How to Sharpen Drill Bits with a File

A sharp drill bit works on a surface with clarity and speed. It cuts without applying much pressure. However, a dull one is slow and the chisel edge may not make much progress despite your effort.

Now, you have to understand your drill bit structure since a bit sharpener depends on the nature of the cutting surface. For example, some are sharpened using Dremels, diamond stones, or you can also sharpen a drill bit by hand.

Although all these methods should get your drill bits working again, an easy way to do it is by filing. Before we look at methods to sharpen drill bits with a file, here is what you should know about the drill bit cutting surfaces.

Drill Bit Structure

The cutting edges of a regular drill bit tend to dull depending on the uses and working surfaces. Using a drill bit for wood on a metal surface shortens the bit’s life. On the other hand, heat causes faster blunting of sharp blades. Let us look at structures that determine bits cutability.

Cutting Edge

This is the knife-like blade and it needs to do what any other viable knife can. However small the surface, always check to ensure that your drill bit set is working.

 Sometimes a new set may have dull cutting edges. You won’t discard them, would you? An easy option to buying and replacing drill bits is resharpening them.

Twist drill bits have three cutting grooves unlike the common bits with two. Overall, remember to keep your bits sharp to reduce pressure and allow for faster chipping action.

Tip Geometry

You need to be careful not to grind your bits beyond the required angle. Brad-point bits have a spur-like tip of 90 degrees for cutting wood and soft metal.

However, a split point tip can have either 118 or 135 degrees tip angle. 5 seconds grind should make the tips live again. Most importantly, maintain each drill bit with its specific cutting roles to avoid dull tools.

How to Know If You Should Resharpen Your Bits

Now, your projects may be increasing each day. You need to deliver to your growing customer line. However, something is wrong. Your drill bits are slowing down with each hole you make. Here are five top signals that you need to re-sharpen your drill bits.

1. Slow Chipping Rate

It is taking longer than usual to clear a single hole. You can tell by the rate of chip removal. A single hole should take a few seconds to minutes depending on the toughness of a material.

2. Drill Bit Overheats

Anytime your bits feel warm, they may burn out. Besides, heat causes faster drilling.

3. Smell of Something Burning Yet You are Lubricating your Bits

High friction with less cutting action creates smoke. The resistance between the surface material and drill bits may result in a fire.

4. You are Putting Pressure on Your Drill Chuck

It is advisable to drill at low pressure and speed. Exerting pressure on your drill chuck causes bit breaking that may also dent your working surface.

5. High Drilling Speed, Less Penetration

Drill bits should cut while creating a hole. When your bits seem to grind with less fruitful action, you may have to consider re-sharpening them.

Here is a systematic procedure on how to re-sharpen drill bits using a file.

How to Sharpen Your Drill Bits Properly By Filing

Having in mind the drill bit structure, we hope that you learn to sharpen drill bits by the simple way of filing. Here we go.

1. Identify the dull bits from the rest and set them aside. Clean up to remove chip dust and dirt using a clean cloth.

2. Clamp your bit taking into consideration that the cutting edges are a bit exposed towards your file.

3. Take note of the cutting point angles and tips.

4. Let the cutting grooves meet your file for 5 seconds then turn to the other side and do the same. You should run the file downwards and repeat the motion up to eight times.

5. The shiny cutting surface is now ready for swift drilling action. Wipe away the metal filings using a wet piece of towel and keep your drill bits in a dry place.

6. Ensure that no metal burrs and uneven edges exist as this may scrap off someone’s skin. Finish the process by applying machine oil which helps keep it smooth and free from corrosion.

 However, before you begin the process, always adorn in safety gear such as working goggles because the chips may find their way into your eyes. On the contrary, you don’t need gloves for the job. Gloves risk pulling your hands towards the file and may cause serious injuries.

Is it Working after Re-sharpening?

Old bits become as good as new. However, you need to test its efficacy. Chuck your re-sharpened drill bits into a hand drill and try making a hole into a piece of wood.

The ease of the bits biting into wood means the process is successful. You can also squeeze the bit into the wood by hand and if it leaves a small hole, then it is working.

Cost Implications

Sharpening drill bits with a file is inexpensive. Plus, it is a versatile method that can be used on various drill bits without the need for power tools. Besides, it is a simple DIY procedure and with a little practice, you sharpen your drill bits.

The decision to sharpen drill bits or buy new ones depends on how you manage your current set. Sharpening bits helps to cut down on the extra buying costs.

Maintenance Tips for Long Service Of Drill Bits

Regular drill bits have a standard period of service, but it does not mean that you’ll buy new sets soon. Blunting is a common problem that can be solved.  Check out our handful of tips on drill bit management.

1. Use your bits for their specific task and material. Although you can use them interchangeably, doing so increases the risk of blunting especially when there is lots of heat production.

2. Apply coolants and lubricants during drilling to prolong bit life.

3. While drilling is a common practice, check out the manufacturer’s recommendations on how to use each bit. The right drilling techniques and angles ensure high precision, with fewer breakages, and burnouts.

4. Proper storage

Bit sets come in plastic and other carrying cases. This is to avoid direct exposure to the environment. You should always store them in a dry area.

5. Have a set of various drill bits

You don’t have to keep sharpening them each time. However, a set of extra bits provides replacements for the dull ones, so that you can later work on the dull bits that you kept aside.

You should also ensure that your bits are always sharp to avoid exerting pressure on your drill.

Sharpening Drill Bits With A File Vs A Grinder

Filing is an easy way to sharpen drill bits compared to a grinder. You can work on almost any bit by running a diamond file down its cutting edges. However, you should do enough practice before working with a grinder.

With both the coarse wheel for starter grinding and the finer wheel for a smooth finish, it may not be a good choice for a beginner. Most importantly, a diamond file is less costly and cuts across for both masonry carbide-tipped and cobalt drill bits.

The affordability ensures that each store does not miss this essential system for sharpening drill bits.

Wrap Up

Sharp tools ensure that you can work faster, at high precision, and with a smooth finish. Sharpening your drill bits with a file is a simple DIY procedure so that you can work with less effort and pressure. It is a simple technique besides other drill bit sharpening methods.

Leave a Comment