Forstner Bits

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Forum topic by JP4LSU posted 03-28-2018 04:51 PM 982 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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89 posts in 749 days

03-28-2018 04:51 PM

Topic tags/keywords: forstner bits

Hey guys,
I’m looking to buy a set of Forstner bits. I’m thinking 16 piece but I would ideally like a set that goes up to 2”. So that is most likely a 32 piece set there abouts.

I see some good deals on sets at Grizzly website. Some are Grizzly and some are not.

I don’t really want to spend $300 on a Feud or similar set. The less expensive sets have a mixed bag of reviews many of which say that had to debur them, have to be careful not to overheat because they are dull, etc etc.

So what are you guys using and have been happy with?
Thanks for the info,

17 replies so far

View dschlic1's profile


464 posts in 2571 days

#1 posted 03-28-2018 04:55 PM

I purchased a set from Harbor Freight and have been very happy with them.

View RobHannon's profile


326 posts in 1132 days

#2 posted 03-28-2018 05:08 PM

I have some PorterCable branded ones that have been great, but I imagine how they are made varies a lot. If I was going to spend a lot of money I would look at Fisch over Frued. Maybe a budget set like the Harbor Freight or Steelex and As you find sizes you use a lot replace those with high end ones. Personally I find I use 1/4” 1/2” and 1” the most often.

View bilyo's profile


959 posts in 1704 days

#3 posted 03-28-2018 06:59 PM

One way to do it that is frequently recommended is to not buy sets. Buy only the individual sizes you know you need or have plans for needing and buy good quality. I should have followed that advice as I have lots of tools in sets that never or almost never get used.

View OSU55's profile (online now)


2497 posts in 2591 days

#4 posted 03-28-2018 07:37 PM

I dont use forstners a lot, but I also never know when I’m going to need a certain size. 5+ yrs ago I bought 2 sets, one by 1/16’s the other by 1/8’s, and both go over 2”. grizzly I think, they werent expensive- I think less than $100 for 2 – 16 pc sets. Yes several required some sharpening, a minute or 2 with paddle type diamond hones, which I keep to hone all types of tools anyway. A couple high use ones have been replaced with better, & some have not been used, which is ok, they werent expensive and are there if needed. Many times I dont need an exact size so I use one I havent used. It was the right choice for me – I dont like delays from not having a tool option, but I cant stand hi $ tool inventory doing nothing. Hi value tools solve that issue.

View CaptainKlutz's profile


2208 posts in 2096 days

#5 posted 03-29-2018 12:28 AM

IMHO – Choice depends on how much you will use the bits.
I have used thousands of drill bits for wood, composite, and metal machining.

If rarely used them, then any set will work.
Cheaper sets/bits use lower quality steel and need to be sharpened more often. They are also easier to overheat, and can remove the tempering which makes them useless at holding an edge.

If you plan to use them often, then spend money for top brand. (Highly recommend Fisch Forstner)
Best quality tools are much harder to overheat, hold an edge longer, and will make your life easier.

If you want bits that work continuously for hours on end, the buy get carbide tipped drills (Bormax or Woodtek)

I have made a bunch of router bowls, and use Forstner bits to remove waste before using router, spending hours drilling a lot of holes! Only Forstner bits I found that hold up to hard continuous use are Fisch, or carbide tipped bits. Also have made a ton of MDF cabinet doors with Euro hinges, and carbide bit cut better and lasts longer between sharpening.

As some else mentioned, Suggest it is OK to but a set of inexpensive Forstner bits to have all sizes on hand. But you will quickly have to replace the most used sizes with better quality bits. If your list of commonly used sizes is long, you probably want to just buy a Fisch set initially.

This applies to ANY drill bit.
My HSS brad point bits drove me crazy, always dull quickly and hard to sharpen. So I ended up buying carbide tipped set. Never rejected decision to buy carbide drill bits for wood working.

as always > Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV) and thanks for reading…

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View shipwright's profile


8452 posts in 3400 days

#6 posted 03-29-2018 12:51 AM

I bought a Porter Cable set years ago….. not a big initial output.
As they became “past their prime” I replaced them one a a time with better ones (Freud in my case as they were locally available).
Now I have almost all Freud and never had to face the big ticket. I well know that I did in fact pay the big ticket but never noticed it because it was spread out over time.
The Freuds are infinitely better but the PC’s served their purpose.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View GR8HUNTER's profile


6797 posts in 1314 days

#7 posted 03-29-2018 02:39 AM

what i bought :

replacing them as they wear out with better brand :<))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View JP4LSU's profile


89 posts in 749 days

#8 posted 03-29-2018 10:44 AM

Thanks a lot guys.
Bilyo, OSU, and Klutz you make some very good points and have me rethinking this.
I’m glad I asked, I see a common pattern here. The cheap ones will be replaced eventually. Maybe I just start out buying a few high quality ones and start from there.
Thanks again,

View Redoak49's profile (online now)


4343 posts in 2590 days

#9 posted 03-29-2018 10:58 AM

I have the ones from Woodcraft for 5+ years and happy with them. I finally need to replace some of the smaller ones.

One note is that you need run them at proper speeds.

View JayT's profile


6354 posts in 2813 days

#10 posted 03-29-2018 12:25 PM

My experience is similar to the others. I have a decent quality PC set that contains my most used sizes and a larger inexpensive set for occasional use. Nice part about that setup is that when I bought the bits, especially the large set, I didn’t know what sizes would get used the most. As they wear down, they could be resharpened, but that also tells me which ones are getting the most use and probably need to be replaced with higher quality. There are some surprises in that last category—one size I thought would get a lot of use doesn’t and a couple that I didn’t think would get used as much need upgraded.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View Steve's profile


1694 posts in 1184 days

#11 posted 03-29-2018 01:03 PM

View waho6o9's profile


8811 posts in 3179 days

#12 posted 03-29-2018 02:32 PM

The Porter Cable set is good to start out with if you use most of the bits.

Colt bits work well, a little spendy but worth it.

View Andybb's profile


2346 posts in 1205 days

#13 posted 03-29-2018 02:57 PM

My Harbor Freight set is about 3 years old and doing fine.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View MrRon's profile


5807 posts in 3845 days

#14 posted 03-29-2018 05:22 PM

My HF set has served me surprisingly well. I don’t use forstner bits all that much, but I guess if you use them a lot, they will fail you sooner or later.

View mel52's profile


1181 posts in 867 days

#15 posted 03-29-2018 06:20 PM

I have Porter Cable set which I like and have replaced two of them with better quality when needed.

-- MEL, Kansas

showing 1 through 15 of 17 replies

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