How to Remove a Stuck Drill Bit From Wood

How to Remove a Stuck Drill Bit From Wood? – Tips for a Quick Solution

As a DIY enthusiast, I often work with various materials and tools. One common issue I have noticed in my line of work is having a drill bit get stuck into wood. It can be frustrating, especially when you are in the middle of an exciting project, and suddenly, everything comes to a standstill because of a stubborn drill bit. You inevitably find yourself wondering how to remove a stuck drill bit from wood and not damage the drill bit or the wood surface.

I have found a few reasons drill bits get stuck in wood: too much pressure applied while drilling, wood fibers wrapping around the bit, or even a slight misalignment of the drill. Regardless of the cause, you should know how to remove the drill bit without causing damage to the material or the tool. With the correct technique and patience, you can successfully remove the stuck bit and continue your project without further delay.

I have created today's article hoping to discuss several methods that can be used to remove a stuck drill bit from wood, including reverse drilling, using locking pliers, and employing a screw extractor. These techniques cater to various circumstances and can be applied depending on available tools and equipment. So, if you want to learn more on the topic, keep reading!

Understanding the Problem

Understanding the Problem

Here are a few of the reasons why your drill bits keep getting stuck in your wood surfaces:

Identifying a Stuck Drill Bit

If you ever get your drill bit stuck in wood, you will notice that moving the drill forward or in reverse becomes challenging or even impossible. In this situation, it is essential to stop drilling immediately to prevent further damage to the wood, the drill head, or even the bit.

Recognizing Causes for a Stuck Bit

It is common for drill bits to get stuck, but understanding the underlying causes can help resolve the issue effectively. Some common reasons include:

  • Knots and hard spots: Wood often has knots and spots of denser grain that can unexpectedly grab the drill bit, causing it to get stuck.
  • Too much pressure: Applying excessive force while drilling can lead to the bit getting lodged in the wood. Moderate and consistent pressure is recommended for smooth drilling.
  • Wrong drilling technique: Drilling at an inappropriate angle or using the wrong drill bit can cause the bit to get stuck in the wood.

By understanding the problem and its possible causes, you should be able to determine why your drill bits are always getting stuck and how you can keep them from doing that.

Preventive Measures

Instead of learning how to remove a stuck drill bit from wood, you can learn how to prevent this from happening altogether. Here is what you need to know:

Proper Use of Drill

If you do not want to see your drill bit stuck in wood, you must use it correctly. First, you must use a proper drill bit according to the type of wood you will be drilling. This helps reduce the chances of encountering resistance while drilling, which can lead to the drill bit sticking and not budging no matter what you do.

You should apply steady and consistent pressure without forcing the drill. This allows the drill bit to cut through the wood smoothly and efficiently. Overloading the drill or pushing too hard can lead to drill bit breakage or the bit getting stuck.

Another helpful technique is to clear out the chips and sawdust regularly as you drill. This prevents buildup that may cause friction and hinder the drill bit's movement, ultimately leading to stuck or broken drill bits.

Regular Maintenance

Routine drill maintenance is essential for preventing stuck bits in wood. Similarly, you must maintain all drill bits and other power tools you use often. The maintenance includes several steps:

First, use only sharp drill bits. Dull drill bits require more force and can quickly get stuck, so it's important to sharpen the drill bits regularly or replace them when necessary.

Second, keep the drill clean and well-lubricated. A well-maintained drill operates more efficiently and smoothly, reducing the chances of getting your drill bits stuck in the wood. So, regularly clean your drill and remove any accumulated wood debris or dirt.

Last, inspect the drill bits for any signs of damage or wear and tear. Damaged or worn-out bits are more likely to get stuck in wood, so replace or sharpen the bits when you see them start to deteriorate.

These are some of the things you can do to minimize the risk of getting your drill bit stuck in wood. They also ensure a smoother drilling experience.

Drill Bit Removal: Preparation

lock pliers

If you get your drill bit stuck in wood, here are some of the tools you can use to remove it:

Tools Required

  • Pliers or lock pliers: I recommend using a pair of pliers or lock pliers to grip the shank of the drill bit firmly. These tools will provide additional leverage and grip when loosening and removing the stuck drill bit. Ensure that the pliers you use have enough grip and are of appropriate size.
  • Lubricant: A lubricant like WD-40 can be handy in this situation. Applying it to the area where the drill bit meets the wood can help loosen the stuck drill bit. If lubricated properly, there will be less friction, and the removal might be easier.
  • Heat gun or propane torch (optional): In some cases, the heating and cooling method may help expand and contract the surrounding wood, allowing for easier drill bit removal. However, this method should be used cautiously as the heat can damage the wood.
  • Drill press or hammer (optional): If the drill bit is broken and difficult to access or the pliers method doesn't work, having a drill press or a hammer can help. Take caution while using these tools, as excessive force can damage the wood.

