How to Sharpen Drill Bits: Your Ultimate Guide for Restoring Cutting Efficiency

Sharpening drill bits is a vital skill to master for all DIY enthusiasts and professionals who understand the importance of maintaining an effective toolkit. The focus of this primer is to help you understand how to sharpen drill bits and bring them back to their original efficiency.

Understanding the Need to Sharpen Your Drill Bits

Drill bits, over time and constant use, undergo wear and tear, causing them to lose their original sharpness and efficacy. This wear often happens when the chip size is less than 2mm, which commonly affects metal and wood drill bits. How then do we restore the sharpness of these important tools and improve their cutting edge?

Tools You Will Need

You don’t need a vast arsenal for this task. Key tools include vices for holding the bit steady during the sharpening process, sharpeners like files, grinders, or specially manufactured sharpening machines, and a drill bit angle gauge to measure the angle of the point.

Sharpening a Drill Bit by Hand

Sharpening drill bits by hand helps maintain the correct grinding angle. It involves using a jig to grind your drill bit to the right angle. The process starts with sliding the drill bit into a jig and placing the tip near the grinding wheel. With repeated motions, gentle grinding, and taking care to avoid overheating, one can easily sharpen the drill bit.

Using a File to Sharpen Drill Bits

Sharpening drill bits using a file involves wiping off any debris from the bit, securely holding it in a vise, and then repeatedly running the file down its edges until it begins to sharpen. Check the freshly sharpened edge using a protractor or angle gauge for precision.

Using an Angle Grinder or Bench Grinder

Using an angle grinder or a bench grinder for sharpening drill bits is a tidier, quicker alternative. Remember to adjust the grinder’s tool rest to match the angle of the bit and use a gentle touch to avoid overheating. Grind till the edges are even and the old edge has been entirely replaced by the fresh, sharp one.

Using a Drill Bit Sharpener

As the name implies, a drill bit sharpener is designed with a small motor and a grinding wheel to sharpen the bits. Companies like Drill Doctor are popular for producing reliable drill bit sharpeners.

Sharpening Drill Bits with Sharpening Stones

For those preferring to sharpen drill bits manually, a sharpening stone made of silicon carbide or aluminum oxide can be highly effective. The process involves choosing a sharpening stone matching your drill bit size and running it across the bit’s edges to restore sharpness.


Q: How do I know when my drill bit needs sharpening?

A: If the chip size is less than 2mm, it’s a clear signal that your drill bit should be sharpened. This is typically the case with metal and wood drill bits.

Q: Can I use a grinding wheel for sharpening drill bits?

A: Yes, grinding wheels can effectively reshape the cutting edge of a drill bit, thereby restoring its original sharpness.

Q: Can I sharpen my drill bit using just a file and a vise?

A: Yes, with your drill bit secured in a vise, you can use a file to run down its edges and sharpen it. Remember to check the angle of the bit using an angle gauge or protractor.


Knowing how to sharpen drill bits is an essential skill that helps improve your drilling efficiency while extending the life of your drill bits. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a professional, understanding these basics can go a long way in maintaining your toolkit’s uptime and effectiveness. Happy drilling!

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