Drill bits are good, but there is a bit of a downside to drill bits. Due to the small nature of the drill bits, they often get worn out easily and quickly too. Whenever the drill bit gets worn out, it is usually replaced with a new one to continue the task. But what happens to the previous drill bit?
Most times, the worn-out drill bit is usually discarded but what if I told you that you can sharpen your drill bits to get them as good and sharp as new. Instead of discarding the worn-out drill bit, you can sharpen it and use it again.
This means you don’t have to spend much purchasing new sets of drill bits every time one gets dull. Instead, you can just sharpen the bits.
This reduces the amount you spend on drill bits and it makes your bits last longer. So how to sharpen drill bits? Well, that’s what this post is going to address. This post will identify and explain all you need to know about sharpening your drill bits. So, let’s get on with it.
How to Sharpen Drill Bits
Sharpening drill bits sounds like a very easy task and that’s because it is. However, you need to know what you are doing and what tools to use at each step of the process to make the task as easy as possible.
The steps below have been carefully drafted and explained to make the whole process easier. So let’s check them out.
Put on Your Safety Gear & Gather The Tools
As much as sharpening drill bits is about the drill bit, you need to exercise a bit of caution too. This is because things can quickly sway out of control if care is not taken so it’s best to protect yourself from any possible injuries.
Put on a thick pair of gloves, a pair of goggles, and ear muffs because of the noise. Except for these, here are the other things you need
- Clean rags
- A file
- A Bench Grinder
Clean the Drill Bit
Before you go ahead to sharpen the drill bit, you have to clean it first. The reason is that you may have burrs and other tiny pieces on the drill bit from the last time it was used.
As tiny as these burrs are, they can still cut you which is another reason to wear a pair of gloves. The burrs can also affect the movement of the grinder while sharpening the drill bit.
To clean the drill bit, start by running a file across the shank and other parts of the drill bit. Do this for about 10 seconds and then use a clean rag to clean the drill bit.
Inspect and Turn on the Bench Grinder
The bench grinder is what you will use to sharpen the drill bit. You need to ensure it’s in perfect condition before you use it. After that, turn on the bench grinder.
Bench grinders have different ways of turning them on. Check the manual yours to know how to power it on. While turning on the bench grinder, ensure your palm isn’t placed on the wheel of the grinder.
The wheel of the bench grinder spins as fast as 3500 RPM. You don’t want to place your hand or any other item on the wheel when you turn the grinder on.
The wheel is the part of the bench grinder that sharpens the drill bit. As the wheel spins, the drill bit is placed against the spinning wheel and the friction removes the dull surface of the drill bit.
Get a Firm Grip of Your Drill Bit
While sharpening your drill bit, you need to have a firm hold of the drill bit so it doesn’t fall out of place or become stuck between the grinding wheels.
You are to hold the drill bit straight with both hands and at a 60-degree angle to the face of the wheel of the bench grinder. The grinding wheel of the bench grinder sharpens the drill bit. You are not to turn, rotate, or spin the drill bit at any point while sharpening the drill bit.
If you want to change the side being sharpened or you want to turn the drill bit for any other reason, you should stop sharpening first.
Then you can turn the drill bit and continue sharpening it. If you aren’t comfortable with placing the drill bit on the spinning wheel of the bench grinder, you can place the drill bit correctly on the wheel of the bench grinder before turning it on.
Sharpen the Drill Bit
After holding the drill bit correctly with both hands, means you are ready to sharpen the drill bit. If you already turned on the grinder, you can just go ahead to place the drill bit firmly and in the correct position (Hold the bit at a 60-degree angle to the surface of the wheel) on the spinning wheel.
You should go slowly to prevent an outburst of sparks. Remember to also put on your safety goggles while sharpening the drill bit. If you did not turn on the bench grinder before, you can place the drill bit correctly to the surface of the wheel and then turn on the angle grinder.
Bench grinders usually have two wheels. One is coarser than the other. If your drill bit is very dull, then you can start with the coarse wheel before moving on to the finer wheel. However, it’s not very often to see a drill bit so dull that it needs the coarse wheel of a bench grinder. The finer wheel is usually the best bet.
While sharpening the drill bit, you shouldn’t leave a side of the drill bit for more than 5 seconds. This means you shouldn’t sharpen a side of the drill bit for more than 4-5 seconds.
You are just trying to sharpen the bit by removing the blunt and rusty metal covering on the bit. You are not trying to wear down the bit.
When you are done sharpening aside, you should dip the bit in cold water to cool it down. This prevents the drill bit and the wheel of the bench grinder from overheating. If the bit becomes too hot, it will be difficult to hold it firmly and excessive heat will wear down the bit faster.
Inspect the Drill Bit
Drill bits because of their design do not require a lengthy time to sharpen. After sharpening for a while, put the drill bit in cold water so it can cool down and so you can see the bit. Then if you are satisfied, you can stop sharpening the bit. If you aren’t you can continue to sharpen the bit.
As an extra tip, you should focus on grinding the heel of the bit. This is the part of your drill bit where the tip meets the twisted shaft.
Keeping the drill bit at an angle where you can grind the heel of the bit gives you a better chance of achieving a smooth and evenly sharpened drill bit.
If you are satisfied with the side you sharpened, then you can turn the drill bit 180 degrees to its other side. Use the same 60-degree angle hold to keep the drill bit firmly in place and you can sharpen that side too.
After you are satisfied with the smoothness of the drill bit, you need to clean up with a rag and then let the equipment cool. Clean the drill bit and the bench grinder with a rag. You can also use that opportunity to clean the inner parts of the drill you are working with.
When the equipment cools, you can oil the moving parts to allow easy friction. Then you are ready to use the drill bit again.
If your drill bit is a very small one, then you can just use a file to sharpen the bit though the smaller models aren’t usually sharpened. The smaller bits usually come in a pack of 4, 6, or 8 bits and above. So with the smaller bits, replacement wouldn’t be much of a costly option.
How Long Do Drill Bits Last?
Drill bits aren’t particularly known for their durability. While the tools make woodworking and joinery generally easier, the bits don’t last long.
Drill bits last between 5 days and 3 weeks under heavy usage. On average, drill bits last for about 2 weeks before they start to get damaged but that is if you use and maintain the drill bit well.
If your drill bits last beyond 3 weeks, that must be a top-notch quality drill bit or you only use the bit once in a while. Either way, drill bits don’t last long. Even if you only use the drill bits regularly, it might not last more than one month.
A very good piece of advice for your drill bits to last is to stick to the instructions. Use the bit for only the recommended surface.
Use short drill bits for small holes and longer bits for larger holes. Most of the time, drill bits wear out quickly because you are most likely using them on the wrong surface. Now you know how long the drill bits last but how long should you use the drill bit before sharpening it? Find out more on that below.
How Long Should You Use Your Drill Bit Before Sharpening It?
Sharpening drill bits is an effective way of prolonging the life span of the bits. However, this isn’t something you want to make a habit of as it will wear out your drill bits quickly. It is usually advised to sharpen the drill bits an hour before using them.
Sharpening your drill bits immediately after use will only cause the bit to give way. This is because the intense heat and friction from the task you just completed and even greater friction and heat from the sharpening process will only damage the drill bit.
So your best bet is to sharpen the drill bit between an hour and two hours before you use it. That way you can sharpen the bit well before you use it and the time frame also allows the hot bit to cool down.
Another advantage of sharpening an hour before use is that you wouldn’t need to sharpen the drill bit every time. You can only sharpen it before you use it.