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Getting a drill bit stuck is exasperating – I know, I’ve been there many times. But before you throw your drill at the wall in frustration, let me show you how easy it is to remove.
The first step to removing a stuck drill bit is to loosen the chuck. Spraying the chuck with lubricating oil loosens any dust that’s causing it to bind. Depending on your drill, it might be necessary to use a small hammer or wrench to help loosen it. Once the chuck is loose, you can remove the drill bit.
Step-by-step, I’ll now show you how to remove your stuck drill bit from a range of different drills and materials.
How to Remove a Drill Bit Stuck in a Drill
It is a common issue to get a drill bit stuck in a hammer drill – more so in older models with a chuck, as these clog up easier. Even with all the muscle in the world, releasing the bit with a chuck grip can be a major challenge.
So how do you pull the bit out? You can try these methods:
- Spray a small amount of lubricating oil in the gap between the drill bit and the chuck’s jaws.
- Let this soak in to loosen the dust binding up the chuck.
- Try again with the chuck key or chuck grip.
- Use a small hammer and use it to loosen the chuck.
- Work your way around the drill bit head, tapping the metal at the end of the chuck as you go.
- Try again with the chuck key or chuck grip.
Hammer drills should have full metal chucks with teeth that you loosen or tighten with a chuck key. These chuck keys are often short and do not give you much room to apply a lot of pressure too – and if you try, you can damage the teeth on the chuck.
- Use a vice to immobilize the front part of the chuck, then use vice grips to grab the outer twisting part of the chuck.
- Make sure that both the vice and vice grip are tight to prevent any damage to your chuck.
Modern drills often have plastic chuck protectors and no key, so you need to be careful.
- Try using a wrench or a vice grip to grab the end of the chuck. A wrench is better as it will not crush the plastic.
- Put the drill into reverse. Most electric drills have a small button on the side, by the thumb, to change the direction of spin. You want to push the left-hand button in.
- Hold on to the wrench and the drill and pull the trigger to begin spinning. The more power you give the drill, the more care you need to hold on to the wrench. Big brands like DeWalt and Black & Decker may have more torque than you can control with a wrench.
If you are still having trouble, you can try alternating the direction of spin to loosen up the chuck.
How to Remove a Drill Bit Stuck in Wood
Most drill bits have a pull direction that means the more they spin clockwise, the more they pull into the material. Wood bits also have an extra screw at the tip to help guide them in a true line.
This can mean that if you are drilling fast and hit a knot, the bit can become stuck.
- The first thing is to try and put the drill into reverse. The design of the wood bit should help it to work its way back out of the material.
- You can try drilling from the other direction with a larger drill bit. Though this may damage your project and both drill bits if you go too deep. Once you have the hole from the other side, you can try hitting the stuck bit through with a hammer.
Battery drills may not have enough power to reverse the drilling.
- Undo the chuck and release the drill bit.
- Use pliers or a vice grip to pull the bit out while twisting it counterclockwise.
- You can try lubricating the hole with some spray oil before trying to pull the bit out.
How to Remove a Drill Bit Stuck in Drywall (With Studs)
Drilling into drywall should be incident-free unless you hit a stud. Continuing can mean blunting or snapping off your drill bit. If you can, it is better to remove the stud before trying to get the bit out.
Using the drill in reverse with the stud in the way may also result in snapping the drill bit. The best thing to do is to release the bit from the chuck. Then try to pull the bit back out with a pair of pliers or a vice grip while twisting the bit counterclockwise.
With an impact drill that does not have a traditional chuck, you will need to release the bit. Then you can attempt to use the method above with vice grips to pull the bit out from the wall.
How to Avoid Getting Drill Bits Stuck
Drills are like any other tool as they can rust, bind, and break when using too much force. The jaws of a drill clamp down on the bit to prevent it from twisting in the chuck.
The jaws also prevent the material from pulling the bit out of or pushing the bit too far into the chuck while you are drilling. As you tighten or loosen the chuck, the jaws compress or release and also move in or out of the head of the chuck.
Here are some pointers to avoid the bit getting stuck in an older-style chuck key drill:
- Give the bit space from the back of the chuck.
- When putting the bit into the chuck, avoid the bit touching the shaft at the back.
- The jaws will pull the bit back as you try to undo the chuck. If the bit touches the shaft, the bit will not be able to move back any further, and it will become lodged.
- Before you tighten the chuck, pull the drill bit out a little. You want the space between the drill bit and the shaft to be about the width of your little finger.
Oil the inside of the chuck. This is a good general maintenance procedure and will make it easier to tighten and loosen the chuck. You should do this if you have been drilling dusty materials like concrete.
Tight, but Not Too Tight
Overtightening is difficult to do, but it is possible. As the drill heats up, it will expand the metal of the drill bit and the jaws – wedging the bit.
Use the Correct Bit for the Material
You can use a universal bit, but it is better to use the right bit for a specific material. Metal drill bits, wood bits, and masonry bits all have small variations in design to help them extract material.
Using the wrong bit will mean material building up around the bit, causing it to heat up and stick. Masonry bits drill wider channels at the tip to allow for large chunks of material to be pulled out by the bit’s spiral.
Wood and metal drill bits have sharp sides to scrape away material. Mixing up the two may result in the bit snapping off in the material.