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Self Centering Drill Bit Sets For Woodworking

A self centering drill bit will prevent wood grain from changing the course of your drill bit and damaging the wood. Installing hinges and wondering what the best brand is? Not sure if you need one bit or a self-centering bit set? In this article we’ll review what makes these bits unique, what the best self-centering drill bits are and how to use them.

After days of careful making I’ve experienced the frustration of damaging a project when the hinge holes were drilled out of alignment. 

With this piece it happened to be a full size oak interior door that I didn’t grab a vix bit for.  And it resulted in a hinge hole that wasn’t perfectly aligned. Fortunately, I had 4 other holes to fix the alignment but not using a self-centering bit was almost costly.

In this article we’ll cover:

  • Types of self centering drill bits
  • Classic vix bits for hinges
  • Brad point bits with centering pilot tips
  • Tips on how to use a self centering bit
  • Manufacturers (yes, brand matters)
  • And a guide to the best self centering drill bits

But before we begin, a word of caution: when buying self-centering drill bits with the classic vix-bit like sleeves don’t buy generics. Stick to the name brands you’ll find in this article to avoid issues with springs and chip clearing ports.

What is a Self Centering Drill Bit?

Let’s start out with understanding the differences between a self centering drill bit and standard bits:

  • First, a true self centering drill bit is encased in a metal sheath with a spring actuated design that conceals the bit.
  • Then, when the drill bit is placed on a hinge, door strike-plate or other metal piece with a hole the tip of the self-centering bit will recess into the metal and naturally self center.
  • Last, once the bit is in place the hole is drilled as normal with the user ensuring enough pressure is maintained to keep the drill bit and guide in place.

Who Makes Them: Manufacturers

If you’ve spent any amount of time looking for these bits you’ll find dozens of options.

So who’s been around a long time and is an industry name? Well, you’ll want to start with:

So does brand really matter? 

With this type of bit it does – and primarily because of the springs and need for future drill bit replacement.

Also, you’ll want to remember drill bits don’t last forever and a self-centering bit is unique in that:

  • The drill bits can be custom-sized (length)
  • You’ll want a design with a replaceable bit (not all are)
  • Quality of the drill bit is key and brand names don’t skip quality for rock bottom prices
  • More isn’t better. as most hinge holes are #6, #8 or #10. 

And not to mention, brands like those mentioned above all have other cool woodworking tools.

Lastly, if you’re wondering, a vix bit is the same as a self-centering drill bit.

Alternatives to a Self Centering Drill Bit

If you’re not drilling hinge holes you might still be looking for a self-centering bit set but with different needs. 

As an alternative to the classic sleeve design, you can consider:

  • Brad point bits
  • Spade drill bits
  • Forstner flat-bottom drill bits
  • Hole punch and standard drill bits

However, when it comes to hinges you just don’t want to skimp as the smallest mis-alignment will create often unrepairable damage.

Choosing the Best Self Centering Drill Bits For Your Projects

While you might not spend a lot of time reviewing a self-centering drill bit, for this article I’ve combined years of use and hours of research to provide this list of the best self centering drill bits:

1. Best Self Centering Drill Bits: Snappy Tools 40050

Snappy Self Centering Drill Bit

Complete set for any project

In woodworking there are a few manufacturers that specialize – and in drill bits Snappy has made a brand for themselves in drill bits.

Overview

While most drill bits aren’t too exciting to review and compare (let’s be honest), there are a few things about self-centering drill bits that make them different:

  • Shank design – requires a hex design for maximum power
  • Quick change – if you only have one cordless driver
  • Adjustable depth – for thinner material to avoid  drilling thru your stock
  • Size of chip escape port – to ensure adequate dust removal to not burn the drill bit

Why Choose Snappy Self-Centering Drill Bits?

Simply said, Snappy Tools bits check the box on all of the core requirements. Plus, as a set, they offer all the sizes you’ll likely need.

Other brands offer some of the same capability but not all in one package.

Pros

  • Five bits for any size hole or hardware
  • Top quality springs
  • Chip-clearing design

Cons

  • Price

2. Bosch CC2430 Clic-Change Self-Centering Bit Set

Bosch Self Centering Drill Bit

Popular sizes, fast bit change

With over 70 years experience making power tools, Bosch offers a high quality trusted self-centering drill set​

Overview

When paired with the (optional) Bosch clic-change chuck you’ll find these bits will drop out of your drill with one hand, and then simply insert the driver bit for fast installation of:

Why Choose Bosch Self-Centering Drill Bits?

