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How to Sharpen Drill Bits

by Richard Thomas

Man holding cordless drill

Things You Need:

  • Water
  • Rag
  • Mill file
  • Machine oil

Many homeowners are unaware that their drill bits require regular sharpening to give their best service. Just like knives and axes, a dull drill bit requires more force to do the same job. Instead of wearing out your muscles, a dull drill bit will inevitably wear out your drill. The best way to protect your investment in high-quality power tools is to give your drill bits regular spot sharpening with a file. Use a grinder or visit a professional sharpener if the bits become really dull.

Sharpening Drill Bits:

  1. Clean the drill bit before sharpening. This is especially necessary for wood or masonry bits, as these often accumulate dust, resin or debris while the drill is in use. Wipe away the worst of any grime with a little water and a rag.

  2. Sharpen the drill bit regularly. Use a vise if you have one to hold the drill bit; otherwise, hold it in your hand. Hold the mill file along one side of the bit point at a roughly 60-degree angle. Push the file down along the edge half a dozen times. Repeat on the other side of the bit point.

  3. Remove any metal burrs. This is done by filing once up and across the underside of the cutting edges of the drill bit's point. This is sufficient for normal drill maintenance, but it may not be enough for drill bits that have become excessively worn.

  4. Use a grinder if necessary. If the drill bit is really dull, sharpen it with a grinder. Run a power tool that can accommodate a grinding wheel at a low speed and place the drill bit's point on it at a 60-degree angle. Rotate the head along the grinding wheel two or three times.

  5. Wipe down the drill bit. Once it is free of any debris, put a few drops of machine oil on it and rub that in with a rag.


  1. If your drill sees heavy and regular use, invest in specialized bit-sharpening tools that automate the process and take the guesswork out of finding the sharpening angle.

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