How to Use Left Hand Drill Bits: A Comprehensive Guide

Video how to use reverse drill bit

The world of tools offers a wide range of equipment, each designed for specific tasks with precision. Among these tools is the left-hand drill bit, which often stands out but is frequently overlooked. At first glance, it may seem similar to the more common right-hand drill bit, but its unique design sets it apart. Why would anyone need a tool that works backward? The answer lies in its special use cases.

When faced with the frustrating situation of a broken screw or bolt, the left-hand drill bit emerges as a savior. As it rotates counter-clockwise, it can grip onto the damaged screw or bolt and help in extracting it, saving time and preventing further damage to the material. In this article, we will explore how to use left-hand drill bits effectively.

How to Use Left Hand Drill Bits: A Comprehensive Guide

What are Left Hand Drill Bits?

Left-hand drill bits are specially designed tools that rotate in a counter-clockwise direction, which is the opposite of how standard drill bits operate. The key feature of these bits is their reversed spiral, a design detail that serves a crucial purpose. Their primary role shines when users are confronted with the challenge of extracting broken screws or bolts.

Imagine a scenario where a screw breaks off while you’re working, leaving a portion embedded in the material. This can halt progress and become a significant inconvenience. However, with a left-hand drill bit, this problem can often be addressed directly.

As you drill into the broken piece, the bit’s counter-clockwise rotation tends to catch onto the stuck fastener. This often results in the bit unscrewing the damaged piece as you drill, saving you the hassle of using other extraction methods.

This unique ability of left-hand drill bits is a boon for professionals and DIY enthusiasts alike. It reduces the potential frustration of dealing with broken fasteners and promotes a more efficient and streamlined work process in various repair and workshop settings.

Types of Left Hand Drill Bits

Left-hand drill bits are essential tools in many craftsman’s toolboxes due to their unique counter-clockwise rotation. Though they all share this feature, there are different kinds of left-hand drill bits, each designed for a specific job:

Twist Drill Bits

These are commonly used for a broad range of drilling activities. The spiral shape helps in the smooth removal of material, making drilling more efficient.

Screw Extractor Drill Bits

When screws become stuck or difficult to remove, these drill bits prove invaluable. They have a special tapered left-hand threaded end that grips and helps extract stubborn screws.

Brad Point Drill Bits

Perfect for woodworking tasks, these bits come with a pointed tip. This design ensures accurate and clean holes, reducing the chances of any errors or slippage.

Masonry Drill Bits

These strong drill bits are built for challenging tasks that involve hard materials, such as bricks, stone, or concrete. They can handle the toughness of these materials and help achieve clean holes.

Spade Drill Bits

With their distinct flat blade, they’re excellent for making larger holes in wood. They cut through the wood efficiently, providing clean and wide holes.

While all left-hand drill bits rotate counter-clockwise, understanding the specific use of each type can make tasks simpler and results better. Knowing which bit to use and when can make a world of difference in the final outcome.

How to Use Left Hand Drill Bits

Left-hand drill bits are unique tools that offer a specific set of functions distinct from regular drill bits. Given their design for counter-clockwise rotation, using them requires certain steps. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or someone trying them out for the first time, here’s a comprehensive guide on how to effectively use left-hand drill bits:

Safety is Paramount

As with all tools, safety should be your top priority. Before you even touch your drill, ensure you have a good pair of safety goggles on. This will shield your eyes from any unexpected splinters or debris that could fly up during the drilling process. It’s a simple step but one that could prevent potential injuries.

Pick the Correct Drill

Not every drill is suitable for this task. You need a reversible drill or a drill press that’s capable of counter-clockwise rotation. Double-check this feature before beginning, as using the wrong drill can make the task more challenging and potentially damage your equipment.

Selecting Your Bit

There are various left-hand drill bits available, each designed for different tasks. Choose one that fits your specific needs. Remember, the size and type of the bit can influence the success of your project.

Precision Matters

Especially when you’re dealing with a broken screw or bolt, accuracy is crucial. Using a center punch, mark the exact spot you intend to drill. This helps in ensuring that the drill bit doesn’t wander off course when you start drilling.

