It can be easy to purchase tools that have duplicate functions. For those who are on a budget, an important decision in purchasing a hammer drill is whether it can also perform as a regular drill. The good news is that a hammer drill does have a drill and drive only function.
You can use a hammer drill as a regular drill by selecting the drill mode that disengages the clutch and the hammering action. In this mode, the tool works as a regular power drill or a cordless drill.
3 Hammer Drill Modes
There are three basic modes of a hammer drill.
- Hammer Mode: As the name of the drill implies, the hammer function is used to punch through harder materials such as masonry and concrete. When set in the hammer mode, the bit will not only rotate, but hammer blows are applied at the end of the drill axis that will make the bit move back and forth to get through the material. In this mode, the clutch is not engaged.
- Drill Mode: This is the mode you need to use a hammer drill as a regular drill where you need only the rotating action. If you intend on drilling precise holes in softer material where the hammering action is not needed, then setting the device to drill mode will do the trick. In drill mode, the clutch is disengaged to provide maximum rotational torque on to the bit.
- Drive Mode: Here the clutch is engaged. After you drill the hole, if you need to drive in the screws, then this is the ode that you will use. In this mode, the slip clutch will be active so that it can control the amount of torque being applied.
If you experience the drill skating across the work surface or drill bit plunging forward and back, you are probably in the wrong mode.
Can You Use It as a Screwdriver?
Yes. Just turn the mode selector towards the drive mode and you can use a hammer drill to drive screws. However, I don’t recommend it for driving screws due to the large size and weight of the tool.
If you are looking for a power tool to drive big, long screws, go for an impact driver.
Hammer Drill vs. Regular Drill
If you are considering a hammer drill that can also be used for everyday drilling and driving, then you will need to evaluate the possible uses.
This is the key feature of a hammer drill. When the power tool is set in hammering mode, in addition to the rotational motion, pulsating force is applied axially. This hammer blows are slightly different than in impact driver or impact wrench where the impact force acts radially.
If you are working with concrete, masonry, or similar materials, then you will need a hammer drill or rotary hammer. For this purpose, you can avoid getting a standard drill assuming most of your work is with hard materials.
Size and Weight
One of the downsides of using a hammer drill when replacing a standard drill is the size and weight of the device.
If you are punching through concrete to create holes for conduit, then a hammer drill makes sense. But if you want to drill a hole in plaster to hang a picture frame, then a hammer drill is overkill. This is because the tool is considerably larger and heavier compared to a standard drill. You can quickly wear down using a hammer drill when a much smaller regular drill will do the job.
Hammer drills are expensive. You might argue that this power tool is a specialty item. That is, it is worth the cost if you are frequently using it on masonry or concrete. But for occasional tasks, you are probably better off renting a hammer drill and sticking with a standard drill for everyday use.
Can you use a hammer drill as a regular drill? Yes, you can.
But do you want to use a hammer drill in the place of a regular drill? That is a more complicated answer.
If you are an independent contractor who works with masonry or concrete as part of your profession then yes, a hammer drill is for you. It can also be used on the job to drill holes in softer materials which avoids having to carry a standard drill.
But for those who rarely, if ever need to punch holes into masonry, concrete, or similar materials, then you might want to skip buying a hammer drill.