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The Drill Doctor has become an often-seen sharpening tool in many home workshops and commercial garages since its public release in 1997. The manufacturer claims the Drill Doctor can sharpen most bit sizes depending on the model of machine you are using, so the woodworking professional can save money by turning those rusted and dull bits into usable tools time and time again. Their website has this to say about the tool:

Since its introduction in 1997, the Drill Doctor® line has sold more than two million units. All major U.S. hardware retailers, as well as distributors in some 25 nations abroad, carry the Drill Doctor® brand.
Some of the retailers who carry the Drill Doctor® today are Sears, Home Depot, Lowes, TrueValue, Ace Hardware, Do It Best, Orchard Supply Hardware, Menard’s, and Amazon.com. They are also carried extensively by auto after market and industrial tool suppliers.

I want to ask our Toolmonger denizens out there if this tool lives up to its sales records. Is the Drill Doctor a Hot way to save money and keep reusing drill bits? Or does it fall into the Not category as a gimmick that isn’t worth the time spent sharpening? Let us know in comments.

Drill Doctor [Corporate Website]
 

27 Responses to Hot or Not? The Drill Doctor

  1. FourMat says:

    Hot. I have had one for 5 or 6 years now. I have to say that it is well worth it. I don’t use drill bits every day, but when I do, it’s usually to drill metal. There is nothing worse than a dull drill bit. I remember growing up and my dad trying to sharpen drill bits by hand with a standard bench grinder. The results were sometimes worse that the original. The DD makes it easy, fast and repeatable. Though it may not pay for itself if all you do is wood, I would defnitely recommend one to anyone who does any kind of metalwork.

  2. Lee says:

    Hot. Saved me significant money. I had to drill 48 .44 inch holes in schedule 40 stainless steel pipe. After wasting $40 on 3 drill bits that barely drilled 3 holes, I bought the Drill Doctor. Sharpening, even the crappiest drill bits from the bottom of my box, worked like magic. If you work with stainless steel, it will save you a fortune in replacement bits.

  3. kg2v says:

    I have the original 1997 version in the 3/4″ size. My answer is “depends” – for drill bits of a standard twist rate above say, 1/4″ size, they are fine – for smaller stuff? Buy a new drill bit

    With non standard twist rates, it often gets the clearence angles wrong, to the point of being reversed

    With a list price of $180 for the 3/4″ model, you can buy a LOT of drill bits in the smaller sizes

  4. Drew says:

    Hot. Haven’t tried anything small but it worked great on some very dull large bits that I had. Hasn’t exactly paid for itself yet but I suppose it will eventually.

  5. Roscoe says:

    NOT. I think this thing is a drill bit butcher. IMO, you’re better off to buy good bits, touch themup with a file on rare occasions, and have them professionally sharpened once before replacing them.

    Mine’s been sitting on a shelf for years while I decide if I would feel bad selling it to someone, or should just pitch it.

  6. Robert Blackmon says:

    Hot. I’ve had mine 4 or 5 years and use it quite a bit, if something were to happen to it I’d buy another one tomorrow.

  7. Pong says:

    Hot, have had mine since it still came with video instructions on VHS. I’ve been able to maintain the same drill bit set for nearly 10 years with it and have only had to replace broken bits.

  8. Mike47 says:

    Hot. We use one in the shop of the California State Railroad Museum and it worked so well that I bought one for my home shop. It’s definitely suited to sharpening a lot of bits and may not pan out for the occasional bit user, since you can buy a lot of bits for the price of a sharpener. If you can afford it, it sure is nice not to have to jump in the truck and go buy a new bit when you are right in the middle of a project. They can be had cheaper on Ebay, too.

  9. Greg A. says:

    Not. havn’t tried it in years but had a boss buy me one when I was having a hard time with some metal studs (bought it and not new drill bits). After 3 hours of setting up and not getting right he finally gave up and admitted I was right.

    I’ve thought about trying it again recently but I can not make my self spend $ on it.

  10. Jim says:

    HOT. I have the original consumer version. I used it so often, I purchased the Commercial model which is permanently installed on a pedestal. Almost same performance. I carry the smaller unit in my bag with me when I am doing a project outside the workshop.

    Interesting comment about non-standard twist rates, I can understand how that would negatively impact the results.

    I have fine results with smaller bits, but, I am a bit more careful when chucking the bit and checking the orientation.

  11. MIchael says:

    If it took him 3 hours to “set up” then I have to say that he should stay away from all power tools. It is easy to use and has saved me time and money by not having to stop and go to the hardware store to buy more bits. And, over the many,many years before I had the Drill Doctor, I accumalated a lot of bits because I hate wasting anything that can be refurbished. Now I can just sharpen the old dull ones and give them all new life. A real time and money saver.
    I have sharpen both large and small bits and never noticed any problem with the performance of either.
    Michael

  12. tgood says:

    Roscoe, I say you pitch it this way. Send me an email to tkgoodsell at hotmail.com. I’ll pay for shipping.

  13. rg says:

    I have the least expensive model, which came with an extra wheel. It works well and saves time having properly sharpened bits on hand always. Definitely worth the ~CAD$50 sale price.

  14. John Laur says:

    Hot. I have the regular run-of-the-mill consumer version; I bought it when I had to drill lots of holes in steel and it saved me money inside of one day. My options on that project were to 1) Buy about a hundred bits 2) Buy fewer bits, pay a bunch and wait a long time to have them sharpened each time they dulled, or 3) buy about 5 bits and a Drill Doctor. Cost per hole went to nothing not even figuring cost of time.

