(Image/Wayne Scraba)

I don’t know about you but I have pretty good collection of dull drill bits in my tool cabinet. I always promise myself I’ll replace them soon, but it seems that promise gets broken on a regular basis. So when I open up a drill index and grab a drill bit, it’s pretty frustrating to find that the darned thing is dull (simply because I neglected to replace it). Of course, the only person to blame is me.

Sound familiar? Then check this out:

There is another option when it comes to replacing dead drill bits and that’s a drill bit sharpening tool. These tools let you sharpen drill bits as they wear. That takes care of my neglect mentioned above. In particular, a drill bit sharpener from Palmgren caught my eye. That’s because, while a lot of these sharpeners are designed for professional shop use, this one was priced for home garages—just like mine.

Fair enough, but there’s a pretty big price step between a pro model and home shop example. So, how good is the home model and how hard is it to use?

Once you have one of these smaller bench top machines in your hands, you’ll find it’s well built and actually pretty simple to use. First things first: Drill bits are intended to be sharpened dry (sharpens by way of a large diamond wheel). Lubricants can actually damage the tool. With that out of the way, you’ll find the tool simply plugs into a 110-volt power source. There’s a power switch on the side.

To use it, the drill bit alignment chuck, which is located on the face of the machine must be removed. Open the chuck and loosely install a drill bit. Next, the alignment chuck is inserted into the alignment port. There’s a lever on the topside. This is pressed down while the drill bit is pushed in. The alignment jaws of the tool set the bit to the correct rotation and distance for sharpening. Once this is done, the alignment chuck is tightened to lock the bit into the chuck. It’s ready to sharpen.

At this point, the chuck (complete with drill bit) is inserted into the drill bit sharpener. There are tabs in place that determine positioning. With the sharpener turned on, you simply rotate the grinding port right to left and then back to the right. You can hear and feel the sharpening process. Once the sound stops, the bit has been sharpened on one side.

Next, the chuck is removed, rotated 180 degrees and re-inserted into the sharpener port. The sharpening process is repeated. This way, both sides of drill bit cutting edge or “lip” along with the chisel edge (point) are sharpened. It’s a simple process.

The sharpener will also grind split point bits. Basically, the same process (with the drill bit captured by the chuck) is performed using the top (vertical) grinding port. This procedure is done after the drill bit is conventionally sharpened using the horizontal grinding port.

This Palmgren drill bit sharpener works with carbide, cobalt, high-speed steel, black oxide, and Ti-coated drill bits.

The diamond sharpening wheel is replaceable, and there’s an access port to clean out grinding dust, most of which is kept inside the tool. The machine has an internal circuit breaker located alongside the on-off switch. If it’s overused or overloaded, the breaker will trip. Once it cools though, it will return to normal.

The bottom line here is, the Palmgren bench top drill bit sharpener is a robust, intuitive piece of equipment. And once you get the hang of it, you can sharpen a drill bit in less than a minute.

Drill bit doldrums? Not anymore and that works for me. For a closer look, check out the photos below.

In order to sharpen a bit, the chuck is removed from this port. It simply unscrews. (Image/Wayne Scraba)
Insert a drill bit loosely. Then the chuck is inserted into the alignment port. Push the drill bit into the chuck (by hand) and move the top lever. That sets the drill bit position. Tighten the chuck. (Image/Wayne Scraba)
Turn on the power switch (on the left) and insert the chuck (with the drill bit) into the sharpener port. Tabs hold it in place. You can hear and feel the sharpening process. Once the sound stops, the bit has been sharpened on one side. (Image/Wayne Scraba)
Remove the chuck and re-insert it 180-degrees from the previous position. Repeat the sharpening process. This (obviously) sharpens the other side of the drill bit cutting edge or “lip.” (Image/Wayne Scraba)
The drill bit is now sharp. Palmgren’s tool is intuitive and very easy to use. And once you get the hang of it, you can sharpen a bit in less than a minute. (Image/Wayne Scraba)
This port is used to sharpen split point bits. See the text for more info. (Image/Wayne Scraba)
Here’s the access port that allows you to clean out the grinding dust. As noted in the text, most of the dust is contained within the tool. (Image/Wayne Scraba)

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Author: Wayne Scraba

Wayne Scraba is a diehard car guy and regular contributor to OnAllCylinders. He’s owned his own speed shop, built race cars, street rods, and custom motorcycles, and restored muscle cars. He’s authored five how-to books and written over 4,500 tech articles that have appeared in sixty different high performance automotive, motorcycle and aviation magazines worldwide.