Sharpening Drill Bits with a Grinder (The Right Way) How-To Guide

Any serious worker or DIYer knows that it is crucial to keep their tools in mint condition. Drill bits are no exception.

It doesn’t matter if you have enough drill bits to last a lifetime – if they are blunt, you have nothing. That is understandable because bits take all the punishment during drilling.

You want your drill bits to be as sharp as they can be if you want beautiful and satisfactory results for all your projects. But, how do you sharpen them? Or do you simply buy new ones when yours go blunt?

In this article, we are going to explain in detail how to sharpen drill bits on a grinder so you may want to keep reading.

Use drill bit sharpener instead of grinder.

Sharpen Drill Bits with Grinder: Fast and Easy Ways

Step 1

Before you begin the sharpening, you want to protect yourself. You never can tell when flying shavings will get into your eyes or when you may injure your hands.

In that regard, you want to invest in a pair of safety goggles and hand gloves and wear them before you begin sharpening your bits.

Step 2

Now you are ready to begin so get your grinder and the bits you want to sharpen. Hold your bit with the cutting face parallel to the grinding surface. The point here is to eliminate only the metal needed to clean up your bit’s cutting edge.

Step 3

Gently bring the bit into contact with the grinder wheel ensuring that it is as straight as possible. Do not rotate it because the point is not to duplicate the original arch of the factory grind but rather to create a new and flatter cutting edge.

The heel portion of the bit’s cutting face needs to be ground a little bit more than the edge as this will make the cutting edge come into contact with the surface to be drilled first.

Step 4

As you sharpen your bits, metal will be shaved off and the bits will start to heat up. That’s not good so you may want to dip the bit in water frequently to cool it.

If the bit becomes too hot for your hand, you are either not dipping as often as you should, or you are grinding too hard.

Step 5

Continue sharpening until you are satisfied that the cutting edge of your bit is sharp. Once that is done, turn the bit around and begin sharpening the other side. The more evenly it is sharpened, the better it is likely to perform.

Step 6

When both edges are sharp, stop and check to see if they are the same width. Both edges should meet to create a point at the center of the bit’s diameter with a short line between them.

If that is not the case, continue grinding on the wider side to get uniform results. Stop and check again. Are the edges centered, of the same width, and sharp? Good! You have successfully sharpened your bit.

Testing the Bit for Sharpness

Of course, you can always test your bit to further confirm that it is sharp so here is how to go about it.

Hold the bit with the tip against a piece of wood and slowly turn it in a clockwise direction using your hand. A well-sharpened bit should easily begin creating depression on the surface even without exerting a lot of pressure.

Alternatively,  put the bit in your drill and try creating a hole into a wooden surface pushing just enough for it to bite. That should happen without you having to apply much force. After drilling about an inch, pull the bit out. You should see chips flying.

If your bit passes one or both tests, then you can be assured that you have successfully sharpened your bit and you can do it as many times as you want to do it in the future.

Another two ways, you can sharpen your drill bit:

How to Sharpen Drill Bits with a Dremel

How to Sharpen Drill Bits with a File

Tips for Sharpening Drill Bits

We believe you could use a few tips to make your sharpening experience simpler. Here are some.

1. Always wear your safety goggles, safety gloves, and, dust mask while sharpening to reduce the risk of injury.

2. Never rotate or turn the grinding wheel. Instead, hold it at a 60-degree angle before you begin sharpening.

3. Do not remove more metal from the bit than is necessary. The goal is to sharpen, not to finish it. A good rule of thumb is not to have the bit on the grinder for more than 5 seconds.

4. Frequently dip your bit in cold water as you are sharpening. This not only prevents it from overheating; it also stops the bit from wearing down faster.

5. Always give your bits a test run after sharpening them. A properly sharpened bit should create a depression on a wooden surface even without a lot of pressure.

6. Clean as you go. By that, we mean that you should pull out and brush off any chips or flakes produced by your drilling. If you fail to do that, your bit is likely to overheat and wear down faster.

7. Give your bit time to cool as you sharpen it. Doing that not only prolongs its life, it also prevents overheating.

8. Always read the user instructions for using your grinder even if you think you know what you are doing. You can save yourself a lot of trouble and damage just by adhering to manufacturer instructions.

9. Finally, you want to keep two different drill bit sets. That is considered good practice as you can use one set to start holes and the other to complete them. This then means that you get to use your sharpened bit for a longer time.

Video Tutorial

Final Thoughts

Replacing your drill bits with new ones or taking them for professional sharpening is costly. You cannot compare that with the cost of getting a grinder and doing it yourself whenever you need to.

Now that you know how to sharpen drill bits with a grinder, you get to save a significant amount of money. You also get to save a lot of time when you sharpen your bits at home because then you do not have to wait for someone else to be in a position to do it for you.

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