    I think due to the way they temper the edges at the factory,most bits hold up on their factory edges a lot longer than they hold up after you re-grind them, but considering putting a new edge on them takes all of 30 seconds, it’s not a big deal.

    Sure, there are some standard (ie non specialty) bits it wont sharpen properly, but nobody’s twisting your arm to ruin them on the Drill Doctor when you can easily take anything it wont handle to a pro. Plus, you have a choice when buying your bits as to whether or not you get bits that you can sharpen on the machine.

    It does take more practice than one might think to operate the thing successfully, but I have sharpened down to about 1/16″ with satisfactory results. It takes a little trial and error with the chuck to get it centered, but you can do it. Does the commercial version have an all-metal precision chuck? I think that would make the most difference.

  15. Ted says:

    I vote, find an old-guy™ and get him to show you how to freehand sharpen them with a bench grinder. You already own it, it works for every size bit and it will even resurrect the broken stub of a bit in a pinch for those 9:07pm Sunday evening moments.

    t

  16. DW says:

    Hot, works as advertised. But the frequency of use is a valid point if you don’t drill that often and replacing a bit here and there would be way cheaper. I just use standard pitch bits so no drawbacks for me.

  17. Pencilneck says:

    It has it’s place. We have one at the shop and I use it every so often to refresh my drill bits, it works pretty good…. doens’t make the bits “good as new”, but rather, “almost good as new”. It is really easy to use… 3 hours to set up? Sure…. blindfolded, using your toes… while on fire…. listening to Bobby Sherman.

  18. Steve W. says:

    Ted, you’re right about finding an old-German-tool-maker-from-the-Fatherland™. I heard one guy talk about it when I was about 12, and then had the opportunity to ask a tool and die maker to show me when I was 22. He showed me once and told me I either had it, or didn’t. I didn’t try it myself until I was 47, I evidently had it all along, works good enough for me to get the job done most of the time. I still would like to find a good deal on a larger DD, so it’s hot for me.

  19. Cameron Watt says:

    Hot. It’s quick and easy, especially with the small-ish bits, when I’m too tired to do a good job by hand. With my work, 95% of the drilling is through steel that’s less than 3/8″ so the truth is that long drills aren’t needed. I intend to sharpen my drills until the flutes are almost gone!

    Steve W: That’s funny! I happened to learn how to sharpen drill bits by looking over the shoulder of an old German maschinist at work.

    Funny story(in my opinion): I wanted to pick his brain about hand scraping (läppen). One day, during lunch, when I asked him if he did his apprenticeship in Germany he blew his stack and yelled at me, “Being German doesn’t make me a better machinist!” Wow. Full volume with flying spittle and all. I wondered if he heard that question a lot.

    After explaining that I just wanted to pick his brain, and that his being an older machinist made him likely to know work methods not found in industry today produced an instant change: he lightened-up/calmed down and turned out to be a good source of information; always happy to teach.

  20. Jim says:

    Dear John,

    The commercial model is the basis for the Drill Doctor. Well made, all metal, last a lifetime, more adjustability.

    http://www.darex.com/product.asp?specific=946

    Jim

  21. Joe C. says:

    I too learned how to hand sharpen twist drills. That doesn’t mean I’m going to leave my DrillDoctor on the shelf. It’s HOT. I still hand sharpen every now and then just to keep MYSELF sharp.

  22. bob B says:

    I like my drill doctor. Whenever I buy new bit’s or sharpen old ones I mark the cutting ends with a red colored marker. Then when I need a sharp bit I’d use what ever bits still had the mark on the cutting end. After a while all the bits would have the red mark worn off from cutting though what ever material. I sharpened two normal (25-35 piece) sized sets of bits in less than an hour the last time I used my drill doctor.

  23. Eric says:

    Our DD is a wonderful shop tool. So easy to use (didn’t even watch the VHS it came with), and I’ve found it works very well with small bits too if you take the time to align the bits correctly. Sure, the bits don’t end up as good as new, and you can kiss any pilot tips goodbye, but the benefit of a sharp bit is something we can all appreciate.

  24. Steve says:

    NOT….The boss bought a model 500. It will DULL a sharp bit and make it worthless in seconds. Yes, I know how important the alignment is, etc. I read the manual, watched the video, etc. This thing does NOT work. It sharpens the outer edges of the bit but flattens the point down to where it won’t even cut into wood. I can do a much better job by hand. A total waste of money….OK now that I’m done venting….when I look at the “innards” of this thing it looks like the bit isn’t centered over the diamond wheel. If you remove the plastic window and look inside, the bit is off-center by a noticeable amount. Is this by design or was this particular machine built wrong? In the mean time, thank goodness for a bench grinder.

  25. Mitch says:

    Steve, I don’t know – maybe it is indeed your unit.

    I vote HOT. It does work for me. It does require care in alignment or the results come out worse than the original dull bit.

    With the amount of drilling I do, it’s going to take me a few years to pay off but the thought of reusing stuff instead of buying new tickles me to no end.

  26. Steve says:

    Mitch….we took the original unit back and exchanged it. This one works the same as the first one. Bad batch at Sears maybe?

  27. jacek says:

    Hi.
    Could you please send me some information for drill doctor.
    What size a drill bits I can sharp in the machine and what is the price of it.
    With regards.
    j.kazmierczak

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