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drill sharpening jig or dedicated tool

sharpening twist drill

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jon hill 308/01/2022 16:34:25
119 forum posts
24 photos

I find sharpening small drills quite tricky by eye on the bench grinder but am reluctent to just buy new ones every time the point goes blunt or I brake the drill.

Is it worth buying/making a bench grinder jig for sharpening twist drill particularly the small drillls of say 3mm and under? Or a dedicated tool to do the same?

Andrew Johnston08/01/2022 16:43:19
6574 forum posts
701 photos

I've got a Clarkson tap and drill grinding attachment, but never use it for drills. For standard jobbers drills, I just buy new ones as needed. By the time they're blunt they're worn out anyway and not worth sharpening. For drills above 12mm I grind freehand. Life is way too short to waste grinding a drill that might cost a couple of quid. I doubt I spend more than £30 per year on standard jobbers drills.


noel shelley08/01/2022 17:10:27
1278 forum posts
21 photos

Like Andrew I have commercial drill sharpening equipment but both the Clarkson and brierley only go down 1/8 or 3mm. below this it's not worth the trouble, unless you enjoy doing such tasks. Buy at the right price and a box of 10 dormer,gurhing or the like are less than £5 Good luck. Noel.

Howard Lewis08/01/2022 17:16:35
6005 forum posts
14 photos

The ideal way is to use a cutter grinder and sharpen drills by the four facet method.

SUPERB results once the technique is mastered. Barely need centre drilling and cut like hot knife in butter!

But for a beginner, a passable job can be produced using a Picador type jig.

It is not ideal, but used with care, can suffice until better methods become available..

But there have been various modifications made by model engineers which have improved accuracy

Avoid the gadgets where the drill is located in a plastic holder. A drill,,heated by grinding will melt the plastic and ruin that "guide".

Also, for the integral ones, the power is very low, something akin to a fly on a treadmill!

How do I know? Experience is hard and sometimes an expensive teacher.


Howard Lewis08/01/2022 17:21:22
6005 forum posts
14 photos


You can make a simple jig. Just a metal block with a Vee slot at an angle of 59 degrees to give the 118 degree point angle.

You then need a simple jig to check that the lip lengths are equal; if the drill is to cut to size. Unequal lip lengths will result in oversize holes.

You can buy a simple gauge to measure lip length so that you can grind them to the correct angle and length.


duncan webster08/01/2022 17:25:39
3919 forum posts
61 photos

Anyone use one of these wishbone. There was an article on making one in either ME or MEW, it's on the to-do list, but so is a lot of other stuff

Martin Kyte08/01/2022 17:38:02
2721 forum posts
48 photos

Under 6mm regard as disposable. I have several sets of drills. a best set (well 2 actually steel and brass). As drills get blunt they are relogated to the DIY category and are also fodder for regrind specials for plastics etc. If you don't have a cast off set you will end up using your good drills for iffy jobs, like using them in battery drills where they will never run true again.

regards Martin

noel shelley08/01/2022 17:41:54
1278 forum posts
21 photos

The EXPERT in this field is Derek Brown who has written up in ME. He visited many clubs showing his little diamond pad/ and jig for very small drills. Noel.

Howard Lewis08/01/2022 18:11:08
6005 forum posts
14 photos

The late Giles Parkes beat me to it with using ER collets to hold drills for grinding on a Worden.

DAG Brown really is VERY EXPERT at drill grinding. He has demonstrated the technique on his Qourn at exhibitions,using my abused drills, They cut marvellously.

Somewhere have his drawings for the "manual" honing devices. Another job on the Round Tuit!


jon hill 308/01/2022 18:17:43
119 forum posts
24 photos

Thanks everyone.

Emgee08/01/2022 18:55:27
2404 forum posts
285 photos


If you haven't got one get a decent loupe and sharpen the drills on a fine wheel grinder, you may aquire the expertise required but as said it's probably best to buy new quality drills in such small sizes.


bernard towers08/01/2022 19:22:03
568 forum posts
109 photos

dbacaca5-9df8-4e28-a043-38ae8bd8086a.jpegI personally like the 4 facet method as it almost makes centre drills redundant. I made a couple of jigs to sharpen 3 to 6mm and another one to take up to 13 mm. The smaller ones I do on a DAG Brown jig. The two jigs for the cutter grinder are an adaption from article in MEW by Roland Gyllander from Sweden. 1995 I believe.811e7755-2daa-4e9c-b782-9489a8e1972d.jpeg

Clive Foster08/01/2022 19:53:52
3103 forum posts
107 photos

Reluctant though I am to cross swords (keyboards!) with Andrew Johnston I strongly disagree with his view that the Clarkson Drill grinder accessory is of little utility.

As I do a fair bit of fix-it work my drills are, perhaps, more at risk than his from the 'Orrible Metals Company alloys like "Drill Muncher", "Super Hardinium", and "Inclusion Rich" or similar products from other sources.

