Power tools are incredibly helpful for various projects, but there is a learning curve required to use them correctly. No matter what type of drill you have, you should know how to change drill bits so that you can do so safely without damaging your bits or harming yourself.
This guide will help you learn how to remove a drill bit and insert a new one in two different types of drills: a keyed chuck drill and a keyless drill.
Figure Out What Type of Drill You Have
You’ll first need to figure out what type of drill you own before we get into changing their bits. Two main types of drills – keyed and keyless – will require different methods for changing drill bits, so we’re going to cover both of them.
Drills with a keyed chuck require a key-like tool to loosen the chuck, remove the bit, and insert a new bit into the chuck. The keyed mechanism offers an extra level of protection to keep the drill bit in place and reduce the risk of injury to yourself or someone else.
A keyless drill doesn’t require a key tool, but instead lets you loosen the chuck to unhinge the jaws that clamp the bit to make it removable.
The apparent benefit of a keyless drill is that you won’t have to worry about losing the chuck key and being unable to remove or insert bits. However, keyless systems are usually more expensive than their keyed counterparts.
Understand Your Drill Parts
You’ve learned the basics of your drill, like how to store drill bits and what type of drill you need for your project. Now, it’s important that you understand the parts of the drill we’ll be talking about in this guide:
- Chuck: A clamp-like mechanism that holds the drill bit in place. The chuck rotates as you pull the drill’s trigger to turn the bit.
- Chuck key: The key-like tool that you’ll insert into the chuck of a keyed drill to loosen the jaws and remove the bit. You’ll also need this tool to tighten the chuck when you place a new bit.
- Trigger: The mechanism of the drill that you’ll squeeze with your finger to make the chuck and bit rotate.
- Jaws: Clamps contained within the chuck that are responsible for grasping the drill bit to keep it steady as the chuck rotates. If the drill bit wobbles, it’s a sign that your drill’s jaws aren’t clamping it correctly.
How to Change Drill Bits with a Key
The keyed drill is the most common type of drill you’ll come across. Not only are these typically safer to use than a keyless chuck drill, but they also keep your drill bits safe from others taking and using them if they don’t have access to the key.
1. Insert the Key for the Chuck
Most drills come with a chuck key that will fit your model specifically. Some drills have a spot to store the chuck key in the drill body, while others have loose keys.
Hold your drill in your non-dominant hand and pick up the chuck key that came with your drill with your dominant hand.
Look at the key. You should notice teeth that align with the keyhole in your chuck. Line up those teeth with the keyhole in the chuck as you insert the key, which should fit in the hole snugly.
2. Turn the Key to Open the Chuck
Hold the key steady and turn it counterclockwise to loosen the chuck. As the key rotates, you should see the chuck turn.
Some drills will have more than one hole that you’ll need to use the key in to loosen the jaws of the chuck completely. You can usually spot these holes easily, but you should refer to your owner’s manual if you’re not sure.
Use the key in every chuckhole by rotating the key counterclockwise until you see the drill bit start to loosen.
3. Remove the Current Bit
Set the key tool down on your work surface.
If you loosened the chuck all the way using each of the keyholes, the drill bit might fall out on its own, so be sure to work over a table that can catch the bit if that happens.
If your bit doesn’t come out on its own, you should be able to grasp it with your thumb and index finger to remove it from the chuck without resistance. If you feel resistance, then double-check to be sure that you used the key in all the necessary chuck holes.
4. Insert a New Bit
Leave the chuck and its jaws open, so they can accept a new bit. Grasp the new bit between your thumb and index finger and slide the smooth part into the jaws of the chuck.
If the drill bit isn’t sliding in smoothly, then you could have a bit that’s too large for your drill. Locate a bit of the right size and insert it using the same method.
5. Tighten the Chuck
Hold onto the bit with your non-dominant hand as you tighten back up the chuck. You shouldn’t release the bit until you’ve tightened the jaws because it could become loose and fall out of the chuck.
Using your dominant hand, grasp the key tool. Starting with one of the chuck keyholes, place the key by aligning the teeth with the teeth in the hole.
Turn the key clockwise until you feel it tighten. Repeat this process with the other keyholes if your drill has them. Once you’ve tightened the chuck, use your fingers to grasp and pull on the drill bit to ensure that it’s secure.
How to Change Drill Bits on Drills with a Keyless System
Keyless drills offer a way to quick change drill bits without needing to locate and use a key. Follow these steps to learn how to quick change drill bits with a keyless drill:
1. Loosen the Chuck
The chuck on a keyless drill can be loosened without needing a tool.
Hold the drill in your non-dominant hand. Use your dominant hand to grasp the chuck, which will be the piece that’s closest to your drill bit.
Turn the chuck counterclockwise to loosen its jaws.
Some drills allow you to move a switch on the drill that will loosen the bit when you pull the trigger. If your drill has this option, check your owner’s manual for instructions to operate the mechanism.
Once you have that option set, you can hold onto the chuck, making sure to keep your fingers away from the drill bit, pull the trigger slightly, and your drill bit should loosen on its own.
2. Remove the Drill Bit from the Chuck
Your drill bit may come out on its own when you loosen the chuck manually or using your drill, so be sure to work over a surface, like a table, to catch the bit.
If it doesn’t come out on its own, you can hold your drill with one hand and remove the bit with the other by giving it a gentle pull. If you meet resistance, you haven’t loosened the chuck enough.
3. Insert the New Bit
Hold your drill with one hand and the bit with the other. Set the bit inside the chuck with the smooth side entering the chuck.
If your new bit has a smaller bit than the drill bit you just removed, you can tighten up the jaws a bit by manually rotating the chuck clockwise. This will help keep your new bit in place as you tighten it.
Make sure the new bit is centered before you begin tightening the jaws.
4. Tighten the Jaws
Hold the bit with your non-dominant hand and grasp the chuck with your dominant hand. Rotate it clockwise until it’s tight and your drill bit doesn’t wobble.
If your drill allows, you can set it to tighten the bit with the trigger. Place it on the correct setting, hold the chuck, and pull the trigger slightly until your jaws clamp the bit.
5. Twist the Ratcheting Mechanism
Some keyless drills have a ratcheting mechanism that provides extra security for holding the bit in place. If yours has this feature, you can activate the device by twisting the mechanism, which sits right by the chuck of your drill, clockwise.
Conclusion: How to Change Drill Bits
Changing drill bits becomes easier the more you do it. Modern drills keep the process as simple as possible, regardless of whether you have a keyed or keyless drill.
We hope that this guide helped you understand how to change drill bits using either type of drill so that you can become more familiar with the process and find it simple to do in the future. If your drill does have a keyed mechanism, be sure to store it in an easy-to-remember place so you’ll have access to your drill’s chuck when you need to change a bit.