Forstner Bits: Not Your Average Drill Bits

Famag Forstner Bit Sets

We tried Forstner Bits from just about every manufacturer and FAMAG outperformed them all. With over 150 years of experience in the wood boring industry, FAMAG offers a complete range of premium quality Forstner Bits & unique accessories that improve the quality of your woodwork.

Sometimes I get curious about the origin of things. In this case, I was curious about how Forstner drill bits came to be. I did a little digging and came up with a tidbit of information on Wikipedia and woodworkinghistory.com. Seems there was this gunsmith named Benjamin Forstner.

Benjamin Forstner Source: http://www.auroracolony.org/old/families/forstner_family/
Benjamin Forstner (Source: http://www.auroracolony.org/old/families/forstner_family/)

If you know anything about guns, you know that during the early years of gun manufacturing, gun stocks and grips were fitted by hand to each gun. This required great skill and accuracy in drilling the recesses necessary to accommodate the barrel and stock of the gun.

To quote Wikipedia:

The Forstner bit was "patented on September 22, 1874, [and] was to make him a rich man. Without the lead screw (which Forstner called the "gimlet-point") and cutting lips of more conventional wood boring bits it would prove especially useful to gunsmiths like himself and other high-end woodworkers. The bit was unsurpassed in drilling an exceedingly smooth-sided hole with a flat bottom. It was better than the Russell Jennings twist bits for boring at an angle and not following the grain of the wood.

Forstner bits are unique in their ability to drill overlapping holes, notches on the edges of a workpiece, and angled holes on the face of a workpiece (pocket holes, for example). The bit will cut whether or not the center spur is engaging the workpiece. This feature is unique to the Forstner bit.

Famag Forstner bits, sold by Infinity Cutting Tools excel at drilling clean, flat-bottom holes, even in the edge of a workpiece.
Famag Forstner bits, sold by Infinity Cutting Tools excel at drilling clean, flat-bottom holes, even in the edge of a workpiece.

As time wore on, patents expired, and dozens of manufacturers sought to improve on the design. One of those companies is Famag, based in Germany.

Famag Forstner-Style Bits by Infinity Cutting Tools
Famag Forstner-Style Bits by Infinity Cutting Tools

Unlike your run-of-the-mill Forstner bit, Famag bits have a unique geometry that creates a clean, flat-bottom hole without burning and clogging.

The first thing you'll notice is that the entire circumference of the bit isn't a cutting edge as it is on cheaply made bits. The bits have sort of a scoring tooth that quickly scores the outside diameter of the hole. This prevents burning.

Then if you look at the flat cutting edges on the inside that actually do the bulk of the cutting, you'll notice some differences there, too. The cutting edges have notches cut into them. The result is small shavings that are less likely to clog the bit.

Infinity Cutting Tools carries a full line of Famg Forstner bits. I use them. And I highly recommend them.