how to change drill bit

How to Change Drill Bits: Complete Guide and Tips

Those who are new to using drills to finish their projects can easily feel overwhelming feelings because of this powerful tool and all that it can do.

In fact, for some people, something as simple as changing a drill bit might even be confusing and time-consuming.

Fortunately, it is very easy to learn how to change drill bits even if you have never had the experience of doing so before.

Drills of all types are should be user-friendly, after all.

When someone is working on a big project, such as building a wooden boat from their own boat plans, they will need to be comfortable changing drill bits as needed.

By the end of today’s guide, you will be able to safely declare that you are comfortable doing just that!

What Is a Drill Bit?

Before you learn how to change a drill bit, you should learn what a drill bit is.

A drill bit is a piece of equipment, usually made from some type of metal. It can make holes in a wide range of materials.

Drill bits come in different shapes, sizes, materials, and uses.

Depending on what type of hole you need to make and where you need it to be made, different drill bits are helpful to get the desired effect.

Since there are so many specialty tips for different purposes, learning how to switch between the drill bits is essential. Knowing how will enable to continue crafting with success throughout all stages of a project.

Types of Drill Bits

There are many different types of drill bits that can partner up with a single drill, and each category has several specialty bits, as well.

Even those who have many experiences with drills might not be familiar with every single drill bit that’s out there.

To give you an idea, we have decided to cover the three main categories below.

Twist Bits

Spiral bits are for cutting deep holes while removing most debris buildup from the hole as you drill.

Spade Bits

These are flat, shovel-like bits that are great for quickly cutting into soft materials such as softwoods.

Step Bits

Lastly, these are graduated drill bits that can be used to cut multiple sized holes. Whether into metal sheets and other thin materials, either is doable with just a single drill bit.

Within each of these categories, there are lots of other drill bits.

You can often associate bits like Auger bits and Forstner bits for building a boat, for example. Having all of them on hand is going to make your project easier.

Learning how to use each drill bit type might take time. But ultimately, changing them is similar no matter which model you are using.

How to Change Drill Bits

Changing a drill bit is not difficult, but it is a bit strange to do. And it will be so until you understand the mechanisms that are allowing you to switch the drill bit.

The drill bit goes into the area of the drill known as the chuck. And how the chuck performs can vary from drill to drill.

For the best results, you would want to check out a guide that is specific to your power drill.

The directions below will give you an overview of what you can expect with most drills:

1: Disconnect the drill from power by unplugging it or removing the battery.

2: Then rotate chuck jaws by turning the chuck key or the keyless chuck counterclockwise to open it.

3: Put the drill bit of your choice into the drill and hold it in place.

4: Using the chuck key if applicable, rotate the chuck clockwise to tighten it around the drill bit.

5: Reconnect the drill to the power supply by plugging it in or reinstalling the battery.

6: Get drilling!

7: When you finish, reverse the steps to remove the drill bit. Be mindful of the fact that the drill bit may be hot after drilling.

As you can see, it is not too complicated to go through these steps. You’d only need a little bit of practice to be able to do this quickly and easily.

While doing this, however, you must remember that the drill bit should be in the center while you tighten the chuck.

It is very easy to center large drill bits, but smaller drill bits can easily be off-center.

If the bit is not centered, you will not be able to successfully use the drill bit or cut any holes.

Keep this in mind while you are putting on each drill bit. Because doing so will result to much better success with your project.

If the step-by-step explanation wasn’t enough for you, check out the additional tip sections below to get a better idea of how to switch bits on your own drill.

how to change drill bit

Removing a Broken Drill Bit

Sometimes, a drill bit will break while you are in the middle of using your power drill. This can happen for a number of reasons, including:

  • Wore out over time
  • Too dull to cut successfully
  • Not strong enough for the material
  • Not used with cutting oil (when working with metal)
  • Drilled too quickly (too much friction)

Regardless of why a drill bit breaks, the unfortunate situation can happen where the drill bit can look like it is stuck inside the drill because of how short it is.

Thankfully, you can still remove it by simply loosening the chuck.

Once you loosen the chuck, the piece of the drill bit that was being clamped in place will be released and fall out of the drill.

From there, you can attach a new drill bit and get back to work on your project without any further interruption.

The Ultimate Boat Guidance

Once you know how to handle your drill bits, you’ll be ready to embark on the big project that you’ve always dreamed of.

For many people, that big project is learning how to build their own boat!

Building a boat from scratch might seem like an overwhelming task, but so did learning how to change a drill bit properly before you started today’s guide.

The key point is that having a guide can simplify even the most impossible tasks and make them achievable.

These high-quality boat plans can make creating your own boat from scratch an achievable goal, as well.

These include more than 500 different step-by-step plans that will enable you to go from start to finish on your own boat setup. What more could you ask for?

With this tool, anyone can become a boat builder.

Additional Tips: Keyless Chucks

Because there are different types of drills that are used differently, it can be helpful to go into a bit more detail about the specific drill types and how to change bits for those types.

A two-part keyless chuck is often seen when using common power drills such as cordless and corded varieties that many have at home. Still, there are also some one-part keyless chucks.

Saying you’re working with a two-piece keyless chuck. It is necessary to hold the bottom ring piece in place while you rotate the top piece to open and close the chuck.

Take note that if you do not hold it, you will not be able to attach or detach the drill bit.

And if you’re working with a one-piece keyless chuck, you will simply need to rotate the collar to tighten or loosen the grip of the chuck.

Here’s a video illustrating how to do this.

Additional Tips: Keyed Chuck

Another type of drill that you might encounter is one that has a keyed chuck; these are common on older drills as well as large press drills.

To be able to tighten and loosen the chuck on these completely, you will need to use a key that is inserted into a specific slot and rotated.

While you still do some tightening and loosening of the chuck by hand, the key makes it possible to get a much more secure grip on the drill bit than you would be able to achieve with just your hands.

The leverage of the key makes it possible to create more force, and that leads to more security.

This video gives a great, brief overview of how to change bits in a keyed chuck:


Whether you’re building your own boat from scratch with detailed boat plans or getting ready to try woodworking for the first time, knowing how to change drill bits easily is going to be a very useful skill for the rest of your life.

Drill bits have different purposes and uses, so you need to know how to switch between them when you want to change what style of hole you want to make.

Plus, drill bits will sometimes break while you are working with them, so you will need to remove the broken pieces if you want to continue working.

Practice removing and attaching drill bits with your specific drill model, and make sure to look up a drill-specific guide if you are having any trouble!

For more boat building tips, check out Boat Diaries’ blog section today!

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