Keep Things Smooth with Lubrication

Friction can be a drill bit’s enemy. A drop or two of lubricating oil can reduce this friction, making the drilling process smoother. It also has the added benefit of preserving the sharpness of your drill bit for longer.

The Drilling Process

Once you’re set up, begin the drilling process. Start at a slow speed to ensure control and accuracy. As you become more confident and as the drilling progresses, you can gradually increase the speed.

If your main goal is to extract a broken fastener, you might find that the counter-clockwise action of the left-hand drill bit grips onto the broken piece, allowing it to unscrew itself as you drill.

Final Steps in Extraction

Sometimes, even after drilling, a broken piece might remain stubbornly in place. In such cases, using a screw or bolt extractor can be immensely helpful. This tool is designed to grip onto the remaining piece, helping you to unscrew and fully remove it.

While left-hand drill bits might seem a bit unusual at first glance, their value is undeniable in specific scenarios. They can transform what might seem like a challenging task into a manageable one. With the right approach and by following these steps, using left-hand drill bits can be both efficient and rewarding.

Precautions While Using Left Hand Drill Bits

When using specialized tools like left-hand drill bits, taking precautions ensures not only a successful task but also the safety of the user. These drill bits, designed to rotate counter-clockwise, bring a set of unique challenges and considerations:

Drill Stability

Before even pressing the start button on your drill or drill press, check its stability. A stable foundation prevents unnecessary movement, ensuring more accurate drilling and reducing the risk of accidents.

Gentle Touch

It’s tempting to apply extra force, especially when faced with stubborn materials. However, it’s crucial to let the drill bit do its job. Excessive force can lead to breakage or even cause injury.

Monitor the Bit’s Condition

Just like any tool, a drill bit can suffer from wear and tear. Periodically check its condition, especially its temperature. If it gets too hot, it’s a sign it might be working too hard, which can make it dull or even damaged over time.

Stay Conscious of Direction

Given that these bits rotate in the opposite direction to regular drill bits, it’s easy to forget and make a wrong move. Being constantly aware of the drill’s movement ensures better control and safety.

Lubrication is Key

A simple step, yet a crucial one. Using lubrication not only extends the life of your drill bit but also aids in achieving cleaner cuts and holes. It reduces friction between the drill bit and the material, ensuring a smoother operation.

While left-hand drill bits are incredibly useful for specific tasks, they also demand a particular set of precautions. By following these safety and care tips, one can ensure an efficient, safe, and long-lasting use of these specialized tools.


What are reverse drill bits used for?

Reverse drill bits, commonly known as left-hand drill bits, have a unique purpose. They’re specifically designed for situations where you might have a broken screw or bolt that you want to remove. When screws or bolts break off in an object, it can be challenging to get them out.

This is where reverse drill bits come into play. As they rotate counter-clockwise, they can grip onto the broken piece. As the bit bites into the damaged screw or bolt, it might even start turning it out, simplifying the extraction process.

Does the direction of a drill bit matter?

Absolutely, the direction in which a drill bit turns is essential. Think of it as the difference between tightening and loosening a screw. A regular, or right-hand drill bit, rotates clockwise and is used for the majority of drilling tasks, like making holes or driving screws into materials.

On the other hand, a left-hand drill bit is crafted for a counter-clockwise rotation. This unique direction can be advantageous, especially when you’re trying to unscrew a broken fastener. So, understanding and choosing the correct direction for your task can save a lot of time and effort.

Why might someone choose to drill backward initially?

The idea of drilling backward can seem counterintuitive at first. However, there’s a reason for this technique. When you encounter a broken screw or bolt and you want to remove it, simply drilling into it with a regular drill bit might not provide the grip you need.

By starting with a backward rotation or using a left-hand drill bit, you create an initial grip or bite on the broken piece. This grip is crucial because it can help the bit latch onto the screw or bolt, making it much easier to unscrew and eventually extract the troublesome piece.


Left-hand drill bits are indispensable tools when confronting the challenge of broken fasteners. By understanding their types, usage, and precautions, you can efficiently tackle tasks that would otherwise be daunting.

Whether you’re a seasoned craftsman or a home DIYer, integrating the knowledge of these reverse rotation bits into your toolkit can significantly elevate your problem-solving prowess in the workshop. Learn how to use left-hand drill bits effectively and save time and effort on your next project.

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