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Old 12-05-2005, 11:24 AM   #1
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Broken Drill Bit


This is my first post, but having just bought our first house, I'm sure it's not going to be the last. Not having the best day today, but let me get you up to speed:

I'm attempting to install a new deadbolt in my door, which includes having to drill holes in the door frame for the bolt plates. After bending a screw and stripping several others, I finally succeeded in breaking off a drill bit in the door frame. I can't even see the broken part, because it's broken off about 1/4 to 1/2 an inch into the hole. What do I do??

I can't simply start drilling somewhere else on the door frame, because the hole is already cut in the door, the deadbolt itself actually installed, and the channel in the doorframe already cut. I'm just at a loss now as to how to drill holes for the plate, because there's a drill bit where one of the holes has to be.

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Old 12-05-2005, 06:14 PM   #2
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Broken Drill Bit


Freelance,
You indeed have a problem, I am not an expert but just a diy'er from way back. First thing I would ask is was it thru or nearly thru when broke? If so I would take a small flat punch and try to knock it the rest of the way thru and if its not too long for the space it might fall down between the jam and the stud or you could try to 'drive' it into the stud itself. Other option that comes to mind would be to hollow out a smallest hole possible to get pliers OR visegrip on end and twist out. Only other way I might suggest is a left hand twist drill bit and see if you are 'lucky' getting it to reverse. Might have to repair the hole, no matter the extraction method with some wood filler type product and start over. Sometimes makes it look different depending on what finish, hopefully it is going to be painted anyway. If not you might have to 'touch up' best you can. I am assuming this is wood we are talking here, because if it was metal or similiar you should be able to 'see' it. Others should soon be along to give further 'expert' advice. HTH--d--:confused:


Last edited by justdon; 12-05-2005 at 06:21 PM.
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Old 12-05-2005, 07:21 PM   #3
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First off, I was drilling through the frame into the wall (parallel to the wall), and the plate for the deadbolt channel will be covering up any mess, so I couldn't care less what it ends up looking like, thankfully.

It was kind of strange stuff I was drilling into in the first place (which should have been a clue to me to go easy or get a stronger bit): wood of the door jamb to begin with, but behind that I encoutered something much tougher that seemed to kind of swing my drill around and change the drilling angle. (I tried putting in the screw that's supposed to go there and ended up bending the screw, so I'm guessing it was metal I was drilling through.) I took the drill to it again to see if I could widen/straighten the hole, and that's when I broke the bit.

So that was a very long-winded way of getting around to saying that it's hard to say whether the bit is "through" or not, because I can't even tell exactly what I'm drilling into.

What would I use to widen to the hole to try to get some pliers in, if I can't punch it through?
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Old 12-05-2005, 07:38 PM   #4
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Where you just pre-drilling the hole to insert a screw? If so, you may be able to go ahead and insert the screw anyway. The screw will go in beside the broken bit but it shouldn't matter (hard to tell without seeing it). Or, you could use a shorter screw and everything will be okay. Again, it's hard to say without seeing it but those are a couple of things I would try.
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Old 12-05-2005, 07:45 PM   #5
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Yeah, I was pre-drilling. The problem is, the first time I drilled the hole, it somehow didn't get straight enough (or maybe was too small) to get the screw in. So I went back at it and broke the bit. I'm not sure if I'd be able to get the screw in with the bit there if I couldn't even get it in with nothing in the way.

I'm not sure if a shorter screw would work, either, unfortunately, because I think the bit's only in half an inch at best, and the screw is about two inches long (for deadbolt security).

There are a lot of good suggestions here, but I'm not sure what to try first. I'm afraid if I try one and it doesn't work, I'll have ruined any chance of getting any other idea to work. I think I'm just gunshy after this. Any ideas on which of these suggestions I'd be able to try without messing up the chances of trying any of the others?
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Old 12-05-2005, 08:27 PM   #6
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Here's an oldie but a goodie.

Mark the approximate position of the hole on the frame. Take a small piece of plywood and screw it to the doorframe to cover the hole. Use a bi-metal holesaw about 1/2" dia. and drill through the ply as near to center of the screw hole as you can. Once you have a guide established, remove the center drill and proceed SLOWLY. Let the tool do the work! You will ned to clean the teeth often. If the thing that you hit is anything other than a cut nail or Tapcon, you should be able to drill through it removing the obstacle and the drill bit. Remove the guide.

