This won’t be an incredibly lengthy
review. I mean, we’re talking about spade bits here, not something with
batteries and lots of torque. We’ve used tons of wood boring bits over the
years, and the standard spade bit is a go-to tool for many consumers. It’s
inexpensive, fast and a favorite for quickly cutting through dimensional lumber
to run cabling, pipes or just about anything else.
Irwin makes a comprehensive line of
its Speedbor-branded spade bits. Though they cater their highest number of
sizes to their standard length bits, Irwin has a matrix of solutions that
vary in diameter as well as length. All come with a quick-change 1/4″
hex shank and the standard 6″ shank offers a full 17 selections which
range in size from 1/4″ to 1-1/2″. If you check, you’ll see that this
represents a different bit for each 1/8″ increment. The bits are available
in single packs and even 25-packs for commercial users who want to outfit their
entire crew with specific sizes.
In the short 4″ shank size
there are 6 selections which range from 1/2″ to 1-1/2″ in the more
common sizes (ie. Don’t look for 7/8″ you won’t find it). In the extra-long
16″ shank department, Irwin offers 6 selections, but in slightly differing
sizes. Even the 16″ shanks are available in 25-pack quantities and also
maintain the quick-change 1/4″ hex shank. These bits have their size
etched on the sides – deep enough that they won’t rub off during their expected
life cycle. There is no center hole, so you won’t be able to hang these bits on
a peg board (plan on keeping them in a tool chest to avoid oxidation).
We drilled several holes with a
7/8″ Irwin Speedbor spade bit and found it to be consistent and hold its
edge well. The sharp tip always allowed us to have a precise starting point and
avoid ‘drift.’ After a “bunch” of holes (our technical term for
“more than 20 and less than 100″) we finally got a hole where the bit
showed some tearing around the entry edge. This happened when we didn’t
carefully align the blade vertically at the start of the hole. Now, this is
more of a problem with spade bits in general and not the Irwin. In fact, the
raised edges on the Irwin bits (standard with most spade bits these days) worked
well to prevent this breakout in most holes. To get the smoothest edge, just be
sure to start at a slower speed and then ramp it up to full speed once the
initial hole is started.
Overall, we really like these bits.
They are a standard in the industry in that they are both inexpensive and
consistent performers. Irwin differs from some of the other brands in that they
have a shallower, deeper ejection bevel on the side of the bits. This doesn’t
seem to effect performance one way or the other – at least not that we could
tell, and the shavings certainly seemed to eject from the hole quickly and
without binding. We’d recommend Irwin bits for any application, be it
commercial or for the do-it-yourself project user. You can’t really go wrong
with these tools.
About Irwin Industrial Tools
IRWIN Industrial Tools manufactures and distributes professional grade hand
tools and power tool accessories worldwide for trade professionals who demand
superior performance and durability on the job. IRWIN Industrial Tools’ brand
portfolio features user-preferred category leaders such as IRWIN®, Vise-Grip®,
Marathon®, Quick-Grip®, Speedbor®, Strait-Line®, Unibit®, and Hanson®.