Do All Drills Have Reverse? Forward/Reverse Function [Guide]

When you’re shopping for a new drill, it’s good to know some basic functions that come standard.

There are some things you might take for granted until you get a drill that’s lacking the feature.

Most modern cordless drills have a forward/reverse function. By pressing a switch or a button you can turn the drill or the screwdriver to rotate clockwise or counterclockwise.  There are definitely times when you’ll need a drill’s reverse switch function, and it’s always nice to know you don’t need to buy an extra tool for the job. 

Do All Drills Have Reverse?

In this post, we’re going to cover how to put a drill in reverse, three reasons you might need the reverse function on your drill and when you might actually need a reverse drill bit.

So, if you’re ready to move forward and learn all about the drill’s reverse switch feature, let’s get to it!

* This article may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read my full disclosure here. 

How to Put a Drill in Reverse

When you’ve identified that you need to put your drill into reverse, or if you just want to test out the function, it’s easy to do.

*See the table below or further down the article you will find a great image that will teach you this.

Button StateThe left side button is pushedThe right side button is pushed
EffectIt will unscrewIt will drill or screw
Arrow DirectionTo the back of the drillTo the front of the drill (to the chuck)
Rotation (back point of view)Counter clockwise (CCW)Clockwise (CW)

In most drills, there’s a switch button that controls the drill’s movement. You may need to check the manual (or perform a simple trial and error check) to see which direction drives which movement. But forward will control the motion in a clockwise direction. The reverse will control the drill in a counterclockwise direction.

You can also adjust the drill reverse switch and see which way the bit is spinning before you attempt to use the drill. I will teach you how. 

But before going to the rest of the article take a moment and look at the picture below. It is a great example of how the forward/reverse function works. 

*Sharing is caring. Feel free to share this image on social media or your website. Linking back to is highly appreciated.

3 Reasons to Put Your Drill in Reverse

Now, for the good stuff. There’s one obvious reason to put the drill in reverse and there may be a thing or two you haven’t yet considered.

In this section, we’re going to cover three reasons to put your drill in reverse along with a handy guide for choosing the right screwdriver bit for each job (it’s an important part of getting the job done right!).

1. Removing screws

We’ve all encountered screws that seem to be stuck with glue, but that’s almost never the case.

Screws usually get stuck when someone used a power tool to drive them. And if that’s the case, it’s going to be near impossible to get that screw out with a manual screwdriver.

So, using your drill in reverse is going to be your best bet. But it’s crucial that you use the right screwdriver bit for the screw. And this can always be tricky when you weren’t the one to drive the screw in the first place.

Not only are you using your drill in reverse, but you probably feel like you have to do some reverse engineering to figure this one out.

But don’t worry. These simple tips will help.

How to choose the right screwdriver bit

If you have the wrong screwdriver bit for the job, you may have some trouble removing the screw. Even though you’re using your cordless drill in the correct mode.

And if you end up stripping the screw, removal will become exponentially harder.

So, let’s explore how to choose the right screwdriver bit.

Check your drill’s manual to see which bits are for which screws. This is probably easier than you think because most bits are clearly labeled with the type of screw they’re for. Here is a great list with a lot of screwdriver heads (via

For example, if a bit is to remove a Phillips’s head screw, it might be marked with PH plus a number that indicates size.

Size is a crucial component and it’s going to help prevent stripping. If you’re unsure, try testing the bit around the screw you’re trying to remove (if you can get to it).

If not, proceed with caution to avoid unnecessary friction as you determine whether you’ve got the right fit.

2. Backing out drill bits

Sometimes, things get a little dicey when you’re actually drilling holes. If the drill bit gets jammed, you can easily cause damage by pulling it out with brute force.

But with the reverse function on your drill, this is an easy fix. All you have to do is use the reverse setting to back the drill out safely and without damage.

3. Lock-off or spindle lock

On some drills, you can use the forward/reverse button to lock your drill, which can help prevent damage in your toolbox and preserve the battery life for your cordless drill. Not all cordless drills have this spindle lock feature, but some do.

The spindle lock will prevent your drill from activating when there’s pressure on the trigger.

What is a Reverse Drill Bit?

If you’ve heard of a reverse drill bit, you might be wondering whether you need it for any of the reverse functions we’ve covered here.

And the answer to that is mostly no.

A reverse drill bit is a type of twist bit where the flutes twist in a counter-clockwise direction. This is the opposite of most drill bits that have flutes that twist in a clockwise direction.

A reverse drill bit is also named a left hand drill bit or screw extractor.

Once upon a time, there were drills that didn’t have a reverse function, and the reverse drill bit provided a perfect workaround.

Left-handed drill bits are available in many different sizes and lengths, but their limited use can make them difficult to find.

Today, there aren’t many uses for reverse drill bits, but they are still handy to remove broken fasteners. The torque you’ll get when you use a reverse drill bit seems to be most effective at loosening right-handed fasteners.

And when you’ve found a fastener that has broken off in a threaded hole, it can signal a major problem. Although it seems like a simple thing, it can be extremely time-consuming and difficult to repair without a reverse (or left-handed) drill bit.

I usually keep a set in my toolbox. Better prepared than sorry. You can check this extractor kit for damaged screws on Amazon. (*affiliate link)

Bottom Line

All modern drills come equipped with a reverse function that’s handy for removing screws and backing out drill bits.

Many drills also have a spindle lock that’s built-in to the reverse function, and this can be useful too.

I wrote an article if you want to read about what all the symbols and numbers represent on a cordless drill.

Hi there! My name is Jack and I write for ToolsOwner. I have a passion for everything related to tools and DIY projects around the house. You often find me in my workshop working on new projects.