Drill Bit Sizes}

By n9LwR4 On September 16th, 2017

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Drill bit sizes

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Drill bits are the cutting tools of drilling machines. They can be made in any size to order, but standards organizations have defined sets of sizes that are produced routinely by drill bit manufacturers and stocked by distributors.

In the U.S., fractional inch and gauge drill bit sizes are in common use. In nearly all other countries, metric drill bit sizes are most common, and all others are anachronisms or are reserved for dealing with designs from the US. The British Standards on replacing gauge size drill bits with metric sizes in the UK was first published in 1959.

A comprehensive table for metric, fractional wire and tapping sizes can be found at the drill and tap size chart.

Metric drill bit sizes

Metric drill bit sizes define the diameter of the bit in terms of standard metric lengths. Standards organizations define sets of sizes that are conventionally manufactured and stocked. For example, British Standard BS 328 defines sizes from 0.2 mm to 25.0 mm.

From 0.2 through 0.98 mm, sizes are defined as follows, where N is an integer from 2 through 9:

N 0.1 mm

N 0.1 + 0.02 mm

N 0.1 + 0.05 mm

N 0.1 + 0.08 mm

From 1.0 through 2.95 mm, sizes are defined as follows, where N is an integer from 10 through 29:

N 0.1 mm

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N 0.1 + 0.05 mm

From 3.0 through 13.9 mm, sizes are defined as follows, where N is an integer from 30 through 139:

N 0.1 mm

From 14.0 through 25.0 mm, sizes are defined as follows, where M is an integer from 14 through 25:

M 1 mm

M 1 + 0.25 mm

M 1 + 0.5 mm

M 1 + 0.75 mm

In smaller sizes, bits are available in smaller diameter increments. This reflects both the smaller drilled hole diameter tolerance possible on smaller holes and the wishes of designers to have drill bit sizes available within at most 10% of an arbitrary hole size.

The price and availability of particular size bits does not change uniformly across the size range. Bits at size increments of 1 mm are most commonly available, and lowest price. Sets of bits in 1 mm increments might be found on a market stall. In 0.5 mm increments, any hardware store. In 0.1 mm increments, any engineers’ store. Sets are not commonly available in smaller size increments, except for drill bits below 1 mm diameter. Drill bits of the less routinely used sizes, such as 2.55 mm, would have to be ordered from a specialist drill bit supplier. This subsetting of standard sizes is in contrast to general practice with number gauge drill bits, where it is rare to find a set on the market which does not contain every gauge.

Metric dimensioning is routinely used for drill bits of all types, although the details of BS 328 apply only to twist drill bits. For example, a set of Forstner bits may contain 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 mm diameter cutters.

Drill bits are the cutting tools of drilling machines. They can be made in any size to order, but standards organizations have defined sets of sizes that are produced routinely by drill bit manufacturers and stocked by distributors.

In the U.S., fractional inch and gauge drill bit sizes are in common use. In nearly all other countries, metric drill bit sizes are most common, and all others are anachronisms or are reserved for dealing with designs from the US. The British Standards on replacing gauge size drill bits with metric sizes in the UK was first published in 1959.

A comprehensive table for metric, fractional wire and tapping sizes can be found at the drill and tap size chart.

Metric drill bit sizes

Metric drill bit sizes define the diameter of the bit in terms of standard metric lengths. Standards organizations define sets of sizes that are conventionally manufactured and stocked. For example, British Standard BS 328 defines sizes from 0.2 mm to 25.0 mm.

From 0.2 through 0.98 mm, sizes are defined as follows, where N is an integer from 2 through 9:

N 0.1 mm

N 0.1 + 0.02 mm

N 0.1 + 0.05 mm

N 0.1 + 0.08 mm

From 1.0 through 2.95 mm, sizes are defined as follows, where N is an integer from 10 through 29:

N 0.1 mm

N 0.1 + 0.05 mm

From 3.0 through 13.9 mm, sizes are defined as follows, where N is an integer from 30 through 139:

N 0.1 mm

From 14.0 through 25.0 mm, sizes are defined as follows, where M is an integer from 14 through 25:

M 1 mm

M 1 + 0.25 mm

M 1 + 0.5 mm

M 1 + 0.75 mm

In smaller sizes, bits are available in smaller diameter increments. This reflects both the smaller drilled hole diameter tolerance possible on smaller holes and the wishes of designers to have drill bit sizes available within at most 10% of an arbitrary hole size.

The price and availability of particular size bits does not change uniformly across the size range. Bits at size increments of 1 mm are most commonly available, and lowest price. Sets of bits in 1 mm increments might be found on a market stall. In 0.5 mm increments, any hardware store. In 0.1 mm increments, any engineers’ store. Sets are not commonly available in smaller size increments, except for drill bits below 1 mm diameter. Drill bits of the less routinely used sizes, such as 2.55 mm, would have to be ordered from a specialist drill bit supplier. This subsetting of standard sizes is in contrast to general practice with number gauge drill bits, where it is rare to find a set on the market which does not contain every gauge.

Metric dimensioning is routinely used for drill bits of all types, although the details of BS 328 apply only to twist drill bits. For example, a set of Forstner bits may contain 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 mm diameter cutters.

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