A new approach using an experimental hole drilling technique has been developed to determine the hardness profile of superficially heat-treated steels. This method was based on the proportionality between the hardness of the material tested and the cutting thrust measured during the drilling test. Although it was observed that, overall, the increase in the cutting thrust was linear with hardness, locally the variation of thrust was not necessarily regular and linear in particular for iron-carbon alloys. In fact, other parameters related to the material, other than hardness, can modify the cutting thrust level. We report here on the influence of parameters, such as the type of microstructure and the ductility or the work hardening of material, on drilling thrust. The cutting thrust obtained for various brittle or ductile materials will be discussed using results obtained from hardness tests, micrographic observations and microhardness of the chips obtained by drilling test.