How To Sharpen Drill Bits With A File

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

The drill bits channelize the power of the drilling tool to make holes on selected surfaces. And over time, the drill bits might not be able to cut through the surface with their usual potential because of frequent use. They get so blunt that they fail to even drill through soft metals or woods.

But, changing them too often is quite expensive. Hence, it is essential to sharpen the drill bits all by yourself, and with this, you can save some bucks.

How To Sharpen Drill Bits With A File

The sole reason for drill bits being blunt lies in their working potential. The use of such bits for drilling through hard materials will blunt their sharpness over time. It will be noticeable when the cuts or drills won’t be smooth.

A blunt drill bit will demand more push and effort to break through even the first layer of the drilling surface. 

Man inserting a drill bit on a drill

Therefore, you need to know the proper process of sharpening the drill bits instead of heading out to get a new one. This guide will give an easy method to help you learn how to sharpen drill bits with a file

Step 1: Make Arrangement For The Tools

To begin with, you need to get all of the essential tools required for sharpening the drill bits.

  1. A drill bit, which is dull or blunt due to rigorous application 
  2. A hand-filing tool. 
  3. Get a rage for cleaning purposes.
  4. A clamp to hold the drill bit upon a table. 

Step 2: Take Safety Concerns

Even though drill bit filing is not that hazardous compared to other drilling works, you still need to consider the safety aspects as a good practice. 

  1. Get safety goggles to ensure that filing dust does not penetrate your eyes. 
  2. Use industrial-grade gloves to get a good grip over the filing tool without hurting your hands. 

Step 3: Cleaning Of The Drill Bit

The first step should always be to clean the drill bits and eradicate dirt or debris off the bit. When you use the bit for drilling holes, it is evident that they will hold up some debris. Therefore, use a wet rag to wipe the drill bit before proceeding with the sharpening process. 

Step 4: Gripping Of The Drill Bit

  1. Place the drill bit on a table, and use a clamp to grip it firmly over the table. 
  2. You can also prefer holding the drill bit with your hand from one end. But this is an uncomfortable means of grabbing the bit, as it will trouble you with the filing approach. 
Man holding a sharpened drill bit

Step 5: Setting The File Over The Blades On Drill Bit

  1. Get the filing tool from any hardware store. You can prefer using an auger file for the auger & brad-point bit. And, you need to use a mill file for filing the spade bit. 
  2. Placing the file over the blades of a drill bit is an important step. Therefore, consider placing the file on one edge of the drill bit at an angle of 60 degrees. 
  3. There are noticeably two blades on each side of the point over the drill bit. 
  4. You need to file down the edge around 6 to 8 times. The filing motion should be curvy for every lip over the drill bit.
  5. Repeat the same process on the other side of that drill bit. 

Step 6: Filing Off The Metal Burrs & Finishing The Process 

  1. You need to file off all the metal burrs over drill bits. 
  2. Draw the filing tool up and start filing the under-side region of the sharpened areas. 
  3. Also, you need to apply one or two drops of machine oil into the drill bit. You can use the one in your household, without the necessity of buying any specific one. 
  4. Rub oil over the drill bit to smoothen the edges that you are done filing.

Now, you are ready to test the drill bit on any surface. In this way, you will be confident on whether the sharp edges are appropriate for drilling or not. 

Refer to this YouTube video for a clear step-wise practical demonstration on sharpening the drill bits using a file. 

Cordless drill

Frequently Asked Questions

What Type Of File Is Suitable For Sharpening The Drill Bits?

The purpose of all file tools is the same, to give a smooth finish to different objects. In this case, you need to pick a file that is suitable for sharpening the drill bits. For example, a diamond file is an ideal consideration to sharpen the bits.

But, there are many other types of files, about which you should know, to decide better. Therefore, here is an informative resource to help you get an idea of all available types of files. 

Can I Use A Grinder For The Sake Of Sharpening The Drill Bits?

If you have the grinder tool at your workshop, it is well-suitable to speed up the sharpening application of your drill bits. But, if you do not want to spend extra bucks on buying one, then using the hand filing method is ideal to attain the desirable sharpness over the drill bits. If you are using a grinder tool, make sure that you take all safety precautions associated with its execution. 


Repairing the drill bits instead of replacing them is an economic decision for the people who use drilling tools more often. The landing force on the drill bits is usually high, depending upon the surface and application. Hence, this is what blunts them over time and makes them incapable of drilling the surfaces efficiently.

Therefore, adapt the filing process to revive the sharpness of the drill bits, thereby making them optimal for use.  

An expert at home repair, remodel, and DIY projects for nearly 40 years. His first experience came in completely restoring an antique home. Completely redone from the inside out, and restored to its original form, the home is a featured design by renowned Southern California Architect Cliff May, considered to be the father of the California Ranch Home. Now Dennis spends his time on fine woodworking projects and tool comparisons.