Electric hammer drill with long drill bit

Changing Drill Bits Like a Pro: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you are new to using a drill or a little rusty in changing the bit, we have you covered.

In this guide, we will walk you through the drill bit-changing process to ensure you are set up for a successful outcome no matter what the job at hand may be.

Before possibly damaging your tools or injuring yourself, check out our handy step-by-step guide to fully understand how to change a drill bit like a pro.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Changing a Drill Bit

Man wearing thick leather work gloves changing drill bit on electric drill

When changing the type or size of the drill bit in your tool, you must follow these simple steps to ensure it is done properly. Not correctly changing your bit can cause damage to the drill, bit, and material you are working on.

Step One: Choose the Right Bit

There are bits available for all types of jobs. They vary in the material they’re made from, their shape, and what you plan on using them for.

Some bit options available include:

  • Brad point drill bit: For use on wood
  • Spade bit: For putting holes in wood
  • Driver bit: For fastening or loosening screws
  • Twist bit: Use on wood, light metal, plastic
  • Auger bit: Used to drill deep holes in wood
  • Pocket hole bit: For drilling angled holes
  • Masonry bit: For use on brick, mortar, and concrete
  • Rivet bit: For drilling rivets into metal sheets
  • Saw bit: Cutting holes in metal and wood
  • Step bit: Drilling various size holes in metal
  • Hole saw bit: For drilling large holes into various materials, leaving the core intact

They can be made from:

  • High carbon steel
  • Titanium-coated
  • Diamond-tipped
  • Carbide-tipped
  • HSS

Decide on the best option for your upcoming project, then prepare to secure it into your drill.

Step Two:  Loosen the Drill’s Chuck

The chuck is the tip of the drill where the tip is inserted. This is typically made from metal and closes as you twist it, gripping the shaft of the drill bit.

To loosen the chuck, hold it tightly in your non-dominant hand, and twist the tip clockwise with your dominant hand. This will open the hole enough for the current bit to slide out with a little help.

Step Three: Remove the Old Bit from the Drill

With the chuck opened, pull the drill bit out. If you notice any resistance, turn the chuck a bit more just like you did before.

Once the bit is out, give it a once-over to ensure it is still in good condition before putting it away. You also want to ensure the shaft doesn’t break off and is still inside the tool.

Return the old bit to its case. It is essential to keep your space clean and organized. Because drill bits are so small (compared to other tools), it can be easy to lose or break them if you are not careful.

Step Four: Put the New Bit in

Now that the shaft is open and emptied, you can insert the new bit into the hole. Pinch the bit about halfway down the shaft using your thumb and index finger. Gripping it tightly, slide the smooth end into the chuck, ensuring the sharp end faces outward.

Once the bit is pushed as far back as it can go, turn the chuck in a counter-clockwise rotation to tighten the bit in place. To be sure it is secure, pull on the bit forcefully; if it doesn’t move, you are good to go.

Step Five: Give It a Try

Test the drill before using it on any wood, metal, or other materials. You can test your bit by holding onto the smooth side and squeezing the drill trigger. If the bit moves in your fingers, it needs another twist. If it doesn’t, your bit is nice and secure.

Now you successfully changed your drill bit and are ready to get to work.

Additional Mechanisms 

Set of drill bits lined up on wooden table beside electric drill

The steps above will help you change the drill bit in most drills on the market today. However, some of these tools have additional features you might encounter when changing out the bit.

The Chuck Key

Electric drill with set of drill bits and chuck key

Chuck keys are mainly found on older drills and are not very popular today. If your drill has this feature, you won’t be able to loosen the drill chuck by hand. This means the steps above won’t help you.

Instead, these drills require the use of a separate key. The key is typically stored somewhere on the tool itself.

You must push the teeth into the hole to use this key, like in a door lock. Turn the key counterclockwise until the drill chuck opens up and the bit easily slides out.

Ratcheting Feature

Not all, but many drills have a ratcheting feature built in. Activating this feature tightens the shank grip on the drill bit, ensuring it is tightly in place.

The ratcheting mechanism creates a stable and strong positioning of the bit; this helps with accuracy and keeps the bit from breaking.

You can typically find the ratcheting switch underneath the chuck or around it. You want to grip this area firmly and twist it clockwise until you hear it click into place. That clicking sound is how you know it is properly engaged.

You do not have to engage the ratcheting system for all jobs. This is simply assistance when working with stronger materials requiring extra force.

Extra torque keeps the bit from slipping, possibly stripping the blade or breaking the shaft.

There are many types of drills, each made a bit differently but often set up the same way and for the same job.

If you are struggling to figure out how to change the drill bit in your specific drill and the instructions above didn’t help you, you can always read the user manual that came with the tool.

Final Thoughts

Changing drill bits is an extremely easy job. While the task may differ depending on the type, brand, and age, they all require you to loosen the chuck to remove the old bit and tighten it around the new one.

Never force a bit in or out if the chuck isn’t loose enough. This will likely lead to breaking it, rendering it useless.

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