Knowing how to sharpen drill bits is always important if you want to keep your bits working properly without having to constantly replace them once they start to wear. Blunt drill bits can damage the material you drilling, meaning poor results. They can also damage your drill. To help you sharpen drill bits safely and effectively, we’ve put together a few tips.
How to Sharpen Your Drill Bits
Whether you are using a tool to sharpen your drill bits or sharpening them by hand, safety should always be your first priority. Here are some things that you’ll need to keep in mind when sharpening your bits.
Step 1: Choose the right tool
There are 3 tools used to sharpen bits: belt sanders, bench grinders or bit sharpeners. Although bits can be sharpened by hand with files, this process is time-consuming and won’t always deliver results. If you decide to sharpen by hand, you will need to use a vice to hold the bit steady, then file at a 60-degree angle. Run the file over the edges until they feel sharper. The simplest and most effective tool, however, is a bench grinder. If you’re sharpening twist bits, which are the easiest bits to sharpen, a bench grinder will make the process go faster. These tools are common workshop tools, meaning that you will likely have one already if you regularly do a lot of DIY projects.
Step 2: Follow safety protocols
Whatever tool you choose, basic power tool safety rules will generally apply. There is one rule that doesn’t always apply. Many believe that safety gloves can actually make sharpening more dangerous, as the material of the glove can get stuck in the bit as it is being sharpened. As your hand is very close to the sharpening tool, many advise leaving the gloves off. Others also note that gloves can make it harder to get a proper grip on the drill as it is being sharpened. When you are sharpening a bit using a tool, you will need to be extremely careful to avoid getting your fingers too close to the tool. Using a file to smooth over any rough patches or burrs on the drill bit shank is also a good idea to prevent them from scratching or cutting your fingers. A non-optional safety rule is to always wear goggles as metal chips will start flying as the bit is sharpened.
Step 3: Go carefully and avoid rushing
You do not want to rush the process. To avoid accidents, work carefully and steadily. Your goal is to remove just enough metal to sharpen the edge. Most bend grinders have a coarse grinding wheel and a fine grinding wheel. For bits that are extremely worn, old or in need of major sharpening, use the coarse wheel. For bits that need only a little bit of sharpening, use the fine wheel. Put on your goggles, switch on your grinder, keep the bit held at 60 degrees and carefully turn the bit until it touches the wheel, without rotating or turning. Hold the bit at this angle for just a few seconds. You don’t want to wear down the bit - you want to sharpen the dull edges. Grinding the part of the bit where the twist meets the shank will give you the perfect angle. As soon as you remove the bit from the wheel, place it into ice water to cool the bit. Overheated bits pose a major safety risk and can also wear down faster during grinding. Once the bit is cool, check to see if the edge is sharp enough. Next, flip the bit over at a 180-degree angle to file the other side of the bit. You may need to repeat this process on both sides a few times to get the bit perfectly sharp.
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