How to Use a Hammer Drill

Have you ever looked at a hole you needed to drill into concrete and thought, ‘How the heck am I going to do this without destroying my regular drill?’ If so, you’re not alone. It can be incredibly frustrating to try and force a standard drill to cut through rigid materials like brick, stone, or concrete, only to have it repeatedly bog down and overload the motor. This is where the hammer drill comes to the rescue. 

How to Use a Hammer Drill

A hammer drill, sometimes called an impact drill, uses a hammering action combined with rotation to pulverize rigid materials rather than just spin a drill bit. It punches and chips away at hard surfaces rather than relying solely on rotation.

If you’ve got a job that requires drilling holes in anything denser than drywall, it’s time to upgrade to a heavy-duty hammer drill. In this blog post, I’ll break down the basics of how to use a hammer drill effectively and avoid common mistakes that can damage the drill or your project.

Necessary Items

Before you can use a hammer drill, you’ll need to ensure you have all the necessary items. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Hammer drill: This is the main item at most hardware or home improvement stores.
  • Drill bits: Use drill bits designed explicitly for hammer drills as they can withstand the impact force.
  • Extension cord (if needed): If you’re working in an area with limited outlets, you may need to use an extension cord to reach your work area.
  • Safety gear: This includes safety glasses, earplugs or earmuffs, and work gloves. Safety should always come first when using power tools.

10 Steps on How to Use a Hammer Drill

Step 1: Read the Instruction Manual

As with any new tool, reading the instruction manual before using it is essential. This will give you a better understanding of the drill’s features and how to operate it safely. Plus, it may have specific instructions or tips for your particular model.

Step 2: Wear Safety Gear

Before drilling, wear safety gear, including safety glasses, earplugs or earmuffs, and work gloves. This will protect you from any flying debris or loud noises.

Wear Safety Gear

Step 3: Choose the Right Bit

Select a drill bit compatible with your hammer drill and appropriate for your drilling material. You can refer to the instruction manual or ask an employee at the hardware store for recommendations.

Step 4: Mark Your Drilling Spot

Mark the spot where you want to drill using a pencil or marker. This will help guide your drilling and ensure accuracy.

Step 5: Secure the Material

If you’re drilling into a wall or other vertical surface, secure it in place using clamps or by having someone hold it steady. This will prevent the material from moving or shifting while you drill.

Step 6: Set Up the Drill

Plug in the hammer drill and insert the appropriate bit. Ensure the drill is in hammer mode rather than standard drilling mode. Most drills will have a switch or button to change between modes.

Step 7: Adjust Speed and Depth

If your hammer drill has adjustable speed and depth settings, now is the time to adjust them according to your project’s needs. For more rigid materials, use a slower speed and a greater depth.

Step 8: Start Drilling

Place the drill bit on your marked spot and apply light pressure while pulling the trigger. Let the drill do most of the work and avoid forcing it too hard, which can damage the drill or cause injury.

Step 9: Clear Debris

After a few seconds of drilling, stop and clear away any accumulated debris in the hole. This will help prevent overheating and ensure a clean hole.

Step 10: Repeat and Finish

Continue drilling in short bursts, stopping to clear debris periodically until you have reached your desired depth. Once finished, turn off the drill and remove the bit from the hole.

A hammer drill is essential for any DIYer or professional who frequently works with rigid materials. Following these steps and proper safety precautions, you can effectively use a hammer drill to tackle even the most challenging jobs. Remember to read the instruction manual and never force the drill too hard. You’ll become an expert at using this versatile and valuable tool with practice.

Hammer Drill is Essential for Any Diyer

8 Things to Avoid When Using a Hammer Drill

While using a hammer drill may seem straightforward, some common mistakes can cause damage to the tool or your project. Here are eight things to avoid when using a hammer drill:

1. Using the Wrong Type of Drill Bit

Using a regular drill bit instead of one specifically designed for hammer drills can dull the bit and damage the drill’s motor. Make sure to use the correct type of bit for your project.

