Regular cordless and electric drills are invaluable tools for use from the home to the job site, but they are not equipped for strenuous jobs such as drilling through concrete, masonry or granite. Hammer drills and rotary hammers are designed for drilling through these harder materials. Both hammer drills and rotary hammers combine the pounding action of a hammer with the rotation of a drill to make penetrating hard, brittle surfaces possible. The rotary hammer is the hammer drill’s heavier duty counterpart that can perform more demanding drilling jobs. A strong drill bit that pulses back and forth as it rotates provides the ability to drill through harder materials than would be possible with a standard drill. Attempting to drill into a hard surface such as concrete or masonry using a standard drill is a common error. Though a seemingly innocent enough mistake, attempting to penetrate a surface for which the drill is not designed can damage the drill, possibly irreparably.
Installing outdoor lighting fixtures, hanging outdoor art pieces and affixing flagpole hangers to the brick, cement stucco or masonry exterior of a home are common household projects that call for the pulsing action and power of a hammer drill. If you are experienced enough to take on such jobs yourself, awareness of the placement of any electrical wiring prior to drilling into the exterior of a home is essential.
Tile, concrete or cement block walls in home interiors may also present the need for a tool such as a hammer drill. Even for small jobs such as hanging a towel rod using a pilot hole and fastener, a hammer drill is necessary if the wall material is concrete.
Here are a few basic tips to keep in mind when using a hammer drill:
- Wear goggles or other eye protection to prevent dust from entering your eyes while drilling.
- Always use the type of drill bit for which the drill is designed (most hammer drills use SDS).
- Avoid contact with a drill bit immediately after use, as the bit will be hot.
To protect yourself and your hammer drill, thoroughly reading documentation accompanying any power tool prior to use is always advised.