What Are Spade Bits?

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Spade bits, also known as paddle bits, are simple yet effective tools designed for drilling large holes quickly in wood and other soft materials. These bits are known for their distinctive flat, paddle-like shape with sharp cutting edges and a central point for guiding the bit. This guide will explore the uses, types, tips and tricks for using, and maintaining spade bits, providing all the information needed for a novice user.

What Are Spade Bits?

Spade bits are flat, wide drill bits used primarily for drilling large, rough holes in wood. They feature a sharp central point for precise positioning and two cutting edges that rapidly remove the material as the bit spins. Spade bits are commonly used in woodworking and construction for creating holes for plumbing, electrical wiring, and other installations.


The spade bit design has been around for many years, evolving from basic hand tools used in early woodworking. Their simple, flat design makes them easy to manufacture and use, which has contributed to their widespread adoption. Over time, enhancements such as spurs on the cutting edges and coatings to reduce friction have improved their efficiency and durability.

Common Uses of Spade Bits

Spade bits are incredibly versatile and are used in a wide range of applications, including:

  • Woodworking: Drilling large holes for dowels, bolts, and other fittings.
  • Construction: Creating holes in wooden beams and studs for plumbing pipes and electrical wiring.
  • DIY Projects: Boring holes for various household projects, such as installing shelves or running cables.
  • Gardening: Some larger spade bits are used for creating planting holes in softer soils.

Types of Spade Bits

There are several types of spade bits, each designed for specific applications:

  1. Standard: The most common type, suitable for general-purpose drilling in wood.
  2. Spur Point: Feature additional cutting spurs on the edges to create cleaner holes with less splintering.
  3. Coated: Have coatings such as titanium or black oxide to reduce friction, increase durability, and extend the life of the bit.
  4. Adjustable: Allow for the adjustment of the cutting edges to change the hole diameter, offering flexibility for different tasks.

Shopping for Spade Bits

When shopping for spade bits, consider the following factors:

  1. Material: Choose bits made from high-quality materials like high-speed steel (HSS) or carbon steel for durability and performance.
  2. Size Range: Ensure the size range of the bits matches your project requirements.
  3. Durability: Look for bits with high-quality construction that can withstand repeated use.
  4. Brand and Reviews: Opt for reputable brands and check customer reviews for reliability.

Recommended Products

Here are some top-selling spade bit sets available on Amazon:

Note: The links provided are Amazon affiliate links, and purchases made through these links may earn us a commission.

Tips and Tricks for Using Spade Bits

  • Selecting the Right Bit: Choose the appropriate spade bit based on the size and type of hole you need to drill.
  • Proper Drilling Speed: Adjust speed according to the material. Higher speeds for softwoods, lower speeds for hardwoods and dense materials.
  • Using a Drill Press: For maximum precision, use a drill press when working with spade bits, especially for larger holes.
  • Clearing Chips: Periodically pull the bit out to clear debris and prevent clogging, ensuring a clean cut.
  • Steady Pressure: Apply consistent, moderate pressure to avoid burning the wood and ensure a smooth, clean hole.

Preserving Your Bits

Maintaining your spade bits ensures their longevity and effectiveness:

  • Regular Cleaning: Clean the bits after each use to remove debris and buildup.
  • Proper Storage: Store in a dry place to prevent rust. Use a case or organizer to keep them protected and sorted.
  • Sharpening: For bits with dull edges, use a file or professional sharpening service to restore their cutting edge.
  • Avoid Overheating: Use appropriate speeds to manage heat and prevent damage to the cutting edges.

Spade bits are indispensable tools for a variety of woodworking and construction tasks, from DIY projects to professional carpentry. Understanding their uses, types, and maintenance can enhance your woodworking projects, ensuring clean and accurate holes. By following the tips and tricks outlined in this guide, you can achieve precise and efficient results in all your woodworking endeavors.

Learn more about different types of bits and drills in our Drills 101 Lesson.


If using these type of bits seems too complicated or dangerous for you, people in the Cleveland area can always reach out to have us assist with any or all of your projects

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