Safely Remove Drill Chuck; Receive Motor, Gearbox, and Clutch

There’s a treasure trove of usefulness inside of an electric drill. [Steven Dufresne], Hackaday writer and the mad scientist behind Rimstar.org, kindly documented how to safely and reliably remove the chuck from a drill motor. You may think this is easy, but once in a while you’ll come across a drill determined to hold onto all its bits. We certainly were entertained by the lengths [Steven] went to in the video below to get a Black and Decker to give up its chuck.

An understanding of how the chuck and gearbox are connected, combined with the right tools and a bit of force, gets you a motor, gears and gearbox, and a clutch. There’s not much left in the drill after that, and you can put some or all of those components to new use — like using them for the drive system of a BB-8 Droid.

Many projects (like this walking scooter) make use of cordless drills as motor sources. Being able to skip the chuck in order to interface directly to the shaft is useful for those projects where the drill is at least a semi-permanent part of the build. Ask your friends, neighbors, and at work. Cheap cordless drills and screw guns have been around for a long time. It’s usually the batteries that go and many people have the drills lying around and will be happy to part with them knowing you’re going to do something awesome with them.

34 thoughts on “Safely Remove Drill Chuck; Receive Motor, Gearbox, and Clutch

      1. the fuel line is the same as the previous milwaukee tool line, they just use a brushless motor with a planetary reduction instead of burshed motors, it doesnt make it a removable motor.

    1. Could leave it in place & instead use the whole thing with the planetary gears to drive an extruder – with maybe a bit of reduction gear in-between depending on power available & if voltage sufficient. PWM the motor at appropriate frequency and the beginnings of a cheap extruder…

      1. I’ve been stock piling these drills for projects. Battery projects are well suited. But, I have a lot of projects in mind that require plugging in to AC outlets.

        Unfortunately, I’ve been unsuccessful finding adapters/even pc power supplies that can handle the amps required.

        Any suggestions?

        1. I have a still intact Ryobi 18v cordless drill who’s batteries have long since died. I soldered on a set of wires with an Anderson Powerpole connector on the end, and now I can use my bank of sealed lead-acid batteries to power it. It runs a bit slower, but still gets the job done and I don’t have to buy a new drill.
          A single battery out of a UPS or from a similar source should do the trick, just keep it topped off.

          1. For batteryless solution, Server rack PSU is your friend. I use a 1200w IBM one for my large 3d printer. (Pulls over 500w from the wall. The cost is as low as 20$. But your left with a 12V PSU, for the voltage needed all you need is one of those 600w advertised buck converters and mod them a bit. They should be able to supply about 300W in reality at the voltages your looking at (18-28v) This setup will supply enough amps for your drill requirements. The down side is that they are bulky compared to a power brick, for good reason they can suck up 10A at 110V. Im planning on modifying a dell 1U PSU for this kind of duty with two of those buck converters to get a very high amperage variable DC PSU.

          1. Is that your constant draw? You probably want to oversize it a bit, because efficiency curves for all switch mode PSUs are this kind of shape, though not necessarily quite as high on the percent efficiency …

        2. The trouble is getting over peak current demands. Try what I do. Determine the running/torque current requirement. I assume you have a known voltage requirement that a battery system can match.
          Find a common cathode dual rectifier. Connect the battery to one anode and your supply to the other anode.
          Other than a very slow charger for the battery to maintain freshness. You have what you need. The battery side takes care of peak currents or higher than normal torque peaks. The supply handles the main current load.
          Other than a ridiculous current requirement you may need. This will work. If very high current is needed. Dual stud rectifiers can be configured.

          Finding an AC power supply to handle high currents is overly expensive. A hybrid supply is cheaper.
          Remember the total current capacity of the battery and AC power supply is your max load.

          1. Modern supercapacitors seem like a good solution too, if you’re not expecting more than a couple of seconds of peak current. If you want “easy” the car audio application ones should bolt right in without much thinking.

        3. Cheap PC power supplies regulate one voltage, e.g. 5V only, the others are within tolerances as long as there is a reasonable balance in load. 12V load only but no 5V load brings the output down. A car battery charger works (the old “stupid” ones with “fast” switch that provides ~14V).

