In a hurry? If you’re looking for the best Forstner bit set, I highly recommend checking the Porter-Cable 14-Piece Set first. It’s made by one of the best-known tool manufacturers and it comes nicely organized in a plastic case. It includes 14 bits sized between 1/4 inch and 2 inches.
Forstner bits can be useful for countersinking among other things. While mainly used in woodworking, every now and then they are useful for in work with other materials as well. As such, having a quality set in your toolbox is a must.
Below, I’ll take a look at what some of the best Forstner bit sets are. I’ll also tell you what to keep in mind when choosing the right one for you.
Before that, though, here’s a quick overview of the top three picks:
- Handyman’s World Top Pick: Porter-Cable 14-Piece Forstner Bit Set
- Runner-Up: Freud 7-Piece Precision Shear Forstner Drill Bit Set
- Budget-Friendly Option: DerBlue 5-Piece Professional Bit Set
Handyman’s World Top Pick: Porter-Cable 14-Piece Forstner Bit Set
The Forstner bit set from Porter-Cable contains bits made from hardened steel that have an open tooth design.
It includes the fourteen most common sizes ranging from 1/4 inch to 2 inches. Namely, the bit sizes included are 1/4 inch, 3/8 inch, 1/2 inch, 5/8 inch, 3/4 inch, 7/8 inch, 1 inch, 1-1/8 inch, 1-1/4 inch, 1-3/8 inch, 1-1/2 inch, 1-5/8 inch, and 2 inches.
These bits can be used with hand drills or cordless drills, as well as a drill press. They are meant to be used with both softwood and hardwoods, but – naturally – not with metal.
The bits come in a small box, which is highly portable. Its design makes it easy to quickly pick the bit you need.
Things I Like About This Product: These bits are of high quality, giving smooth results and cutting clean holes. They also last a long time even when being used frequently on woods of all types.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The box in which the bits are packaged has the bit sizes printed between two bits. So, to prevent confusion, you might want to either check the size stamped on each bit before using it, or re-label the box.
Runner-Up: Freud 7-Piece Precision Shear Forstner Drill Bit Set
The Freud 7-piece Forstner Drill Bit Set is the runner-up due to its high quality, limited lifetime guarantee, and unique design. This set contains the seven smallest sizes of Freud’s range of Forstners: 1/4 inch, 1/2 inch, 3/4 inch, 1 inch, 3/8 inch, 5/8 inch, and 7/8 inch bits.
These bits are made from hardened steel and feature a sharp spur to ensure an accurate starting hole. The serrated edge is also specially sharpened to reduce splintering and chipping. The bit’s geometric design with steep angled cutting edges produces curls that are removed faster and more cleanly than with bits from other manufacturers.
These bits can drill flat bottom holes, pocket holes, or overlapping holes.
Things I Like About This Product: Thanks to their superior design, these bits result in minimal tear-out and smooth holes that don’t usually require sanding. These bits will stay sharp and last you a long time, so you’ll get plenty of use out of them.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: While this set has only 7 pieces, meaning you won’t have as many options to choose from, it will be sufficient for most amateur and professional uses. If you think your work requires larger holes, you may opt for their 16-piece set instead. The case doesn’t have slots for each bit, so they may get a bit jumbled. Also, keep in mind that the serrated edge means you will have to pay closer attention to achieve good results compared to non-serrated designs.
I also wrote a more detailed review of Freud Forstner bits.
Budget-Friendly Option: DerBlue Professional 5-Piece Set
The DerBlue 5-piece Forstner drill bit set is the budget pick because while it may have fewer drill bits than the more expensive sets, each one is made from hardened and tempered carbon steel. Since not everyone needs a full range of bit sizes, this set will be fine for the casual woodworker on a budget.
The sizes included in this set are 5 mm, 20 mm, 25 mm, 30 mm, and 35 mm. Thanks to their high hardness and toughness, these bits will keep their edge sharp for a decent period of time.
These Forstner bits can be used with pistol drills, bench drills, vertical drilling machines, and stand motor-driven drilling machines. In this set, the bits are painted with blue paint which makes them waterproof, corrosion-resistant and durable.
