You should always use the right tool for the job, but what if you need to drill through concrete and do not have a hammer drill? While the hammer drill is the ideal tool, you can use a regular drill if you have the right bit. It may not work quite as well but using the proper bit will still work when drilling through concrete.
There are two effective methods of drilling into concrete without a hammer drill. The first method is to use a masonry bit with a regular drill for smaller holes and the second option is to use diamond or carbide core bits to drill large diameter holes.
Drilling Concrete with Masonry Bit and Regular Drill
You can use a masonry drill bit with a regular drill to drill holes through brick and other masonry without having to use a hammer drill. The main advantage of a hammer drill is that it not only rotates the bit but strikes or hammers the masonry to help break through the surface. This allows for high-speed drilling that results in penetrating through concrete or masonry in a short time.
Using a regular drill takes longer because there is no hammering action. Instead, the rotation combined with the downward pressure applied by the operator is what gets the hole made.
In both cases, you need a carbide-tipped masonry bit to drill through concrete. The coated titanium or cobalt drill bits are not hard enough for concrete,
The masonry type of drill bit has tungsten carbide tips which are heavy-duty and a relatively softer steel body. The result is a drill bit that will last a long time under normal use conditions. And while it might break, you can sharpen the masonry bit and reuse it. So, as long as you follow a few tips, it should last for a while without doing any unnecessary damage.
How to Drill into Concrete with Regular Drill
Here are the steps to drill concrete using a regular corded or cordless drill and masonry drill bits.
Before you begin, be sure that you have at least a few different sizes of masonry bits available. This is because you may need to start with smaller holes first and then create larger ones with different bits. You may want to have a replacement bit or two for the sizes that you most often use, but if you have quick access to local hardware or home improvement store, then you can simply purchase what you need in case a bit needs replacement.
The older the concrete is, the more likely it was made with denser materials. Although today’s concrete is still quite tough, it is not nearly as dense in materials as concrete which was poured back in the 1960s and earlier. The emphasis on density means that you might need a hammer drill if you are working with older concrete.
In addition, concrete that is cracked or in poor condition might just fall apart even with a normal drill. If you are trying to work with older concrete or masonry that has flaws, you may need a professional with expertise in masonry and concrete to inspect the material first. It may have to be strengthened or replaced depending on the damage.
There is the temptation to go as fast as you can, but you will need to fight that instinct. Masonry is quite tough, but it is also brittle in some ways. You do not want to crack the masonry or concrete in which you are trying to drill through.
Also, you do not want to burn out the motor of your drill. Keep in mind that a standard drill is not like a hammer drill. You cannot pound away at the masonry while trying to drill through or you will burn out the motor. Instead, you are going to drill slowly and focus on efficiency to succeed. Once you have drilled a smaller hole, then swap out the bits to a larger one and drill again until you reach the size that you want.
Use Water to Cool Down Tip
Have a cup or small bucket of water nearby to cool down the tip of the drill. This is because a standard drill is not really designed to punch holes in masonry or concrete swiftly and may overheat starting with the tip of the bit itself. Every so often, dip the tip of the bit into the water for a few seconds. This will allow the bit to cool down before you start drilling again.
As you cool down the bit, keep an eye on the motor. You do not want the motor of your drill to overheat as this will cause it to stop working. If you are going to drill more than a few holes, take a break from time to time to keep the drill motor from overheating.
Importance of Masonry Bit
Always use masonry bits from brands that have a solid reputation for quality. This is because masonry can tear apart low-quality bits rapidly. This not only causes damage to the masonry in which you are drilling but also presents a danger if the bit should fall apart. A low-quality bit can chip or even break apart in the middle of a job. When that happens, pieces can fly out at rapid speed striking anything in range, including you.
An even more likely possibility is breaking up the masonry which also causes bits of the brick to fly out and strike you or others nearby. So, be sure that you are using masonry bits from reputable sources. And, look for any signs of chipping or damage either to the bit itself or the concrete in which your drilling. If you are noticing any wear or damage, exchange out the bit immediately.
Use Carbide or Diamond Core Drill Bit
Core bits are very similar to hole saw used in woodworking. The coring bits are cylindrical-shaped cutting tools with a hollow center. The cutting teeth are on the periphery of the tool and the core bit works more like a cutting saw than a drill.
There are two popular types of masonry bits that can be used in standard drills.
Carbide Core Bits
Tungsten carbide is quite hard and durable. However, a solid carbide core bit would be very brittle. Hence carbide-tips are attached to the steel body to make the body tough and flexible while keeping the cutting tips hard. This makes it easier to punch through concrete or masonry when you do not have a hammer drill.
Typically, the carbide coring bits are used on hammer drills or rotary hammers. You can also use them in regular drills.
The downside of carbide hole cutter is that when they hit the rebar the carbide tips tend to chip off or break.
Diamond Core Bits
Diamonds are the hardest known substance, which is why they are a popular choice for this type of bit. You will need to use a drill that is rated at 850 watts or higher for maximum effect. Plus, the drill needs a safety clutch as well.
You can use the diamond core bits with regular drills or rig-mounted drilling machines. The advantage of diamond coring bit is that it grinds through concrete as well as rebar with ease.
However, do not use a diamond core bit with hammering action since it will cause the cutting edges to damage. If you do have a hammer drill, then you should use drill mode (rotate only) or use a masonry bit since core bits are not suitable for hammering.
In both cases, an arbor is recommended for use with either tungsten carbide or diamond core drill bit.
How to Use Core Bit to Drill Concrete?
The process is very similar to using a masonry bit. If you are using a handheld drilling machine, start drilling at an angle to avoid the core bit wandering around.
- Mount the core bit on the drill chuck and set the power tool to drill mode.
- Locate the position and place the drill at 45° angle.
- Begin drilling at low speed penetrating the concrete slowly.
- As the coring bit cuts through concrete slowly straighten the drill to vertical position.
- Once the cutting portion of the bit has penetrated inside, you can increase the speed and try to go faster.
- Use coolant or water to dissipate the heat from the cutting tool.
Keep in mind that the cut-out portion will be inside the core bit. You should remove this from time to time. Otherwise, you risk shattering the cutting bit that can cause serious injuries. Also, watch out for kickback as it is a serious problem in cutting tools similar to hole saws. Always use proper safety gears such as goggles, ear protection, and gloves.