Diablo Step Drill Bits Review – Making Holes With An Impact

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diablo step drill bits

With a shop as cluttered as mine, I’m always on the lookout for ways to get better organized. When I had Marie Kondo over recently, she took one look, backed away slowly, and then ran out the door, screaming. In my quest to increase efficiency and decrease clutter, I’m a big fan of tools that can multitask and free up space. And what better way to multitask than with a single drill bit that can drill holes in several sizes? We recently received an assortment of Diablo Step Drill Bits that can do just that – with less wear and tear on your drillin’ arm.

diablo step drill bits
It’s beginning to look a lot like…a tiny, shiny Christmas.

Looking like shiny little metallic Christmas trees, step drill bits, or simply step bits, are designed primarily for drilling through thin metal. Diablo Step Drill Bits can also be a big time saver in other materials, too, such as PVC, plastic, and even wood. We’ll have an example of that shortly; meanwhile, here’s a list of specs and features from Diablo:

• A Split Point Tip (132°) stays sharper longer for easy on-point drilling – no pre-drilling necessary – This translates into increased speed, maximum durability and up to six times longer life of the bit.
• Accu-Grind™ Technology – This process delivers strict angle tolerances on each
step for minimal bit wear and up to two times faster drilling and hole making, for increased tool productivity.
• Drills clean holes, leaving no nasty burrs, and can de-burr holes as well.
• Impact Strong – An impact drill ready ¼” hex shank, which can be used on your
standard corded or cordless drill driver as well as cordless impact drills.
• More efficiency – These bits provide up to 75% more holes per battery charge
when drilling in high speed mode.
• Optimized dual-flute design for jam-free holes and easier chip removal.
• Easy-to-read laser marked steps for accurately drilling holes of varying sizes.
• Increased step heights for easier drilling of common hole sizes
• Ideal for metal (up to 1/8” thickness), PVC and other plastic materials

A Step By Step Guide To Diablo Step Drill Bits

As you might guess by looking at them, step bits start out by making a relatively small hole. The “steps” that follow the initial hole allow the user to make a hole of a very precise diameter. Each step along the way is labeled with its diameter, using laser etched step markings. Diablo also incorporates increased step heights for common hole sizes, which makes drilling holes faster and more efficient.

The size of each step is laser-etched onto the bit…

According to Diablo, its “Accu-Grind” technology helps ensure the cuts are made to the exact size, with no burrs left behind. Using a dual-flute design helps increase drilling efficiency, and eliminates jams.

Diablo Step Drill Bits are available in six models, with varying numbers of “steps.” Available bits include a ½” 6-step bit; a ½” 13-step bit; a ¾” 9-step bit; a 7/8” 12-step bit; a 1-1/8” 17-step bit; and a drill-driver only 1-3/8” 15-step bit.

diablo step drill bits
Making holes with an impact driver is MUCH easier on your joints…

Big Holes Made Easy

One of the features on the various Diablo step drill bits that sets them apart from many other brands is that most of them are impact-rated. Equipped with a ¼” hex shank, five of the six bits will fit into any standard impact driver. Naturally, the bits will also work in a standard drill, but anyone who drills lots of holes knows that an impact driver is WAY easier on the wrist than a torque-prone drill driver.

diablo step drill bits
Making holes with an impact driver is MUCH easier on your joints…

Another user-friendly feature is the split point tip design incorporated into all the Diablo step drill bits. This design helps make sure the hole gets drilled where YOU want it, without having to pre-drill. In addition to keeping the bit from “walking” when starting a new hole, Diablo claims the design increases durability, providing up to 4X longer life.

A split tip on the Diablo step drill bits prevents them from “walking.”

Step Right Up – Let’s Make Some Holes!

Diablo originally sent us five of the six available Diablo step drill bits. The sixth arrived as this post was being written. All of the bits come packaged in a protective plastic case, with a snug-fitting octagonal cover, and a hole to hold the shank in position. The packaging is a great way to help keep the pricey bits from banging around and getting nicked up by hammers and other brutish tools.

diablo step drill bits
Sturdy storage cases help protect the bits.

