Keyless chucks may be convenient, but they don't always hold tight.
Drill bits often slip in the keyless chuck of my new portable drill. When I've asked the folks at my local home center about this, they empathize, but they don't have a solution. Do you?
— Wes, Boise, ID
Norm Abram replies: Keyless chucks are convenient, but they do seem to slip more than keyed chucks. I've also noticed that they're getting better, so manufacturers seem to be addressing this problem.
To tighten a keyless chuck, you need to get a good grip on it. Larger chucks with aggressively knurled collars improve your grip, while smaller chucks with relatively smooth collars make tightening more difficult. Others incorporate a ratcheting mechanism that clicks when you've tightened it enough.
Don't forget the bit side of the problem. Although a chuck with serrated jaws will grip better than one with smooth jaws, it isn't easy for any chuck to hold tight to a smooth, cylindrical surface. Using bits with hexagonal shafts solves that problem, but if buying all new bits doesn't appeal to you, consider replacing the chuck, either with a better keyless model or one that requires a key. Making the switch isn't difficult, and it's a lot less expensive than buying a new drill. You can find replacement chucks at most home centers, or order them through woodworking catalogs or the Internet.