Do It Yourself: Drill Bit Sharpening

Keeping your drill bits sharpened is probably more important than you realize. Find out why, and how to sharpen them.

There are many different types of drill bits that perform many different types of jobs. When you are working around the house, you need to use the right drill bit for the job. It makes the job go easier, and it helps to keep them sharp and free from breakage and other damage.

A quality set of drill bits can make a fairly good - sized hole in your pocketbook, especially if you buy several of them. They should last you for a long time to come, though, if you take proper care of them. To do this, you should store them in a sturdy case. The case should have separate holders or compartments so that each bit is stored individually. If you toss your drill bits into a toolbox or drawer, and allow them to roll around loosely, the tips and the cutting edges can easily be broken or dulled. Another thing you need to do in order to take proper care of your drill bits is to keep them sharpened so they can perform their best. Drill bits can be sharpened over and over again. Of course, the larger the bit, the more times it can be sharpened. An added plus is: that by keeping your bits sharp at all times, you will actually save wear and tear on your electric drill. The sharper the bit, the smoother and faster it will work.

You can save yourself time and money by sharpening your drill bits yourself. It is best that you sharpen your bits on an occasional basis, rather than waiting until they are dull. A dull drill bit takes longer to make its way through a surface, and it will ultimately produce a ragged hole.

An electric bench grinder with a diamond-grinding wheel is probably the best way to sharpen a variety of drill bits. Carbon wheels can also be used to sharpen, but they wear out much sooner than their harder diamond counterparts. By using a grinder, you can sharpen most types of drill bits, including standard, masonry, high speed steel bits, carbon steel, carbide, titanium nitride, and cobalt.

To sharpen a standard twisted drill bit, you will first need to put on your eye protection. Then, turn the electric bench grinder on low speed. Hold the bit by its smooth base, either tightly between your fingers, or with a pair of pliers. As you can see, the drill bit has a conical - shaped top that is broken up by the ridges. This is the part that does the actual puncturing of the material. The ridges in the side have another job to do. Their function is to gather and to hold the shavings that are made as the drill works its way down through the material. That is why you need to keep these ridges cleaned out, so they can do their job properly.

Now, hold the drill bit at an angle so that the grinding wheel will meet one of the sloped sides of the conical top. Apply light pressure and place the bit against the wheel, turning the bit slowly. Let up, then apply a light pressure again. Your objective is to sharpen the sides of the conical top. Never try to sharpen the point of the top by placing it flat against the grinding wheel! Use your fingertip to check the sharpness of the drill bit every so often. Repeat this process until the top of the drill bit is sharpened, but be careful not to grind off too much! A little at a time, until the bit is sharp, will do the job nicely. You must be especially careful when sharpening drill bits that are small in diameter. They are, of course, easier to break.

To finish the job, you should place the drill bit in a vise and use a metal file to sharpen up the edges of the ridges. If the ridges are very dull, you can use the electric bench grinder instead.

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