Harold Hall


Drill Sharpening, the basics  Harold Hall

In terms of sharpening facilities no other item of workshop equipment in my estimation is more widely catered for than the humble twist drill. This probably due to the large number of trades that will use this tool, ranging from the DIY exponent through to the experienced tool maker, passing on the way such trades as builder, plumber, cabinet maker, etc. etc.


Sharpening by hand

First, let us consider the possibility of sharpening drills by hand. There are those who consider this is a perfectly acceptable approach and for a few in who sharpen drills on a  regular basis, just possibly it is, though I have my reservations. Two things are being aimed at when sharpening a drill, these are, it cuts freely, and to size. The first is very easy to achieve, the second, very much more difficult. For the metalworker, there is no point in having a set of drills in 0.1mm increments if the 7.6mm drill produces a hole 7.8mm diameter.


Whilst some just may be able to meet the requirements the vast majority of home workshop owners, who will only sharpen a drill occasionally, have very little chance of mastering the art. A drill grinding jig is therefore in my estimation a necessity, and one that cannot be done without on the basis of cost as they are very reasonably priced.


Drill grinding devices

The devices for carrying out the task are available in a  range of types,but these pages are more about the aims and how these are achieved. I am doing this using the common drill grinding jig used with an off hand grinder, Photograph 1. These are not expensive, so providing the user is prepared to spend time getting the essential knowledge, they are ideal for the small workshop. I will also discuss later the four facet method of sharpening drills.


The basic drill grinding jig

Unfortunately, these often get a poor reputation regarding there ability to produce a usable drill, but this is almost certainly due the user not fully appreciating the requirements. In fairness, this is not easy, and the  very poor instructions frequently supplied do not help, can even hinder if followed.     


The basic idea for the drill grinding jig being discussed here has been around for very many years, typically that shown in Photograph 2. This is the "Reliance" jig that was available from early in the 20th century and really is very little different to the modern day version.

Drill Grinding Jig
Drill Grinding Jig, Reliance






All pictures can be clicked on to provide a larger view


Workshop Processes