Irwin Speedbor Spade Bit Review
Irwin Speedbor spade bits are nowhere near a newcomer to the professional accessories stage. In general, they enjoy a fine reputation among users across the country. But do they deserve it?
I’m going to take a quick look at how they compare to other spade bits that frequent our shop and determine where they fit among their peers.
Before we get started, here’s what Irwin has to say about Speedbor spade bits:
- Blue-Groove point and cutting edge for faster chip removal – 4x faster than standard spade bits
- Double cutting spurs scribe the outside of the hole reducing breakout
- 10% larger shank for added durability
- Grooved hex shank prevents slipping in drill chuck or bit extension
- Fits all standard quick change chucks
Against a “Standard” Spade Bit
Calling a spade bit “standard” can have plenty of meanings. In our case, “standard” means our Milwaukee Flat Boring Bits. When it comes to design, there’s not a whole lot of difference in the way the tips and grooves are structured.
What is different is how stout Irwin Speedbor spade bits are. They’re thicker from spade to shaft. That will help prevent any bending in the unlikely event you manage to torque it really hard. But is there a performance difference?
The short answer is yes. Irwin bores at roughly 23% faster on average in my testing, assuming you’re letting the drill and the bit do the work. The drilling action is a little smoother for Irwin and the tearout is pretty much the same. If I bear down and ignore the quality of the results, I’m able to put more pressure on the Irwin bits without binding up my drill.
Between these two, Irwin has the advantage.
Against a Go-To Spade Bit
While I’m happy to let David C. Smith teach his Safety Third crew using our standard spade bits, we turn to Bosch’s Daredevil spade bits for our real work. These use a threaded tip design with a wave in the paddle. Bosch has sold over 50 million of these and we hear from Pros all the time that they are the best bits on the market.
With a 1″ Irwin Speedbor spade bit in the chuck, the boring action is fairly smooth and consistent. There’s no reason to think I’d be disappointed with using them full-time.
Bosch’s Daredevil tells a different tale. With the threaded tip, I don’t have to provide any pressure once the tip grabs hold. The action is smoother and there’s less tearout on most holes. It’s just a flat-out fast, smooth experience. But…
… in denser parts of the wood, Bosch is more likely to bind up just before pushing through. In a 5-hole race, Bosch got stuck in two holes going through pressure treated pine. Even with the delay, Bosch is still about 9% faster.
Between these two, Bosch still holds its place at the top.
Price and Value
Individual Irwin Speedbor spade bits will run in the $3 – $5 range unless you need the extra long shafts. The 8-piece set I’m using is $30.99. A similar set from Milwaukee will set you back $20 and a comparable set from Bosch is $11. That makes Irwin’s price pretty tough to swallow, even if you shop around.
The Bottom Line
Irwin Speedbor spade bits are a nice step up from standard bits and offer better durability with a thicker build. However, that upgrade comes at a significant cost while still falling short of the performance you get from Bosch Daredevil spade bits that run less for a similar set. While Irwin definitely gives you Pro performance, you can get faster, smoother drilling while spending less.
Where Irwin is going to come out on top is when you want to avoid a threaded tip to have more control over the drilling process. That won’t be the case for most rough work, but it’s a consideration if you’re using a spade bit in any hardwoods.
Irwin Speedbor Spade Bits Specifications
- Model: Irwin Speedbor 341008
- Includes Sizes: 3/8″, 1/2″, 5/8″, 3/4″, 7/8″, 1″, 1-1/8″, 1-1/2″
- Price: $30.99