How to Use a Hammer Drill

If you are currently not aware of the uses of hammer drill, then you will probably be taken aback by the fact that it can be used to drill holes both in tougher materials, such as concrete, bricks, and ceramic tiles, as well as softer materials, such as wood. Therefore, as a DIYer or a professional, you must possess it in your arsenal.

Using a hammer drill may feel daunting but the rules are pretty much the same as with any other power drill.

So, essentially, you start off by setting up your hammer drill and the workspace. After that, you don the appropriate safety gear and mark the target holes. Finally, you pull the trigger and drill the holes at the designated spots.

In our guide below, we will detail everything that you need to know about using a hammer drill and more. So, let’s begin!

Required Supplies

How to Use a Hammer Drill

Here are the supplies you are going to need when drilling holes using a hammer drill:

  • A top-quality hammer drill
  • Appropriately-sized drill bits
  • Carpenter’s pencil
  • Measuring tape
  • Groundsheets
  • Safety gear (face mask, goggles, earplugs, etc.)
  • Can of compressed air
  • Vacuum

Step # 1 – Set Up Your Hammer Drill

Use a Hammer Drill

Whichever hammer drill you possess, the first step is to ensure that it is powered up.

For a corded hammer drill, make sure that the power outlet is at a fair distance from your workspace so that the cord doesn’t get pulled out while working. On the other hand, for a cordless hammer drill, ensure that its battery is fully charged.

Furthermore, if your hammer drill comes with two modes, namely rotary hammer and standard modes, be sure to select the former if you are dealing with tougher materials, like concrete, bricks, and ceramic tiles. For softer, materials, choose the standard mode. For the sake of this guide, we will go with the rotary hammer mode.

So, with the rotary hammer mode selected, you may be given the option to set the direction of the drill, which is, represented by either a forward or a backward mode. For drilling into the material and making new holes, you must select the forward mode.

After that, you will need to choose specific torque and speed settings. There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to these settings. However, as a beginner, we recommend starting out with the lowest settings.

Step # 2 – Set Up Your Workspace

Hammer Drill

Make sure that your workspace as well as the material, you are dealing with, is free of any debris that could get in the way.

Also, since there are obviously going to be a lot of fly-offs scattered all across the floor, you can prevent an eyesore altogether by laying down groundsheets on the floor.

Step # 3 – Put on the Safety Gear

Once you have set up your workspace, it is time that you don the mandatory safety gear.

Accordingly, put on your face mask, earplugs, and goggles, and make sure that they are securely held to your face.

Also, make sure that you have enough space for standing with ease.

Step # 4 – Mark the Target Holes

With a carpenter’s pencil, and a measuring tape in hand, measure and mark the desired holes on the material you are dealing with.

As for measuring the depth of the holes, you can make use of the stop bar, which is built into the design of some drills. Or, you can note the depth of the drill bit, you intend to use, with masking tape.

Be sure to take your time with this step and double-check as it will basically lay out the foundation for how successful your drilling will be.

Step # 5 – Make a Pilot Hole


The next step is to make a pilot hole in the desired material.

For that, equip your hammer drill with the right-sized masonry drill bit. Assume a proper drilling stance; make sure that your feet are shoulder-width apart and that, it is firmly implanted on the floor, use one of your hands to grab the drill’s handle and the other to provide support to the tool.

Now, position the drill so that the drill bit is perpendicular to the surface and pull the trigger to drill a pilot hole into the surface.

Step # 6 – Drill the Remainder of the Hole

With the pilot hole drilled, it is time that you take care of the rest of the hole.

However, before you do that, make sure to set your hammer drill at the lowest speed setting. You should aim for a depth of no more than 0.25 inches.

Now, re-check your stance and as you apply firm pressure on the drill, pull the trigger. Applying too much pressure can damage the drill bit as well as the material, you are working on so avoid doing that.

As you grow in confidence, you can dial up the speed of your hammer drill if you want.

Anyhow, after every 15 seconds or so, pull out the drill from the hole and wipe away any dust from the hole and the nearby region.

Once you have reached the required drilling depth, stop and spray a can of compressed air into the hole to push out any dust from the hole.

You can repeat steps 5, 6, and 7 and drill as many holes as you like.

Helpful Tips

A Hammer Drill

Now that you are aware of exactly how to use a hammer drill, here are a few tips that you can keep in mind for maximum efficiency:

Be Sure to Use the Correct Drill Bit

Using the correct-sized drill bit is crucial when drilling into tough surfaces, such as concrete, and bricks.

If the drill bit is not of the right size or condition, not only could your hammer drill be damaged but also, the motor could burn out as well.

Apply Even Pressure for Drilling

A lot of beginner DIYers carry out the mistake of applying excess pressure when using a hammer drill.

However, you must understand that tools like hammer drills do not require force. They are made such that they can drill through tough surfaces on their own.

So, all you have to do is hold your hammer drill firmly and apply only a little pressure; you will notice the drill bit going into the material with ease.

Pour Some Water Over the Concerned Area

Usage of a hammer drill

When drilling through bricks, ceramic tiles, or concrete, a lot of dust is generated, which could create a mess. Moreover, if due to some reason, you forget to wear your face mask, that dust could possibly become an irritant for your lungs.

You can reduce this mess as well as the friction between the drill bit and the surface, you are dealing with, by pouring some water over the concerned region.

The water poured will lubricate your drill bit and the holes, allowing much faster drilling and reducing dust production.

However, be sure not to allow your hammer drill to get in the way of water.

Maintain Your Hammer Drill and Drill Bits

As in the case of any power tool, if you want your hammer drill to remain effective for a long period of time, you need to properly maintain it.

The key parts of the hammer drill that you need to clean regularly are its head and the drill bits, that you are going to attach with it.

If any of these parts become accumulated with dirt, the usefulness of your hammer drill can be significantly compromised.

Be Wary of Any Hindrance in the Surface

If you happen to run into a hindrance on the surface, in which you are drilling a hole, avoid forcing the drill as you could wind up causing irreparable damage to your hammer drill as well as the drill bit in use. Instead, stop immediately.

Provide a few taps by using a hammer along with a masonry nail to remove the hindrance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Use a Hammer Drill as a Regular Drill?

If your hammer drill has a ‘drill’ mode, yes you can, by activating this mode.

Can a Regular Drill Be Used to Drill into Concrete?

No, if you try to use a regular drill for drilling into concrete, you could end up damaging both your drill and the drill bits.

What Depth Does a Hammer Drill Typically Drive To?

It depends on the speed of the tool, the type of material you are drilling into, and the type of hammer drill. However, generally, you can expect holes of up to 2.5 inches using a hammer drill.


DeWALT Hammer Drill

And that brings an end to our comprehensive guide on using a hammer drill.

To reiterate, you basically have to take the same steps, that you would take, in the case of any other power drill; set up your hammer drill and the workspace, put on the safety equipment, mark the target holes, and drill the holes.

There are some additional tips, mentioned in this guide, obliging to which will prove extremely handy for you.

Liam Weissman

Hello and welcome to PowerToolGenius! My name is Liam and for the last 9 years, I have worked extensively with various power tools and accessories. I have tested hundreds of different brands and models and understand the industry extensively and have been working with tools my entire life!

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