How Do You Change the Bit on a Craftsman Drill?

If you have a Craftsman drill and you’re planning to put in a new drill driver bet, you might be wondering how to change the bit. It seems simple, but if you’re used to older drills, Craftsman’s models can be confusing. You don’t want to risk damaging your drill, so it’s important to get it right.

I personally use a Craftsman V20 drill and driver around my home, and I often have to swap out the bit. I might start with a drill bit to drill holes in my drywall, insert an anchor, and then switch to a driver bit to drive a screw into the anchor.

Most Craftsman drills use a tool-less chuck, which means that you can change the bit by simply twisting the chuck to the right, removing the old bit, inserting a new one, and tightening it again.

Here is exactly how to make the switch. 

Identify Your Drill’s Chuck

Older power drills often had chucks that required tools or keys. Some specialty drills for very high torque operations still do.

Growing up, I distinctly remember that my father had an old Craftsman drill that had a chuck which used a tool. Any time he wanted to switch out a bit, he had to track down the little tool and use it to open the chuck.

Today’s Craftsman drills almost all have tool-less (also called keyless) chucks. That means you can change the bit without having to use an external tool. Everything can be done by hand. 

Your first step is to make sure that your drill falls into this category. Take a look at the chuck, which is the part of the drill that grips the bit. Are there any holes along it? If there are, you might have a traditional chuck that requires a tool or key. If so, you won’t be able to switch it by hand, and will need to use the key that came with your drill.

No holes, and a grippy pattern = a tool-less chuck.

If there are no holes but the chuck has a grip-like pattern, it’s most likely a tool-less chuck. That means you can easily swap out the drill or driver bit by hand.

How do you change a drill bit?

To change the bit in your chuck, start by making sure that your drill isn’t going to unexpectedly move on you.

You can take your hand off the drill’s trigger, or switch the drill to a neutral setting, which is usually between Forward and Reverse. You can also quickly pop the battery off to make sure it doesn’t run if you want to be really sure about it.

Either set your drill to Neutral or remove the battery for safety

That’s an important safety step, because you don’t want the bit to start spinning while you’re holding it.

Next, grip the base of the chuck with your right hand, or hold it against your body. You want to hold it stationary.

With your left hand, hold the grip towards the top of the chuck. Rotating your hands in opposite directions, turn the top of the chuck to the right

If you’re doing this one-handed, you can also hold the drill’s base firmly against your body and spin the chuck with your left hand. I’m demonstrating in these photos with a driver bit, but the process is the same for a drill bit.

Spin the chuck to the right

As you turn your hands, the counter rotation of the two parts of the chuck should cause the chuck to open. Once it’s opened by a bit, you can simply take your old drill or driver bit out by hand.

Placing a New Bit

If the new bit you want to insert is the same size as the old bit, you can simply place it directly into the chuck. If it’s wider, you’ll want to keep spinning the chuck to the right to open it further so you can accommodate the new bit.

Place your new bit into the chuck

I often find the driver bits require a tighter chuck then drill bits. If you’re switching from a driver bit to a drill bit, you may need to open the chuck further to accommodate the new bit.

Once the chuck is open enough, insert your new bit and make sure that it’s centered in the chuck. Slowly begin rotating your hands in the opposite direction, turning the chuck to the left to tighten it.

As you do this, make sure that the bit remains centered in the chuck. If it’s off-center, it will wobble and won’t work properly once you start using your drill or driver.

Especially for driver bits, you want to ensure that the bit isn’t too far in the chuck as well. If too little of the bit is poking out, you won’t be able to actually grip the screw. As a general rule, the entire point part of the driver bit should be protruding. The round or squared-off part can remain inside the chuck.

Here’s a photo of what not to do. As you can see, the driver bit is way too far inside the chuck.

The bit is too far in the chuck. Don’t do this.

Once the chuck is tight enough to keep the bit in place, I like to take my hands away, reconnect the battery, and run my Craftsman V20 for a couple seconds. If the new drill or driver bit is centered properly, it won’t wobble. 

If it does wobble around, I simply loosen the check and try again.

Finishing Up

Once I’m confident that the chuck has gripped the belt well and it’s centered properly, I then twist with all my might in order to really secure the bit. This is important, since you want to apply enough force that the chuck grips the bit firmly.

Otherwise, you risk the bit moving around as you’re drilling, or slipping as you’re drying to drive a screw. If that does happen, just grab the chuck and twist it again to secure the bit back in place.

Tight and good to go

Tool-free chucks are a great addition to the world of power tools. Follow these steps, and you can easily change out the bit on your own Craftsman drill.

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