Whether you're a hard-core
fabricator, occasional "make-a-part", or strictly a bolt-on
type, one of the most frequent things you'll do in your shop is drill
holes. It's also one of the most important tasks for proper fit, function,
and appearance. Nasty, chewed out, misaligned holes cause poor fit, leading
to increased stress, potential weak-points, and shoddy looking work.
But - it's hard work
drilling holes in steel - especially big holes in thick steel. A few weeks
back I installed a new Class IV receiver hitch in my tow rig - a '78 Ford
F250. In the end - I had to drill 6 or 8 holes, 9/16" in diameter,
through 1/4" and 3/8" steel. Of course I was doing it on a Sunday,
and by the end my bit was chewed up, dull, and I was almost literally
grinding and melting my way through. I was tired and ticked off.
I thought to myself. There has GOT to be a better way...........................
Enter the Drill
Dr, a home/small shop drill bit sharpening machine. I had seen them
on the web before, and had read a few reviews - most positive, but some
mixed. I did some more research, including reading everything on their
web site http://www.drilldoctor.com
Normally, stuff like this is too good to be true. Could this small, relatively
inexpensive machine do all it claimed, or would it be such a complicated
nightmare of setup that I'd never use it? Well, I was thoroughly fed-up
with the way I'd been doing things; so I decided to find out.
the package as it arrived, Standard UPS from Oregon.
I was excited,
I had high hopes. Sure, I'd tried buying new, cheap bits all the
time..but that's no help when the bit you need dulls or breaks on
a Sunday and you can't get a replacement. And the factory grind
on some of the cheap bits is awful too - causing poor roundness,
quick dulling, and a bit that wanders all over the place. I hate
box, amongst the styrofoam peanuts (keep out of reach of curious
10 month old daughters!) was a nice shrink-wrapped plastic case.
I'd also done
a fair bit of sharpening bits by hand on my bench-grinder - but
with mixed results. I just couldn't seem to get consistent - especially
with the really large or really small bits.
The Drill Dr
750 Pro comes equipped to sharpen bits from 3/32" to 3/4"!
That should do nicely!
||Here's the plastic molded
case, and inside................
and a warranty card
- A VHS video
explaining use and care (blue arrow)
- The Drill
Dr 750 machine (yellow arrow)
- A small wrench for
maintenance (green arrow)
- Two chucks, one for
3/32" to 1/2" bits, one for 1/2" to 3/4" bits
Boy I was
sure hoping this machine worked as advertised. This is a picture,
completely un-posed, of my bench. Just a huge mess of dull bits.
Heck, I have come to detest drilling holes so much that I have even
spent considerable time trying to figure out how to fabricate or
attach something without having to drill holes, or as many holes
as I probably should - maybe you have too!
Ok - now, I'm
as macho, hard-core, garage-guy as the next fella - but in this
case, I really wanted success, so I read the instructions first!
Three times, actually.....AND I watched the short video twice. It
was totally worth it.
There are also
video clips, guides. and PDFs of the manuals available at their
excellent web-site at http://www.drilldoctor.com
When it came time to
operate the machine for the first time, it was really easy. The
instructions and video are both of excellent quality - no poorly
translated English or confusing diagrams. The only error I detected
was that the actor in the video, when describing what types of bits
the machine will sharpen, said "tin coated" bits. I've
never heard of a tin coated bit, nor can I imagine why you'd want
one. Rather, I suspect he was reading TiN coated, as in, Titanium
Nitride coated bits.
Along with excellent
instructions, that include a laminated "quick reference"
card, another awesome feature of the machine is the big, clear labeling
of the steps on the machine itself; and the complete idiot-proof
diagrams on the machine. Enlarge the pic to the left and note how
the steps are numbered. Also see how easy and clear the settings
are for different angles and types of bits.......
Honestly, I had read
grumbling in the past about the machine being hard to operate. I
can't imagine why. After going over the instructions and video,I was sharpening bits like a mad fiend in literally seconds!
The 750 Pro kit is able
to sharpen bits from 3/32" to 3/4", and will do 118* bits,
135* bits and either of those in straight cut, split-point, or masonry
It even converts one
type to another!!!
The only slightly disappointing
thing with the whole kit was, the video indicated that it came with
a small rack for holding the 2 different chucks, that would fit
on the 2 mounting studs seen on the back here. Sadly, mine came
with no chuck-holding rack. Not a big deal, really, but would have
been a nice feature.
||This is the right side,
showing where the chuck is inserted to actually sharpen the bit.
||Inside you can see the
diamond sharpening wheel. It's user-replacable, costs less than $20,
and is good for about 200 bits.
On the left side is
the port for splitting the point of the drill bit. I won't go into
exact details, because the instructions cover it very well. If you're
interested ahead of time you can read more of the details on their
web site or here:
||I decided I would
put it to the test right off the bat. Here's the initial setup - a
simple 18v cordless drill, a blunt, 118*, regular point, TiN coated
drill bit grabbed at random from the heap on my desk (it turned out
to be a 3/8"bit - well used), a chunk of 1/4" thick mild
steel, and the Drill Dr 750.
||First thing I
did was chuck the bit, and bear down, with moderate pressure, for
30 seconds. This is what it looked like in the end - not very impressive
Then I sharpened
the bit, my first bit ever, in the Drill Dr. It took less than a
minute (I think, I was kind of excited and forgot to count). Anyway,
it was easy, though I'd never done it before. I made about 3 "passes"
(this will make sense after you read the instructions (did I mention
they're excellent :-)
I chucked the bit, and repeated the test - 30 seconds under moderate
Note the nice
large cutting chips instead of the fine grinding dust of the unsharpened
the results. The "hole" (more of a tiny indent really)
of the unsharpened bit is on top, and the lower hole was cut after
the very first bit I ever sharpened!
OK - so that's
pretty impressive - obviously it works. BUT - 30 seconds with a
run-down cordless drill and a puny 3/8" bit is not what we
metal-mashing home fab artists are all about right!
So - I decided
on one more test
I grabbed a "real" sized bit :-) A 9/16" silver and
deming drill bit. It actually appeared to be in OK shape out of
the heap. Not great, but not my worst.
So, let's see
I chucked the bit in the drill press, and timed how long it took
to cut clean through the 1/4' plate steel.
56 seconds for
the original bit - not bad, but the cuttings you can tell are too
fine - it's not cutting well - more like chipping and grinding away.
drilling like this, you tend to use way to much pressure, and this
is what leads to out-of-round holes, burned up drill motors, and
poor quality work.
So I sharpened
the bit in the Drill Dr, it took me 1 min 31 Seconds (this time
accurately timed by my darling wife Laurie, who had become curious
and wandered out to see what the heck I was up to!)
In the end
- she proclaimed "That's a really cool little machine"
||The second run
took only 36 seconds to cut through. But the most important thing
is - look at the beautiful long cuttings. That's what it should look
like when you're drilling.
So, in summary:
Box of Drill
750 pro: $140-200 (shop around!)
$5 (always wear those safety glasses, folks!)
to effortlessly drill accurate holes without busting knuckles or
burning up a drill, anytime you want: Priceless!!
I absolutely LOVE my Drill
Dr. It fits right into the top of the category of "why in the heck
didn't I buy one earlier". There are lots of different models. For
the serious fabricator who drills a lot of steel, and who needs to drill
holes bigger than 1/2" (I find myself drilling quite a few 9/16 and
5/8" holes), I think the 750 Pro is the way to go.
Bottom line - this little machine
just plain ROCKS! It works as advertised and will make my time in the
shop much more productive and less aggravating.........wicked-cool!