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How Do Hammer Drills Work & Uses?

To drill holes into surfaces, you need a hand drill. There are different types of hand drills available but hammer drills are the most widely used. A hammer drill is the most suitable tool to punch a hole through a harder surface.

For example, drilling a surface of concrete or stone requires a hammer drill. To use a hammer drill, you should understand the working of the hammer drill. We will explain the working mechanism of a hammer drill along with how to use a hammer drill.

Understanding a Hammer Drill

A hammer drill is a power tool to drill hard surfaces that a regular drill may not drill. It adds a hammering motion to the regular drilling motion. The hammer strikes crush the material, making the drilling faster and smoother. Some hammer drills can do hammering-free drilling, drilling with hammering, and only hammering without drilling for versatile applications.

Functioning Of A Hammer Drill

There are two mechanisms of a hammer drill. The first is a clutch-based hammering mechanism, and the other is a piston-based hammering mechanism. The regular hammer drill uses a clutch-based hammering mechanism, while a rotary hammer drill uses a piston-based mechanism.

The hammering movement takes place forward and backward while drilling. The hammering mechanism has advanced with the modern hammer drills that come with gearboxes to set the power of drilling and hammering and to change speed and torque as required.

What Are The Components Of A Hammer Drill?

Broadly speaking, a hammer drill has the following components.

1. Motor : The motor is the driving force behind a hammer drill. The speed of a motor is denoted by RPM(revolution per minute), and the impact rate is denoted by the BPM(bits per minute). These two parameters determine the power of the motor.

2. Body : The housing of the hammer drill is crucial as it determines the weight of the hammer drill. The design of the body also determines the heat dissipation efficiency. The body needs to have an anti-vibration system to minimize the fatigue that builds up on the hand. The body should be light in weight but sturdy enough to survive vibration.

Inside the body are two discs on a hammer drill that a clutch can separate. There is a chuck that brings in the hammering mechanism. The discs rise and fall while sliding over one another, and this forces the chuck to hammer forward and backward. When no hammering action is required, the clutch separates the discs to eliminate the pounding action.

3. Bit Holder : A bit holder holds the chisels for versatile drilling. You can vary the size of the bits and the maximum drilling capacity can also vary. There is a chisel rotation system that allows easy adjustment of the hammering position. Some hammer drills have an automatic bit lock feature to allow users to change bits without any external tool.

4. Handle : The handle is as important as the body of the hammer drill, and it can reduce the vibration in the hand and hence, the fatigue in hand. The handle has a trigger knob to operate the hammer drill. Some hammer drills have D-shared handles for more comfort.

5. Switches : Apart from the trigger knob on the handle, several switches are available in hammer drills. They can be for changing speed, torque, anti-dust and lock-on switches, and likewise.

How Does A Hammer Drill Function?

A hammer drill has a combination of drilling and hammering mechanisms. We have already stated how the discs slide and rise and fall. This motion forces the chuck to move forward and backward, leading to the hammering mechanism. While the chuck moves, the drill bit rotates and crushes the material for the drilling mechanism.

In short, it combines a regular drill and a moving hammer. The hammer mechanism makes the harder material vulnerable to drilling than a regular drill without a hammer cannot. The drilling mechanism forces the drill bits to spin into the surface to create the required hole.

Working With A Hammer Drill

Here are a few things you must have before using a hammer drill.

  • Pencil and ruler
  • Masking tape
  • Drill bits
  • Compressed air
  • Safety goggles and earplugs
  • Facemask

Here are the steps to use a hammer drill perfectly.

Step 1: If you have a corded hammer drill, you must arrange for an extension power board to plug it in and work without the power cable causing any issues. For a cordless hammer drill, the battery should have enough charge.

Step 2: You have to mark the workspace with a pencil and a ruler. Ensure you put the groundsheet on the floor to collect the dust and debris that comes out while drilling. Put on your safety goggles and earplugs along with the facemask.

Step 3: Insert the appropriate drill bit. Ideally, you should start with a small drill bit to drill a small hole. After that, you can use a large drill bit to make the hole large as required. Set the depth stop if it is available on your hammer drill. If not, you can use a masking tape to mark the depth on the drill bit you want to drill on the surface.

Step 4: Start drilling with minimum power at the beginning, and you can increase the power as you go along. Once the desired depth is reached, you can stop and clean the hole before using a large drill bit to make the hole larger.

Step 5: To clean the hole, you should blow the compressed air to remove dust and debris. Ideally, you should clean the hole after 15 seconds so that the friction in drilling is less and the hole can be drilled efficiently.

Is It Okay To Use A Hammer Drill On Wood?

Yes, you can use a hammer drill on wood. Generally, a hammer drill is suitable for harder surfaces like concrete. But you can use the hammer drill like a regular drill by stopping the hammering mechanism. A regular drill is suitable for drilling into the wood; hence, a hammer drill with the option to stop the hammer can be used on wood.


A hammer drill is a versatile power tool with versatile operations for different applications. You need to know how to use a hammer drill properly as well as understand the working of a hammer drill. A hammer drill is a better tool than a regular drill; you can use it on hard and soft surfaces. We have explained every aspect of a hammer drill, from its working mechanism to the steps to use it.

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