If you need to drill holes in tougher surfaces like concrete, a hammer drill is a perfect tool. This type of drill uses a hammer motion that extends the drill bit backwards and forwards. The motion is incredibly quick and results in a large number of blows per minute. This intense hammering action can gouge through tough surfaces with ease and make holes in materials that a standard drill would not be able to tackle.
These power tools are relatively easy to use, but they are different from a traditional drill. If you have used any type of drill before, you should be able to use a rotary hammer easily enough. To help, though, we have created a guide on how to use a hammer drill, together with some useful tips and FAQs.
Basic Process of Using a Hammer Drill
Before even switching your drill on or considering drilling, please read the instruction manual first. It is an important document that will show you how to use the various features. For example, it may show you how to switch between the different modes the tool has or adjust the speed of the tool.
Also, we advise wearing protective equipment, even if you are confident with power tools. As a bare minimum, please consider wearing a dust mask and protective gloves. Next, you can follow the general steps we have outlined below:
Set the drill to hammer mode (if applicable)
- Choose the rotary hammer mode, either forward or backwards
- Set the torque setting and speed setting
- Place the shank drill bits against the surface
- Pull the trigger/press the drill button
- Apply gentle pressure to push the drill through the surface
- Once complete, release the trigger/power button
- Retract the bits once the drilling is complete
tools are up!!! so pleased with myself with this 😁…also hammer drill is my new love 😍😄 pic.twitter.com/aLrtRy1dKC
— ewa (@MsQEwaK) March 20, 2021
Setting the Drill and Driver
Most of these tools will have both a hammer mode and a standard mode. The standard mode will use a conventional rotary action for drilling. It is therefore important that you first select the correct mode, i.e. the hammer mode. Other drills, however, will only have a hammer function. Therefore, you would not need to set the mode.
With the hammer mode selected, you must then set the direction if applicable. Most tools have both a forward and backward mode. If you are drilling into something and making a new hole, you must use the forward setting.
Once you have the correct setting and mode, you can set the torque setting and the speed of the driver. We appreciate this sounds like a lot of work. However, each of the above steps takes a few seconds. Also, once you get used to the tool and bits, you will be able to set it up in no time at all. The torque and speed will determine how quickly the tool drills and how powerful it operates. There are no set rules for setting the speed – you must use your judgment. Often, using the maximum speed setting will work and make the drilling process easy.
Drilling the Hole
You are now ready to start drilling! Hold the drill firmly and place the bits against the surface where you wish to make a hole. It is important to keep the drill steady and to brace against the impact of the drilling power. Also, it is essential to keep the tool straight. Otherwise, you will create an angled hole!
With the bits in position, pull the trigger (or press the power button depending on the model). The hammer motion will start, and you must then apply gentle but consistent pressure to push the bit into the hole. You should feel the hammer motion, and you should also feel the bit penetrating the concrete or other surface.
Once the bit has reached the correct depth (you can check via the depth gauge or the depth setting), release the trigger or press the power button, so the drilling action stops. Only then can you retract the bit from the concrete. If you retract the drill whilst it is still active, you could risk it getting stuck or affecting the shape of the hole.
That’s essentially the process! As you can see, it is relatively easy, and once you have done this a few times, you will gain confidence.
You would need to drill holes in the concrete with a hammer drill and masonry bits, then install anchor bolts. I have no idea what a contractor would charge to do that.
— Charles Johnson (@GeekBoyMN) March 19, 2021
Tips for Effective Hammer Drill Use
The above gives an excellent overview and hammer drill essentials. You should now have a clear idea of how hammer drills work and what they are capable of. To take your knowledge one step further, we have listed some useful tips below:
Make Sure You Use the Correct Drill Bit
First and foremost, selecting the appropriate drill bits for the job is vital. When driving holes in concrete and other tough surfaces, using the wrong drill bits can be disastrous. If the drill bit is not durable enough, it will simply wear down or even fail to penetrate the surface entirely. You could also end up damaging the hammer drill and potentially burning the motor out.
Apply an Even Amount of Pressure When Drilling
Many first-time users make the mistake of pushing their entire body weight and pressure behind the hammer action when drilling holes. You must apply pressure when using the hammer drill. However, you must also let the hammer action do the work. These tools do not require force – the hammering motion operates at such speeds that it can drill through wood or metal or even concrete in a few seconds.
Therefore, all you need to do is hold the drill firmly, straight and apply a little pressure. You should feel the drill bit delving its way into the material. If you use too much pressure, you can risk damaging the drill bit and wearing it down quicker.
Consider Pouring Water Over the Area Whilst Drilling
When driving screws and drilling through concrete, a large amount of dust is generated. As a result, this can be a messy job, and you can quickly become covered in dust. Also, if you are not wearing a protective dust mask, you could potentially cause damage to your lungs.
To help reduce mess and friction between the drill bit and the surface, consider pouring a little water over the area. Be careful not to get any on the tool, but simply pour some over the drill bit and into the drill holes. The water acts as a lubricant and reduces the heat of the drill bits. It will help you drill much faster and reduce the amount of airborne dust.
Consider Having a Second Person Using a Vacuum
As mentioned above, use a hammer drill can be a little messy – especially when tackling surfaces like concrete and brick. To reduce the amount of dust, have a second person with you, holding a vacuum cleaner pipe next to the hole!
The vacuum cleaner will suck out any dust as you drill and keep the area clean so you can see what you are doing. The second person should give you plenty of room to work and ensure the tool isn’t obstructed from your view in any way.
Clean the Drill Head and Bits Regularly
As with any tool, maintenance is key to longevity. If you want your drill to last and to remain effective, you must clean it often. The key areas to clean are the drill bits (remove them from the chuck first) and the drill head where the bit is attached. If these areas become clogged with dust and dirt, it can reduce the effectiveness of the drill.
Hammer Drill FAQs
What Depth Does a Hammer Drill Typically Drive To?
This depends on the materials, the speed, and the type of drill driver. However, generally, hammer drills can make holes up to 2.5 inches.
Can You Use a Drill Hammer for Drilling Bricks?
Of course! Hammer drills are superb for tackling tougher materials like brick, breezeblock, and concrete. You can also use them to make holes in wood and softer objects, just like a standard rotary drill.
Can a Regular Drill Be Used to Drill Into Concrete?
It is not advisable to try. Regular drills are suited for softer objects like wood and masonry bits. If you try to do this, you could damage your drill and the drill bits.
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Start Your Project
Learning how to use a hammer drill properly is a good start to any project. Similar to using any other power tools, safety is always a priority. Don’t forget to wear proper safety gear and take extra caution when using the hammer drill.
Do you use a hammer drill? What projects have you done? Let us know in the comments section.