Things I Like About This Product: The head adopt arc curve design of each bit is effective at removing wooden chips and makes drilling more efficient. These bits can be used for wood, plywood, and plastic.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: While these bits are heat treated and precision ground to stay sharp, they’re not of the highest quality and can break or chip with heavy use. So if you’re looking for something reliable and able to drill in hardwood as well as softwood, you might want to opt for one of our other top picks.
Premium Option: Fisch Wave Cutter Forstner Bits
Our premium pick for a Forstner bit set is by made Fisch which is considered to be one of the best makers of such tools. Not only are these Fisch bits manufactured in Austria from high-grade steel, but they are also CNC precision-ground and designed with a wavy peripheral cutting edge that prevents it from wearing down.
Since these are top-notch bits, you can expect them to stay sharp and effective for a long time. Once they get blunt, they can be resharpened up to 30 times before they need to be replaced.
The set includes these sizes: 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch, 1/2-inch, 5/8-inch, 3/4-inch, 7/8-inch, and 1-inch.
Things I Like About This Product: Thanks to their unique design, these bits are good for drilling smooth and splinter-free blind holes, as well as for edge drillings and angle drilling in softwood and hardwood. Due to their wavy cutting edge design, these bits require up to 25 percent less power for drilling than other bits and can last up to three times as long. They can be used in portable power drills and stationary boring machines.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: Some users have reported that the bits did not come in a good quality box, so consider getting a better case to keep your Forstner drill bits safe.
Best Metric: Meich 16-Piece Forstner Drill Bit Set
Most of the other featured products have bits sized in inches, but the Meich Forstner Drill bit set comes with bits in metric sizes. The 16 bits included in this set have diameters of 15 mm, 16 mm, 17 mm, 18 mm, 19mm, 20mm, 21mm, 22mm, 23mm, 24mm, 25mm, 26mm, 28mm, 30mm, 32mm, and 35mm.
The bits are made from heat-treated Tungsten steel and are of medium quality. They will make neat and smooth holes each time, whether drilling wood, plastic, plywood, or other materials. Users are advised to use some water or coolant to prevent smoke when drilling some materials.
Things I Like About This Product: Besides being available in a wide range of sizes, these bits have a thick shaft, making them capable of handling plenty of torque. They also have sharp and tough edges so they will last a long time. They make neat holes with a smooth finish and no tremors.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: This drill bit set is fine for home woodworking or DIYers, but is not suitable for professional woodworking, as the lower precision of the bits will not give you the desired results.
The Alternatives: Products Also Worth Considering
While I recommend getting one of the above five, if you did not find one you like among those, you might also want to consider the two products below.
IRWIN Marples 14-Piece Forstner Bit Set
The Irwin Maples Forstner bit set contains 14 bits, with ultra-sharp cutting teeth that will efficiently cut into hard and softwoods.
The reduced shank fits 3/8″ and larger drills and drill presses. The set includes 1-1/2-inch, 1-5/8-inch, and 2-inch Forstner bits. In addition, it also includes 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch, 1/2-inch, 5/8-inch, 3/4-inch, 7/8-inch, 1-inch, 1-1/8-inch, 1-1/4-inch, 1-3/8-inch bits.
These carbon steel bits can drill both flat bottomed holes and pocket holes and are suitable for fine woodworking, furniture making, and so on.
Things I Like About This Product: Not only can you get a bit of the right size for almost any application, but this set also offers great value for money. These bits perform as well as much more expensive bits. These extra-sharp bits are faster at drilling holes than some other competitors, so you’ll be happy with this set if you decide to get it.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: These bits are manufactured in the USA and so are a bit more pricey than some other sets.
Steelex 16-Piece Forstner Bit Set with Hex Shank
The Forstner bit set from Steelex is a decent option if you need a range of bits for various uses, but aren’t too picky about exceptional quality. The set includes 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch, 1/2-inch, 5/8-inch, 3/4-inch, 7/8-inch, 1-inch, 1-1/8-inch, 1-1/4-inch, 1-3/8 inch, 1-1/2 inch, 1-5/8 inch, 1-3/4 inch, 1-7/8 inch, 2-inch and 2-1/8 inch high carbon steel bits.
