Removing stuck drill bits from wood surfaces will depend on different scenarios and the extent of the drill bit lodged in. The general go-to methods are using vise grips/lock pliers to rotate & unscrew the drill bit, screw extractors for large drill bits, hollow bit extractors for thin bits to expose the area.
In some specific cases, you might be able to drill it from the other side and dislodge it out with a center punch. It entirely depends on the problem scenario.
Read the methods below for different scenarios and adjust/follow them accordingly.
Possible Items Required
- Vise Grips, Needle Nosed Pliers
- Screw Extractor (You can buy sets, must be smaller than stuck drill bit)
- Hollow Drill bit (You can buy sets, must be bigger than the stuck drill bit)
- Center punch/ Small Chisel & Hammer
- Smaller drill bit compared to the stuck drill bit. (Preferably Diamond or carbide Bit)
- Safety glasses
- Metal lubricating or Cutting oil
- Center Punch
What Causes the Drill Bit to Get Stuck or Snap Off
- If the drill bit isn’t attached to the chuck properly.
- Using Excessive feed while drilling or poor drilling technique is a prime factor.
- Bit constantly wandering off
- Too high of an RPM at constant use could cause the drill bit to break off.
- Poor quality bit, dull bits creating excessive friction
- Problems with the chuck, bent drill bit, poor clamping of the tool
- Wrong type drill or drill bit for the surface
How to Remove Drill Bit Stuck in Wood
If your drill bit is stuck on wood, the most likely scenarios are:
- The drill bit is stuck on the surface, but a portion of it is sticking out.
- The drill bit is fully lodged within the surface.
- The drill bit is very thin and fully lodged.
Read the possible alternatives to tackle all these scenarios.
Some Portion of Drill Bit is Sticking Out
If the stuck drill bit has portions exposed above the surface, a locking plier or vise grip is the best tool to unscrew it. If you do not have one of these, any plier with a serrated jaw will make do.
Use Plier or Vise Grips
- Wipe off any lubricating oil on the bit if you have an oil-coated drill bit. Take the grip portion of the plier and place it on the stubble piece of the drill bit. Applying pressure on the plier handle will lock it into place.
- Start rotating the plier in an anticlockwise direction; the stuck drill bit should start unscrewing off the surface. Do not try to yank the bit out; continue the full rotation till it comes off on its own accord. If the screw isn’t rotating, apply a bit of lubricant oil, tapping fluid, WD 40 on the bit area, and let it soak at the bottom area and try again.
- you need to choose the anticlockwise rotation because the drill has both rotational settings. As most screws tighten in the clockwise direction, you most likely have the setting in clockwise rotation, which caused the bit to screw clockwise in the wood in the first place.
You can use this method if some portion of the bit is sticking out or lodged fully within the surface.
Use a Screw Extractor
You can get screw extractors sets from local hardware stores. The price can range from 15 pounds to 65 pounds depending upon how big the extractor set is, brand, and material made to use it. This method works for a bit of a substantial size. Anything less than ¼ inch may not be practical.
- Take a chisel or center punch with a hammer and make the broken upper part of the bit as flat as possible. Take the divot and make a center guiding mark on the drill bit. The ident on the bit must be the center. You can also use diamond files to flatten the upper surface.
- Secure your drill with a smaller drill bit than the ones lodged in. Use a lubricating oil on the broken drill bit surface as you drill metal to metal.
- Slowly start drilling and make a hole around a quarter of an inch if possible. Once the hole has been made, take your screw extractor and rotate it in the hole. You need to drill only the groove length of the extractor.
- The screw extractor should be smaller than the drill bit size and one that fits the drill hole diameter. Screw extractors have reverse grips meaning the extractor will tighten inside the drill bit anticlockwise.
- Take a small wrench or plier and start rotating the extractor anticlockwise. The drill bit should start unscrewing from the surface.
- This method applies if some portion of the bit is sticking out or is completely lodged in. This method might not be applicable for very thin drill bits.
When above methods aren’t Possible
Sometimes the drill bit stuck might be very thin in the first place, or creating a hole on the drill bit isn’t possible or has failed. How do you get the bit out of the wood?
- For such instances, use a hollow drill bit attached to your drill. You can get these attachments from local hardware stores. These typically range from around 8 to 15 pounds. You need a hollow bit that can encompass the drill bit.
- Remember, the hollow bit isn’t supposed to touch the drill bit. If the hollow bit comes in touch with the bit during rotation, it will probably shatter.
- We aren’t trying to remove the bit by unscrewing it with the hollow bit; we are trying to remove the wood layer surrounding the drill bit to expose more portions of the stuck drill bit.
- First, set the drill in reverse.
- Be exactly perpendicular and start drilling the surface with the hollow bit.
- Start very slowly with a short burst of drill output. Continue with slow oscillation and increase the rate gradually.
- Hollow Bit extractors create a hole in the wood, exposing the drill bit.
- Once you see enough drill bit. Take a vise grip or needle-nosed plier and try rotating the drill bit to unscrew it.
- You might have to patch the wooden hole using a plug from the old wood or use a dowel to plug the hole.
The Above Alternatives didn’t work?
If none of the alternatives work, its best to try a couple of things stated below:
- Use an awl utility knife to chisel the surrounding portions of the drill bit till the bit is exposed enough to get a grip with the pliers. Wood is a soft material so digging around it is possible.
- Suppose you were planning to make a hole in the wood. You can try drilling the exact spot for the other side. Once you see the stuck bit, use a center punch to punch the stuck bit. This method will only be applicable in very few instances.
How to Prevent Future Drill Bit Breakage?
- Lubricate drill bits with a light Spritz of WD 40 after use to prevent any rust in the future. Rust accumulation will affect the structural integrity of the drill bit. Generally, bits will have a secondary coating to prevent rust, but after extensive use, the layer starts wearing off.
- Do not continuously drill; drilling should be done in short intervals to avoid additional strain or heat build-up on the bit.
- Continuous pressure on the bit will cause it to snap off. Let the bits cool off from time to time.
- Always use sharp drill bits; Blunt ones create excessive friction, which causes it to be lodged or snap off.
- Always check if the drill bits are properly tightened and secured before drilling. If the chuck isn’t properly tightened, it will not hold the drill bits properly during rotation which will cause the bit to slip and lodge in the wood. Also, check the state of the chuck in your drill.
- Learn proper Drilling techniques. Use guide holes and depth measures to be accurate.
Frequently Asked Question?
Why does the Drill Bit keep getting loose?
The problem is most likely in the chuck. The drill cannot lock the bit into place to provide a stable hold for rotation if the chuck is worn out. Check to see if the drill is locking the bit into place.
There is normally a click sound in most drills when the bit locks. If the click sound is not there, you either didn’t tighten the bit properly, or the chuck is worn out. Both scenarios will cause a loose drill bit.
If you have a cheap drill, changing the chuck might come around getting a new drill itself. If you have a high-quality drill, change the chuck if the locking sound isn’t there.
Another factor that you fail to consider most times is that if you are drilling wood, there is a chance that the chuck is clogged from sawdust. Coggs will not let the bit hold onto the drill properly. Clean your drill and chuck to see if that works for you.
Lastly, check to see if the bits are bent when installed in the drill. One of these reasons is most likely the culprit.