Spade bits provide a low-cost means for plumbers, electricians, and framers to drill medium- to large-diameter holes. In addition to the original paddle-shaped spade, bits are now available with barbed edges, curved paddles, and self-feed screw tips. For this article, electrician Brian Walo put 13 spade bits (1 in. dia. and 6 in. long) through two tests: a high-speed/low-torque test and a low-speed/high-torque test. The Bosch Daredevil, a curved-paddle bit with a self-feed screw tip, not only was the best overall performer, but it also yielded the lowest cost per hole. As a group, the fluted bits performed poorly in the high-speed/low-torque test, but they outdistanced all other competitors in the low-speed/high-torque test. A third test was also performed, on wood spiked with framing nails, but because few bits survived this test, results are not included in the article.
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