My Clarkson attachment is permanently set up and in very regular use.

If there is there is slightest question as to whether a drill is still really sharp it goes on the Clarkson. Takes about 90 seconds from drill box to sharp to chucked up on the machine. Having really sharp drills on tap all the time does make life easier and makes for better work.

I used to use Andrews method of buying new drills when the old ones were blunt. Which wasn't stupid expensive, even at pre millennium prices. But I now know that much of the time the drills, although still sharp and working decently, were not giving optimum performance.

For the home shop person the big problem with the buying strategy is always what happens when you kill a drill on Friday evening and the engineering tooling shops don't open until Monday. Assuming you can get away from work during shop hours! Can't get a 9.3 mm drill from B&Q on Sunday morning. Or maybe a week to mail order, as was back then. Couple of days now from the switched on suppliers now, sometimes better, but still a wait.

I had a Picador for sharpening when buying wasn't going to meet the schedule. Effective but a considerable faff and so slow taking into account time wasted remembering how to do things after 6 or more months since last time.

If its going to be useful a drill sharpener has to be fast, effective and right first time every time. Which basically rules out all of the jigs unless you follow Graham Meek and do a proper re-engineering. Although the cheapy Plasplugs Multisharp thing was, in its original incarnation at least, unreasonably good.

For a Clarkson the technique is put drill in 6 jaw chuck with 1/2" projection and edge level. Bring up to touch the wheel, swing lever up, feed a touch more, start machine waggle the lever until it stops sparking. Swing up, rotate spindle by 180° (really hefty positive stop), repeat waggle and job done. Right every time.

Nothing else remotely home shop suitable comes close in speed and reliability.

My opinion is that anything less is flat out not good enough and won't be used. The better 4 facet set ups can come close tho'.

Baby drills of course are bin and buy, packs of 5 or 10 usually.


Andrew Johnston08/01/2022 20:41:15
6574 forum posts
701 photos
Posted by Clive Foster on 08/01/2022 19:53:52:

.....disagree with his view that the Clarkson Drill grinder accessory is of little utility.

Swords at the ready!

That's not what I said; I don't use it for drill grinding, not saying it was of no utility. It's my personal preference to buy rather than grind. By the time my jobbers drills need replacing they tend to be rather a mess. I use the Clarkson attachment for grinding the lead on taps, both commercial and home made:

grinding tap relief.jpg


Clive Foster08/01/2022 21:35:52
3103 forum posts
107 photos


Sorry Andrew finger trouble.

Meant to write "little utility for drill grinding" but the "for drill grinding bit" fell off twixt brain and keyboard.

One day I shall try the tap lead grinding feature. Slowly getting a collection of won't cut ones.

Must try harder when proof reading.


Andrew Johnston08/01/2022 21:43:39
6574 forum posts
701 photos
Posted by Clive Foster on 08/01/2022 21:35:5

Sorry Andrew finger trouble

No need to apologise; can't imagine we'll be duelling at dawn!


noel shelley08/01/2022 21:55:36
1278 forum posts
21 photos

Like you Clive, I cannot tolerate blunt drills, so small ones in the bid & buy new.

For not much more than the price of a Clarkson DP&TL attachment on the usual place I bought a Brierley drill sharpening machine That makes the Clarkson attachment look very slow, it will do most forms of point and will do up to 1.25"Dia, twice the size a Clarkson can handle. Noel.

Bazyle08/01/2022 22:10:52
6295 forum posts
222 photos

If anyone is throwing drills away if just blunt (as opposed to damaged) please consider giving them to your local men't shed who will have people who are not in a hurry and can spend a day working through a box full as occupational therapy.

Nicholas Farr09/01/2022 07:18:03
3310 forum posts
1524 photos

Hi Jon Hill 3, this free Drill Sharpening Jig plan might interest you, although the construction notes are in MEW 17.

Regards Nick.

Mike Hurley09/01/2022 10:33:39
305 forum posts
87 photos

Re small drill sharpening - I inherited these two items from my late brother (he was a competent model engineer), and I assume they are for sharpening small drills. OK insert in V, set projection to give appropriate angle and rub on oilstone / diamond lap. Rotate 180 & repeat.

But that will only give you flat cutting edges with no relief surely? Is there a nack to doing this? I have seen articles on units such as the ' butterfly ' jig that allows you to tilt slightly to give the relief, but these do not seem to permit that easily.

Also, any obvious reason why 2 different heights?

( I meant to put a rule in the photo but forget. They are both around 20 - 25mm across )

I may be barking up the wrong tree totally, but if these are useful they would assist me greatly - so any input most gratefully received. Regards Mike

drill sharpening jigs.jpg

Edited By Mike Hurley on 09/01/2022 10:35:20

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