Is it really worth while sharpening your drill bits? If so, what is the best drill sharpener? Or are you better simply tossing them out and just buying new drill bits? We will also be having a look at the best drill sharpeners on the market. Up and down the country there must be millions of blunt and abandoned drill bits simple laying around the homes of many people. One this is certain, there are certainly many millions of these sold.
These can be used for drilling through wood, through concrete, steel and many other different types of materials. If you don't believe us, just take a look in any guy's workshop and you will most likely see an array of bits that are dull, abandoned or have been used a few times and then chucked into a drawer.
We are all probably a little bit guilty of being members of the throw away society. Sometimes it is just easier to throw something away and buy a new version, than to consider fixing it up. Think of a hole in your socks and you will know what we mean. The ancient art of darning seems to have all but disappeared.
Drill bits in my opinion falls into this category. It is just quicker and easier to buy some new bits rather than go to the bother of getting them sharpened. That may not be true for everyone, but I think it is fair to say, it is true for the majority of people. To prove this point I had a look around my brother's garage and he is not someone who would do a lot of work with drills, but here is what I found.
Around 20 different sized masonry bits - 6 never used, 8 that had been used a few times and the others he was not sure about. We could tell by looking at the other 6 bits that they had got some use, though not a lot. He also had about 12 bits for drilling steel and metal, about 15 bits for drilling tiles and a few that were designed for drilling bigger holes through wood.
We are guessing that this is pretty typical of many workshops and garages up and down the country. There will of course be some with no such problems, but most guys will have some type of drill bits in their kit.
Buying Drill Bit Sets
Many people buy a set of drill bits in different sizes but invariably only end up ever using a couple of the bits. That means there will always be a number of sizes that never get used. The more popular sizes will get a lot of use and will wear down quickly. People will then either go out and buy another bit the same size or just buy another set as they see that as better value. One of the last things they will consider is sharpening the bits.
Does it make sense to sharpen your existing drill bits?
We think the answer to this is that it depends on your personal circumstances. For someone like me who uses an electric drill and drill bits every day of my life, you better believe it makes more sense to sharpen my bits. For someone who is a keen hobbyist or loves their DIY, then again we think it makes a great deal of sense to sharpen your existing bits, rather than buy new ones.
If however you are just someone who uses a drill bit to do a couple of jobs, and then will not use or need it again for a few months, then I would not bother worrying about sharpening bits. It would be simpler and more cost effective just to pop out and buy exactly what you need.
How much does a drill sharpener cost?
Depending on the model and what type of bits you can sharpen, the price for a good sharpener will vary from around £50-250. The most popular brand is one known as the "Drill Doctor," and we have to say they are very good products indeed.
There are a few other sharpeners out there that also do a reasonable job for around £40-50, but like most things in life, you do get what you pay for.
The one shown here can sharpen all the popular types of bits including, high speed steel, masonry, cobalt, carbide and even TiN coated.
It can also handle drill bit sizes from 3/32-inch to 3/4-inch standard twist bits and can create/remove split points.
The angles it can handle are from 115° to 140° which is ideal for almost every type of drill bit.
92% buyer satisfaction based on 4,500 online buyer reviews
The initial investment may seem high at around £200, but this sharpener can save you a fortune over time. Rather than trying to use an old blunt bit, or buy a new one, it can be sharpened in seconds. There are over 4,500 online buyer reviews on this Drill Doctor, and overall they rate this product with an average 92% buyer satisfaction rating.
Drill Doctor DD500X Drill Bit Sharpener
There is a cheaper version of the Drill Doctor available. However this one is really only suitable for those who want to sharpen the popular wood and metal bits.
This one is considerably cheaper but please note it is not suitable for doing masonry or tile bits.
This can sharpen Carbide, Cobalt, High-Speed Steel, Black Oxide, TiN-Coated, and Masonry drill bits
It can also do drill bits with angles 118˚ or 135˚
92% buyer satisfaction based on 1,600 online buyer reviews
Best Budget Drill Bit Sharpener
I would call this the bargain version of a drill sharpener and Silverline are known for producing great value tools that will do a job for you.
This one is considerably cheaper than above but if it's not something you will be using a lot then its perfectly good, especially for home use.
This can sharpen HSS and carbon steel bits 3 - 10 mm so it wont do the larger drill bits, though for home users that shouldnt be a problem
We can recommend this for any home workshop as it is reliable and will sharpen your drills at a budget price
84% buyer satisfaction based on 500 online buyer reviews
Best all Round Value Drill Bit Sharpener
This, for me, is a great all round example of a drill sharpener. I like Sealey tools and they are good for home and professional users alike.
Its not much more expensive than the one above but I would say its well worth spending that bit extra. This will do you for life and is probably good enough for a tradesman to use on a regular basis
This can sharpen HSS and carbon steel bits 3 - 13 mm so it wont do the very large drill bits, but will be big enough for most users
My number one choice for the non professional
84% buyer satisfaction based on 500 online buyer reviews
How to sharpen drill bits by hand?
We think it is worth mentioning that you can do this sharpening manually. However the huge problem facing people who try to do this is having the skills, the knowledge and the tools to be able to pull this off. We did learn how to do this as part of a metal work course we did many years ago, but it took us quite a few attempts and quite a few ruined drill bits to master the technique. You will need:
- A Bench Grinder
- A protractor
- A metal ruler
- Safety Goggles
Here is a video of someone showing you how to do this using a method called free handing.
You can do this ok but to be honest we just find it slow and cumbersome. Here is another video where a guy shows you how to use a simple wooden jig to use, when sharpening your bits to the most common included angle which is of course 118 degrees.
As you can see there are tools and drill bit sharpeners available which will do the job. My advice is to only buy one of these if you regularly use drill bits, and don't want to have to keep buying new ones. For the average homeowner we think it makes more sense to buy a few new bits as and when you need them. Drill bit sharpeners are not that cheap, and they do take a little bit of skill to master.