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We have seen these handy drill sharpening devices advertised in magazines for a few years now and have always wondered how well they work. As a strong advocate of sharp tools I never really seem to know when my drill bits are getting dull except when I'm in the middle of a job and need a sharp bit the most. I have inexpensive bits and I have good drill bits and believe me, there is a big difference, but I will go into that in another article. The only bits I use are the good bits and although they stay sharp longer, they still get dull ... click below to read HOW drill bits get dull and what to do about it.
First of all, drill bits don't necessarily get dull because you are drilling into hard steel or rock or concrete. Drill bits can dull very easily drilling into nothing but wood. The reason drill bits get dull is because most of them are just steel and when steel gets hot it melts. Know I know your drill bits don't "melt" ... but the very tips of the edges can get hot enough to begin to melt which means that the steel fatigues and the edge is then lost. If you don't believe me, imagine! making about 20 deep holes into some 2" oak then try touch your drill bit with your bare fingers .... yeah! ... It's hot enough to leave third degree burns. And so what happens, the edge is now gone on your drill bit, what to do now.
Enter the Drill Doctor. We were impressed with the package. The Drill Doctor - "The Drill Bit Sharpener" unit comes in a nice blue plastic container, well laid out and with instructions and a video that were easy to follow but not extensive (which is what we hoped for). It was nice to see that it all went back fairly easily into the case when we were done too - something a lot of OTHER VENDERS could learn from -hint, hint.
The Drill Doctor we tried out comes with a couple of special "jigs" that you must first load your dull drill bit into. Depending on the size of the bit you select either to larger or the smaller jig. Not difficult to do, but it does need to be aligned as your instructions indicate.
We decided to really work this unit by sharpening a large bit. We thought that doing a small bit would not be to trying on the machine and we really needed to give it a good workout so we started off with a pretty wicked looking 3/8" bit. In fact, I would venture a guess to say this bit could have been used as a punch at some time in it's life, it certainly hadn't drilled any holes for some time.
As we inserted the bit and jig into the Drill Doctor and it switched on we could hear the small electric motor inside spinning up speed. The trick with these units is that you have to twist the bits in their jig as you insert and press it against the internal grinding wheel.
We expected that if the Drill Doctor could re-grind our bit it would take a while ... and it did, but in the end it did a pretty nice job. We did find that using the unit was a little bit slow on larger bits and it takes a while to get used to using, but it did fix up our rack of dull bits. In fact I might even say some or all seemed to be even sharper that when they were new ... this may not be the case but they seemed to be at least as sharp as they were when they were new.
So, if you want to breath new life into your steel twist drill bits, Drill Doctor does a nice job, but be patient with the larger bits, they take longer and may need a bit more attention. Now if only they could come up with something that will do my brad point bits, that would really make me happy.