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Drill bits are known to get stuck in the chuck from time to time and it has probably happened to most of us. The solution to a stuck drill bit will not be the same in all situations, the chuck can be rusty, the bit might be jammed or you might be using a setting on the drill that makes you unable to produce enough power to change the bit.
When you want to release a stuck drill bit make sure you have the rotation direction on the drill set to reverse, then set the clutch control to high resistance, then set the rotation speed to the lowest setting to increase torque, and use some fabric or a wrench to increase the friction while gripping on to the keyless clutch.
Now, if the bit is still properly stuck after testing the method above (there is a good chance of that) we need to do some troubleshooting. Let’s go through the list and identify why your drill bit might be stuck and how we can fix your drill.
Let’s start with the more obvious and common fixes for a stuck drill bit, and then go on to the some less common fixes.
1. Identify The Type Of Chuck You Have
The process of changing a drill bit will change depending on what type of drill you have. Different types of drills will have different chucks and ways to tighten/fasten the bits.
The solutions in this article will mainly refer to keyless chucks which are mainly used by cordless drills.
Corded Drills – Uses a key to open the chuck and change bits
Cordless Drills – Uses a keyless chuck
Impact Drivers – Uses a hex chuck for bits ( I show a fix for hex chucks in the last paragraph of this article )
To fix the problem you need to identify what type of chuck you have. Use the images above as a reference to your drill. But even though I’m focusing on fixing bits stuck in keyless chucks, the fixes in this article might still be helpful if you keyless chuck or a hex chuck.
2. Make Sure The Drill Is Set To Reverse
We have two ways of opening the chuck to release the bit. We can either use our own power by turning the chuck by hand or we can use the power of the tool by running it in reverse while holding on to chuck.
If you are going to use the second method we have to be certain that the drill is set to reverse rotation. If the drill is not in reverse when we try to loosen the chuck the drill will most likely overpower your grip and keep spinning inside your hand.
To set the drill to reverse rotation, the rotation switch should be pressed in from the left side on most drills.
It might even overpower you if you have it in reverse and the bit is stuck tightly. Have the drill set at a low speed and lightly tap the trigger to release bursts of power while applying resistance on the chuck. If the drill overpowers you just let go of the chuck, try a couple of times, if it does not release the bit we have to try the next steps.
3. Use Something To Increase Your Grip Strength
Sometimes it is hard to get a good grip on the chuck of the drill. To get a better grip we can use something that will increase the friction against the drill.
I prefer to use a non-slip pad made of rubber. Fabric or items with some rubber content in them will work the best because of the friction the rubber generates. But you might get away with using a cloth of some sort as well.
When increasing friction and grip strength, most of the power generated when starting the drill will be transferred into your arm. Be ready to let go of the drill and release the power so you do not hurt your arm.
4. Use A Wrench To Increase Grip Strength
You can also use a wrench to hold on to the chuck if you need to increase the grip strength and leverage even more. Some chucks are easier to grip with a wrench, and some chuck is just too round and smooth to get a good grip. But it is worth a shot.
You can wrap some cloth or some non-slip rubber material around your chuck before gripping it with the wrench for increased grip, it is also better for the tool.
But be careful when using a wrench, you will now have a lot more power to work against.
If the chuck starts spinning inside the wrench, stop the drill and readjust the grip.
5. Use A Vice To Increase Grip Strength
For ultimate grip, you can tighten your vice around your chuck. But do not tighten the vice too much, that would not be good for the drill and can break the drill even more if you are not careful.
The entire shaft of the tool will now spin if it overpowers you, so be ready to let go of the power button if that happens.
6. Lighty Bang The Drill With A Hammer
If the bit is jammed in a weird position inside the chuck you might be able to make it force it back into its normal position with some soft hits with the hammer directly to the chuck or the bit.
Use a wooden mallet or rubber mallet if you have one to decrease the damage on the bit or drill. But if you have a normal steel hammer, the drill should be able to handle that as well.
7. Use A Solvent Like WD-40 To Clean The Inside Of The Drill Chuck
If a drill bit has been inside the chuck for a while without it being changed, then the inside of the chuck and bit might have started to corrode or rust, if that is the case the chuck will have a harder time releasing the bit.
Spraying a solvent like WD-40 inside the chuck will remove some of the corrosion and make the bit much easier to get out. Try and clean out and remove as much corrosion as you can when you get your bit out, this can be done with a steel brush of some kind or sandpaper, WD-40, and a cloth.
8. Lubricate The Chuck With Oil
This tip is more aimed at not getting your drill bit stuck in the chuck in the first place. A drill with moving mechanical parts will work a lot better if all the parts are able to move smoothly.
Regularly (monthly) drip some oil into the chuck to avoid getting a bit stuck, it will also prevent corrosion and rust.
Some cheap Mineral Oil will do the job.
9. Clutch control Set to Low
The clutch control can be viewed as the break for the drill chuck. If the clutch control is set to low it will become impossible to generate enough force to open the chuck and release the bit. You can feel it when clutch control is set to low, the clutch will then feel like it is “jumping” and you will hear a clicking sound.
Leave the clutch control at a high enough setting so that the resistance in the chuck is greater than the power from the chuck turning. The number will differ in different drills, mine goes from 1 to 21, but you can just set it to max resistance when you want to release a bit from the chuck.
The clutch control is mainly used to make sure that you do not overtighten fasteners like screws and avoid the screws from making dents in the wood and sinking into the wood.
10. Hit The Chuck Jaws With A Screwdriver And Hammer
The chuck jaws can sometimes jump out of their threads, these are responsible for tightening and releasing the bit. If this happens we can try to hit the jaws on the head with a large flat screwdriver and a hammer. This will hopefully force the threads of the jaws back into position so the drill can release the bit.
How To A Fix A Stuck Drill Bit If The Jaws Are Out Of The Threads
- Secure the drill with the chuck facing up
- Carefully place the tip of the flat screwdriver onto one of the jaws on the chuck
- Lightly tap the top of the screwdriver with your hammer.
- Do the same with the other two jaws
11. Fix A Stuck Bit In A Hex Chuck
Hex chucks are mainly used in impact drivers. These are very similar to cordless drills but are mainly used for fasteners like screws.
Hex chucks make it very easy to change bits with a quick push to insert and pull to release system. But fixing a stuck bit in a hex chuck is very different from fixing a stuck bit in a keyless chuck.
If you have identified your chuck to be a hex chuck, and the bit is stuck, then you should watch the video below. Which explains how to fix a stuck bit in a hex chuck in a quick and simple manner.