Are you looking for a comprehensive guide on Black Oxide vs Titanium Drill Bits?
Great stuff – you are in the right place!
In this ToolsGaloreHQ.com guide you will learn
- Key Differences between the two drill bit types
- Key similarities between the two drill types
- When to use which drill bit
- And So Much More!
Summary Comparison Table: Black Oxide vs Titanium Drill Bits
Type of coating
Physical Vapor Deposition Or CVD Coating
Best used for
hard material (steel, metal)
Best for wood, PVC & ferrous metals
5 to 6 times longer than HSS drill bits
about 2 times longer than HSS drill bits
More expensive option
Less Expensive Option
Black Oxide Bits
These drill bits are special and unique in their own way. The underlying metal are usually made from high speed steel or a combination of another metallic alloy.
In fact the general consensus is that these metals are fantastic for use in drill bit applications.
Reason being they have a high strength to weight ratio, good overall mechanical toughness and are very simple to recycle once they have reached their end of life and they have good thermal properties.
This is all good and well however these base materials can be strengthen even further via the use of black oxide coating.
What is black oxide coating
Black oxide forms part of a family of surface treatments that are based upon a chemical reaction occurring between the metal and the coating.
In fact this layer of black looking coating is called magnetite , which is formed via conversion coating.
What is worth noting, and this is practically what makes black oxide drill bits unique, is that the conversion coating process involves the reaction of oxygen with the substrate material. This is different from titanium plating or other coating techniques.
All of this practically works together to create a very thin surface coating layer of about 1 to 2 micrometers.
Physically the effects of black oxide coating improves the long term corrosion effects and the tools overall functionality.
On top of this the fact that the layer is so thin, you can rest assured that your drill bit will not experience any dimensional changes.
How is Black Oxide Coating Applied
The application of black oxide as a coating occurs in an 4 step process.
1. Cleaning of drill bit substrate material
During this process the metal part of your drill bit are generally degreased and put under inspection using sophisticated machinery.
This process is there to ensure that the metal or metallic alloy is clean and can accommodate the chemical reaction on the surface from the black oxide coating.
During this process it is not uncommon for the metal parts to be rinsed for periods of between 3 to 15 minutes in an a heavy duty degreaser and cleaner.
2. Conditioning of drill bit substrate material
Following the clean, what then happens is the metal or metal alloy of the drill bits are tested for any residual rust. If this occurs – it is removed via a rust remover.
There are also occasions whereby the use of acid salts over and above the previous cleaning and rust removers are implemented. This usually occurs on metals that have a very specific use case and high performance cannot be compromised.
3. Blackening of drill bit substrate
Once the metallic alloy has been cleaned, it is rinsed and prepared for the application of the black oxide via conversion coating. This process as stated previously is swift, quick and does not in any way alter the overall look and feel of your drill bit.
Providing for a coating that is not anything more than 2 micrometers in thickness.
The process generally includes blackening in boiling alkaline salt solution at approximately 285°F.
4. Rinse, Sealing and Finishes
Upon the application of the magnetite (black coating). The drill bits are allowed to cool and are rinsed to remove any residual that may have occurred.
They are then sealed and finished – ready for commercial operation.
Performance Characteristics of Black Oxide Drill Bits
Many people are often quite amazed at how cool these drill bits look. However I can tell you that there is more to them than what meets the eye.
As compared to Titanium drill bits (which we will discuss in a bit). They often tend to be slightly less expensive.
This is great because on the paradigm of your standard high speed steel drill bits and titanium drill bits. Black Oxide drill bits fall right in between these two options in terms of price and overall wide spread usage.
Also, black oxide drill bits due to their coating tend to have a useful life that is somewhere in the range of 40 to 55% longer than the standard high speed steel drill bit.
They are also relatively inexpensive, and hence why they are often used on a multitude of different materials. These namely being:
- Standard wood and Plywood boards;
- Polymer type materials such as plastics and PVC piping;
- And drywall.
Titanium Drill Bits
These also form part of the overall family of high speed steel drill bits. Funny enough you would think that by the name alone that these drill bits must be made from titanium right?
These drill bits are not made entirely out of titanium but rather a metallic core coupled with titanium coating.
The most common types of titanium coating are:
- Titanium Nitride (TiN);
- Titanium Carbonitride (TiCN); and
- Titanium Aluminum Nitride (TiAlN)
Each of these coating has their own unique and special features and qualities.