Now you have a 1/2" hole and 2 screw holes to deal with. Cut a length of 1/2" hardwood dowel by sticking it in the hole, marking and sawing. Epoxy it into position and fill the 2 screw holes with wood filler. Sand all flush.
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Old 12-05-2005, 09:52 PM   #7
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Broken Drill Bit


Go to sears or ace hardware ask for easy-out set for broken screws and a metal drill bit. also be sure to use cutting oil when drilling into metal. Did you try taking a punch and see it you could knock it threw the hole?
To me I was wondering if you ended up on a nail head.
If so you can still drill it out slow with a metal drill bit, a little bigger bit then nail head may be. How old is your house does it have metal framing? You should move your drill in and out to clean out the hole and the flutes as you drill. I would have used a paddel bit myself.If your hole is now over size you can get and insert that you screw into the hole and canput a longer screw into to hold the bolt plate to the door frame. Check with your local hardware store. To me most dead bolt systems are a joke they wont stop anyone from kicking in a door. I take a pipe a little bigger then the dead bolt and drill out the hole for it deep then insert pipe , place cover that came with set on frame.


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Old 12-06-2005, 04:40 AM   #8
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Freelancer - After reading some of the good tips here for resolving your problem, I'm curious about the circumstances which caused the bit to break off. I understand that bits break ... speaking from experience ... and I understand your dilemma in trying to remove the broken bit lodged within your door frame. What puzzles me is the nature of the obstacle your screws [and bit] encountered inside the door frame.

Usually, door frames like the one you seem to be dealing with, are built of wood and wouldn't seem to cause the resistance capable of bending a screw. My limited experience in this area is such that only a small pilot hole is needed for door-frame screws. Following the pilot hole, the screw easily threads itself into the softer wood frame.

Do you think you may have happened upon a maverick nail head inside there? Did something else get in the way of your work? If so, maybe removing a 1 inch plug right over the problem areawith a basic hole saw would work. Once the plug is out along with the broken bit, refill that newly created hole with a quality solvent-based wood filler. Allow to cure, then start from scratch.:confused:
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Old 12-06-2005, 06:43 AM   #9
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Lots of good ideas here! Thank you! Hopefully we'll have time to try them out at least by this weekend.

The house is 43 years old. We just moved in about 2 weeks ago. Everything on the house was cosmetically redone (pretty poorly, we're finding out) by the previous owner, so it's hard to tell exactly what the house is really made of. However, I'm pretty sure it wasn't just a stray nailhead I ran into, because I had to drill 4 holes fairly close together and ran into the same thing at all 4 holes.

This is what the drilling felt like: an inch and a half or so of normal wood; then something really hard for the drill to go through, but fairly thin; once it broke through that barrier, the drill moved easily again--hard for me to tell if it was just soft wood or empty space after that.
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Old 12-06-2005, 09:33 PM   #10
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I would agree with Tetor's way of doing it, as I was reading down thru the thread I was thinking of suggesting enlarging the hole and using a hardwood dowel plug as he has.......

BUT - I am very concerned about what you say you hit. This would cause me a lot of worry. I would be seriously worried about some sort of water pipe or gas pipe... though there should be ZERO reason for having something like that close to a door frame ya never know. You'd probably already know by now from the flood or fire if that was the case, unless they were turned off elsewhere...

I'd also be worried bout electrical. I doubt its conduit but maybe some DIYer put in conduit for some reason. If it were filled with a set of live wires.... Are there switches or other electrical boxes in around or near the door area?

I have had a couple of occasions where I drilled an area and did not like the feel of things, It was quite worth it for my peace of mind to remove a few inches of the sheetrock covering the area in question, check what I had 'accomplished', and then do some sheetrock repair.

I never offer advice, but my opinion is that it would be very smart to find out exactly what caused the issue before proceeding.

Last edited by CGofMP; 12-06-2005 at 09:36 PM.
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Old 12-06-2005, 09:54 PM   #11
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CG has brought up some valid points that could easily apply to older homes and might apply to yours depending on who built it and where. Most homes in your era were built to some code if it is in a civilised area. If you are in a rural area and the place was homestead built, anything goes.
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Old 12-07-2005, 07:45 PM   #12
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My thought too is to be very careful here. I have run into electrical wires buried behind door frames and protected with thin steel to deflect any nails. This seems to be what this 'feels' like. Can the door jamb be pulled and the area visually inspected?
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Old 12-08-2005, 06:40 AM   #13
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Broken Drill Bit


We finally had a chance to work on the problem, and we were, thankfully, able to just push it through. (Also, it ended up that it WAS a hole only for shorter screws, so it probably wouldn't have mattered much, anyway. Here's to poorly drawn instructions...)

We have one more deadbolt to install; hopefully that one will go a little bit smoother than this one. Thanks so much for everyone's help. This is a great forum!
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Old 02-27-2006, 08:23 AM   #14
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Broken Drill Bit


teetorbilt is correct.
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Old 03-02-2006, 10:13 AM   #15
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I know a guy who put (unknown) inch plate steel (more than just regular thick metal) behind his door jambs so somebody could NOT kick in his doors with deadbolts. You would have one heck of a time hole sawing thru THAT stuff!! Jus throwing this out there because you never KNOW exactly what you are into back there. He was a bit paranoid!! For this area!!

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