2. Not Wearing Safety Gear

Safety should always come first when using power tools, especially with high-impact force like hammer drills. Always wear safety glasses, earplugs or earmuffs, and work gloves to protect yourself from flying debris and loud noises.

3. Forgetting to Mark Your Drilling Spot

Skipping this step can result in an inaccurate hole or damage to the surrounding area. Permanently mark your drilling spot before starting to ensure precision.

Mark Your Drilling Spot

4. Not Securing the Material

If your material is not properly secured, it can move or shift while drilling, causing errors or injuries. Use clamps or have someone hold the material steady to avoid this issue.

5. Using Too Much Force

Hammer drills are designed to do most of the work for you, so there’s no need to apply excessive force. This can cause damage to the drill or lead to an injury.

6. Ignoring Speed and Depth Settings

Adjusting these settings to your project’s needs will ensure a successful drilling experience. Pay attention to them to avoid uneven holes or overheating of the drill.

7. Continuously Drilling Without Clearing Debris

Letting debris build up in the hole can cause overheating and decrease the drill’s effectiveness. Stop and clear debris periodically for a clean and efficient drilling experience.

8. Improperly Storing the Drill

After use, store your hammer drill in a dry place with its cord neatly wrapped or coiled. This will help prevent damage to the cord or other parts of the tool and ensure its longevity.

By avoiding these common mistakes and following proper safety measures, you can effectively use a hammer drill for your projects without any issues. Remember always to read the instruction manual and ask for assistance if needed. You’ll become a pro at using this powerful and versatile tool with practice.

FAQs About Hammer Drills

Can a Hammer Drill Be Used as a Regular Drill?

Yes, most hammer drills have a switch or button that allows you to turn off the hammering function and use it like a standard drill. However, using a hammer drill for delicate or precision work is not recommended as the high impact force can cause damage.

Using a Hammer

What Materials Can I Drill with a Hammer Drill?

Hammer drills are designed to drill into rigid materials such as concrete, brick, stone, and masonry. They can also be used on wood and metal, but adjust the speed and depth settings accordingly.

How Do I Know Which Drill Bit to Use?

The type of material you are drilling into will determine the kind of bit you should use. For example, a masonry bit is recommended for concrete, while a wood bit would be used for wood. Consult the instruction manual or ask an expert for advice if you need more clarification.

Can I Use a Hammer Drill to Screw in Screws?

No, hammer drills are not designed for this purpose. The impact force can damage screws and affect their performance. Use a regular drill or screwdriver for this task.

How Do I Maintain My Hammer Drill?

Regularly clean the drill bit after use and store it properly in a dry place with the cord neatly wrapped or coiled. If any parts become damaged, replace them immediately to avoid further issues, and always follow the manufacturer’s maintenance guidelines.

What Safety Precautions Should I Take When Using a Hammer Drill?

Always wear safety gear such as glasses, earplugs or earmuffs, and work gloves. Secure the material you are drilling into and use the proper technique (i.e., don’t force the drill or continuously prepare without clearing debris). Also, read the instruction manual and follow all safety guidelines provided by the manufacturer.


After learning how to use a hammer drill properly, you should be confident in making the cuts and holes needed for any project. Not only will you have saved time by not having to consult with a professional on the job, but you can also feel proud that you took it upon yourself to become proficient in operating a hammer drill.

Whether you’re an avid DIYer or are just starting, taking the time to learn how to use a hammer drill is an invaluable skill, and it will pay dividends when completing any home improvement tasks. So what are you waiting for? Grab your safety goggles and get drilled!

Photo of author

Enrique Howard

Hi, I am Enrique. I started my professional life as a handyman and did a lot of external and internal repair of home and office with a little bit of electric and plumbing support. I have extensive experience in tools testing such as drilling, turning, milling, and non-conventional machining like EDM. So let me help you on your journey towards becoming an enlightened DIYer with amazing tools that you can use on your project.

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