The application of TiN is usually done via a method of magnetic spluttering or PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition).
The other two coating types TiCN and TiAlN provide additional features to the drill bit that enhances it’s performance.
For example, TiAlN can withstand temperatures in the ranges up to about 800°C (1450°F).
With all the above being said however Titanium drill bits are fantastic in that they can practically drill through any material. Be it wood, plastic or steel.
I must however note that because of the way in which they are coated. The benefits of having a titanium drill bit truly only ever last as long as the coating remains intact.
So what this means is that if you ever resharpen the drill bit for example. Or use it beyond it’s design criteria.
This makes employing titanium drill bits slightly more expensive as you may have to replace bits more frequently just to ensure that you have the performance required.
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Similarities Between Black Oxide vs Titanium Drill Bits
For starters both of these drill bits at their core are made of metal or metallic alloy material built for high speed drilling operations.
Secondly, they are both in their own unique ways better in both performance and drilling range than the standard HSS drill bit.
Both the black oxide and titanium drill bits are rust resistant and they are both built to work and operate for high speed drilling operations.
When it comes to drilling into various materials. What I have found is that they are capable of both drilling into wood and material comfortably.
Key Differences Between Black Oxide vs Titanium Drill Bits
There are a couple of key difference that must be highlighted.
Black Oxide drill bits have conversion coating, which is not as high quality as the coating provided for Titanium Drill Bits. This makes Black Oxide drill bits less expensive as well.
With this method of coating they also very visibly differ in terms of color. One is black, whilst the other one is a yellow/bronzish gold color.
As stated previously, the initial capex of purchasing titanium drill bits comes across as being higher. However this balances out when you think about the lifetime cost and replacement frequency of each drill bit.
The black oxide drill bit – although being more high performance than the HSS drill bits can still only provide about 1.5 to 2 times more tool life than the HSS.
Whereby the Titanium drill bits have and offer 5 to 6 times more tool life than the HSS drill bits.
These are key differences, worth considering before making a purchase.
Tips To Care For Your Drill Bits (Black Oxide or Titanium Drill Bits)
In this section we are going to give you some tips that will help you keep you drill bit working at its optimal for longer.
Sharpening your drill bit
I am sure that you are well aware, the best drill bit to use is one that comes straight out of the package.
If you use your bit for some time, it will no longer works as well. You might often feel yourself possibly applying a lot more pressure to perform the same work, and this can be strenuous and inefficient.
There is however a solution to this problem – you can sharpen you drill bit to ensure that it returns to it’s optimal efficacy.
Sharpening a drill bit is not difficult, and it an usually be performed using something like a drill sharpener or an oilstone. I have written a comprehensive guide on sharpening your drill bit. Have a read and learn how to extend the usefulness of your drill bit.
Caveat however if you sharpen a Titanium drill bit, you practically lose all the great properties that come with the coating. So be sure to check the user manual before performing any sharpening exercises on these types of drill bits.
Cleaning you drill bits
Before usage, clean you drill bit with a dry cloth. Be sure to do the same after you are done with your drilling job.
The reason for cleaning your drill bits is to ensure that you avoid the accumulation of debris. Which if left for an extended period of time can cause issues to your drill bit in the form of rust or surface micro cracking.
Hence reducing the overall quality of your drill bit.
Storage of Drill Bits
One of the huge things that many DIYers get wrong is assuming that the proper storage of their drill bits does not matter. That could be further away from the truth.
Not storing you drill bits correctly could lead to corrosion. Therefore always make sure that you put them in a clean dry and air tight area that is not affected by humidity.
If you can purchase drill bits that come with their own container the better.
Optimal Usage of your drill bits
This last point is to highlight the fact that once a drill bit has become damaged or s beyond repair (i.e. Titanium coating has worn off / rust and corrosion accumulation) then it is no longer of optimal usage.
You generally have two options in this regard:
- Try to re-establish it’s physical properties via refurbishment; or
- Purchase a brand new set
Either one of the above could work. Just make sure you perform everything in accordance with the original equipment’s datasheet.
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Final Thoughts on Black Oxide vs Titanium Drill Bits
I had a lot of fun creating this article. I am sure you can see that both of these drill bits have their strengths and weakness. Ultimately which is better for your specific need will come down to preference, the material you will be drilling into and price.