Forstner vs. Spade Bits vs.【Hole Saw】

forstner vs. spade

It is often hard to make a list of “the best” when choosing anything. But what’s harder is to narrow down the best among the best. Similar is the case with drill bits. What type of drill bits must make their way to your workbench? This question is one of the most significant dilemmas faced by any professional or occasional Diy-ers.

If you drill large holes in woods, you must have come across drill bits like Holeslaw, Self-feed, and specially Spade and Forstner.

It will not be a far stretch to say that  Spade and Forstner are the fundamental ones among these drill bits, bringing us to our current debate. The best among the best? Forstner vs. Spade?

Making the right choice 

Determining the must-have drill bit in your toolbox requires a thorough look at each drill bit. So, let’s continue this pressing debate of Forstner bit vs. Spade bit. You can find your answers below;

Distinctive traits: Spade Bit vs. Forstner Bit

In particular, when there is talk about drilling large holes in wood, consider the following aspects:

Unveiling Spade Drill Bits:

Spade bits like flat boring bits are shaped like paddles. Hence the explanation of why some people refer spade bits to as paddle bits, occasionally. When boring large and deep holes in wood, spade bits are among the essentials.

forstner bit vs hole saw

Following the origin of this drill bit leads us to Irwin tools company. This company is the inventor of spade bits. A more in-depth investigation establishes that spade bit is more widely used in US than in UK.

As previously mentioned, spade bits are the large hole drill bits. They come in sizes ranging from 1/4-inch to 1-1/2-inch.

Check this article on best spade bits for more.

Unveiling Forstner Drill Bits:

The name of Forstner bit comes from Benjamin Forstner. In 1886, he gave the design of the Forstner drill bit. The most sought out feature of this drill bit is the absence of long lead screws.

You can label these bits as the clever ones among the others. It is due to their flat bottoms and circular shape. Apart from these notable features, the Forstner bit is guided by the rim.

spade bit vs forstner bit

Moreover, a split ring is present, which has a cutting blade. It produces the ring. One will see a flat blade across the diameter and a pointy tip in the middle for guidance.

To give a clearer viewpoint of Spade vs Forstner, we have discussed another type of drill bit just to elaborate spade vs drill bits or forstner vs drill bits.

Check best forstner bit article to know more about these bits.

Holeslaws- another promising choice?

The name Holeslaw is self-explanatory. Clearly, these drill bits are tools which cut holes, made up of two parts – the mandrel and the blade. If you are looking for an optimum tool providing the functions of spade drill bits and other mixed, holeslaw is a perfect choice.

Holeslaws are known for their diverse cutting ranges as they cut wood, plastics, and various metals, including iron, steel, and aluminum. Also, these bits find their use in piping, tubing, conduit, and cables.

spade bit vs drill bit

Another promising specification is the lack of wood chips produced during drilling. Subsequently, we can say that Holeslaws are also among the must-have drill bits, giving rise to discussions like Forstner vs. Holeslaw or Holeslaw vs. Spade bits.

Alongside that learn about screw gun vs. impact driver.

Who will win this war of best of the best? Forstner vs. spade?

To put a ceasefire in this war of Forstner bit vs. spade bit, look at these distinguished thought-over aspects of both drill bits:

Forstner vs. spade

Cutting Manner

In the case of spade drill bits, beware of the mess produced when you are drilling. Spade drill bits are not precisely the right choice if you can not deal with the cluttering of wood and rough holes. But aside from this drawback, spade drill bits cut through the thickest woods.

Additionally, holeslaws can be nominated for cleaner cuts when compared with spade bits. On top of this, they cut through the entirety of the wood too.

Alternatively, if intricate and cleanest cutting is your deal, the Forstner drill bit is an ideal choice. The reason why these bits produce the finest cuts is the presence of blades around the ring.

Resultantly, a tear-out free and smooth hole is gained. But it does not go all the way through the wood.

Cutting Speed

Spade bits cut faster than Forstner drill bits and Holeslaws.

Among the reasons for the faster cutting speed of spade bits, the main point is the reduced surface area during cutting. Resultantly, less friction and heat helps cut them faster.

Holeslaws take a longer time to cut.

But the slowest speed among the three is the characteristic of Forstner bits. While they give the cleanest cut due to more contact of surface area with wood, the disadvantage lies in lower cutting speed.

Size Ranges:

Forstner Bits have an advantage in this aspect as they come in a lot of sizes. They can range anywhere from 10mm to 90mm. In inches, the range is 1/4-inch all the way to 2-1/4-inches.

Unlike Forstner bits, spade drill bits mostly come in sizes between 1/4-inch to 1-1/2 inches. These range from 6mm to 36mm, which is the flat blade’s length (diameter of the hole).

When talking about holeslaws, the diameter of the hole they produce lies between 1 inch to 6 inches. 

So, in conclusion, Forstner bits offer more size ranges.

Medium of working

The medium of work for both spade bits and Forstner bit is wood. But if you need to drill holes in materials other than wood, holeslaws can drill through plastics, and a variety of metals, including iron, steel, and aluminum.

To elaborate, Forstner vs. spade, for hardwoods, forstner bits are selected. Also, they serve as a great tool when you need crafting in decoration.

On the other hand, spade bits are used in plumbing and wiring. If you need urgent drilling in woods, spade bits are a better choice as they cut fast.

The choice for Angled Drilling

Evidently, for angled drilling in woods, Forstner bits gain more points than spade bits due to their design.

When drilling at an angle, the blade at the rim bites into the wood at the start of the cut which prevents shifting or skipping, affecting the quality of the edge of the hole.

As far as the spade bit is concerned, a force must be applied to the middle pointy tip while drilling straight or at an angle.

So, in the debate of Forstner bit vs. spade bit, Forstner bit has the upper hand here.

Level of Customization

Forstner bits offer you more precise drilling. There is less room for customization in the holes when you use this bit. Also, it makes holes at the exact place and position you want in the wood and saves the material from shifting.

However, spade bits give modified drilling. While Forstner allows precision, by using spade bits, the shapes of the holes can be modified if you change the positions during drilling.

Therefore, the level of customization is higher in spade bits than in the forstner bits.


A lot of opinions exist to answer which drill bit is the most economical among the mentioned drill bits. Many brands of drill bits produce a variance in the price.

Thus, analyzing all the aspects, it is found out that spade bits are the cheapest of the mentioned drill bits. The reason may be the absence of the outer rim.

Forstner on the other hands are the expensive drill bits maybe because more material is required for their manufacture.

Hence, this puts a stop to our discussion of which drill bit is better than the other.

However, there are multiple brands therefore learn about them Kobalt vs. Craftsman and Ryobi vs. Ridgid.

Which drill bit should be crowned as the better choice? Forstner or Spade?

Finding out the must-have drill bit or, in other words discussing forstner bit vs. spade bit is a relative process. We have broken down every detail of the spade bit and forstner bit.

Ultimately, the decision really depends on your requirements. If you can get what you want from all the mentioned drill bits, then the rational choice would be to buy all those drill bits.


Starting from spade bits, if you are running on a low budget and short time, it is the ideal choice. Generally favorable when the wood is thick, and a deep hole is a need. Spade bits go by the name of paddle bits too. So there goes our debate about paddle bit vs. spade bit.

Forstner bits are ideal when you cannot handle any mess. The sought-out features are tear-free holes and smooth cuts. A great choice in decoration, indeed. The bits make flat bottom holes but are slower.

Holeslaws are a fusion of drill bits. They work best when you need multiple features in a single tool. Moreover, the most variety is offered by these bits.

That said, each type has its unique applications and this should be the primary factor when determining which one to buy.