How to Change a Drill Bit With and Without Key- Ultimate Review and Buying Guides

Drill bits are a class of cutting tools used in the removal of materials and to create holes of mostly circular cross-section.

Drill bits are made in different sizes and shapes and have the ability to create holes of different types in varieties of materials. To make a hole, drill bits are usually attached to drills that power them to make holes through a work piece such as a metal or wood via rotation.


The Importance of Changing a Drill Bit

Changing a drill bit is a process most professionals have difficult doing, yet it must be done as it extends the longevity of the power drill. While you are using a power drill for DIY projects or professional works, switching between drills makes it easy for you to work on multiple materials ranging from wood, plastering to metal.

There are different types of drill bits depending on what they were designed for, the speed of removal and hardness of material.

Parts of a Drill Bit

There are different types of drills depending on the model and type. Most have similar parts with the exception of keys; we have the ones that come with keys and the ones without keys.

The parts are explained in more details below:

  • The chuck key: this is a tool that usually comes with older or larger models of a drill or a drill press.
  • The chuck: a part of the drill that has three jaws that is meant to hold the drill bit in the centre of the drill. The chuck is the part that rotates when you pull the trigger on the drill to turn the bit.
  • Jaws: these are three teeth-like parts of the jaw that is used to hold the drill bit firmly in place. If the drill bit is not firmly lodged in the centre of these jaws, it tends to be unsteady.
  • Trigger: this is the control usually found on cordless drill bits; it is usually located at the neck of the drill for easy handling and use.  You can use it to either loosen or tighten the drill bit and chuck as it works with both.

How You Can Change a Drill Bit Using a Key

 Here’s a video on how you can change a drill bit:

Some older and larger models of drills have their own keys that can be used to loosen or tighten the jaws. They usually have holes where you can insert the key, most of them have more than one hole and you might have to use the key in all the holes in order to get a tight fit.

Although carrying a key around can get cumbersome especially, if you lose it or don’t know where you placed it. Changing the drill bit becomes a challenge

1. Insert the key into the hole or each of the holes one after the other

The key holes are usually situated just above the chuck for easy access. All you have to do is grab hold of the drill by the bottom or place on a surface for easy handling.

Insert the key into the hole, make sure it fit then rotate to loosen it. With just one hole you can already feel the drill bit start to loosen; do the same for the other holes if the drill has more than one hole.

The drill bit will either fall out by itself or you might have to pull it out with your hands. You can also twist the chuck around to complement the loosening done by the key.

2. Fitting in another drill bit into the drill

If you would like to replace the drill you removed with another one it is quite simple. The now gaping hole in the centre of the jaw should be your target.

It’s important you know that drill bits come in several sizes depending on what you want to use it for. For larger drill bits it is quite easy to fit it into the hole but, for smaller drills, it might get lodged between two jaws. It may tighten but it would rotate off centre and would not drill a hole in this position.

Make sure to place in the centre of the three jaws, you can hold it firmly in place with your right hand to prevent it from getting dislodged.

Insert your key into the holes and rotate in a direction opposite to the opening mechanism. Do this for all the holes and you have a newly fixed drill bit. You can also twist the chuck around to make sure the drill bit is firmly placed.

How You Can Change a Drill Bit in Case You Lost the Key

One of the cons of a drill that comes with a key for opening is losing the key. To save yourself the time and frustration of searching for the key especially, if you use the drill a lot here are some tricks on changing the drill bit without the keys.

  • Search in your drill index box for a small drill bit that can fit into the holes meant for the key.
  • Since the holes are usually the same size, you should get a perfect fit for all the holes.
  • Take hold of your drill and insert the small drill bit that fits into the hole.
  • Take a pair of giant pliers that can hold the whole of the chuck.
  • You can wrap a piece of cloth around your chuck to keep from scratching it.
  • Hold the chuck in the grasp of the plier, tighten it.
  • Rotate your pliers and move the bit in the key hole at the same time.
  • The chuck should loosen in this process.
  • You can then pull the drill bit out with your hands.

How to Fix a New Drill Bit in Without Using the Key

This process involves a reversal of the process of changing the drill bit if you have lost the key. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Use the same drill bit that fits into the keyhole.
  • Insert into the hole meant for the key.
  • Insert the new drill bit into the jaws of the chuck.
  • Place the pliers around the chuck.
  • Make sure you have a piece of cloth around the chuck to prevent scratching.
  • Move the drill in the hole and the pliers at the same time.
  • The drill bit should be firmly tightened in place.
  • Test the chuck to make sure of that.

