What’s the Difference between Hammer Drill vs Rotary Hammer? – Explained

If you need to drive some screws in concrete then you must understand that drilling right through it is not an easy task. Thank god you don’t need it to do on a daily basis. But what if you have to do it every day? Even if you have to do it once in a blue moon, how do you plan on to get this tedious task completed?

The most suitable options for the job will have either a hammer drill or rotary hammer. Any of these tools are sufficient to get your job done, they pound the drill bit in the forward direction while spinning. First of all, let us try to understand our tools first.

What are the above-mentioned tools?

A Rotary hammer and a Hammer drill are capable of producing the similar type of pounding force while rotating. Both of these tools can easily chisel away the masonry. This makes them highly efficient in blasting through concrete and masonry. So let’s try to understand them quite clearly.

  • The Rotary hammer: The pounding force of this tool is generated by a piston mechanism which is driven by a crankshaft. The piston when driven compresses the air in the cylinder, increasing its pressure exponentially. This air at high pressure is what drives the hammering action.
  • The Hammer drill: When you consider the case of a hammer drill, it generates its pounding force by using two metal discs and a special clutch. The discs go across one another, one of them rises and falls with respect to other. This generates a two and fro motion, that causes the drill bit to slam to and fro. When there is no force on the chuck, the clutch separates the two discs giving the break to pounding action, thus preventing wear out.

Difference between Hammer Drills vs Rotary Hammers

Although both of the above-mentioned devices have the similar functions, they differ in the way they achieve the result. Both the devices are designed in such a way that they pound (push into forward direction with an impulse) the drill bit or chuck while spinning into the desired place. As you already know that the rotary hammer uses a piston mechanism, which uses compresses air to generate impulse for driving bits. Whereas in case of a hammer drill, it uses two metal disks which are controlled a special clutch. When powered on the disks move against each other to and fro, generating the impacts.

What power option do they offer?

When you talk about the power option that these tools offer, they are on the next level compared to regular drills. These powerful machines have been designed drive screws into a concrete or reinforced concrete these are corded drills. Cordless power tool drilling is not as powerful as corded drilling tools.

The hammer drills are designed for day to day use and most DIY fixes. They are still good for driving a few screws or drilling few holes in concrete, they generate about 30,000 beats per minute. If you are someone who would occasionally use the tool for odd jobs, a big and much powerful tool would be overkill. Though you shouldn’t use cordless rotary hammer or cordless hammer drills. Hence, a hammer drill is the all-purpose option for your work needs. This selection will make much more sense for normal guys.

Now, let us come back to the rotary hammer, when you are a professional workman who needs to finish the job as soon as possible, then you need something powerful. This powerful tool is non-other than the rotary hammer. Depending on the size and requirement rotary hammers can generate as much as 4 ft-lbs of impact energy.

How can these individual devices be used?

That, in fact, is a really good question. Why should you consider a tool that will do only one specific job? While investing you should carefully look if the tool you are selecting can serve as a multifunctional. If so then you can spend some extra bucks to make sure that you get the quality product. Both of our tools are multifunctional let’s have a look at them separately.

Rotary hammer: Most of the rotary hammer available in the market come with three operating modes.

  • The Drilling mode – where there is no hammering action involved and it works like a standard drill.
  • The hammer drill – in this mode it simultaneously uses both drilling and hammering action.
  • The hammer mode – here they only have the hammering action activated, which makes them the mini version of a jackhammer.

Hammer Drill: These set of tools are not powerful enough to be used a hammering tool only. But if you are in need of a standard drill, it will get your job done. As they become normal drill when you switch the hammering action.

What are the specific jobs these tools are designed for?

Yes as I mentioned earlier, every job has its own set of tools. Let’s find the over here.

Rotary hammer: When you need to be working regularly on the concrete or masonry or such tougher material, you need a rotary hammer. These devices are great for drilling larger holes and with other attachments can work wonders. Some of the popular attachments are mentioned below.

Clay Spade: Its used to beak the hard soil and similar materials
Cold chisel: Designed for busting up the concrete
Tile remover: Used to pull up the installed ceramic tiles
Bull point chisel: Used for initial marking and starting a hole in the concrete
Scaling chisel: used for bust out rust, weld spatter and concrete

Hammer drills: When you need to drill holes in concrete blocks, bricks or in a mortar this is your go-to tool. You can even use it sometimes to drill on the hard concrete, but not regularly. Companies will definitely tell that their drill is too powerful to go on with a Rotary hammer, but don’t just believe them.

The chucks and Bits System

chucks and BitsHammer drill: These designed for lighter jobs, such jobs can be easily complete with the regular bits. The chuck system is simple and can easily swap between bits and fasteners. The chuck is made up of impact grade alloy to withstand the impacts caused by the disks while driving.

Rotary Hammer: The rotary hammer features a different chuck system. The system was designed to work with a slotted drive, this prevents any kind of slippage and also make it more efficient. The special bits are known as SDS, SDS plus or SDS max depending on the manufacturer. These are designed for heavy duty and are mostly interchangeable.

What can you get in your budget?

Well depending on how much you want to spend there are various types of machine that you can get. Let’s look into the some of the major pricing section.

Up to $100: In this range, you can find some of the entry level hammer drills that have motors rated somewhere between 5-8A. These will be good for basic light masonry drilling, bricks and mortar with holes up to a 1/2” diameter. These are not good for concrete, it’s slow going and there’s a good chance you may hurt yourself or damage the drill motor.

For $100 up to $150: If your budget permits you to spend this much, then you can enjoy a working with a bit bigger motor (say up to 10Amps) that can take care of holes up to 5/8”. This can drill on soft concrete but not heavy duty concrete or reinforced ones. This is the upper limit for most hammer drills as anything more you’re either paying for the name or a lot of accessories.

For $150 up to $225: This is the range where things start to get interesting as most rotary hammers will fall into. You’ll have about the same 7-10 amps of power that the higher hammer drills have but you’ll also get up to 3ft.lb of impact energy which adds considerably more push. This is good for quickly drilling holes in concrete and masonry up to 1”. It can be used for chiseling tile, busting small concrete and removing mortar.

For over $225: If you are a professional then only come to this range as it’s for the heavy-duty use. Most of the machines here will feature impact energy of over 10ft.lb and can drill 1-3/4” holes consistently throughout the day without breaking a sweat. If you cannot afford any machine from this section but are in need of one try renting it out.

Well, we now hope that you have understood the basic difference between a Hammer Drill Vs. Rotary Hammer. You may even understand what you need for a particular type of job. If You are interested also check out our guide on the topic Best Rotary Hammer Drill Reviews 2018 – The Ultimate Buying Guide and 5 Best Hammer Drill Reviews 2018 – The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide.

Leave a Comment