How to Use a Hammer Drill

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Whether you’re a novice with a DIY project or a professional tackling a new prospect, the hammer drill can serve as a nifty tool to quickly and efficiently complete your tasks. From cinder blocks to wood planks, a hammer drill is a competent tool.

Keep reading for more information on how to use a hammer drill correctly and safely.

What is a Hammer Drill?

A hammer drill is an automated tool similar to an impact drill and feels like holding a small jackhammer in your hands. This powerful tool combines hammering and drilling into one simplified, compact device. The hammer will pulsate forward and back while the drilling aspect simultaneously rotates.

The drill’s automation fuels the power behind the hammer, allowing the device to break into complex objects such as concrete. Even though this tool has jackhammer-like qualities, it is a handheld device. You can find both fully automated hammer drills and ones with cords.

Some hammer drills also come with many settings, such as drill and driver, so that you can use them as more than just a hammer drill.   

Hammer drill on the ground

When Would You Use a Hammer Drill?

Using a hammer drill depends on your projects and needs, but ultimately, people explicitly use the device for drilling into sturdy objects such as brick, concrete, wood, cinder blocks, stucco exterior walls, or cement board. The hammer drill has the torque to break into dense, sturdy items such as those previously mentioned because of its jackhammer-like capabilities.

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Don’t let the jackhammer noise associated with the hammer drill fool you. The hammer drill is capable of making small, delicate incisions. You can use the hammer drill for nearly any project involving a solid object.

If you don’t have this tool, here is how to drill into brick without a hammer drill.

How to Use a Hammer Drill

Before you get started on a project, you want to make sure you’re using the tool correctly, and even more importantly – safely. Incorrectly using the hammer drill may cause irreparable damage to the device and possibly to yourself in the process. Read on for detailed instructions on how to use a hammer drill safely and correctly.

Check your Tool’s Settings

Some hammer drills have multiple setting options, such as a regular drill or driver, diversifying their capabilities. Check to see what setting you have the device switched to before you get ready to use yours. Since you’re going to use the device as a hammer drill, you want to make sure you set the tool to the hammer drill option.

If you have a simple, straightforward hammer drill, you don’t need to focus on this step.

Set to Forward or Reverse

Depending on what you need the hammer drill for, you want to set it to either forward or reverse. If you’re going to drill into an object, you’ll need to select the forward setting. Opposingly, if you want to pull something out of an item, you’ll set the device to reverse.

Hammer drill placed on a wooden crate

Speed Settings

However fast you want your drill to go depends on your preferences and your project. If you don’t need to make a deep incision into an object, you probably don’t want to set your hammer drill to a high speed. A lower rate will give you more control over the device and, therefore, your desired outcome.

A higher speed will allow you to drill into an object more resonantly and more quickly, but you won’t have the same amount of control over the device as you would on a low speed.  

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Check your Bit

One of the most important steps to check when getting ready to use your hammer drill is to check the bit you have attached to the tool’s nozzle. The appropriate bit is crucial, depending on the project at hand.

If you want to make an incision into concrete, make sure you have changed your drill bit that would work best for your project. The correct bit will ensure your project turns out the way you intend. If you put a wood bit on the device’s end, it could end disastrously and damage the bit for good.

Get into Position

When you’ve made sure the drill is fixed to your desired setting and has the correct bit affixed; make sure to avoid using a jobber drill bit for this project, place your tool in position. If you’re drilling into concrete, for example, place your sharpened drill’s bit up against the object in an off-setting. You don’t want to start the drill and then bring it to the thing because it can damage the bit, the device itself, and potentially you.

Pull the Trigger and Apply Pressure

Once you’ve got your drill in a stable, even position, you can pull the trigger to begin drilling. After you pull the trigger, you’ll need to apply slight pressure to the tool. Please don’t apply too much pressure because that will damage the bit.

Don’t loosen up your hold on it either because that will cause some blow-back or may cause erratic movement. Put just enough pressure on the device to ensure its stability and let the hammering take control.

Hammer drill about to be used


Since you’re using the hammer drill for its high-powered hammering capability, you want to make sure you’re using it properly. Listen for the loud, drilling sound to make sure it’s hammering. You’ll notice the sound nearly immediately because it’s deafening.

You can test the difference between the standard drill and the hammer drill by powering the device on its own, outside of any object. If the noise remains the same as you use it drilling into an object, it’s not hammering properly.

Before you start drilling and have the tool pressed against the desired surface, check to make sure that there’s some give or bounce at the nozzle. That buoyancy is the hammering aspect of the drill. You apply slight pressure to the device to activate the hammer.

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So, if you don’t hear the audible drilling noise, re-check the amount of stress you have on the tool.


When you’ve drilled as deep as you need and want to pull the device out, don’t release your finger from the trigger or applied pressure from the tool. Slowly pull the hammer drill back toward you while powered on instead of going deeper into the object.

Once the bit is entirely out of the hole, you can release the trigger. Releasing the trigger before removing the tool may damage or break the bit irreparably.


The hammer drill combines the best of hammering and drilling into one compact automated device to give you both power and precision. While the name may intimidate you, the device is quite simple to use when you take the necessary steps and precautions before use.

Always make sure you check out the device thoroughly before you get started. Switch the hammer drill to the appropriate speed and set and change the bit for your intended project. Get into position, apply slight pressure to activate the hammer, and get to work. With the device, you can accomplish tasks big and small.

An expert at home repair, remodel, and DIY projects for nearly 40 years. His first experience came in completely restoring an antique home. Completely redone from the inside out, and restored to its original form, the home is a featured design by renowned Southern California Architect Cliff May, considered to be the father of the California Ranch Home. Now Dennis spends his time on fine woodworking projects and tool comparisons.