You can also use two screw drivers in place of a small drill bit in the key hole and you do not require a plier around the chuck.

Insert one of the screw drivers into the hole, and use the other one to tighten it down by pressing against the hole with the first screw driver until you have a snug fit.

The chuck should be loose by now; you can then use your hands to loosen the screw all the way and remove the drill bit. The reverse process can be used to replace the drill bit with a new one.

How to Replace a Drill Bit on a Drill Without Using a Key

 Here’s a video on how you can change a drill bit without the key:

Drills that do not come with keys are common with portable drills. This is particularly ideal for people that lose their keys easily; you don’t have to worry about keys.

And since it is designed to open without keys, you would not be clueless on what to do if you lost the key. The process involved in changing a drill bit on a cordless drill is highlighted below:

The chuck of a keyless drill does not require a tool to loosen it

Since you do not need a key for this type of drill, it comes with its own way of changing and replacing the drill bits. You need to make sure the battery of the drill is fully charged to get started.

This type of drill usually has a trigger at the neck of the drill. When you grasp the drill it is pretty easy to place your hand on the trigger, like the way you would hold a gun. It also has switches for forward and reverse modes.

In changing a drill bit make sure the switch is in the reverse mode; press down of the trigger to loosen the jaws of the chuck. You should be able to remove the drill bits with your hands now.

To replace the drill bit with another one. Simply place the new drill bit in the centre of the jaws, hold it there with your hands. Make sure the switch is now in the forward mode, pull the trigger and you should see the drill bit gradually move into the jaws of the chuck beneath your hands.

Some drills require that you tighten the collar which is usually situated around the chuck to further tighten the jaws. You can test the drill bit by shaking the drill to make sure it is fixed properly.

How to Replace the Drill Bit on a Cordless Drill

Here’s a some video on how you can change a drill bit on a cordless drill:

The process of changing or adjusting the bit can be done in either of three ways.

a. Unscrew the jaws by twisting the chuck around

You can either open the chuck or choose to close the chuck.

b. Press on the trigger

There are two ways of loosening and tightening the chuck with the aid of the trigger.

  1. Loosening the jaws of the chuck

  • You can loosen the drill bit by opening the chuck’s jaw. The process is better explained below:
  • Again be sure the drill is fully charged.
  • Be sure that the switch is in reverse mode.
  • Take hold of the drill handle and press the trigger while holding the chuck in your hands.
  • Remove the drill bit by  pulling it out.

2. Closing the chuck

  • Follow the following steps in closing the chuck:
  • Make sure the drill always has power for it to work efficiently.
  • Hold the power drill in your hand and switch the trigger in a forward mode to open the chuck.
  • Insert the bit in the centre of the chuck.
  • While holding the drill bit with your index and middle fingers, hold the chuck with the remaining fingers.
  • After the above actions, you need to press the trigger which automatically results in the jaws closing around the drill bit. The drill bit is in a wrong position when it is not parallel position to the drill, this could damage the jaws of the cluck and we don’t want that.
  • To avoid this, make sure that your index and middle finger are providing enough support.
  • You can now use the drill bit after releasing the trigger.

c. Twisting the chuck

You can twist the chuck in an anti-clockwise or counter clockwise rotation. The process is better explained below:

1. Opening the chuck

  • Make sure the power drill is fully charged.
  • Hold the chuck and power drill in both hands.
  • Twist the chuck counter clockwise to loosen the drill or open the chunks.
  • Turning the chuck counter clockwise opens the jaws of the chunk holding the bit.
  • Pull the bit out of the jaws.

2. Tightening the chucks

  • Since the jaws are now open, insert the bit into the centre of the chuck and be sure that the bit is not on the edges of the jaws.
  • Pull the chuck backwards in a clockwise manner to close the jaws of the chuck. Hold the bit to make sure it does not fall out.
  • Continue tightening the bit and squeeze the trigger to make the bit secure and straight.
  • Release the drill bits, it is now ready for use.

Changing the drill bit on a cordless drill is quite easy as long as you follow the steps above. You can use the trigger or twist the chuck.


The more you practice changing a drill bit, the easier it becomes. Whether it is a keyed or keyless drill, I hope this guide has made the understanding of the process easy. Although drill bits come in different forms depending on the function, they have basically the same changing mechanism.

For those whoowned a key drill, please be extra careful bykeeping the key in a safe place so as to avoid losing it. Store your bits separately when not in use such that the edges are not in contact with each other.