The invention of the keyless drill chuck was a game changer, making the best cordless drills easier to use. If I asked you if you knew how to use a keyless drill chuck, you'd probably throw something at me for insulting your IQ. But let's put that aside for a moment, because we've come across a lot of people who actually use it incorrectly.
Chuck History 101
If you don't know your drill design history, many of us started out with keyed chucks. It's that mysterious-looking thing that's clipped onto the strings on your dad's old power drill. When you insert it into the hole in the chuck, it creates a gear system that allows you to tighten or loosen it. Lose your key and you're out of luck until you find another.
Keyless drill chucks came along and I think we all breathed a sigh of relief the first time we used them. Instead of using a key, all you have to do is turn the chuck until you feel it tighten on your drill bit and start drilling. Most have a ratchet action that you can feel as they tighten.
Have you ever started drilling a hole or setting a screw only to have the bit slip out?
Manufacturers have designed ratchet mechanisms on keyless chucks to prevent this from happening. We see a lot of people in the field (and sometimes we ourselves are guilty of this), just hold the chuck and depress the trigger until the bit locks the bit in place. Some are more successful than others, but the locking mechanism is not always used correctly.
The following works on the ratchet chuck
You need to make sure to turn the collet by hand until you feel it turn down.
So here's how to use keyless drill chucks more efficiently:
- Take your favorite drill or driver bit and turn the collet until the teeth engage the bit (you can use a trigger to help if you prefer).
- Tighten the chuck by hand until you feel it tip down. That's it – it's easy!
Once the ratchet mechanism is used, there is less chance of the bit slipping out. It may also reduce the jokes you get from your friends.
What about non-ratcheting drill chucks?
Non-ratcheting chucks definitely exist. These days we find them mainly for older or entry-level tools. A cordless drill from a no-name company or one trying to really cut as many corners as possible can use a non-ratchet chuck to cut costs. You can also find them on older products made before ratchet chucks existed.
The problem with non-ratcheting chucks is that you can never actually bite into place. Even if the system does a good job of holding the drill in place initially, it will loosen as soon as you stop the drill.
What happened was that the action of the brake brought the chuck to a quick stop, causing the chuck to loosen. Many pros lose an expensive spade drill or hole saw in an attic or wall cavity when a non-ratcheting chuck decides to loosen its grip and drop a bit.
Does this help you discard fewer bits? We hope so! If you have additional questions or more feedback, be sure to let us know in the comments below.