How to Use a Hammer Drill?

Even for seasoned DIY-ers, the idea of drilling through concrete may appear like a daunting task. Yet drilling through hard materials doesn’t have to be difficult, or advance for that matter. With proper power tools at your disposal, you can achieve relative success at accomplishing this task, all while keeping the process as safe and as simple as it can be.  One such power tool is a hammer drill.

Hammer Drill vs Traditional Power Drill

This is where hammer drills come into the picture. A hammer drill is a specialty power tool that is primarily used to drill through tough materials; it is commonly used to drill holes into concrete, to insert fasteners, and remove fasteners.   

Below, we discuss how to properly operate a hammer drill. As with most pieces of relatively powerful machinery, when using a hammer drill, it helps if you are wearing proper ear and eye protection.  

Buying a Hammer Drill  

There are a number of companies that manufacture hammer drills–the most popular of which include Bosch, DeWalt, and Makita, among others. Sometimes, it might be a good idea to invest a little more money into these brand name items as these are known for their reliability, power, and performance.  

If you are going to use your equipment for commercial purposes, it is best that you invest in a more capable industrial-grade hammer drill, or something similar. For the occasional DIY projects, a reliable, inexpensive drill should be more than adequate.  

After your purchase, take the time to read through the manual to better familiarize yourself with your new equipment.  

Selecting the Proper Drill Bit  

Different types of drill bits generally accomplish different tasks. Drill bits designed for woodworking typically come with pointed tips. Drill bits used for drilling through metals are usually all-black.  

When working with cement board, cinder block, and masonry in general, you will require specialized masonry drill bits; these are usually built with carbide tips which help the bit better withstand the impact of the hammer drill. 

Setting the Depth  

Most hammer drills are designed with an adjustable depth guide, also referred to as a depth stop, that ensures that the drill bit will not go too deep into the material. Adjusting the depth guide will typically require the user to turn the hammer drill handle; this loosens, tightens, or locks the depth guide in place.  

If your hammer drill doesn’t come with a depth gauge, you can work around this by simply wrapping a tape around your drill bit to mark your target depth.  

Engaging Hammer Mode and Rotary Action  

Most hammer drill units multi-functions as a hammer drill and as a regular power drill at the same time. As such, most units will require the user to manually engage the hammer mode which delivers a rapid succession of  hammering punches that make drilling through hard materials relatively easier.
You can also control the direction of the rotation of your hammer drill. With most hammer drills, you can set your drill to rotate in a clockwise motion by flicking the switch forward. Conversely, flicking the switch backward will allow you to rotate your drill in a counterclockwise motion.  

Holding Your Drill Properly  

Making sure that you hold your drill properly could spell the very difference between success and failure in working on your project. Balance is key when using a hammer drill. An improperly balanced drill tends to leave an excessively wider diameter.  

To achieve proper balance, start with standing with your feet shoulder width apart. Then, make sure that you have a firm grip on the hammer drill to the point where where you can comfortably lean into it. Hold the drill as if you were holding a gun–using one hand to keep a finger on the trigger, and the other hand to keep the drill level.  

Man Drilling Wall With Hammer Drill


When drilling, it is always best to begin slowly as this will allow you to accurately create a crater that will prevent the drill bit from slipping. Starting out the drilling process slowly and carefully allows the user to make sure that the drill bit is, in fact, on point with the mark.  

Once a deep enough crater is created on the material, you can then start to speed up the drill and continue to work at full speed until you have drilled well into the target depth. Throughout the drilling process, it is best to periodically make certain that the drill is perpendicular to the drilling surface.  

Removing the Debris  

Throughout the drilling process, you will likely create a dust and debris buildup within the hole that you’re working on. This will require you to blow away the dust and bits of material from time to time as debris tend to stick to the drill bit, making it duller over time.  

To prevent any excessive build up, it is a good practice to periodically stop to remove the debris at 25%, 50%, and 75% of drilling into the target depth.  

When you are finished drilling, you can simply set the drill in reverse to pull it out of the hole.  

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