How to Change a Drill Bit - Bob Vila
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How to Change a Drill Bit – Bob Vila

Changing a drill bit is one of the first steps in a DIYer’s journey from green to great. but for someone who isn’t quite comfortable with power tools yet, this is no small feat.

The torque of the drill can make new users uncomfortable, and the different types of chucks can make the job confusing. This guide on how to change a bit can take some of the intimidation and confusion out of the job.

Reading: How to connect a drill bit

piercing parts you need to know

When learning how to change a drill bit, it is important to know several parts of the tool.

  • the jaws (also called collets) grip the bit and hold it in place.
  • the chuck is the round part that surrounds the jaws. the chuck opens and closes the jaws.
  • the direction selector is above the trigger and its position determines the direction the chuck will turn.
  • the trigger controls the flow of power from the battery to the motor and determines how fast the chuck turns.

Knowing these parts and how they work will make changing bits or installing drilling accessories much easier.

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how to change bits with a keyless chuck

Most modern cordless power drills have keyless chucks, which means the user doesn’t need to find a special tool to loosen or tighten the mechanism that holds the bit. While this makes learning how to change bits easier, it can make some beginners initially feel lost.

Here’s how to change the bit on a drill with a keyless chuck.

step 1: turn the drill counterclockwise.

Hold the drill in both hands, with one hand on the handle and the other on the chuck.

With your hand on the grip, push the direction selector located near the trigger fully to the right to position the drill counterclockwise. this will allow the user to loosen the chuck using the trigger and motor.

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Step 2: Gently squeeze the trigger.

Point the trigger slightly up to prevent the bit from falling out during this step.

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Hold the chuck firmly with one hand and gently squeeze the trigger. the chuck will start to rotate slightly in the user’s hand before the jaws release the bit and the chuck rotates freely.

Release the trigger, lock the direction selector in the middle position and remove the bit from the jaws.

step 3: insert the new bit and tighten.

Insert the new bit into the chuck jaws. hold the chuck firmly, push the selector all the way to the left and gently squeeze the trigger until the jaws close on the bit. release the trigger and quickly rotate the chuck by hand to make sure the jaws hold the bit well enough.

pro tip: It can be difficult to center a small drill bit in wide open jaws. in this case, close the jaws to approximately the correct size before inserting the bit.

how to change bits with a keyed chuck

Cordless power drills or drill presses use keyed chucks. these devices work similarly to keyless chucks in that the jaws hold the bit, but users must operate them with a special wrench called a “wrench” to clamp or loosen the bit.

Here’s how to remove a bit and replace it in a keyed chuck.

Step 1: Unplug the tool and place the key in the chuck.

accidentally hitting a trigger or power switch while inserting a key into a keyed chuck can cause injury, so unplug the tool first.

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Next, locate the wrench (usually attached to the cable or mounted on the side of the drill). then insert it so that the small knob on the end fits into one of the holes in the chuck, engaging the teeth of the key with those of the chuck.

step 2: turn the key to open the chuck.

While pressing down firmly on the key, turn it counterclockwise to open the chuck jaws. the teeth of the key will turn the teeth of the chuck like a set of gears.

Once the pressure is released from the jaws, remove the key and turn the chuck by hand to open the jaws. note that the bit may fall out during the step, which could result in the bit having to be sharpened.

step 3: insert the new bit and turn the chuck to close it.

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For larger bits, loosen the chuck by hand until the bit fits inside the chuck. for smaller bits, tighten the chuck by hand until the bit is centered between the jaws.

tighten the chuck onto the bit as far as possible by hand before placing the key on the chuck. turn the wrench clockwise to hold the jaws on the bit.

how to change bits on an impact driver

Impact drivers use different types of bits and have a unique chuck called a “quick release” that are quite easy to use. however, if the user is not familiar with how these chucks work, he could be turning the wheels (and the chuck) until he finds out. the following steps will help.

step 1: grab the base of the mandrel and pull.

Impact drivers use spring-loaded chucks with internal ball detents to hold bits. To remove these bits, grasp the base of the chuck between your thumb and forefinger and pull the chuck away from the front of the tool.

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the bit will be free, but may not fall out. try again, but this time grasp the bit and chuck, sliding them forward at the same time to release the bit.

step 2: place the new bit in the chuck.

Tilt the impact driver up and place the new bit into the chuck. impact driver bits have hex sockets, so be sure to line them up correctly. Chances are the bit won’t fit into the chuck yet, so keep the screwdriver pointed up so the bit doesn’t fall out.

Step 3: Pull the chuck forward to seat the bit.

With the impact driver still pointing up, pull the chuck forward to release the detents and allow the bit to drop into place. it may be necessary to jiggle the impact driver a bit, or even push the bit while holding the chuck open.

once the bit drops into the driver, release the chuck and pull on the bit to make sure it is seated.

final thoughts

These professional-grade techniques will have hobbyists changing parts like seasoned veterans in no time. While the little nuances of how to fit a bit into a drill may take some practice, these step-by-step instructions cover the basics. just be sure to keep your hands away from the bits, unplug corded drills, and apply light pressure when pulling the trigger to change bits quickly and safely.

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