Introduction: Unusual Uses for Broken & Dull Drill Bits

About: I've been making Instructables since I was 13. Now, I mostly make videos of my projects, however I'm still active here, so don't hesitate to reach out! Sick with a deadly disease called DIY-itis!



I break small drill bits quite often while making stuff. Buying one drill bit at a hardware store costs about as much as 10 cheap drill bits on eBay, so I'm not too worried about breaking them, and when they get dull, I stop using them.

Sharpening tools isn't something I'm very good at... It's something I am HORRIBLE at! However, I've been keeping them, since I knew one day I would need them for something. And I hope you have been too!

What to do with broken drill bits, you might ask? In this Instructable, I will show you 8+ unusual uses for drill bits, making you regret throwing away any of your broken and dull drill bits away!

Let's get started!


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Step 1: Tool Storage!

You might know that I hang tools on my tool board with rods that I salvage from CD ROMs. [See 9 More Unusual Tool Storage Methods - PART 2].

Why not use broken drill bits?

I drilled a hole, and hammered the drill bit (broken flutes side in) into my tool board, and now it can hold my wrench!

Step 2: Carving Tools for a Dremel Rotary Tool!

Technically, drill bits are pretty much the same as HSS end mills, burrs, or whatever type of grinding tool you want to name them.

In an emergency, that is.

Locked up in the chuck of my Dremel rotary tool, I have to say that I'm surprised at how well this works. I tested it on soft wood, but am wondering how long it can stay sharp. I think it'll work fine in wood and other soft materials such as plastic.

Step 3: Unknown Hardness of Steel? Don't Have a File?

I learned a while ago that you can use a file to know if something is hardened steel. Well, it's pretty much the same here.

Look for a broken (or not!) drill bit that is sharp/pointy. Try to scratch the material with it. If the drill bit slides right off, it means that it's hardened steel (or harder, etc...). If you feel that the material is a bit gummy, and the drill bit leaves a visible scratch, it means that the steel it's hardened, or that it just a softer metal than the drill bit.

The drill bit that's shown in the third picture is a carbide tipped masonry bit. It isn't dull or broken, but it is off centered, making it pretty much impossible to use. Carbide is harder than glass, so it can be used to score and break glass in an emergency, or if you just don't have a glass cutter.

Step 4: A DIY Ice Pick

I've been wanting to make a small ice pick for quite some time now. Before breaking my old one, I found it really useful to marking holes before drilling.

I clamped a broken drill bit that I thought was the right diameter and length in the chuck of my drill, and turned the drill on at low speed while trying to turn it into a conical tip on my drill powered bench grinder. Don't over heat it!

After about a minute, I thought it was sharp enough - I moved onto the handle: I found an old Beech dowel that I thought would make for handle that would be easy to grip. I drilled a hole into it, and pushed the drill bit inside, making sure that it was being held tightly. Tadaa!

This can be used for pretty much any material, as long as you re-sharpen it! :)

Step 5: A DIY Small Chisel for Precision Work

The chisel is pretty similar to the awl that I made in a previous step, but this time, I decided to use a bigger drill bit.

I held onto it with locking needlenose pliers with grinding it on my bench grinder, and once I thought the angle was sharp enough, I drilled and pushed it into the handle, just like the one that I made for the awl. To make it razor sharp, all I have to do is polish it on my Homemade Drill-Powered Knife Sharpener.

You could use this for woodturning, but I think it could have come in really handy when chiseling out a hex nut shaped hole for my Homemade Wooden Vise.

Step 6: Friction Drilling in Plastic?

This was just an experiment.

I found out that the shank of a small drill bit, when in my rotary tool, can drill holes in plastic pretty well. I was able to drill a hole pretty quickly, but it came out larger than the diameter of the drill bit.

I'm not sure exactly what this could be useful for - milling, maybe?

Step 7: Keep Using Them!?

Most of my really small drill bits chip at the cutting edge, making them useless. However, my bigger drill bits almost always break in half, meaning that the cutting edge can still be used.

I'm not sure why I never thought of doing this before thinking of ideas for this Instructable, but a broken drill bit like this one is really useful for drilling into steel. All of the holes that I drill into steel are pretty shallow, so instead of ruining a new bit, I can use a shorter, broken one. Also, the hole can turn out more accurate since there won't be any flex in the bit since it's shorter.

I think this is ideal for drilling shallow holes in hard materials - just make sure that the drill bit is centered in the drill chuck.

Step 8: The Impossible Puzzle - Drill Bit in a Block of Wood

In my last Instructable ( and video!), I showed how to make the puzzle that's shown above - Impossible Screw in a Block of Wood.

I received a few comments saying I should have cut the screw in half and glued it in. I already thought of that, and knew that since the puzzle is so small, it would be hard to insert and glue it - and drilling the hole would be literally impossible. It probably wouldn't have looked too good either.

I did want to make the puzzle, though, with a drill bit, like what AshleyF25 made, and posted on Seamster's Instructable: impossible nail in a wooden block.

I think if you make a bigger version of the puzzle, a drill bit can be cut in half and glued making it look really cool!

Step 9: ​DONE! | More Thoughts | Video!

See it in action, on Youtube!

Quite a few more possible ideas with broken drill bits:

  • Re-grind and sharpen them to be like new. But how?
  • Teeny tiny swords. Pennabilli made them from mild steel nails but you might be able to anneal a drill bit to make it soft enough... Or soften. Whatever that word is!
  • Grind the shaft of a big drill bit into a v-bit shape, and use it as a countersink. I was planning on doing this, but bought improvised countersinks on eBay :)
  • Partial fail: For deburring sheet metal. It kind of worked, but was more difficult than I thought.
  • Chamfer fingernails. It works, but no-one would do that!

Some more thoughts:

  • And please scroll down to the comments section below if you have any tips for not breaking drill bits! It's like sending me free money!
  • Have any of your own unusual uses for drill bits? Leave them in the comments below!


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