Each 1-inch or larger bit features a hex shank for increased accuracy and to prevent slippage.
The set comes with a wood storage box that has two tilting shelves and nylon bushings to hold each bit. The design of the wooden box allows for the lid to fold completely under the bottom and the bit storage to tilt out for easy access.
Things I Like About This Product: These bits have a 3/8-inch shank. They are sharp enough to create smooth holes and are highly effective at removing chips when drilling.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: These bits are not ideal for heavy-duty use, but for occasional use they are great. To make it easier to identify the bits at a glance, you can label the sizes under each bit in the wooden case with a marker.
The Methodology: What I Considered When Picking the Products Featured Above
When choosing the products to feature in each of the categories, I looked at the criteria below among other things. I also considered how important each of those criteria is to the specific category.
If by this point you are still undecided about which Forstner bit set to get, these criteria should also provide you with a good framework on which to base your decision.
Price: Of course, I considered price as one of the ranking factors. However, I took it into account relative to how the products performed on the other criteria. As such, the only category where the price of the tool was the deciding factor was the “budget-friendly option” where the DerBlue set was the winner.
Quality: The three main ways I use to assess a product’s quality are looking at the reputation of the brand that makes it, looking at the material the bits are made of, and going thoroughly through positive, negative, and neutral reviews. Overall, all of the products I featured in the list are of decent enough quality in relation to their price and intended usage. However, if I had to choose one or two products that win in the quality department, it would be the top pick and the premium option.
Units of measurement: Another thing that you have to consider is what units you want your Forstner bits to be based on. The two options here are imperial and metric sets – while the former will have inch-sized bits, the latter will have millimeter- and centimeter-sized bits. Pick inch-sized bits if you are based in the United States and work mostly with local materials. Otherwise, consider getting a metric-sized set.
Number of bits: If you have a specific application in mind, then, by all means, get the bit size that you need and none other. It will allow you to save some money and even get a better quality bit while doing so. However, if you are looking to get a set to have in your toolbox, then I recommend a set that has at least five – preferably ten – different sizes. That way, you will not get into a situation where you have a Forstner bit but it’s useless because it’s the wrong size.
Shank: Bits come in two different types – with round shanks and with hex shanks. Those with round shanks are ideal for drill presses and standard hand drills both of which generally have adjustable chucks. Those with hex shanks are made for use with impact drivers with quick-release hex chucks.
Accessories: Unlike with power tools, there is not much to talk in regards to accessories when it comes to Forstner bits. That said, you will likely want to pick a set of bits that comes in a useful storage case. That will help you keep the bits both in good shape for a long time as well as keep them organized.
The FAQs: Information About Makita Impact Drivers You Might Find Useful
What are Forstner bits used for?
Forstner bits are mainly used in woodworking to create holes that are larger than holes that standard drill bits can make. While there are other types of drill bits – like spade bits – that can do a similar job, Forstner bits are much more precise and create a clean cut with a flat bottom.
To learn how to use these bits step-by-step, check my guide here.
Can Forstner bits be used with a hand drill or impact driver?
Some Forstner bits are equipped with a hex shank that makes them usable with impact drivers. Similarly, most Forstner bits can easily be attached to a hand drill. All that said, ideally, you would use them with a drill press to achieve a nice, straight cut.
Can Forstner bits be used on metal?
While they certainly can be used on some softer metals – especially if they are higher quality bits – they are primarily meant for woodworking. As such, using Forstner bits on other materials might significantly shorter their lifespan.
Who invented the Forstner bit?
The Forstner bit was invented in mid-1800s by Benjamin Forstner, hence its name.
Whether you are a woodworker or a general handyman, chances are that you drill a lot of holes. While in most cases, you will do just fine with regular drill bits, every now and then – and depending on what you do even more often – you will need the size and precision of Forstner bits.
Rather than having to scramble to a hardware store at the last minute, it’s better to be prepared and have a set of these drill bits ready in your toolkit.
While there are dozens of different models on the market, I recommend starting your search with either the top pick – Porter-Cable 14-piece set – or the runner-up – Freud 7-piece set. Alternatively, if you are on a budget, take a look at the DerBlue 5-piece set.