Using Hammer Drills VS Rotary Hammers News & Opinion

Using Hammer Drills vs Rotary Hammers

So you’ve got some holes to drill. In concrete. Well, that changes things. Sure, you might be able to get by with a regular drill and a masonry bit, but then again you might not. Depending on how hard the concrete is, how much aggregate is in the mix, how many holes you have to drill, and the strength of your regular drill, you may need a drill that is designed specifically for drilling into concrete. Two drills fit the bill: a hammer drill and the rotary hammer. But what’s the difference between using hammer drills vs rotary hammers?


Hammer Time

As the name implies, both tools hammer the concrete as the bit turns. The way the hammer force is created is the difference. The hammer drill has a clutch system with two rigid discs inside that come together and move apart to created the force. It’s more of a fast but shallow impact action that also operates at a high speed of percussion—up to 30,000 per minute in fact!

Using Hammer Drills VS Rotary Hammers

The rotary hammer means business.

In contrast, how a rotary hammer works involve a piston system that uses air pressure to create a stronger force. It’s a harder hit than a hammer drill, and there are less strikes. We’ll talk more about the technology in another article. Notice that the rotary hammer is usually larger and doesn’t resemble a typical drill whereas the hammer drill looks just like a drill. You also never use a rotary hammer to drive fasteners, whereas a hammer drill can do double duty.

Large Jobs, Small Jobs

The smaller hammer force of the hammer drill is for lighter duty work. A mason or tradesmen that needs to drill 3/8-inch or larger diameter holes in masonry, drill through rebar, or break up concrete will use a rotary hammer (or larger demo hammer). But the hammer drill could be the right solution for use around the home or for light carpentry. MRO (maintenance, repair, operations) professionals also love hammer drills for drilling numerous 1/4-inch or smaller holes for periodic Tapcon installation. The hammer drill will likely be less expensive than the rotary hammer, but it is also less versatile. It can be used for wood or masonry whereas the rotary hammer will accept bits for hard clay, tile, chiseling, and more. You might find the hammer drill being knocked off course by heavy aggregate while the rotary hammer will drill steadily through concrete.


Drilling Down Using Hammer Drills vs Rotary Hammers

So for smaller, easier concrete holes, the hammer drill will be the better choice. But the rotary hammer will get the harder jobs done with more power and more versatility in bit selection. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading Using Hammer Drills vs Rotary Hammers. If you’re a Pro, and you have a tips about using hammer drills vs rotary hammers, add them in the comments below—or contact us with your own Pro tips. Happy drilling!

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Samuel Thomas

Can you please tell me which drill I should use in stone?


A showdown with the pictured rotary hammer drills would be nice!