Why You Should Sharpen Your Drill Bits

An orange drill with a bit in it.

Like most cutting tools, drill bits dull over time. Whether it’s from prolonged use or a demanding project, it doesn’t take long before a bit needs to be sharpened. A dull drill bit can cost you time and money, not to mention the potential for injury. With that in mind, here are a few reasons why you should keep your drill bits sharp after every job.

Drill Bit Basics

It’s important to understand how a drill bit works before you sharpen one. A bit cuts through material using a point angle. A steep point angle is used on soft materials, while hard materials require a flatter angle. For example, standard bits come equipped with a 118 degree point while bits manufactured for harder materials come with a 135 degree angle.

A side and top view of a drill bit.

A drill bit uses its chisel point to pass through material. As the chisel point bores through the object, cutting lips transfer chips through flutes in the bit, discharging excess material away from the hole. The sharp edge reams the hole to the proper size, depending on the type of bit used.

Damaged Tools and Materials

Drill bits wear down the moment they start cutting. Wear occurs at several locations on the bit, but is usually concentrated on the cutting lips. A drill bit can also wear down at the chisel point, which can deform under the intense heat and pressure of drilling. Wherever the dulling occurs, excessive wear creates more heat and happens at an accelerated rate.

A dull drill bit requires more torque and force to get the job done. In turn, this creates more heat and increases the possibility of failure. When a drill bit fails or breaks, it can do a surprising amount of damage to the material itself. Not only does this cost you a new drill bit, but it can also ruin an entire project.


The biggest danger of a dull drill bit is bodily injury. Whenever a bit breaks, the excessive amount of torque and heat can send a bit flying in any direction, including nearby hands and limbs. This creates serious potential for injury that should not be taken lightly. It’s always a good idea to check the sharpness of the bit before you start drilling to avoid unnecessary injury.

Saving Time and Money

Apart from bodily injury, a dull drill bit can cost precious time. Even if a bit fails without damaging the material or bystanders, it will likely result in some amount of time loss. A dull bit that doesn't fail also requires more time and effort to bore through material. In contrast, a sharp drill bit will actually save you time on the project without having to worry about risking the material.

Keeping your drill bits sharp will save you a lot of money in the long run. Not only will you not have to worry about ruining materials, but you can rest assured that the job gets done without a trip to the hospital. Sharpening your drill bits will also decrease the likelihood of failure and having to purchase a replacement (and making another trip to the hardware store).

You can actually extend the life of your drill bit by keeping it sharp. This will save you the hassle of constantly buying new bits to replace broken ones and keep your budget open for other expenditures, like purchasing a sharpener.


Keeping your drill bits sharp can be a challenging process without the right tools. Fortunately, Drill Doctor offers several sharpeners that make the process easy and efficient. Whether it’s sharpening a carbide, cobalt, or even a masonry bit, Drill Doctor has the right kind of sharpener to get the job done and save you time and money on your next project.

Drill Doctor sharpeners for drill bits.

When sharpening your bit, make sure you align it properly to keep the geometry consistent on both sides. Keep in mind the type of material the drill bit will be used for and choose the correct angle to sharpen the bit to. You can also choose after sharpening to add in a split point—a feature that helps drill on contact without risk of walking, or wandering away from, your chosen spot. Split points can reduce heat, help you drill faster, and keep holes more centered.