Last year we covered Irwin’s release of their (then-)new spade bit, the SPEEDBOR Blue-Groove, which claimed to drill four times faster than a standard spade bit. But it looked pretty much like a regular spade bit. Now Irwin’s bringing a new design to the game — something that looks more revolutionary: basically, Irwin took the best elements of the spade bit, brad point bit, forstner bit, and auger bit slammed them all together to create the new SpeedBor Max.

They took a standard spade bit and expanded the brad points on the edges so it would cut clean without tearout — like a bradpoint. Then they added a self-feed screw point to the center — like an auger bit — to deliver faster bores without you having to push as hard on the back of the drill. Finally, they added open flutes to clear out chips, like a forstner bit.

While it’s nominally geared towards construction and carpentry users, woodworkers should love the clean entry and exit holes.

So how is it not a spade bit? Well, they added a third cutting edge. So instead of two opposite each other like a spade bit, these have three spread out evenly around the drill. This improved speed through more cutting surfaces, and durability since your spreading the wear over 50% surface area.

How much is all this monstrous boring action going to set you back? Anywhere from $6 for the 1/2“ bit to about$10 for the 1-1/4” bit. You can also get them in sets of three or six. The set of three includes the 5/8”, 3/4”, and 1” sizes, while the set of six adds the 1/2″, 7/8”, and 1-1/4” over the smaller set. Prices start around $12 for the 3-piece set and$24 if you shop around for the 6-piece. (Just make sure you steer clear of Irwin’s InnerPain, err. I mean InnerGrip glove in the picture. Check out our hands-on from Glove Week)

6-Piece Set Via Amazon [What’s this?]
3-Piece Set Via Amazon [What’s this?]

10 Responses to Irwin’s New SpeedBor Max Drill Bits

1. Rob says:

Those look pretty nice. It’s hard to beat spade bits for economy when making big holes in wood but the next time I need a clean hole, I’m going to check these out.

2. PutnamEco says:

I’m telling you, try the Milwaukee’s, the Irwins work allright but the Milwaukees are Excellent. They cut the smoothest, stay sharp the longest, and bind the least.
The only downside is they are a pain to sharpen.
And they have larger sizes, to boot.

http://www.milwaukee-et.com/int\int_products.nsf/vwWebAccessoryLevel4/drilling-drill-bits-wood-selfeed-bits?OpenDocument&nav1=pro

3. Eli says:

These are alright, but you’re going all the way through if you use them. The lead screw is really long and just pulls the bit straight through. Snap your wrist if you aren’t ready for it, they’re so torquey (sp?)

4. Walter Gorbach says:

I bought a set of these a while back when the first came out at Lowe’s. Have tried and tried to drill studs and rafters for wiring, but 90% of the time, these fail to go all the way through. The screw points don’t seem to run true, so most of the time the bit strips itself out before it can penetrate fully. Also the flutes clog terribly.
I suspect these would work better in some well seasoned hardwood, but when I’m working with pricey hardwoods, I’m usually looking for more accuracy than a bit of this style can deliver.
Stay with Irwin’s good old standard woodboring bits and you can’t go wrong. (or invest in a beautiful set of expensive selffeed bits)

5. Chaim says:

Just a note on Walter’s comment…these *DO NOT* work on hardwood. Get a forstner bit for hardwood. You’ll break your wrist or the bit before you get through. I’ve used them for running wire through studs and they work like a charm. They are “torquey” ask Eli said.

Never used the milwaukee, though now I’m tempted.

6. Jon says:

I noticed that Rockler is now carrying their own entry in this same space. A bit difficult to tell much from the pictures, but these look like they might be a better solution to the same problem.
http://www.rockler.com/blog/index.cfm?commentID=240

7. wilco says:

Those Rockler bits look like they have parabolic flutes, which you normally find only on very expensive industrial quality metalworking drill bits from companies like Precision Twist Drill, Guhring, and so on. You can see examples in industrial catalogs that carry machinists tooling, e.g. MSC (www.mscdirect.com). Parabolic flutes give better chip clearance and hole finish for precision drilling.

Frankly, those Rockler bits seem like overkill for woodworking, especially rough hole drilling.

Personally, I don’t like bits with screw points because they can draw the bit too fast into the wood. I tried one with a good DeWalt 1/2″ drill, and the screw point was so aggressive in pulling the bit forward that the drill kept stalling. You really need a drill with a lot of torque for large self-feed bits to work, the kind of drills sold for that purpose.

Bosch came out with a traditional flat spade bit but with a screw point formed into the flat center point, a sort of hybrid self-feed/spade bit. I wonder how well they work.

8. Fred says:

Matching the bit to the job, I’ve always have used either Greenlee or Milwaukee self-feed bits to rough-in plumbing or wiring. A good 1/2 inch right angle Milwaukee Hole-Hawg drill supplies the torque – but hold onto that pipe side handle or the rear D-Handle (If I had 3 hands I’d be even better).
When torque-reaction is likely to be more than just a small problem – I reach for an old (Skil) electric impact wrench fitted with a 1/2 inch auxillairy chuck. This setup is not suitable for wimpy drill bits that lar likely to shatter – but with sturdy bits – the impact wrench just gives the bit a few hits – with very little transmitted back to the user.