I am borrowing a friend's "Skil 1823 Type 1 Plunge Router", and I am having some trouble removing the router bit that was already in it. Everything online has said that removing the collet nut should loosen (if not entirely remove) the bit while being unscrewed.

I've tried using a gloved hand, pliers, etc, but I can't seem to even get the old bit to budge.

  1. Am I missing something obvious?
  2. How do I remove this old bit?
  3. How do I prevent the same thing from happening with my new bit?**

image of stuck router bit in plunge router

  • 2
    Place a block of wood against the side of the bit, and tap the block to loosen the bit. To prevent this kind of sticking, don't insert the bit fully before tightening the chuck -- back it out just a bit.
    – keshlam
    Jun 7, 2016 at 13:09
  • I am a bit confused. Have you locked the drive shaft and the colette refuses to turn using a wrench? What steps are you taking to loosen it?
    – Ashlar
    Jun 7, 2016 at 13:49
  • Have you tried removing the entire Colette with the bit?
    – Steven
    Jun 7, 2016 at 18:07
  • 1
    @Steven, the collet was also stuck in the router. Jun 9, 2016 at 0:59
  • Looks like you found a solution that worked. For future reference, the best preventative measure against a stuck bit is to remove it after use and avoid storing the bit installed in the router for an extended length of time.
    – rob
    Jun 10, 2016 at 3:41

3 Answers 3


It looks like the collet nut has been loosened completely, and since it's a narrow bit, has been slipped completely off.

I'd follow keshlam's advice from his comment and tap sideways gently (this isn't the time to prove the Hulk is a weenie!) using a block of wood to protect the bit. You may have to tap in several directions to get it loosened.

Once you've got the old one out, ensure that there isn't a lot of sawdust jammed into the collet. Looking closely at your picture, I can see some faint tan lines through the collet where it is probably clogged with sawdust. If the bit's been left in there for quite a while, humidity will have settled into the sawdust and hardened it quite nicely. Clean out the collet as thoroughly as you can, using dental floss and a small pick if necessary to get the dust out. That should help prevent the new bit from getting stuck. I'd also recommend not keeping a bit in the collet to prevent it from happening again in the future.

It's also possible, depending on how long the bit's been in there, and what conditions the router has been stored in, that there's a bit of rust binding the two together. If the tapping route doesn't fix it (though that should break the rust free, as well), a very light shot of penetrating oil (like WD-40) should help. If there's rust on the old bit when it comes out, that's likely your culprit. A few very light touches with some emery cloth wrapped around a dowel (of smaller diameter than then bit's shaft) should get rid of the rust. CAUTION: It's possible that you might make the collet too large by doing this, so you may want to leave that part for your friend to do when you return the router, so it's his problem to deal with if he sands too much. (Remember: I did say very light touches!)

  • This solution worked well for me. The part that helped most was determining which part exactly was the collet. It took... A decent beating to knock it loose (after light touches didn't do the trick), but I've followed your recommended steps to clean it up and prevent this from happening in the future. Jun 9, 2016 at 0:58
  • Glad that worked for you @DanielBrown. I was going to say that you may have to hit it harder but to start with light taps and work your way up. You don't want to damage bearings, the collet, or the bit.
    – FreeMan
    Jun 9, 2016 at 11:44

I just freed up a long time stuck bit on my Craftsman 315.17310 1/4" router by tapping just once on the side of the bit shank with a small brass hammer. I'd already tried many other options after I'd sheared off the e-clip and corresponding collet shoulder that are supposed to loosen the bit as you unscrew the collet nut and "raise the collet" out of it's taper (and thereby loosening the squeeze on the bit).

It looks like I can still use the router after all I'll just have to use the brass hammer to pop the bit and collet out of the taper. I also liberally put some nickle anti-seize on the collet male/female mating surfaces as well as the bore in the collet where the bit goes.

  • Hello and welcome to Woodworking! Please take a few minutes to take the tour and browse through the help center to get a feel for how this place works. You may have noted that you typed in a box labeled "Answer", but that this really isn't an answer to the question. That said, please be very cautious about using a router with any broken parts on the collet! This is the only thing between you and a very sharp hunk of metal spinning at around 25,000 RPM. A fully functional collet is vital to your health and safety!!
    – FreeMan
    Dec 16, 2019 at 15:42
  • Oh my. All I can think of is that on page 1 of every power tool manual is the equivalent of "PLEASE NOTE: the primary function of this product is to remove the meat from the unwary operator. Exercise caution when operating this device." Running a router with a busted collet sounds like an opportunity for a future war story about how bits of metal had to be removed from bone.
    – user5572
    Dec 17, 2019 at 16:05
  • 1
    That being said, if an edit to this Answer can focus on the tapping technique and anti-seize, then it will be a better fit for this SE site. This also allows others to chime in with the pros and cons of using anit-seize or whatever. (I'm not saying I know there is anything drama with that, only that the Q&A format is intended to encourage such interactions.)
    – user5572
    Dec 17, 2019 at 16:09

After fighting with the most stubborn unable to budge bit, I eventually freed it, basically using brute strength.

I then decided to try and ensure that I don't have the same problem again. What I did was to grind two flats on each of my router bits. I used my Dremel fitted with a carborundum grinding bit. You must ensure that flats are parallel.

I now use a shifting wrench to work out any stubborn bits, and so far it has worked satisfactory. As a shifting spanner is quite bulky and doesn't leave to much working space, so I measured an open ended spanner and ground shank to fit.

  • 2
    Hi Billy, welcome to StackExchange. It is exceedingly dangerous to modify any router bit in any way because they need to be carefully balanced due to the very high rotational speeds of routers (16-25k RPM). Any slight imbalance can lead to vibration, which increases both bit wear and collet wear and doing something like this could easily result in damage to the router (possibly writing it off) and severe injury to the operator!
    – Graphus
    Nov 21, 2020 at 10:01
  • Have to agree that modifying a router bit in any way (beyond basic sharpening) is just asking for trouble! I sure hope you haven't already modified all your bits into "potential weapon" status.
    – FreeMan
    Nov 22, 2020 at 0:23

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