The Best Drill Sharpeners

Inside a Drill Doctor- the best drill bit sharpener? Drill bits are expensive. One of these machines will soon repay your outlay.
Inside a Drill Doctor- the best drill bit sharpener? Drill bits are expensive. One of these machines will soon repay your outlay.

Forcing a blunt drill through either metal or wood will wear out your arms and your patience. It can also damage the material that you are working on.

Anyone who has used a blunt drill bit in wood will have seen smoke coming from the hole. This might not be so bad in a piece of structural four by two. If you are repairing an antique chair (or your wife's heairloom music box) burn marks and ragged holes are not going to be appreciated. Sheet metal can twist up and even tear.

Just as importantly, using a blunt bit puts a strain on your drill. Any motor will burn out in time if it is abused enough. You are will also break a drill much more easily if you are obliged to use force. This can drive anyone crazy when they are trying to finish a job.

For some people, throwing away a piece of quality engineering- like a good drill bit- is just a crying shame.

Drill Bit with Cutting Angle and Lands
Drill Bit with Cutting Angle and Lands
A typical drill sharpening jig.
A typical drill sharpening jig.

How to Sharpen a Drill Bit

If you have a bench grinder, you can sharpen a drill bit. Heavy grinding on the side of a regular grinding wheel is dangerous so you will need a side mounted stone. A diamond grinding wheel will last a lot longer than carborundum if you are planning on sharpening many tools.

You need to examine the drill bit carefully, locate the cutting surfaces, then simply set the drill at the right angle on the grinder to bring up a good edge. Afterwards, use a small file to clear out the grooves in the drill bit- so that wood or metal fragments can easily escape when you use it.

Some people can do this almost straight away, others need a lot of practice. Some people will never be able to sharpen a drill bit by eye alone- I'm one of them. A drill sharpening jig that holds the drill at just the right angle can help out.

Where it gets Difficult

There is more to a drill bit than just the cutting edges. There are the 'lands'. These are areas on the drill bit head that allow the cutting edges to meet the material you are drilling just right. The first few times you sharpen a drill bit you don't need to worry about these. The more you sharpen though- especially if you are heavy handed- the more you need to re-establish the lands. This requires some serious skills and more space to explain than I have room for.

If you want to get a lot of use from your drill bits it is best to use one of the purpose made drill sharpening tools below,

The 5 Best Drill Sharpener Machines and Jigs

Drill Doctor DD750X Drill Bit Sharpener, Around $140 to buy online.
Drill Doctor DD750X Drill Bit Sharpener, Around $140 to buy online.

Drill Doctors

These are probably the best known drill sharpeners. They are quick and easy to use and last a very long time- though you will need to replace the diamond grinding wheel from time to time. The cheapest model for wood and light metal drills is around forty five dollars.

The DD750X model pictured right is the most popular model. It will sharpen standard twist drills and it is easy to create split points. High-speed steel, masonry, carbide, and TiN-coated bits are no more difficult. It is suitable for 3/32-inch to 3/4-inch bit sizes.

Once you have got the hang of the procedures for the different sized bits it shouldn't take more than a minute to save the life of a ten or fifteen dollar bit. There is a simple to follow, fifteen minute overview video included, plus a manual that explains everything in detail. Most people can master a Drill Doctor in an hour.

The Drill Doctor 500X can do the same jobs up to half inch drill bits- which is plenty big enough for many people. You can find them them for less than a hundred dollars at Amazon or Target.

Sharpen spade drill bits with a Drill Doctor DDSB
Sharpen spade drill bits with a Drill Doctor DDSB

Sharpening Spade Drill Bits with a Drill Doctor

The Drill Doctor DDSB will sharpen all kinds of twist drills, as above but also spade drill bits up to half an inch. It costs a few dollars more than a standard half inch Drill Doctor.

Drill bit sharpener jig.
Drill bit sharpener jig.

Drill Bit Sharpener Jig

If you have a bench grinder with a side wheel this will help you get a lot more use from your drill bits. It is suitable for 1/8 to 3/4 inch bits and will do a good job with wood drill bits at a very modest price.

Sharpening Stone for Diamond Drills

A sharpening stone for a diamond drill needs to be especially abrasive. The C.R. Lawrence stone is ideal for all the common kinds and will keep masonry drills in top condition for tough jobs.

Prazi Drill Gadget PR-1500 Manual Drill Bit Sharpening Tool

There are a lot of small, plastic gadgets on the market that claim to sharpen drill bits. Some will and some will not. Even the best ones will only sharpen wood drills.

The Prazi is one of the better ones and can be a useful tool for a few dollars.

What is Better than a Drill Doctor?

If you are looking for a drill bit sharpener for a small engineering business, the name to look for is Darex. Darex sharpeners start at around fifteen hundred dollars but give perfect results every time - high tech, sharpening for high precision work.

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