Install a Keyless Drill Chuck

Close up image of drill bit in chuck
What You'll Need
Your old drill and chuck key
Pen light
New keyless chuck (usually available directly from the manufacturer or home stores)
Screwdriver or Allen wrench

If you are happy with your old corded or cordless drill but frustrated with having to find the chuck key every time you want to change drill bits, you will be happy to know that you can probably change that old keyed chuck for a new keyless one. No more fumbling for the chuck key. Just twist on, twist off and all that convenience will cost is about half an hour of your time and around $35.

Getting the chuck off your existing drill is pretty straightforward. If you've still got the owner's manual for your existing drill, it probably tells you how to remove the old chuck. Here is how you can remove that old chuck and install a new one on most drills if you can't find the manual.

Step 1 - Get Chuck Specs and a New Chuck

Start by checking your old chuck for numbers. It should be labeled/stamped with the thread count for the drill and you will need to replace it with a keyless chuck with the same thread count. Write down the information and take it with you to the home improvement store or even better, take the drill itself to make sure you get the right sized chuck.

Step 2 - Remove Chuck Screw

Once you've got your new chuck, make sure there is no power running to the drill (unplug it or take out the battery). Then, use the chuck key (this is the last time you'll need to find it), to open and lock the chuck jaws as wide open as possible and remove the chuck screw located at the bottom of the chuck throat. You will probably need to use a penlight to see what kind of head is on the screw to choose the proper tools. Some of these chuck screws require an Allen wrench rather than a screwdriver. Whatever the head is, the screw is usually a reverse thread and likely quite tight, so you may need to exert a little muscle to loosen it (and remember turn it clockwise).

Step 3 - Remove the Old Chuck

Now comes the fun part. Insert the chuck key into the chuck and then holding the drill solidly on a work surface, sharply strike the chuck key to loosen the chuck itself. This is a standard thread, so be sure to turn it counterclockwise. Again, the chuck is probably quite tight and you may need to give the key a few "whacks" before the chuck comes loose. Once it's loose, simply unscrew and remove the old chuck.

Step 4 - Install the New Keyless Chuck

Put the new chuck onto the drill spindle, turning it clockwise, until it's hand tight. Fully open the jaws and then install the old chuck screw (reverse thread turn it counterclockwise), being sure you tighten it well. Put a drill bit into your new chuck and drill a test hole in some scrap material. Check that the new chuck is tight and doesn't wobble. If it does, you will need to tighten the chuck screw.

Once you've fixed any wobbles, that's it. Your old power drill now has an easy to work with keyless chuck. All you have to do now is figure out what your next project is going to be.