Today’s banner: long curls of aluminum swarf issued from a drilling operation on the lathe.

These were produced by a new 7/16″ drill bit. The drilling operation was quick, the bit requiring very little applied force. In fact, a large increase in force behind the bit results in only a moderate increase in the rate of material removal. This is characteristic of sharp tools, in general — and this is why sharp tools are easy to use.

Dull tools, of course, are characterized by frustration. Using a dull tool is a good way to make the tool duller. And that is why we have a good set of bits that have remained sharp for quite a long time. Of course, we have yet to master the art of sharpening bits. Especially the really tiny ones.

And since our machine work tends toward the small scale, we have a steadily-increasing supply of upside-down bits in our bit-cases (they’re upside to remind us that they’re dull). In our investigation into bit-sharpening methods we’ve encountered opinions held with fanatic conviction:

“A Drill Doctor is the way to go!”

“No, make your own sharpening jig!”

“Sharpening jigs are only good for practicing your sledgehammer technique.”

“When I was a boy we sharpened our bits by hand! Barefoot! In the snow, and uphill both ways!”

“Throw them away, and buy new ones from us! In bulk! Look, they’re shiny!”

“We’ll sharpen them for you. We charge only a modest fee…”

So, anyway, we have a nice wet-grinding wheel. If anyone knows how to use it, please drop us a line.

Best — stochastic.