How to Select the Best Drill Bits and Taps

Don’t compromise quality, durability and efficiency with the wrong bits and taps

Pictured Above: Drill bits bought at commercial home improvement stores are not made to withstand the rigors of drilling and tapping horseshoes. They are typically made to be versatile for those who work with wood and plastics. As a result, their longevity and performance are compromised.  Photos: Ryen Carlson

When drilling and tapping horseshoes, there are a huge variety of uses for drill bits and they come in a mind-boggling assortment of styles and sizes.

Most farriers buy their drill bits off the shelf at popular home improvement stores. These generic bits compromise their longevity and performance in metals to also be more versatile in woods and plastics. Drill bits are available in a variety of materials, lengths, configurations, diameters, helix angles and tip designs. (For more, please see “Stud Holes: Tips, Tricks, Misconceptions and Mistakes)


Most people are familiar with “high-speed steel” (HSS) drill bits and “cobalt” (HSS-Co) drill bits. They are commonly available and perform reasonably well in a variety of conditions without being too expensive.

Farrier Takeaways

  • Carbide drill bits last longer than high-speed steel (HSS) and cobalt drill bits but are more expensive.
  • You should always use the shortest bit necessary to accomplish the job. Usually, this means using screw machine length bits when drilling shoes.
  • Chamfering or countersinking your holes is critical. This is best achieved with a step bit, but you can use a second chamfer bit or collar, as well.
  • The standard drill size for a 3/8-16 is 5/16 inches, but O…
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Ryen carlson

Ryen Carlson

Ryen Carlson is a farrier based in Manassas, Va. He owns and operates Distal Steel.

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