Before taking the plunge and hiring or buying, what is the best drill for masonry? By definition, masonry covers a wide variety of materials, whether brick, clay, stone, concrete or a combination of these. Since early man piled stones together for shelter, masonry has been used in form or another for building throughout history. Concrete was originally invented by the Romans as a combination of volcanic ash, lime water and stone fragments. Dressed stone and clay bricks are prevalent all over the world, in structures from all eras. Structures using these materials were built to last, and their strength and toughness ensured this. However, this makes demolition or alterations more difficult as the buildings themselves were designed to resist damage. Modern power tools are designed with this in mind though and here we will examine four of them.
For smaller domestic jobs, this may be the simplest solution, if the most time consuming. If you only need to drill a few holes in concrete or brick, a standard drill with the correct masonry bits could suffice. If drilling concrete, mark the location of the hole to be drilled and start with a small masonry bit. Increase the size of the bit being used by no more than 1/8 of an inch until the correct diameter of hole is reached. Make sure to pull the bit out periodically to pull the loose dust out of the hole, this will prevent the bit jamming and breaking. If the bit cannot penetrate any further, insert a hardened nail into the hole and give it a few hard taps. This will break up the hard aggregate stopping the bit and you can continue drilling. Obviously, this is a slow process and only suitable for small jobs. For anything larger, a hammer drill will be far more suitable. The rotating speed of standard drills is measured in revolutions per minute (RPM). Variable speed drills allow this to be controlled and the higher speed setting should be used for masonry.
These are sometimes referred to as Impact drills, but since this term is also applied to impact drivers, it is confusing and best avoided. Hammer drills are designed so that the bit not only rotates but rapidly punches in and out. This adds a pounding force that breaks up the material within the hole while drilling, making them perfect for masonry. Combined with carbide tipped bits, the chances of bit breakage during use is minimal. Hammer drills contain two discs with curved tooth – like ridges on their facing surfaces. As these rotate, the ridges cause the chuck to push in and out rapidly, causing the pounding action. As they are separated by a clutch, the discs are kept apart until force is applied to the chuck by pushing the drill against a hard surface. Most hammer drills now function as combi drills where the hammer function can be switched off if not needed. This saves needless wear and tear and prevents the hammer action from damaging softer materials being drilled. The pounding power of hammer drills is measured in beats or blows per minute (BPM). Higher BPM is a good indicator of greater penetrating power although higher motor amperage is more important. Hammer drills are best suited to light masonry such as concrete blocks, bricks and mortar. Even the best hammer drill will struggle with poured concrete. If a lot of work is to be done with this sort of heavy material, it is worth considering a rotary hammer drill.
Also, a type of percussion drill, rotary hammer drills are also known as SDS hammer drills. This is due to the Slotted Drive System that increases the force of the hammer action. A crankshaft within the body of the drill drives a piston encased in a cylinder behind the chuck. As the crankshaft rotates, the piston moves rapidly backwards and forwards and air pressure within the cylinder causes the hammer action. This increases the impact energy of the drill and reduces wear and tear within the drill. In a hammer drill, the contact between the discs causes friction, heating the discs. As a result, energy is lost as heat and overheating can occur during prolonged use. Rotary hammer pounding power is measured in pounds of impact energy. Unlike hammer drills this is more important than motor amperage when measuring their impact on masonry. Most rotary hammer drill models have three settings to operate as a standard drill, a hammer drill and a non – rotating hammer. When switched to the hammer setting, the rotary hammer can be equipped with a number of attachments for other masonry jobs. These include cold chisels for breaking up concrete, bull point chisels to start holes in concrete, tile removers and more. While these increase the range of functions, for particularly heavy jobs a breaker or demolition drill may be more suitable.
Breakers are designed for heavy duty masonry work such as breaking up asphalt road surfaces, reinforced concrete or aggregate. They can be electrical or petrol driven and use rapid percussion to drive a hardened steel bit to smash and break up masonry for removal. They are also particularly useful for cutting channels in existing masonry or removing heavy tiling for renovation or refurbishment. While significantly larger than hammer drills or rotary hammers, they are still easy to transport and operate alone.
SERV Plant Hire are plant and machinery specialists offering breaking and drilling tool hire to the North West of England. We have a wide range of high quality Hilti tools available to hire, including cordless drills, combi hammer drills and electric and petrol breakers. If you are unsure which is best suited to your project, our expert staff are on hand to recommend exactly what you need. All our construction equipment is fully certified and serviced and we are happy to answer any queries on operation and safe use. Contact us to ensure you have the best equipment for the job.