Like other tools, drill bits get dull over time. It is your duty as a user to make sure that the bit on your drilling machine is as sharp as possible to achieve better results. Also, sharp bits are safe, even though wearing protective gear is the safest way to protect you from accidents. We explain here How to sharpen a Drill Bit on a Bench Grinder?
Materials and tools needed to sharpen a drill bit
Since the sharpening process is highly technical and mechanical, you will need the following materials and tools.
A dull and old drill bit
A pair of safety goggles
Functional work gloves
Ice cold water in a container
A bench grinder
If you do not have any of the following materials and tools, you should borrow or buy. It is inadvisable to start the sharpening of the drill bit without any of the above tools and materials.
Sharpen a Drill Bit on a Bench Grinder Step By Step
Step 1: Preparation
Before embarking on a technical process such as sharpening a drill bit, it is vital to have a preparation stage. In this step, you should ensure that:
Confirm you have all the necessary tools
Since this is a DIY process, you should never start the sharpening process without the tools and materials. The necessary items and materials assure that the process will be safe, and more importantly, you will achieve better results.
Verify you have a dry and conducive working space
The working space is also a huge determinant of how the sharpening process will be, especially considering that this is a DIY project. If there are items near the bench grinder, remove them to have enough space. Also, space must be dry and, if not, wipe the water before starting.
Ensure you have a constant power supply
The bench grinder consumes power. Therefore, you should make sure that you have a power supply. Also, the power cables must be functional to avoid further injuries and mechanical issues.
Wear protective gear
The final and the most critical step in the preparation stage is to ensure that you put all the necessary gear on before starting the sharpening process. In this case, ensure that you put on your goggles and hand gloves. Also, ensure you do not have loose clothes.
Step 2: Examine your drill bit
The second step is looking at and examining the drill bit. While most people skip this step, it is a critical stage in your process. Some of the critical things you should do in this stage include:
The status of the drill bit
Examining the status of the bit gives you an idea of what you should do. In normal circumstances, different bits may have different dull degrees. Also, the bit’s status helps you plan which tools to use and how much time you should spend in a bit.
The age of the bit
While most bits can last years, the older the bit, the less effective it becomes. Understanding the age of a bit is critical in the sharpening process. The primary goal is to remove excess metal particles and, therefore, to achieve sharp edges. However, if the bit is old, you will need more time, and more importantly, you will need to be extra careful not to destroy the bit edges.
After you have examined the bits, you will have a rough idea of how much time you have in the sharpening process and, more importantly, how careful you should be in the process. If the bit is relatively new, it is advisable to use both smooth and rough coarse. However, if the bit is older, you should be careful how much time you spend in sharpening and how to use the bench grinder’s coarse.
Step 3: Sharpen the bit.
After the two steps above, it is time to sharpen the bit. However, sharpening the bit requires a lot of techniques and attentiveness. Here are some of the critical ways to sharpen your bit using a bench grinder.
Remove the dull surface.
In the sharpening process, you must first remove the dull surface. When removing the dull surface, you must remember not to damage or wear out the bit surface. In this process, you will need at least a minute.
To remove the dull bit’s surface:
Hold the bit against the grinder.
Ensure that the bit’s tip meets the shaft
Repeat the process in 4 seconds intervals.
In this process, you should ensure that the grinder only touches the shaft and not the bit edges. Also, you should ensure that the grinder’s speed is standard.
Put the bit in cold water, and let it cool.
After removing the dull surface on the bit, you should put the bit on cold water. After the first step, the bit will be too hot to hold to the next stage. Alternatively, you can wait for ten minutes for the bit to cool.
Another reason why cooling is essential is that it helps you to examine the bit. If you are not satisfied with the results, you can repeat the process.
The ‘examination’ stage is also vital in other stages. Apart from knowing “what you are working with” evaluating the bit’s edges is a clear indication of whether you should increase the grinder’s speed or not.
Sharpen at 60 degrees angle
When the bit is cold, you can proceed to this step. Unlike the other step, which was simple and removing the dull surface, you will need to be careful with the speed and the sharpening angle.
To sharpen the bit at 60 degrees angle:
Hold the bit with your dominant hand.
On a 60 degrees angle, let the bit get into contact with the grinder.
Change the bit positions to sharpen all the sides.
Repeat the process
After you have finished sharpening the bit on this angle, dip it on a container with cold water. Evaluate the results. If you are not okay with how the bit looks, repeat the process.
Evaluate the bit’s sharpness by using a piece of wood
In an ideal situation, the bit should be sharp at this stage. However, in order to be sure, use a piece of wood. Regardless of the bit’s size, it should create a ‘beginning’ mark, indicating that it is ready for drilling.
If the bit does not form the mark, it means you need to sharpen it again. However, in the second phase of sharpening, you may skip some stages. Also, you should be careful not to damage the edges.
