What to Do When Your Drill Doesn’t Spin Straight

It happens to me all the time. I start up the drill, and the drill bit doesn’t spin straight. Instead, it spins in a too-large, crooked circle. Luckily, most of the time, it’s an easily fixed problem.

The most common reason a drill doesn’t spin straight is that the drill bit is not properly centered in the chuck. Be sure the drill bit is fully inserted into the center of the chuck, and is not clamped off-center.

More detailed instructions on properly inserting the drill bit are provided below, as well as couple more reasons your drill won’t spin straight!

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Ensure the Drill Bit Is Correctly Inserted

Even a slightly off-center drill bit can make a drill unusable, and it’s really easy to accidently clamp the drill bit incorrectly. Here what that looks like:

Drill not spinning straight? Here's what to do!

To make sure your drill bit is properly centered in the chuck, twist the chuck until the available hole is too small to insert the bit.

Drill not spinning straight? Here's what to do!

Then open up the hole slowly, until the hole is just large enough to slip in the bit. Place the bit all way into the hole. Tighten and lock the bit in place.

Drill not spinning straight? Here's what to do!

This method forces the drill bit to be perfectly centered, since the hole is never large enough for the bit to move around and become incorrectly oriented.

Once you’ve inserted the bit this way, test the drill. Are there still issues? Keep reading.

Check Your Drill Bit. Is it Bent?

Drill bits bend when they reach high temperatures, which happens frequently during use. If you’ve used the drill bit before, it’s worth making sure it’s not the problem, since if your drill bit is bent, it will spin strangely.

If you think a bent drill bit might be the issue, test the drill with a different drill bit. Try a few different sizes – larger drill bit sizes are less likely to bend.

To be extra sure the drill bit isn’t the problem, you can also test the drill with a brand new drill bit. If the drill is still having issues, then it’s probably not the drill bit.

Inspect the Chuck

The previous two sections should have eliminated the possibility of user error, so it’s time to look a little closer at the drill itself.

First off, if your drill is brand new, consider returning it to the store. Sometimes there are issues during manufacturing that cause problems with the chuck, and a different drill may solve the problem entirely. If you haven’t used the drill it at all, it’s easier to just get a different one than mess around with the solutions I describe below.

If you’ve had the drill awhile, try retightening the chuck. After a fair amount of use, the chuck can become loose, causing the drill bit to wobble during use.

To tighten the chuck, remove the battery pack and select the middle “off” position of the rotation direction selector.

Drill not spinning straight? Here's what to do!

Then open the chuck jaws as large as they will go, and insert a hex key into the chuck. Tighten the chuck around the hex key.

Turning the key by hand will just result in turning the chuck. In order to actually tighten the chuck, grab a mallet, and hit the hex key firmly in the clockwise direction to twist it. This will tighten the chuck on the spindle.

Remove the hex key and test your drill. Does the drill spin straight now?

If this doesn’t solve your problem, consider replacing the chuck. Now, if you’re working with a fairly budget-level drill ($100 and under,) you might be better off just buying a new a drill. But for professional-level tools, replacing the chuck instead of the entire drill is worth your money.

Drill chucks start around $30. I recommend contacting your manufacturer to A) determine if they’ll send a replacement chuck for free (always worth a shot!) and B) if they won’t send it to you for free, determine what sort of chuck to purchase for your drill.

Once you’ve got a new drill chuck to install, removing the current drill chuck is similar to the tightening process. Insert a hex key into the chuck, tightening the chuck around the hex key.

This time, instead of hitting the hex key in the clockwise direction, you’ll hit it in the counterclockwise direction to loosen the chuck.

Once the chuck is loosened, you can twist it right off the spindle, and replace it with your new chuck.

Still Have Problems?

Most problems with the drill spinning straight originate with either user error or the drill chuck. If you’ve replaced the chuck of your drill and are still having issues, contact your manufacturer.

They may be able to give you solutions unique to your drill model, or make you some sort of offer for replacing the drill.

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