The Ultimate Guide to Twist Drills: Everything You Need to Know


Twist drills are a fundamental tool used to create holes in various materials, including steel, wood, and non-ferrous materials. With their versatility and efficiency, twist drills have become the go-to choice for many drilling applications. However, with the wide range of twist drill options available, it’s crucial to understand the different features and characteristics that can affect their performance. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the important aspects of twist drills, including their design, materials, and applications.

Anatomy of a Twist Drill

Twist drills are rotary cutting tools that consist of several key components, each playing a vital role in the drilling process. Let’s take a closer look at the anatomy of a twist drill:

1. Shank Style

The shank of a twist drill refers to the part that attaches to the drill chuck. There are two common shank styles: straight and taper. Straight shanks are used with drill presses, while taper shanks are designed for use with machine tools such as lathes and milling machines.

2. Length

The length of a twist drill can vary depending on the specific application. There are three main length categories: screw machine, jobber, and taper length. Screw machine drills are shorter and ideal for drilling in confined spaces. Jobber drills are the most common type, suitable for general-purpose drilling. Taper length drills have a longer flute length and are primarily used in deep-hole drilling.

3. Material

Choosing the right material for your twist drill is essential for achieving optimal performance and longevity. High-speed steel (HSS) is a versatile material suitable for many applications. Cobalt twist drills offer increased durability and can handle higher speeds. Carbide drills are ideal for demanding conditions where speed, feed, and rigidity are critical.

4. Helix or Spiral of the Flutes

The flutes of a twist drill are the grooves that provide cutting lips, remove chips, and allow coolant or cutting fluid to reach the cutting action. The spiral or helix angle of the flutes determines the chip formation and evacuation. Larger helix angles are effective for soft, long-chipping materials, while smaller helix angles are suitable for hard, short-chipping materials.

Key Features of Twist Drills

To achieve the best drilling results, it’s important to understand the key features of twist drills. Let’s explore these features in detail:

1. Point Angle

The point angle is located at the head of the twist drill and is measured between the two main cutting edges at the top. It plays a crucial role in centering the drill in the material. A smaller point angle allows for easier centering on curved surfaces, while a larger point angle reduces drilling time but requires higher pressure and makes centering more challenging.

2. Main Cutting Edges

The main cutting edges are responsible for the actual drilling process. Longer cutting edges offer higher cutting performance compared to shorter ones. The twist drill always has two main cutting edges connected by a cut chisel edge, which plays a crucial role in entering the material and exerting pressure and friction.

3. Cut Chisel Edge

The cut chisel edge is located in the middle of the drill tip and connects the two main cutting edges. Although it doesn’t have a cutting effect, it is essential for the construction of the twist drill. The cut chisel edge aids in entering the material but can result in increased heat generation and power consumption.

4. Point Cuts and Point Thinnings

Point thinnings are designed to reduce the cut chisel edge at the top of the twist drill. This thinning process reduces friction forces in the material, resulting in a lower feed force requirement and improved centering. Different point thinning shapes, such as helical point and split point, are standardized to meet various drilling needs.

5. Profile of Flute

The profile of the flute functions as a channel system that promotes chip absorption and removal. A wider groove profile enhances chip removal, preventing heat buildup and potential drill breakage. The depth of the groove profile determines the thickness of the drill core, with flat profiles allowing large core diameters and deep profiles allowing small core diameters.

6. Core

The core thickness of a twist drill is a crucial factor in determining its stability. Drills with a larger core diameter offer higher stability, making them suitable for harder materials and higher torques. Additionally, these drills are more resistant to vibrations and lateral forces, making them ideal for use in hand drills.

7. Guiding Chamfers and Secondary Cutting Edges

The guiding chamfers are located at the flutes and work on the side surfaces of the borehole, providing additional support and guidance for the twist drill. The quality of the borehole walls depends on the properties of the guide chamfers. The secondary cutting edge aids in cutting and loosening chips that may become stuck to the material.

8. Helix Angle

The helix angle, also known as the spiral angle, is a critical feature of a twist drill that determines the chip formation process. Larger helix angles are effective for the removal of soft, long-chipping materials, while smaller helix angles are used for hard, short-chipping materials. Different helix angles result in varying spiral lengths.

Choosing the Right Twist Drill

With the numerous options available, choosing the right twist drill can seem overwhelming. However, understanding your specific application requirements can simplify the selection process. The DIN manual for drills and countersinks defines the division of application groups into different types. These types, such as N, H, and W, help categorize twist drills based on their suitability for specific applications.

In addition to the standard types, manufacturers have developed hybrid forms and specialized twist drills optimized for specific applications. When selecting a twist drill, consider factors such as cutting performance, service life, centering ability, concentricity accuracy, and stability. By aligning these features with your application needs and material requirements, you can make an informed decision.


In conclusion, twist drills are versatile and essential tools for creating holes in various materials. Understanding the different features and characteristics of twist drills is crucial for achieving optimal drilling results. From the point angle and main cutting edges to the profile of the flute and helix angle, each component plays a significant role in the drilling process.

By considering factors such as the shank style, length, material, and helix angle, you can choose the right twist drill for your specific application. Whether you’re working with steel, wood, or non-ferrous materials, selecting the appropriate twist drill will increase production, lower operating costs, and provide you with the desired finish.

Next time you’re faced with a drilling task, remember the key features and considerations discussed in this guide. By doing so, you’ll be well-equipped to make an informed decision and achieve successful drilling outcomes with your twist drill of choice.

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