How to Remove a Broken Drill Bit? [Causes & 4 Ways]

Drill bits breaking is inevitable. When drill bits break, it’s either due to deflected breakage or twisted breakage.

Deflected breakage is caused by overexerted radial force leading the drill bit to break at the end of the flute. On the other hand, twisted breakage is caused by a large torque, leading to the drill bit breaking in the flute’s middle.

Let us dive deeper into why drill bits break and what to do when this happens.

What Causes a Broken Drill Bit?

A broken drill bit has various underlying possible causes. A possible cause of drill bits breaking is if you are not using the right drill and point.

Always double-check that your lip clearance has an accurate angle.

If you want your drill bit to do its job, then it needs to be sharp. Whether you’re drilling holes for a new piece of furniture or fixing up an old one, looking after your drill bit will help keep it working for you.

When your drill bits are too dull, you might need to do drill bit maintenance. The maintenance includes repointing and replacing your drill bits.

It also includes checking your coolant to see if the amount is still enough for your drill bits.

Another cause of broken drill bits is having too many chips clogged up on the flute. Choose a drill with more flutes, a faster helix angle, and polished flutes when this happens.

Drill bits can also break if your work is not held in place properly. Use better clamping and holding devices to prevent drill bits from breaking and creating irregular holes.

Minimize your feed pressure to also prevent your drill bits from chipping and breaking immediately.

4 Ways to Remove a Broken Drill Bit

You’ve just broken a drill bit. There’s nothing worse than the frustration of having to call a friend or even an expert who can easily help you fix the problem.

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As a DIYer, you know that sometimes it takes time and effort to fix a broken tool. Let us discuss 4 ways to remove a broken drill bit.

Remove a Broken Drill Bit Using a Locking Plier

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You can only use locking pliers to remove a broken drill bit if most of the drill bit is still sticking out. This gives the locking pliers something to grip on as you pull out.

Using locking pliers to remove broken drill bits is quite simple if you follow the step-by-step process.

  1. Clean the part of the drill bit that’s exposed to remove any lubrication that can prevent the locking pliers from gripping it effectively. You can use a clean rug or cloth to clean.
  2. If your drill bit is in soft material like wood and not enough of it is exposed, you can try exposing more of it using a chisel or a screwdriver.
  3. Attach the locking pliers and adjust accordingly to grab the teeth on the drill bit firmly. You should hear a clicking sound that means your pliers are already gripping the drill bit. You can try wiggling them to check if the drill bit is secured.
  4. Unscrew the drill bit from the material gently counterclockwise until it is entirely removed. Do not try to exert too much pressure or yank the broken drill bit out of the material.

Remove a Broken Drill Bit Using a Screw Extractor

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Screw extractors or left-handed drill bits are specialty tools with counterclockwise-rotating threads that look like aggressive drill bits.

You can use them when the broken drill bits are already flushed with the material or when you cannot use pliers and need to exert more pressure and force.

Using screw retractors to remove broken drill bits would require other tools, including:

  • Safety goggles or eyewear
  • Diamond file or angle grinder
  • Center punch with smaller tips compared to the broken drill bit
  • Hammer and drill
  • Diamond or carbide drill bits with a diameter smaller than the broken drill bit
  • Tapping fluid
  • Wrench

After preparing the materials you need, follow the step-by-step process to remove broken drill bits with a screw extractor.

  1. Put on your safety goggles. Then, using the diamond file or angle grinder, smooth out a flat and perpendicular surface at the end of the drill bit.
  2. Using the center punch, align it with the center of the broken drill bit, then hit the bit with your hammer. Doing this creates a divot to align the drill bit you need to drill into the broken drill bit.
  3. Drill an initial hole into the broken drill bit. You can do this by choosing harder drill bits with smaller diameters compared to the broken drill bit. Attach the harder drill bit to a drill and lubricate it with some tapping fluid.
  4. Align the drill bit you will use with the divot you created earlier with the center punch. Make sure that the tip of the drilling bit is facing straight down to the broken drill bit. This will make it easier for you to remove the broken bit.
  5. Start to drill into the broken bit at low speed. Only speed up when you are beginning to make progress. Drill only as far as how long your screw extractor is, usually around ⅛ to ¼ inches.
  6. After drilling, place the screw extractor into the hole you have drilled into the broken drill bit. Turn the extractor counterclockwise with enough finger pressure.
  7. When the extractor is getting hard to turn, switch to an accurately-sized wrench for your extractor.
  8. Continue turning counterclockwise. You can continue until the entire broken drill bit is removed, or you can also switch to locking pliers when enough of the broken drill bit is already out of the material.
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Removing a Broken Drill Bit Using the Carbide End Mill Method  The carbide end mill method is suitable for people who have milling devices. If you have a milling device, it is recommended to use a carbine mill in removing broken drill bits because they are very rigid.

