How to Change a Drill Bit

How to Change a Drill Bit

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If you are using a drill, driver, impact driver, or anything else of the sort, you probably know that all of these tools have different bits designed for specific jobs. This means that when you change tasks, you may also need to change the drill bit, and this could be because you need a different size or a different type.

In this article, I will detail the way to do so for some of the most common types of chuck types. In case you are wondering, drill chucks are the devices used on drills and impact drivers to hold the drill bit, screwdriver bit, or other similar accessories in place.

How to Change a Drill Bit in a Keyed Chuck

A keyed chuck is a type of chuck that requires you to have a chuck key (something similar to a hex bit or an IKEA tool), to loosen and tighten the chuck in order to change the drill bit.

Follow the steps as outlined below in order to change the drill bit in a keyed chuck.

Step 1: Get the Chuck Key

Your drill should come with the required chuck key included, and this will generally be stored in a safe place on the drill or in a small compartment in the drill box.

In case you don’t have the key, you can purchase it at a hardware store or online.

Drill Chuck Keys

Step 2: Insert the Chuck Key

On the front of the drill, right behind the bit, you will notice that the circular portion contains what appear to be teeth or a cog with teeth. There will be a series of holes located right in front of the teeth (between the drill bit and the teeth) too.

These holes are where you will insert the chuck key, and you need to line up the teeth on the chuck key with the teeth on the chuck. It doesn’t matter which of the multiple holes on the chuck you choose.

Drill with a Keyed Chuck

Step 3: Twist and Turn

In order to loosen the chuck to remove the current drill bit, simply turn the chuck in a counter-clockwise fashion until the bit becomes loose and you can pull it out.

Pull the drill bit out. Depending on how you are holding the drill, the bit might just fall out or you may need to pull it out. In either case, removing the bit should not require any force. If it does, then it means you did not loosen the chuck far enough.

Step 4: Insert the New Bit and Tighten the Chuck

Finally, insert the new bit in the same place that you pulled the old one out of, then use your chuck key again.

Turn the chuck key clockwise until the bit is sufficiently tightened and cannot move or wiggle at all.

How to Change a Drill Bit in a Keyless Chuck

A keyless chuck does tend to be easier to work with, as this is a type of chuck that does not require any sort of tool or key to change drill bits. That said, it is also a bit harder to strongly tighten a bit in this type of chuck.

Anyways, if your drill uses this mechanism, follow the simple steps outlined below to quickly change the drill bit.

Drill with a Keyless Chuck

Step 1: Loosen the Chuck

On a drill with a keyless chuck, at the front, behind the drill bit, you will see two circular pieces that can rotate, the rear piece closer to the handle, and the front piece closer to the bit. In order to remove the drill bit, hold the rear part with your hands so it cannot move, and then with the other hand, spin the front piece (the chuck), in a counter-clockwise motion.

This will open up the jaws of the chuck, thus allowing the drill bit to come out.

You may also hold the rear circular part with one hand, and then gently pull the trigger with the other hand, as this will loosen the chuck automatically without you having to turn it physically. That said, only use this technique if you are a well-versed handyman.

Step 2: Insert the New Bit and Tighten

Once you have removed the old bit, simply insert the new bit and then tighten it.

To tighten the drill bit, just do the exact opposite of everything in step one. Either put the drill in reverse and press the trigger while holding the rear section of the chuck, or hold the rear section of the chuck, and then turn the front section clockwise manually.

Tighten it until the bit can no longer move.

How to Change a Drill Bit on an Impact Driver

Changing the bit on an impact driver is very easily done. The vast majority of impact drivers out there use so-called quick release hex bits, and you don’t need any keys or tools to change these. Beware that some impact drivers may be different, but the majority of them all have this quick release system.

Impact Driver Chuck

In order to change the drill bit on an impact driver, remove the battery (or unplug it), just for safety.

Then, grab the chuck (the small circular part on the front of the tool, right where the bit is inserted) and pull it forward, away from the body of the impact driver. This will loosen the bit and allow you to pull it out.

To insert a new bit, pull the chuck forward again, insert the new bit, and then release the chuck so it slides back towards the impact driver.

This is all you need to do to change the bit on an impact driver.

How to Change a Drill Bit on an SDS Drill

For those of you who don’t know, SDS drills are also referred to as rotary hammers. SDS originally stands for “Steck-Dreh-Sitz” which in German means “Insert-Twist-Stay.” That should give you a good idea of how bits on these drills are inserted.

For more details, consult your drills user manual.

Frequently Asked Questions About Changing Drill Bits

Let’s quickly answer some of your most pressing questions in relation to changing drill bits on various tools.

Are There Differences Between Changing Bits on Drills Made by DeWalt, Ryobi, Black & Decker, and Other Brands?

Generally speaking, no, there are no differences between these different brands. Although there are differences between keyed and keyless chucks, all of these brands feature tools with both of those mechanisms.

While the tools made by different brands may look a bit different, they will all have either one of these mechanisms for changing drill bits and will work in virtually the same way.

What Sizes of Chuck Keys Are There and How to Know Which Size You Need?

If you don’t know what size of chuck key you need, first, look at the chuck on the drill. You should be able to see numbers engraved on it. The most common chuck key sizes include 1/4-, 3/8-, and 1/2-inch.

If you cannot locate these numbers on your chuck, take a ruler or measuring tape and measure the diameter of the chuck keyhole. Once you have your measurement, go to your local hardware store and find the chuck key with the matching diameter. Most chuck keys will have a hex shape (six sides), although not always, so do pay attention to this as well.

How Can You Change a Drill Bit Without a Chuck Key?

If you don’t have your chuck key on hand, a screwdriver bit or hex wrench will work fine as well. As long as the shape of the bit or wrench matches the chuck keyhole, it will work. Make sure that you don’t strip the chuck keyhole, or else you will run into some serious issues later on down the road, mainly not being able to loosen or tighten the chuck.


Changing the bit on a drill, a hammer, drill, and on related tools is not difficult in the least.

Generally speaking, you will be faced with either a keyed or keyless chuck, and no matter what, changing the bit should be doable in just a few seconds.