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How can I Sharpen Drill Bits?

Sherry Holetzky
Sherry Holetzky

Two common ways to sharpen drill bits are to use a bit sharpener or a bench grinder. If you don't have much experience sharpening drill bits, or if you simply want to expedite the process, you may want to purchase a drill bit sharpener. Drill bit sharpeners can be used with many types of bits, but be sure to follow the instructions precisely in order to achieve effective results. Most sharpeners have a clamp or chuck that holds the bit, which is placed into the sharpener. The bit is then rotated, and an internal wheel sharpens it. In many cases, the angle at which the bit is sharpened can be adjusted.

Drill bits can also be sharpened using a bench grinder. This method can be more difficult than using a specialized tool, but it can also allow for more control and accuracy if you know what you're doing. A common twist bit should usually be sharpened at a 59° angle. The cutting edge is held parallel to the grinder, and the bit is rolled clockwise, while the base is moved down and to the left. Always wear eye protection when sharpening drill bits; it is also a good idea to use a vice or sharpening jig to hold the bit at the proper angle, as holding the bit with your hand that close to the grinder can be extremely dangerous.

A drill with a Forstner bit.
A drill with a Forstner bit.

If you want to sharpen drill bits yourself, it helps to know something about the different types of bits, the best process to use, and the tools available. Twist bits, which are very common, have a sharp tip and twist or spiral down through materials, generally pushing fragments out of the hole as they descend. An oilstone, similar to a whetstone, is a good choice when it comes to sharpening twist bits, although it is important to proceed with caution to ensure that the tip retains the proper angle.

Drill bits can be sharpened with a bit sharpener or bench grinder.
Drill bits can be sharpened with a bit sharpener or bench grinder.

Screwdriver bits and tile bits can be sharpened in the same way. Forstner bits, those that create flat-bottomed holes, may be sharpened with an oilstone or a fine file. A fine file can also be used to sharpen flat wood bits, which are used in power drills, and countersink bits can be sharpened with a fine triangular file. A grindstone may be used to sharpen certain types of bits, such as masonry bits or spur points.

A bench grinder can be used to sharpen drill bits.
A bench grinder can be used to sharpen drill bits.

Drill bits may appear easy to sharpen, but due to fine tips, specially shaped tips, or special coatings, they can be difficult to sharpen properly. They must be sharpened in an even manner, and it is important to keep the bit cool. The best advice is to keep the bits from becoming dull instead of waiting until they need intensive sharpening.

Drilling at an angle can cause bits to become dull quickly. Failing to remove the bit from the hole occasionally to remove dust and fragments can also be problematic. Leaving drill bits loose instead of storing them in a protective container can lead to damage as well.

Discussion Comments


@Reader888- Drill bits can be resharpened over and over. If you mess up, you just resharpen it. You can resharpen bits until there is almost no flute left on the bit. Think about how long your bits are, that's a lot of practicing that can be done if you mess up.

@Spasiba- Any form of lubrication will work, oils seem to hold up better and work better as a lube than soap, but soap is a good alternative if nothing is available, as well as candle work and so on.

@Calpat- It's easier than it sounds, and buying new drill bits adds up really fast in comparison to just learning to sharpen them. I was taught how to when I was 12 years old by my grandpa. I picked it up really fast, shouldn't be to hard for you to either.


This all sounds a bit advanced for me. Are there places you can go where they will sharpen your drill bits for you? I'd take my drill bits to a place like that, or just buy new ones, before attempting to sharpen them myself.


I like the idea of being able to sharpen my own drill bits. But I think I will definitely go with a drill bit sharpener. As long as it doesn't cost too much, it seems like this may be the cheapest way to go.

If I tried to do it any of the other ways, I'm sure I would mess up so many drill bits that it would actually become more expensive, because I would have to keep replacing them!


If you're having a hard time drilling a hole with your drill bit, sometimes a bar of soap will do the trick. Just rub your drill bit across the bar of soap -- the slippery, waxy soap will help the drill bit ease into your material.

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    • A drill with a Forstner bit.
      By: Amy Walters
      A drill with a Forstner bit.
    • Drill bits can be sharpened with a bit sharpener or bench grinder.
      By: gavran333
      Drill bits can be sharpened with a bit sharpener or bench grinder.
    • A bench grinder can be used to sharpen drill bits.
      By: Eimantas Buzas
      A bench grinder can be used to sharpen drill bits.