        4. Super caps are great, 3500Farads at 2.7v (max) per unit so a few in series. I have a set of 6 in series which start a 4 cyl car just fine & several times too as well. Also a (red) Hawker 12v SLA battery (was used as an APU starter for a Lear Jet as its avionic grade) – mine is date coded 1996 and *still* works fine to start a toyota camry despite it being a tad overcharged from the minimalist rough 14.5v car’s alternator output. In summer in Australia where it can get to 45+ C in the shade the underbody gets *very* hot, so I would drop into a local coffee shop now and then to bask it in few cups of ice – in a battery box of course and the stainless terminals are nicely corrosion resistance, weird looks I’d get running to car with jug of ice on hotest day then dumping it in engine bay for curious onlookers but, I digress…

          But, super caps work a treat, to recharge them between drill spurts could use a pair of PC smps units in series or whatever to match the super caps you have which match the volts needed for your drills. Fairly simple to set up
          a sensor so when not driving drill they auto series to parallel to recharge until a peak reached etc then switch back to series, set of automotive 30A relays very cheap & reliable, can even set up a plastic trolley with multiple outputs
          to suit your wide set of drills – worthy of a hackaday entry I guess.

          Next supercaps I have heard of on horizon are size of 20L plastic oil drum, 50000F at 2.8V – yikes !

        5. Skip the adapters, go old school. I’ve got the parts in the basement for a 1.5KW linear power supply, unregulated. If you get the right transformer, it’ll work. Here’s an extreme example, a 1.5KVA buck boost from Automation direct:

          https://www.automationdirect.com/adc/Shopping/Catalog/Power_Products_(Electrical)/Power_Transformers/Buck-Boost_Transformers_(NEMA_Rated)/240x120_VAC_to_24x12_VAC/416-1161-000

          If you feed the 24×12 side into a large enough full rectifier, you can get a nice 125A continuous out of it at around 17 volts. Just add lots of cap for smoothing. Logic can be supplied by a DC-DC if it can handle the line variation or by a separate isolated AC/DC power supply. It also acts as an isolation transformer and will have decent surge capacity too. You’ll have to worry more about overheating your motors (it’s not like those were made to pull full load continuously). If something needs a regulated supply, you already have an unregulated low voltage DC power bus to work off of.

        6. As mentioned, an automotive battery charger can get you pretty close.

          An alternative may be an RV DC power converter. They’re meant to take 120VAC and supply charge current for the batteries and provide power for DC appliances and are available from 20A to over 75A. If you need 18V, you’ll have to boost convert up to that.

  1. Me and the kids are slowly building a Mars style send string of digital commands, execute, wait for results (not direct RC) Earth rover to leave out in the desert for a few weeks, talk by satellite or amateur radio. One of the geology tools I had wanted was a drill to get rock sample for microscopy and other testing. I am bookmarking this as I have been planning on using a cordless drill as the basis of the rock drill.

  2. Since people are ripping these drills apart for the motors and it seems there are so many different ways to do it with different drills has anyone considered making up a list of drill makes and their associated dismantling methods?

  3. Don’t chuck that chuck, chuck a awl or a small file in it to get a handle on small useful tools that don’t have big handles for working hands. Ream holes by hand with the right sized bit.

    My first foray in to this was to put a old school Jacobs chuck from a burnt out single speed drill onto a late model Dewalt reversible corded drill. It had the new school (dammed be insurance, saying to grab the chuck and power it while holding) plastic covered chuck that succumbed to a pliers grip to extricate a stuck bit.

    Hand tightened lug nuts. Lets go on a winding downhill mountain run. The country tune “Lucille” by Kenny Rogers is on the radio.
    You picked a fine time to leave me loose wheel!
    Drill bit stuck in the stock I’m gonna twist you right off of this tool.

    Anyone that spaces out the chuck key will do the same with bits. You cannot attach a tether to the bits, therefore don’t attach the key to anything. I have a few with wooden knobs or old broken nutdriver handles and they don’t get lost and are easier to use. With less than stellar grip I never have a bit slip in the drill. I several headless motors and that many handles for small tools. I also run one DC drill without problems on a Sony videogame 12volt supply, other supplies have not tolerated spike current. Seems to think processor might be faulting.

    1. I have a neodymium magnet from a hard drive stuck to the top of the metal led for the drill press and that’s where the chuck key goes.

      Bits go back in their set.

      This works for me as I have my own workshop(s) that no one else uses.

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