Quick and easy drill sharpening

Call me thrifty or just call me a skinflint, I can't bear to throw a tool away if I think I can repair it. That may seem obvious with big-ticket machinery, but it may not be worth the hassle on smaller stuff. For example, why go through the hassle of resharpening common twist drill bits when you can replace them for a few dollars?

Certainly sending out most small drill bits for resharpening has not been cost effective, and resharpening bits yourself has been a real hassle in the past. None of the do-it-yourself jigs I tried were satisfactory, although I got pretty good sharpening bits freehand on my grinder. But now that I've tried the drill sharpening machines from Drill Doctor, I've finally found a quick, precise and cost-effective option.

Several machines to choose

Drill Doctor offers a range of machines starting at basic consumer units and going up to more sophisticated machines. Recently, the company released a new family of pro-quality machines, so I tried two sharpeners representing that range.

The model 350X is designed to be fast and simple. It sharpens standard 118-degree twist bits, including high-speed steel, cobalt, TiN-coated, carbide and masonry drill bits from 3/32 inch to 1/2 inch in diameter. It comes standard with a 180-grit diamond sharpening wheel.

The model 750X is the top-of-the-line pro model. It handles bits from 3/32 inch to 3/4 inch in diameter and has more adjustments, allowing point angles from 115 to 140 degrees, relief angle options and sharpening split-point bits through a special side port. This unit also features all-metal core construction.

Easy to use

A helpful DVD and clear printed instructions come with the units, and sharpening is really fast and easy. You simply position and lock the bit to be sharpened into the Drill Doctor chuck, following the instructions for the particular machine being used. Then turn the machine on and rotate the chuck a number of turns in the sharpening port. A patented cam action automatically sharpens the bit to correct angles and relief.

The whole process was so simple that I found I was going through all the bits I could find in the shop to touch them up in the Drill Doctor. I won't be freehanding at the grinder again. My only complaint is the company hasn't yet come out with a unit to sharpen brad point bits.

The 350X lists for just $80, and the 750X lists for $160. It doesn't take too many bits for these machines to pay for themselves. For more information, visit  www.drilldoctor.com or circle 282 on the Reader Service Card in this issue.

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About the author
William Sampson

William Sampson is a lifelong woodworker, and he has been an advocate for small-scale entrepreneurs and lean manufacturing since the 1980s. He was the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine in the early 1990s and founded WoodshopBusiness magazine, which he eventually sold and merged with CabinetMaker magazine. He helped found the Cabinet Makers Association in 1998 and was its first executive director. Today, as editorial director of Woodworking Network and FDMC magazine he has more than 20 years experience covering the professional woodworking industry. His popular "In the Shop" tool reviews and videos appear monthly in FDMC.