If you find yourself at a hardware store in search of a new cordless drill, chances are you’ll come across a variety of options that appear quite similar. The main discrepancy you’ll notice is that some are referred to as hammer drills, or more specifically, hammer drill drivers. Upon closer examination, it becomes evident that these tools closely resemble electric drills. However, the key point of divergence lies in the internal hammer mechanism. This unique feature justifies the slightly higher price tag associated with hammer drills.
Hammer Drills vs. Drill Bits: Physical Differences
To manufacture a hammer drill, most companies begin with a regular drill bit and integrate a hammering mechanism behind the chuck. In most cases, this addition only slightly increases the overall length and weight of the tool. Consequently, it may be difficult to distinguish between the two upon initial inspection.
Modern power drills and impact drills possess both clutch and power drill settings. On the other hand, rotary hammers feature an additional hammer mode, which users can switch to. While some models incorporate separate mode changes apart from the clutch collar, others consolidate these options onto a single collar. In any case, the hammer pattern typically sits adjacent to the drill pattern. Even in impact drills featuring electronic setups, the clutch, mode, and transmission remain mechanical switches and collars located in the head of the tool.
The introduction of a hammer mechanism enables a forward and backward cutting motion, reminiscent of the action observed in rotary hammers. In the finest hammer drills, this motion can occur at an impressive rate of over 30,000 times per minute!
Hammer Drills vs. Drill Bits: Performance Consequences
When engaging in concrete or masonry drilling projects, it’s critical to utilize the hammer mechanism. Drilling without this feature can still yield satisfactory results, but our tests indicate that hammer drills, on average, operate about 25% faster.
In one recent test, we employed a 1/4″ utility bit with a Milwaukee M18 Fuel impact drill. In standard drilling mode, it took approximately 8.5 seconds to reach the desired drilling depth. However, by switching to hammer drill mode, the same task was accomplished in a mere 6.5 seconds.
At first glance, a 2-second difference might seem inconsequential. However, the effects become much more pronounced when working with larger drill bits or undertaking extensive drilling projects.
Additionally, the sound produced during hammer mode drilling significantly differs from that of regular drilling. In addition to the noise created by the drill bit, a rapid humming sound accompanies the hammer mechanism as it operates.
It’s essential to note that the hammering mode should never be used when drilling holes in wood, metal, plastic, or other materials. The cutting motion provided by the hammer mechanism doesn’t contribute to faster hole drilling in these materials. In fact, it may actually impede progress and introduce excessive vibrations.
Hammer drills typically only cost $10 to $20 more than drill-driven models. Although concrete drilling may not be a regular task for most individuals, having access to this handy feature proves beneficial when the need arises. Considering that there is minimal weight or size increase associated with hammer drills nowadays, we recommend spending a bit extra to acquire this versatility.
By the way, if you’re interested in the impact drill showcased in the photos, it’s the Skil PWRCore 20 Brushless Impact Drill. You can find the kit for approximately $150 on Amazon.