The drill continues to turn and stops slowly even when switched off.  It can damage the motor and put pressure on the motor.

Can you use a Forstner bit hand drill?

Yes, you can use the Forstner bit on the hand drill. You can use a low-speed wireless connection as it is slower. It must be protected from obstacles and ensure the proper landing of the workpiece. Use the item that takes the greatest space between two pins, and adjust it so that you can see the edges of the details when you lower them.

Final Verdict

After reading the “Forstner Bit vs Spade Bit” guide, you can make a purchasing decision. Always remember one thing before making a purchasing decision, choose one based on the functionality.

When you need a clean hole, choose the Forstner. As stated above, it can drill precise flat bottom holes. Therefore, if you have to drill multiple holes, consider purchasing a Forstner.

But it is not as speedy as the spade bits. Yet, it is ideal for creating the perfect hole. Perfectionists often suggest these products.

On the other hand, you can use spade bits for making rough holes. So when you are concerned about the cleanliness, go for the spade bits. Anyway, it can go faster than the Forstners bits.

When you have to drill a large number of holes shortly, this one is perfect. This bit is also a bit cheaper. But be careful not to cut metal with it, as it may damage the tool.

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Sam Morgan is a general contractor based in Charlotte, North Carolina. He does home renovations, extensions, landscaping maintenance, and general handyman jobs for homeowners. He is also the part-time content writer at Machine Handyman and a lifelong tools enthusiast. Sam loves hand tools, power tools, machinery, and DIY gadgets of all shapes and sizes! He is always researching the different types of home improvement tools that will get the best results. This site will cover products like power drills, air compressors, saws, nail guns, screw guns, grinders, cutting tools, and many more.

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