A hammer drill contains a cam like system that provides a thrust pulverizing motion to the bit being used. These thrusts are measured in what’s called BPM or blows per minute. 

On average hammer drill blows per minute are around 3,000BPM. That’s a lot if I must say myself. So to really break down what a hammer drill has going on. Think of yourself using a normal drill. 

Ok? then think of someone slapping the back of that drill or hammering on it toward the direction your drilling. 

That’s the effect that’s happening at a rate of 30,000 BPM in that little tool. These blows per minute are in no means large but definitely powerful enough to help get you through tough materials you could be possibly working with.

History Of The Hammer Drill

I found the history of the hammer drill quite a neat story. It could be however because I’m such a tool nerd. So I wanted to share what I could find on the history of the hammer drill in my research for this article. 

The hammer drills first ever debut was in China during the Han dynasty. Holes were being drilled up to 3,000ft in this era. No, I didn’t add an extra “0” in that. 

The Chinse were able to accomplish this feat in drilling this massively deep holes back simply using strings and rocks. 

Rocks were raised up a string and then dropped back toward the drilling tool and breaking the rock into fragments. This gave the Chinse ability to get to those massive depths they were achieving.

Modern History 

It wasn’t until the 1914’s when a modern company I’m sure you have heard of Bosch created the first hammer drill. 

Finally in 1932 Bosch put the hammer drill product into full swing and started mass production of what we recognize today as the modern hammer drill.

Bosch also 50 years later established itself in the hammer drill market, this time they produced the first battery-powered hammer drill.

So What Is A Hammer Drill Used For?

 Now that we know what exactly a hammer drill is and a little bit of a history lesson on its origination we can talk about what applications a hammer drill is actually used in. 

Hammer drills are used for drilling into hard surfaces, for example, concrete, masonry brick, and rock. Once these holes have been established concrete anchors can be added to the holes such as these.

Specialty screws created for concrete and other hard materials have been created. Needing the use of a hammer drill as well to be installed into the surface. 


With houses mostly being built on concrete pads rather than the more traditional crawl space style homes of the early years. Where sill boards are anchored to the concrete pad using a hammer drill. 

Hammer drills definitely earn their keep in modern-day construction sites all across America.

Hammer Drill vs. Impact Driver

In today’s big box stores drills tend to come with an impact driver. Impact drivers are completely different than a hammer drill. 

A few ways they tend to differ is an impact driver cam works in a rotational motion providing an extra nudge. Drivers like this are more used for driving lag bolts, removing nuts and other related tasks. 

With impact drivers, there is no drilling to be done with this type of tool simply just for driving screws and bolts.

Hammer drills cam technology, on the other hand, works more in an axial motion. As we discussed at the beginning of this article. You have to imagine someone hitting on the end of the drill trying to hammer drill bit into the work surface.

Hammer Drill vs. Rotary Hammer

So if you have done any kind of searching on the web for hammer drills i’m sure you have stumbled upon something called a rotary hammer. If so you probably are wondering what the heck the difference between these tools happens to be. 

A rotary hammer is a big bad mama JAMA dedicated for strictly drilling into concrete. Were a hammer drill is a smaller lighter duty version a rotary hammer. 


Rotary hammers are not normally necessary for the average DIY’er unless a lot of your projects tend to lead toward concrete drilling.

Rotary hammers can be rented for very reasonable prices and normal tool rental places and even the big box stores. Drill combo sets bought nowadays as we discussed in the impact section tend to include a drill that has a hammer drill built-in. This can normally fulfill the needs of the average DIY’er.

Features To Look For In A Hammer Drill

So if you’re in the market and now you know what a hammer drill is what are some of the features you might need to look for? These are features I would look for as a consumer. 

Determine if you need a rotary hammer or just a hammer drill. As we discussed above a rotary hammer is a much larger piece of equipment dedicated as a hammer drill. Where today’s modern drill/driver combo’s come with a feature to be switched to hammer drill mode on the chuck. So most commonly a rotary hammer is not suited for the weekend warrior DIY’er as it’s too much of an overkill.


Chuck size can be especially important depending on the type of work your doing. Chuck sizes commonly come in ½”, ⅝” or all the way to 1 9/16”  variation. Pick a size of chuck that’s going to match the size of drills and accessories you will commonly use.

Torque is equally going to important in your purchase of a hammer drill. Hammer drills come in a wide range of sizes and within those sizes torque changes throughout. Torque is measured in an ft/lbs value and of course, higher the number the more torque the tool produces. 

This is one area I think consumers can really under buy an overbuy with there purchase. Take the time to talk with your local tool rep. And let them know how you plan to use the tool to make sure you don’t waste your money.

Final Thoughts

Whether you choose to go with a hammer drill or rotary hammer this a tool that comes in hand when the task arises. Take the time to think about how you plan to use the rotary hammer or hammer drill and then purchase accordingly.

There’s nothing I hate more than is buying a tool and only using a 3rd of its capabilities when I could have just purchased the next model down and saved a little bit of dough.

Find your local tool rep have a conversation with them before you buy what you think you need. Save yourself a little money and a headache.

I hope you got something out of this article an be sure to take the time and pass it along to a friend that could use some of this helpful information. 

Possibly even learn a little history on the hammer drill in the process. Thank you for taking the time to read this article!

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