Stuck Drill Bit Removal: Step By Step Guide

Once you are prepared to remove the stuck bit, here is what you can do:

Prepare Your Work Area

Before removing a stuck drill bit, prepare the work area. Clear any debris or obstructions from the area and ensure the wood piece is securely clamped or held in place. This helps prevent accidents or damage to the wood.

Applying Heat

If the drill bit is firmly stuck, use heat to loosen it. Apply a heat gun or propane torch to the area around the stuck drill bit, being mindful not to burn the wood. After the area has heated up, allow it to cool down, as the temperature change may cause the wood to contract and release the drill bit.

Using Pliers

Lock pliers are another option to explore. Grip the drill bit shank and turn the drill bit counterclockwise. With the added leverage and grip provided by the pliers, you should be able to extract the bit.

Using a Drill Bit Extractor

Sometimes, you can use a drill bit extractor when a drill bit is severely stuck. Measure the diameter of the stuck drill bit and select an appropriate extractor kit. Attach a minor diameter extractor bit to the power drill and carefully center it at the center of the stuck drill bit shank. Use the extractor to remove the stuck drill bit, following any specific instructions the extractor kit manufacturer provided.

Safety Considerations

Drilling safety

Before working on removing a stuck drill bit from wood, it's crucial to prioritize safety for yourself and those around you.

First and foremost, you must ensure that the drill is either unplugged or the battery is removed when you do not use it. This prevents accidental triggers, reducing the risk of injury. In addition, I recommend wearing protective eyewear and gloves to avoid accidents.

Working in a well-lit, stable environment is also crucial for safety. Good lighting will allow you to see the work area clearly, minimizing mistakes. A stable workspace ensures the wood and the tool remain secure, preventing the piece from slipping or falling.

Apart from these essential precautions, ensure you have the required tools. Locking or needle-nosed pliers provide additional leverage and grip to help release the stuck drill bit.

Potential Challenges

As a woodworker, I sometimes encounter challenges while removing a stuck drill bit from wood. Here are some potential challenges you may face while removing a jammed drill bit:

One common challenge is that the drill bit might be tightly wedged in the wood, making it difficult to grip and turn by hand. Using pliers to grip the drill's shank is helpful in such cases. By turning it in a counterclockwise direction, the added leverage and grip can make it easier to loosen and remove the bit from the wood.

Another challenge is that the drill bit might be stuck in a delicate piece of wood, where too much force could damage the workpiece. In such scenarios, I find applying a lubricant, such as WD-40, around the drill bit is effective. This helps reduce the friction between the drill bit and the wood, making turning and removing the bit easier without causing damage.

You can also come across broken drill bits still stuck in wood. In this case, drilling a new hole next to the broken bit and inserting a screw is beneficial. Turning the screw counterclockwise can help pull out the broken bit without harming the surrounding wood.

Lastly, the heating and cooling method can also be challenging, as it involves using a heat gun or propane torch. These tools can be dangerous if not handled with care, and it is essential to maintain safety precautions while using them. The goal is to heat the surrounding wood slightly, making it expand and then allowing it to cool and contract, which can help release the jammed drill bit.

How to Get Broken Drill Bit Out of Wood

Broken Drill Bit

Even if you pay the most attention while drilling multiple holes into the wood's surface, it just so happens that sometimes you will suffer from a drill bit break. In that case, here is what you can do:

First, clean the end of the broken bit with a cloth to remove any lubricating oil and debris. This will make it easier to grip the bit with pliers.

Second, use pliers to tightly grip the end of the broken drill bit. Turn the pliers counterclockwise, which helps unscrew the bit from the wood. Remember to be careful not to yank the broken drill bit out, as this can cause cracks in the material.

Finally, if the drill bit broke while still in the wood, try using a screw extractor kit. First, measure the diameter of the stuck drill bit and select a smaller diameter drill bit and screw extractor from a screw extractor kit.

Attach the smaller drill bit to a power drill and then drill into the center of the broken bit's shank. Once the hole is drilled, insert the screw extractor and turn it counterclockwise to grip the broken drill bit. As the screw extractor's grip tightens, it should begin to unscrew the broken bit from the wood.

Even though you determine the drill bit diameter depending on the type of hole you need to make, I advise using a larger diameter drill bit as small diameter bits break more easily. If you use the larger diameter bits, try making a pilot hole first, then drill to the correct depth and width. Exercise caution throughout, and remember to be patient!


Trying to remove a stuck drill bit from wood can be a straightforward process if approached with patience and the right tools. You can always use the screw extractor method, a pair of pliers, or the hot and cold method mentioned above. But always remember not to apply excessive force, which could damage the drill or the wood.

To help prevent a drill bit from getting stuck in wood in the future, ensure you use sharp and well-maintained drill bits. Additionally, use lubricants like WD-40 to help reduce friction and smooth the drilling process, thus minimizing the risk of stuck drill bits.

If you have any other recommendations for jammed drill bit removal, please share them in the comments below. I cannot wait to read about your experience with stuck drill bits and the basic techniques you use to remove them.

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