All of the bits have a good, solid heft and a precision look about them. This is likely due to the fact that they’re made by Freud America, a company known for producing quality bits, in – gasp – Switzerland!

For my initial trial run, I chucked up the ¾” bit into an impact driver, and set out to make a fresh hole in a steel security system box. The Diablo bit stayed put in my chosen location, and quickly chewed its way through the steel.

The Diablo bit worked quickly, with no pre-drilling…

I stopped a couple of times along the way, to check the quality of the expanding holes, and it was clean all the way. When the hole was finished, it was nice and clean, no burrs at all.

diablo step drill bits
The bit was easy to control, even as it finished making the hole…
And it left a nice, clean, perfectly-sized hole, with no burrs

The Diablo Step Drill Bits Nine-Step Program

Again using the ¾” bit in an impact driver, I drilled a series of holes through a piece of sheet metal affixed to plywood. That bit has nine steps, and I made a hole in each of the nine sizes. The driver was easy to control and stop at each step, and once again all of the holes came out nice and clean.

diablo step drill bits
Once again, the 3/4″ bit started smoothly with no pre-drilling…
And I quickly had nine different-sized holes from a single bit.

Although wood isn’t on the Diablo step drill bits diet plan, we used one to chew its way through the walls of a couple of kitchen base cabinets. The installers had drilled a hole for the dishwasher’s water supply line, but it must have been right before quitting time, as there was no hole for the discharge hose.

diablo step drill bits
We chucked up the 1-1/8″ bit, to see how it would do in some tasty wood…

We chucked the 1-1/8” Diablo step bit into a drill driver, to try something different, and went to work. The bit had to go through the plywood walls of two adjacent cabinets, and once again we started the hole with no pre-drilling. With no skating, the bit dug in, and quickly went all the way through both walls. The exit hole in the second cabinet came out perfectly clean, unlike the splintered mess in the original hole, which was probably made with a spade bit.

The big bit quickly chewed through the plywood…
diablo step drill bits
And left a nice, clean hole behind.

Diablo Step Drill Bits – One Small Step For This Man’s Efficiency…

Although traditionally most likely to be found in the tool kits of electricians, plumbers and HVAC techs, an increasing number of other contractors and avid DIYers are discovering the usefulness of step drill bits. The ability to make a wide range of clean hole sizes with a single bit is a good motivator to toss one or two into your tool bag.

A step drill bit could be useful in just about any trade.

Especially for those who drill repeated holes, the ability to use an impact driver is a huge benefit. With the impact driver, your holes are finished quickly and cleanly, and with a whole lot less stress on your wrist.

If you’re a fan of well-made, high quality tools, you’ll likely be impressed with Diablo Step Drill Bits. The bits range in price from around $27 to $50 each, depending on size, and can be purchased individually, or in a three-bit set that includes a ½” bit, a 7/8” bit, and a 1-1/8” bit. If you get them at the Home Depot, their current policy lets you make holes in a wide variety of sizes for up to 180 days – risk free! And your shop or tool bag will no longer give Marie the shivers.

Buy Now - from the Home Depot

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About Phil

Phil’s path to the pinnacle of success as HomeFixated’s Senior Writer was long and twisted. At various stages of his life, he worked as a framing carpenter, attended motorcycle mechanics school, served as an Army MP, did a hot and itchy stint installing insulation in Phoenix, owned and operated a small contracting firm doing residential renovations, and worked as an employee of a major airline (Motto: We’re not happy ‘til YOU’RE not happy). He is currently semi-retired, but continues to take on little projects, such as the total renovation of an old farmhouse. Yes, he is a slow learner. Future projects include a teardown restoration of his 1965 BMW motorcycle, and designing and building a kick-ass playhouse for his grandsons. Phil loves spending time outdoors, hanging out with family and friends, cool tools, and a cold IPA when beer o'clock rolls around.

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