I am making something. That something requires steel. The steel requires holes. I have the steel and, Oh my God, do I have the drill bits. I got drill bits up the yin yang. Over the years I have acquired the equivalent of twenty pounds of drill bits. Maybe more. One of the reasons I have so many drill bits is that they get dull and I give ’em a sharpen but, of course, my sharpening skills are such that one might describe them as the dullest knife in my drawer. I am bad. So, I do what any privileged, white male does in the so-called first world. I buy more.
Yesterday, I ran out of sharp drill bits. So, I attempted a ‘comeback’ and sharpened a few. And failed again. I was at the miserable grinder sharpening and then over to the little Ryobi drill press (only strong enough to drill through stale bread) slowly trying to get a hole through 1/4 steel by what amounted to not much more than friction. To drill 32 holes took five hours.
Halfway through that embarrassing ordeal I came in and went on You Tube. Watched ‘How to sharpen drill bits’ for about forty minutes. I think you can see how I arrived at the title of this blog. I watched guys who have trouble speaking coherent sentences sharpen drill bits so that they could put holes in aircraft carriers or tanks! Each video is at least ten minutes. Each lesson could be delivered in 30 seconds, one minute if you count the usual safety warning and the ‘please subscribe and like’ entreaty. Sadly, they grunt the lesson and I was only learning a little. My world was getting smaller, shorter and mentally brutish.
The good news is that my first post-you-tube drill bit sharpening attempt was marginally better than the dull-as-rebar last drill bit I used. It was at least ten percent better than a blunt stone. By the third attempt, I could actually go back to the steel and try to push through it with a bit of a sharp edge to help me. It was not easy but some metal shavings were noticed. I think.
By the time I did the last drill bit (#12), it actually cut through the steel like it was supposed to. Kinda. NOT great but much quicker. I was ecstatic. I was exhausted but very pleased with myself despite having developed a cramp in my right wrist and arm while, at the same time, getting a corresponding pain in my left ankle. That is the price one pays twisting torque into your body while you try to press-drill without succeeding. Vibrating drill bits (from imperfect sharpening) also tends to add to the damage. So, I quit hurting myself (no steel was damaged in the doing of this story) and went in to drink wine. It was 5:17 pm. I began that ridiculous debacle at noon.
Real machinist types (Noncon) had to stop reading a few paragraphs back. Too painful. I understand.
I mention this not because drill bits, you-tube, winter, Covid and/or being antisocial are the only causes of my shrinking world. It is because that same dull-guy shows up when sharpening chainsaws, too. It seems I have some kind of genetic sharpening flaw. Neither my mother nor my father could sharpen chainsaws in their latter years either, poor handicapped parents (mind you, they lived in an apartment in the city that was heated by gas so they handled their shortcomings well).
The chainsaw is currently sharp. But that is mostly because it is new – practically just out of the box. I have dulled it with some recent cuts on the log pile described a few blogs back but then I sharpened it. This time I used Stihl’s new file-for-idiots system, a hybrid-file apparatus that thankfully takes all the thinking and the skill out of the equation. I am now good-to-go on the chainsaw front.
Yes, I know all about the Drill doctor for sharpening drill bits. I have two of them (for big bits and smaller ones). Suffice to say, the Drill Doctor was not designed for idiots. If Stihl makes something someday for those challenged by drill bits, I may give it a go.
Follow-up. I told my friend, S, about my inadequacies at sharpening last night and he came by this morning – gave me a few tips (literally and figuratively). The first literal tip cut through the steel like it was Canadian butter. So, this time I listened carefully and watched and damn! I can now drill through anything…..well….it turns out that at first I was still not doing all that well according to S. So he came over to the drill press. “Turning way too fast. You are burning out the bits. Let’s change the belt.” And that, dear reader, was the icing on the cake through which I began to drill. After S left, I went back out and put holes in everything!!!
What a great day in my little world! I just got richer, too. Twenty plus pounds of now USEFUL drill bits!!