  1. Price – with these bits being the most affordable of the top three manufacturers
  2. Clic-change – makes the bits easy to swap for driver bits for garages with only one cordless drill.
  3. Brand – Bosch is a name brand in woodworking power tools and these self-centering drill bits.

Pros

  • Three bits for any size hole or hardware
  • Top quality springs
  • Chip-clearing design

Cons

  • Doesn’t include larger bits vs. 5-piece sets

3. Original self-centering drill bit set: S. E. Vic

SE Vick Self Centering Drill Bit

Original manufacturer of Vix bits

These are the original vix bits and offer an adjustable depth control with a hex adjustment tool.​

Overview

As you can see this self-centering bit set is very similar to the Bosch set but with two important changes.

First, this set offers an adjustable depth control that’s perfect for thinner material. By adjusting a set screw you’ll be able to avoid drilling thru your work piece – and be confident you’ve reached a proper screw depth.

But second, if power of grip is a concern you’ll find the drive shaft is smooth. And that requires a higher quality chuck to grab onto these bits.

Why Choose S.E. Vic Self-Centering Drill Bits?

  1. Depth control – versus the Bosch, with the S.E. Vick set you’ll have the ability to adjust depth for your projects. 
  2. Brand – S.E. Vick is an old and trusted brand in drill bits.

Pros

  • Three bits for any size hole or hardware
  • Top quality springs
  • Chip-clearing design
  • Hex depth adjustment

Cons

  • Doesn’t include larger bits vs. 5-piece sets

4. Brad Point Drill Bit Set

Steelex Brad Point Drill Bit

Original manufacturer of Vix bits

These are the original vix bits and offer an adjustable depth control with a hex adjustment tool.​

Overview

While not as fast or arguably as precise, a brad point bit is a trusted way to self center holes. The cons of this bit set, though, are course grained woods like oak can still throw your bit off-center if a hole punch isn’t used.

Pros

  • Precise size options for a wide variety of screws
  • Easy to use
  • Inexpensive for a large, quality set

Cons

  • Slower to use than a traditional self centering drill bit
  • Point can wander in grain and crease mis-alignment

How to Use a Self Centering Drill Bit

How to use a self centering drill bit
Hinges should be drilled with a self centering drill bit - not a regular bit...

As you’d expect these types of drill bits are pretty straight forward to use.

And they are a must for concealed hinges or drawer slide installation to properly place holes. Not to mention door hinges.

But, there are a few things to keep in mind to use them correctly to avoid damage to both the bit and your work piece:

  1. Speed & pressure: make sure you use a proper speed and drill pressure for the wood you’re using.
  2. In & out: for deeper holes in harder woods, drill 1/4″, pull back, blow chips, and repeat.
  3. Depth control: for thinner wood you’ll want to use the depth control for precise holes.
  4. Clean bits: lastly, for sappy woods like pine you may need to clean the bits with a bit cleaner to remove sap that interferes with the barrel operation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a vix bit the same as a self centering drill bit?

Yes – a vix bit and a self centering drill bit are the same.

How do you center a drill bit?

To center a drill bit you’ll need to use either a self-centering drill bit or a hole punch and brad point bit. For hinges, it’s best to use a self centering vix bit; while in open spaces a punch and brad point are usually best.

What is the best self centering drill bit?

The best self centering drill bit combines three things. First, it has a high quality spring that will last for years of use. Second, it will have an adjustable depth control. And lastly the best self-centering bits have large chip clearing ports to ensure dust is removed during drilling.

Summary

Looking to learn more about self centering bits? See our guide to vix bits for more alternatives.

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Last update on 2022-11-22 at 23:13 / Images from Amazon

  • About the Author
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( Woodworker )

Eric has been a professional woodworker for over thirty years and has worked in small cabinet shops making everything from kitchen cabinets to hand-made furniture. Now working from a home woodworking shop Eric is sharing his passion for woodworking, tool advice and how-to knowledge from his Minnesota-based woodshop.

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