You can check also this video to sharpen a Drill Bit on a Bench Grinder
How to repair a damaged bit using a bench grinder?
If the bit is over-damaged, you need to take a different approach to repair it. Fortunately, you can still use the bench grinder. To repair a damaged drill bit:
Cut the bit landing
Cutting the landing is the first and the most critical step in the repairing process. To cut the bit’s landing; ensure that the left hand is higher than the right (as you hold the drill bit).
Apply pressure on the bench grinder. The pressure cuts the bit into an ideal shape. However, if you are not satisfied with the results, you can repeat it. In the second round, you should be extra careful not to destroy the bit.
Shape the bit edges
Instead of lifting the bit like in the previous step, move it towards your right hand. The process of moving the bit toward the right side creates an angle that helps regain the initial shape.
The shaping process should take 5 to 10 seconds. However, if you did not get the results on the first trial, you can try again. However, in the second round, you should be careful not to damage the bit edges.
Also, you should ensure that the bench grinder is a manageable speed. If the speed is too high, you may damage instead of sharpening it.
Refine the bit’s landing
In order to start shaping the bit landing, make sure that you hold the bit with your hands. Take the bit to the bench grinder and rotate it against the belt. Rolling the bit on the clockwise direction gives it support on the lip.
When shaping the landing, you should hold the bit well. In some instances, the bench grinder may overpower your hand and damaging the bit.
After shaping the landing, ensure that the bit’s lip is more durable. If you are not satisfied with the results, repeat the process. However, in the second round, be extra careful not to over-sharpen the landing.
When should you buy a drill bit instead of sharpening?
While sharpening has redefined how people use drill bits, there are some cases where it is advisable to invest in new bits. Here are some cases where buying new bits is advisable compared to sharpening them.
When edges are destroyed
There is a difference between dull and damaged bits. Dull bits are easy to sharpen while destroyed ones are hard to sharpen the edges. If, after sharpening the bits they do not cut, it is time to buy new bits.
If you are a professional, you need more bits.
One of the main reasons why bits become dull over time is overusing them. Therefore, when you have many drills, you will not need to sharpen the drill often. Also, having more bits saves time because sharpening drill bits.
You should buy more bits if you work on different surfaces.
Another reason you should consider new bits instead of buying new ones is when you work on more than one working space. For example, working on metal and wood surfaces, you should consider buying extra bits instead of sharpening them frequently.
Regardless of whether you use a drill machine for commercial or DIY projects, you must keep the drill bit sharp. Here are some of the advantages of using a sharp drill bit.
A sharp drill bit is safe to use
Your safety as a user should always come first. A dull bit may force you to use more power to push it on the working surface. If you are unlucky, the bit will break and cause injury. However, a sharp drill does not break easily, and therefore it is safe to use.
Sharp bits are economical to use
One of the main disadvantages of using a dull drill bit is that you will need to put more pressure to achieve results. Applying pressure means that the bit is overpowered, and it may, therefore, cause harm to your machine. In order to avoid this possible damage, it is advisable to sharpen your drill bit often.
Sharp bits save time.
One of the most frustrating things about using a dull bit is the time taken to drill holes on surfaces. You take more time if you are careful not to damage your drilling machine. However, sharp bits make the tasks easier, and more importantly, they save time.
How to keep your drill bit sharp and avoid constant sharpening
While bench grinder is the best way to sharpen the bit, constant sharpening may destroy the bit’s edges. Therefore, it is advisable to keep your drill bits sharp without sharpening. Some of the main ways to prevent the bit going dull include:
Never allow your bit to overheat.
When working with a drill bit, you should always avoid overheating. High temperatures damage the bit edges. Therefore, you should take breaks when drilling. If you have an intensive project, you should allocate more time to it and avoid making your bits dull.
Have a water container near you
If you have an extensive project and do not have more time for breaks, it is advisable to have a water container near you for cooling purposes. Therefore, if you notice that the bit is hot, cool it with water instead of taking a break.
However, when using water to cool the drill bit, it is advisable to use minimal water to avoid flooding the working area. After you have put the drill bit in the water, you should take a minute break before resuming work.
Invest in more drill bits
Instead of using water to cool the bit, you can invest in more bits. Unlike years ago, drill bits are affordable and available across the world. If you have an intensive project, make sure you have at least two extra bits.
In this case, replacing the bits once they are hot allows you to continue your work without destroying bits. Also, using more bits allows you to work effectively and in a safe place.
Use the drilling bit carefully.
Finally, it would be best if you learned how to use the drilling bit correctly. Like other mechanical tools, bits require a certain level of understanding, especially what you can achieve and unachievable.
The following piece explains how to sharpen a drill on a bench grinder. While there are other ways of sharpening the bits, a bench grinder is accessible and easy to use. Also, you do not need special skills to use the bench grinder, and more importantly, it saves money and time.
The piece also explains how to take care of your drill bit and, if possible, avoid sharpening the bit frequently.