A hammer drill goes by many names, including a rotary hammer, a roto-drill and a hammering drill. All of these names are used to describe the same type of tool: A rotary drill that performs a hammering action. The hammering action that a hammer drill offers provides a short, rapid hammer thrust, which can pulverize relatively brittle material, which allows for quicker drilling with less effort. Hammer drills are a must have tool if you plan on drilling into stone, concrete, brick, mortar or any other heavy material.
When it comes to shopping for hammer drills, you will find that there are several options to choose from, which can make finding the best one for your specific needs a bit challenging. To help you make the best choice, we have assembled this buyer’s guide, which is full of valuable information pertaining to hammer drills.
Types of Hammer Drills
There are three main types of hammer drills:
- Dedicated hammer drills
- Corded drills with a hammer option
- Cordless drills with a hammer option
Dedicated Hammer Drills
Also known as a rotary hammer, a dedicated hammer drill is a specialty tool that is specifically designed to use for masonry drilling. A dedicated hammer drill uses a piston to compress air, which moves a striker to create a hammering action. The rate of the blows are slow, but the impact of those blows are much more powerful. Rotary hammers offer a substantial amount of power, which means less work for you; however, because of the immense power they create, this tool is not suitable for use with wood or metal, as it can do substantial damage.
Corded Drill with Hammer Option
A corded drill with a hammer option delivers less power than a dedicated hammer drill, which means it may not be as effective for making big holes in large slabs of mortar; however, because of their reduced power, these tools can also be used on softer materials, including wood and metal. With a corded hammer drill, you need to be near an electrical outlet to use it, as the tool is powered by an electrical cord.
Cordless Drill with Hammer Option
If you are going to be doing work in areas where you won’t have easy access to an electrical outlet, a cordless drill with a hammer option is a good choice for you. These hammer drills are powered by a rechargeable battery, so you don’t need to be tied to an electrical outlet to use them. Like corded drills with a hammer option, cordless drills with a hammer option deliver less power than a dedicated hammer drill, which means that they may not be ideal for heavy masonry work; however, they can be used on a range of surfaces, which makes them more versatile.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Hammer Drill
As with any product, there are certain factors that you are going to want to take into consideration before you purchase a hammer drill. These factors will ensure that you choose the best tool for your specific needs and that it will effectively get the job done.
Your Intended Use
What are you planning on using the hammer drill for? Will you be using it solely to work on heavy materials, such as mortar; or, do you want to use it on a variety of materials?
The Pounding Power
Hammer drills are outfitted with two ridged discs on each of their sides. Those discs move past one another as the drill is set into motion, and that movement causes the chuck – the device that holds the discs in place – to move forward and backward. The pounding motion chips away at the material until the desired hole has been created. The magnitude of the pounding depends on the power that the hammer drill provides. Power for hammer drills is usually illustrated in blows per minute, or BPM. A hammer drill that has a higher BPM will complete the task of drilling faster.
The Material of the Chuck
Hammer drill chucks can be made of a variety of materials, including plastic and metal. Typically, a metal chuck is a better choice, as metal is much more durable than plastic, which means you won’t have to worry about replacing the chuck in a short period of time.
Securing of the Chuck
Chucks can be secured by a key, or they can be keyless. With a keyed chuck, you will have to turn a key in order to secure it in place after replacing the rotating discs on your hammer drill. With a keyless version, the chuck automatically locks into place; however, they are not as secure as the keyed variety, which could lead to failure when the hammer drill is in use.
The Power Source
Consider how the hammer drill will be powered. A corded power drill requires electricity, which can be an inconvenience, especially if you want to use your drill in areas that don’t have easy access to an electrical outlet; however, electrically powered hammer drills tend to have more power. Battery operated models are definitely more convenient if you want to work in spaces that don’t have easy access to electricity; but, they usually don’t offer as much power as corded versions, and there is a risk that the battery could run out mid-operation.
You should also consider your budget when shopping for a hammer drill. These tools come in a range of prices, and you want to make sure that you keep this in mind so that you don’t overextend your budget. Generally, the more powerful the hammer drill and the more options it features, the more expensive it will be.
Hammer Drill Features
Hammer drills don’t usually offer a lot of features; however, there are some that can make using the tool easier and more successful for you. Understanding these features and whether or not you want them will ensure that you choose the best hammer drill for your specific needs.
A hammer drill that features variable speeds will give you much more control and will allow for greater accuracy and precision. Being able to control the speed of drilling makes this tool much more versatile and better suited for use with a wide array of jobs; for example, if you plan on drilling through softer materials, such as wood or metal, or you need to switch your drill bits, variable speeds will allow you to increase the rotation speed so that you can power through softer mediums without doing any damage to them, and without having to exert a massive amount of pressure.
Safety features are an absolute must when it comes to hammer drills. These tools can be exceedingly dangerous if they are not used properly or if they do not contain the proper safety features. While basic safety features will be installed on all hammer drills, additional features will improve the safety of the tool. Additional safety features to look for include two handles – one located at the front of the drill behind the head, and the other at the end of the drill. Two handles will absorb the vibration and impact that is creating from the drill motion. You should also look for a drill that features a safety cut off switch, which will immediately stop the drilling motion when the trigger is released. Drills with an adjustable depth stop can also be useful, as they can prevent you from drilling too deeply into your medium.
If you want to secure your investment and ensure your satisfaction, look for a hammer drill that comes with a warranty. Should anything happen to your hammer drill or should you be unsatisfied with it during the span of the warranty, the manufacturer will replace it or refund your money (do look at the details of your warranty to ensure what is covered.
Top Hammer Drill Brands
When you start shopping for hammer drills, you will find that there are a lot of manufacturers that produce these tools. To help you weed through the different manufacturers to find the best producers, we conducted extensive research and tested hammer drills from several reputable names. After our investigation, we determined that the following hammer drills are the best of the best.
Bosh is one of the leading names in the power tool industry, and their hammer drills live up to their reputation. This company offers some of the highest quality hammer drills on the market and offers a range of options. We found that they were highly effective and were extremely easy to use.
Makita is another top name in the power tool industry, and their hammer drills are no exception. Makita offers a wide range of hammer drills, and they deliver exceptional results. We particularly liked all of the safety features that their hammer drills offered, and that they were so easy to use.
Another top producer of hammer drills is Milwaukee. This company is one of the most highly regarded names in the power tool industry and their power drills are exceptional. We enjoyed the immense power that they offered and how efficient they were at drilling through even the toughest materials.
Yet another brand that we found produces exceptional power drills is Porter Cable. This company has been in existence for generations, and they have always stood out for their cutting edge techniques and the high quality materials that they use. Porter Cable received great reviews from other users, and after testing their power drills, we have to agree that they do make outstanding tools.