I have a pretty new, pretty nice Dewalt cordless drill (DCD791). I haven't used it much, but today my wife needed help drilling a giant auger into the ground to make holes for plants. There were lots of rocks and roots in this ground. Over the course of a few hours, I drilled maybe 50-100 holes, with the clutch at the highest torque setting 15 (speed setting 1). Pretty much every hole I caught a root or rocks many time, and the clutch was engaging a LOT. I tried to keep the engagement intervals short, but it still adds up I guess. At some point near the end, I noticed that if in free air I spun the auger, and then abruptly stopped, it would rattle a little bit and sort of bounce back on the rotation axis after stopping (only a very small amount). I don't know if it was always like that or not. And now I notice that the chuck has a small amount of rotational play (maybe 5 degrees?) when the drill is powered off. Again... not sure if it was always like that.

It still seems to drill fine and the clutch still seems to work. But I can't shake the feeling that something feels looser about the chuck. Is there any sort of simple test I can do to confirm or reject these feelings?

  • 2
    Sounds like you're asking more about the drive gears than the clutch.
    – isherwood
    Apr 12, 2021 at 16:48
  • @isherwood very possible. I clearly don't know what I don't know. :-) Question remains, whether or not this amount of play is normal (and also I guess if the usage I described could have damaged... something). Guess I can always just go touch the floor models at Home Depot and see what they feel like.
    – The111
    Apr 12, 2021 at 17:08
  • For future reference, this is abusive compared to the intended use of the chuck. That's also not that strong of a drill, especially if they gave you a second handle. In the future I would consider not using the clutch and learning how to properly brace the drill and release the trigger. With two hands holding the drill and with it braced against your leg you should be able to safely overpower it for the moment of reaction time required to release the trigger. If you don't brace and don't release fast enough, you'll twist your wrist, so do both.
    – K H
    Apr 17, 2021 at 7:13
  • If the chuck is the slightest bit misaligned, it will be obvious when you spin a 6" drill bit in it. There is a retaining bolt, usually allan key in the center of the chuck, but from your description it's unlikely to have come loose. Spinning and stopping a heavy/high inertia load involves a lot of forcej, so you shouldn't expect the drill to feel rock solid in the instant it stops that load. You can also feather the trigger to slow down without causing a hard jerk. Not sure about DeWalt, but Milwaukee can be completely disassembled and inspected.
    – K H
    Apr 17, 2021 at 7:17

1 Answer 1


I would not worry about it because it still works, but is no longer brand new

I have multiple dewalt drills and multiple impact drivers that have had the clutch trip probably 1000 times or more on the impacts. is there a little play? Yes more than when new, probably, possibly.

Do I worry about it?

Nope they still work both at home and at work, when they don’t work any longer I will worry about it.

It’s kind of like a clutch in a car but here there is no adjustment right. When it will no longer work you then know it’s worn out.

It will take a long while based on my experience my drill and impact at work are 6 years old regular use, home ones older but kids and grandkids abuse and they all still work.

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