Using milling devices in removing broken drill bits is just the same as using manual mills. Always pay attention to any tool deflection and maintain everything to be as rigid and short as possible.

The Universal Method

You can use this universal method in removing broken drill bits for all types of materials, including wood, bricks, stones, metal, concrete, and bamboo. 

If the drill bit is sticking out 

  1. If the broken drill bit is sticking out, you first need to blow air into the hole using a blower or canned air. Blowing air into the hole where the broken bit is will help loosen the drill bit. Remove all unwanted dust and dirt around the drill bit to be removed as well.
  2. When the broken bit is reachable, use locking pliers or nose needle pliers to grab it. Turn the pliers counterclockwise with a little pull to completely remove the broken drill bit from the hole. 

If the drill bit is not sticking out 

  1. Use a nose needle plier and gently pull out the broken drill bit if it is not sticking out. Attach a drill bit with a bigger diameter compared to that of the broken bit and start drilling. Drill until you reach the end of the broken bit.
  2. Blow air into the hole with either a blower or canned air and remove the dust. Using a locking or needle-nose plier, grip on the end of the broken bit. 
  3. Turn the plier counterclockwise while pulling it simultaneously to remove the broken drill bit completely.

How to Prevent Breaking a Bit While Drilling?

To prevent your drill bits from breaking, here are some techniques you can follow:

  1. Always drill with gentle pressure, especially when using thinner drill bits.
  2. Before you start drilling, lubricate with tapping fluid or cutting oil. Proper lubrication reduces the risk of your drill bits overheating. It will also help in drilling holes easier.
  3. During drill bit installation, slide the drill bit as high as possible to ensure that it is in a firm position. This will also ensure the proper tension of the drill.
  4. Always check and change your drill bits regularly to prevent them from snapping and breaking.
  5. When drilling, always start slowly and increase the speed gradually when you are already inside the material.
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How to remove a broken drill bit from wood?

Because woods are not that hard materials, you can use either locking pliers or screw extractors to remove broken drill bits. For this method, a screw extractor is used.

Choose the Right Screw Extractor

Use a hollow screw extractor with a larger diameter compared to the diameter of the broken drill bit. Attach the extractor to the drill.

Start the Drill

Start the drill and make sure that the screw extractor is not touching the drill bit while drilling the broken bit out. Otherwise, the screw extractor might break and shatter.

When starting to drill, make sure that you put it in a perpendicular position. Then, put the drill in a counterclockwise direction.

Drill All the Way Through

When drilling, start with slow speed first. Check if you are drilling correctly and then gradually increase the speed. Drill all the way through, and then take the broken drill bit out.

There will be times when the drill bit comes out with a small piece of wood. Don’t worry because you can fix this with a plug or a dowel.

Other ways:

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How to remove a broken drill bit from brick?

If a drill bit breaks in brick, all you have to do is to make holes near where your broken drill bit is drilled in. Then, extract the broken bit with pliers.

Don’t worry about your brick having a lot of holes because you can easily fill the holes back and reshape your bricks.

What is the hardest drill bit?

Carbide is the hardest of the drill bit materials used commonly in drilling operations. Drill bits made with carbide are mainly used for production drilling, where high-quality equipment and tool holders are used.

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They are also the most brittle drill bit materials and should not be used in drill presses and hand drills. Carbide drill bits are made to be used to drill the hardest materials.

Can you still drill into a broken drill bit?

It is still possible to drill into broken drill bits. When doing this, you have to insert a smaller drill bit and also do not forget to apply cutting oil for lubrication and easy penetration.

Pour the cutting oil at the tip of the attached drill bit. Using a center punch, aim it in the middle of the broken drill bit.

Then, strike the punch with a hammer and slowly drill the broken drill bit in the center punched hole.

How to prevent overheating of a drill bit?

As you drill in masonry or concrete material, it is recommended to withdraw the drill regularly. This allows chips and dust to escape and also gives the drill time to cool down.

Doing this can help prevent your drill from overheating and burning out.

Another tip is to avoid putting too much pressure on the electric drill when drilling. Always use the drill bit that is compatible with the intended speed.

Pushing the drill gently while drilling also helps to prevent the drill bit from overheating. Start with a slow speed and gradually increase only when the drill is already inside the hole.

Worry No More About Broken Drill Bits

When you do not use the proper equipment for your drill bits, they may break and cause you the hassle. There are various ways how to remove broken drill bits from different materials successfully.

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If you encounter drill bits breaking, make sure to follow the tips and tools presented to remove broken drill bits easily. Don’t also forget to read the tips you can use to prevent your drill bits from overheating.

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