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I’ve been getting a little better at sharpening things over the years, gradually figuring out what it takes to make for nicely honed chisels, happy chainsaws, and safer knives (a dull knife is a dangerous knife). I recently figured out how to sharpen drill bits.
It’s kind of led to a discovery for me of just how much we’re a throwaway society with things that it’s blatantly ridiculous to just toss into the trash if we stop to really think about it.
In particular, I’ve been thinking about drill bits and spade bits with this.
What we typically do here is just throw these in the trash as soon as they start to get the least bit dull.
“Oh, this is no good anymore,” and then we chuck a perfectly good piece of metal out. If our great grandpaw saw us doing that, he’d be liable to smack us in the head with a stick. Because the reality of it is that if you can sharpen other pieces of metal, then you can sharpen both of these “pieces” of metal as well. Does it take a little bit of practice and know-how? Yeah, but let’s consider some of the prices here.
How to sharpen spade bits
Irwin is a popular brand of spade bit that a lot of people really like. This 1.25” one costs $10 at the time of publication. If you’re getting the really long ones, you’re looking at closer to $15. You can see why you wouldn’t just want to toss one of these out as soon as it starts to get dull. It’s not hard to get a spade bit dull either. If you’re using them on a fairly regular basis, you’re probably looking at about 3-6 months of use.
The cool thing is that you can easily sharpen these with a simple flat file. It’ll be easier if you have a bench vise as well. Clamp that spade bit into the vise so that you can use both hands on the file (if possible), and then match up with the angle of the blade edge and file away with a few passes towards the edge (don’t draw the file back towards you). Do this about 10-20 times for all of the need-to-be-sharp edges and you’ll be set.
It takes only a few minutes, and you can easily save yourself enough money to go and get your nephew a Mora knife. Doing this for an entire set of spade bits can actually save you somewhere around $50 if you just would have tossed them otherwise. That’s a hefty chunk of change to toss out for no good reason.
How to sharpen drill bits
If you’re going to be drilling holes in things on a regular basis, then you’re going to need plenty of drill bits as well. While these are less expensive (typically) than spade bits, you can still spend quite a bit of money on these. Take this Dewalt set, for example. It’s a common type of set that you’ll find in toolboxes across the country, and it’ll cost you around $20.
While I tend to snap mine before I dull them, if you do a lot of drilling through hardwoods or metal, you’re going to eventually end up with not-so-sharp bits that aren’t going to do the job as easy as they once did.
Yet there are $10 jigs out there that will help you to keep those drill bits sharp. There are higher-end models out there, too for about $150 or so, but the point being that if you’re somebody who tosses out a lot of dull bits, you can save yourself a bit of money here with a pretty small investment.
The drill is arguably the tool that people use most, and that being the case, it make sense to do what you can to make it so that it is as inexpensive to run as possible.
What about hole saws?
I’m still working on figuring this one out. I’ve seen some guys use angle grinders, but you should be able to do it with a very small file as well. It’s the angle on this one that’s tricky for me. If you do attempt to go this route, I would recommend marking the tooth that you start on with a permanent marker or something so that you can keep track of whether you’re done or not.
If you know more about sharpening a hole saw than me, let us know what you do in the comment section below.
Don’t throw out what a little time and energy can fix.
There’s really no need. Just set the stuff aside for a slower day and have at it on the days that you’re not feeling as if you’ve been very productive. Then, go for it!
But I’m interested in hearing what your thoughts are on the matter. Do you already sharpen your own spade and drill bits, or do you think it’s not worth it? Any secrets to sharpening hole saws? Let us know in the comment section..
Aden Tate is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com and TheFrugalite.com. Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has four published books, What School Should Have Taught You, The Faithful Prepper, An Arm and a Leg, The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications, and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.