I have a black oxide bit and a titanium bit but do not understand what the difference, if any, is between them. Is it how long they last or how they cut the wood? Anything on this would be great!

  • 2
    Many consumers lose the bit before this can make a difference...
    – keshlam
    May 4, 2016 at 9:36
  • @keshlam, or drop the darn thing and dull it.
    – grfrazee
    May 4, 2016 at 18:03
  • Alas, I can't really justify a sharpener, even if they are relatively cheap.
    – keshlam
    May 4, 2016 at 20:31

3 Answers 3


Black Oxide

Bits coated with black oxide should be cheaper than titanium ones. They have decent heat resistance. Most sites that talk about the breakdown between the types rate these for better water, rust and corrosion resistance.


Titanium is a little ambiguous as there are multiple coating that use titanium. For the most part though they should outlast black oxide bits and are better rated for heat resistance. so you should be able to run them faster for longer.

What does this mean for a woodworker?

Both bits are rated for more or less the same materials. It is true that titanium coated should outlast a black oxide coated bit. However, for a wood worker, they should both be just fine and provide the same results in relatively comparative times (This largely depends on each bits size and pitch as well as some other factors).


Between Black Oxide and Titanium coatings, bits with a Titanium based coat will generally fare better when drilling through soft steels and other metals (~A36 hardness). The greatest contributing factor, however, is the base material used to make the bit, and how it was formed (forged vs. ground). A soft, ground bit will not fare as well with the same coating as a harder, forged bit.

Strictly between same material bits, those with Ti coats will outlast those with Black Oxide in denser materials. This is due to Ti bits having greater surface hardness, which allows the structure to hold up against the longer duration drill times needed to bore the denser materials. Even with the increased ‘lubricity’ (or reduction of friction due to surface texture) Black Oxide bits boring in metals are slowed; such that friction resilience can not compensate for lack of competitive surface hardness.

TL;DR: Friction wears soft bit surfaces faster. Titanium coated bits generally have greater hardness, and thus last longer.


For wood working it makes no difference at all. Titanium coating is an exceptionally thin layer of titanium nitride on HSS or other steel ; produces a gold color. Claimed to be an advantage cutting high strength steels (not wood). black oxide is the normal oxides that are on HSS ( high speed steels ) when tempered at the usual tempering temperatures of 950 to 1100 F. Again adding a very thin hard layer , and saving the manufacturer the cost of removing it.If a bit is ever resharpened these coating are gone. Searching the internet , I find "black oxide" is more of a decorative finish with very marginal corrosion protection ( my evaluation as a corrosion professional).

  • One thing I think is interesting about this is that looked at in isolation is does at first seem to make no difference, but in practice it does for a couple of reasons. I didn't answer the Q back then for various reasons, the main one being I didn't want to write a treatise on twist bits! First thing is that you often see the oxide coating on cheaper bits so black might by itself point to the steel not being as good as typical bits coated in nitride. P.S. The black oxide is generally formed as a distinct manufacturing process, it's not the native black scale.
    – Graphus
    Apr 20, 2019 at 6:11

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