Effective Steps on How to Use an SDS Drill

how to use an SDS drill

Last Updated on July 12, 2021

While you may never have heard of an SDS drill, you may actually know it as an alternative name, which is a hammer drill. What you have here is often a cordless drill, complete with a hammer mechanism that is perfectly designed for some heavy-duty work.

But how to use an SDS drill? Well, there are a few key points that you should keep in mind when it comes to using one, so let’s walk through the various steps that will make life a whole lot easier.

Also, SDS stands for Slotted Drive Systems, but most people know them as a hammer or chisel drills.

The Basics of SDS Drills

Just before delving into the steps, let’s look at the basics of hammer drills.

Hammer drills are going to be able to burst through tougher materials. SDS drills take things to a whole new level. If you are looking for something to go through concrete, brick, and even steel, an SDS drill is the tool.

They do this by taking both the rotary action you see in a normal drill and matching it with a hammer action. An SDS drill is different, though with how the hammer part is delivered, but more later.

The SDS Drill Chuck

One area where SDS drills are different to standard drills is when it comes to the chuck. It is specifically designed to be adapted for specialist SDS drill bits. These drill bits come with indentations on the shank part to make sure they fit perfectly with the chuck.

How the Drill Bit Works

With SDS drills, you will tend to engage the hammer action as that’s required to break through tough materials. When engaged in hammer only mode, the hammer part moves the bit in a forward motion. But don’t stress about the bit falling out.

That’s because this slotted drive system also contains ball bearings for added security. These ball bearings lock the bit in place, so it cannot come out even when you have to drill firmly into masonry.

More on the Hammer Motion

No matter if you are drilling deep holes or shallower holes, the hammer motion will work in the same way with this slotted drive system.

With the rotary hammer, it’s all driven by a piston in the drill. This piston is responsible for pushing and pulling the bit forward in a back and forth motion. It can only do this via a significant amount of power and force, and this is where they surpass standard rotary drills or even most rotary hammers.

SDS Drills Can Perform Tasks Different to Other Drills

One important thing to remember about SDS drills is that they can deal with different tasks from most other drills. It is all thanks to the SDS drill bit attached to the tool and the power and force behind it. This is where it outperforms a normal drill, but only when you know how to use it correctly.

Step By Step Guide On Using an SDS Drill

Step 1: Understanding the Modes

With SDS drills, you need to understand the various modes. You have not only a hammer mode but also a rotary mode and a rotary hammer mode combined. These modes are used for various purposes, so knowing which one is best for the material in question is essential.

If unsure, check the manual for your model. That will tell you more about what the modes on your rotary hammer drill can be used for.

Step 2: Understanding the Drill Bit

You need to add the correct drill bit to ensure that the drill is then capable of doing the job. There are various SDS drill bits out there that will be suitable for different jobs, and then there’s the size of the drill bits depending on the size of the drill holes you are hoping to make.

Step 3: Changing SDS Drill Bits

To change SDS drill bits, you need to deal with the SDS chuck. It is the same as other drills out there on the market, and you should also know that SDS drills can also use normal drill bits.

Open up the chuck to widen the gap, and slide out the old drill bit. Drop in the new drill bit and tighten up the SDS chuck to secure everything in place. It takes seconds to do, but pull on the drill bit to ensure that everything is tight.

As an extra tip, wipe the end of the bit before you insert it into the chuck. It can give it a stronger hold.

Once you have completed these few steps, you are ready to go.

Using Your SDS Drill

So when it comes to using SDS drills, you should be aware that you can also use them as a normal percussion drill for drilling holes. That means you can drill holes in wood, metal, and other materials with ease.

However, it’s with masonry where SDS drills really do come into their own.

Rotary Mode

We mentioned different modes earlier, and they are all used for different reasons. For example, the rotary mode is best when you want to drill holes through softer material such as wood or even plastic.

If this is what you are using it for, we recommend using a normal drill chuck along with an SDS drill bits adaptor. That will let you use standard drill bits on your SDS drill.

Hammer Mode

The hammer mode is where things get interesting with SDS drills. SDS drills work when it comes to the hammer mode because it pushes up the power to a whole new level. The vibrations and drilling become far more efficient, and that’s when you can use SDS drills to get through a concrete block with ease.

When in the hammer mode, you will find that most hammer drills can perform a huge number of tasks that a standard drill just cannot cope with.

As an example, you can fit a chisel blade to your SDS drill that can then be used to remove ceramic tiles in an instant. It becomes so much more than merely smashing through things.

Drilling Masonry

Whether you are using cordless SDS drills or one plugged into the mains, you will quickly discover how SDS drills reign supreme when it comes to drilling into masonry. It is due to the rotary hammer bits and the hammer action itself, which comes with SDS max drills.

The brute force that comes from the hammer action can burst through thick masonry with apparent ease. Yes, you still need some force from your side of things, but SDS drills make quick work of brick walls or stone.

Larger SDS Drills Are Available

But what if you have a larger destruction job lined up, such as breaking up a pavement? Well, normal drilling will do nothing here, and cordless drills don’t stand a chance.

However, large 5kg SDS drills can make a huge difference. These tools have the weight, power, and appropriate drill bits behind them to smash through even thick concrete. However, this should only be used for small areas. After all, this is the sort of job that a jackhammer is designed for.

Things to Remember When Using the Drill

As with your standard hammer drill, or any standard drill in general, there are several things that you should keep in mind before using it.

Safety Equipment

The problem with SDS drills is that they do have the real possibility of throwing up debris at speed and force. You need to have safety gear on before you get started. Safety glasses, a dust mask, and even possibly ear protection is advisable.

Don’t Apply Too Much Pressure

Be careful with the amount of pressure you apply with this tool. This is especially true when drilling a pilot hole. You want to use the drill to start to puncture through the material without throwing up all sorts of concrete dust or sawdust in an instant.

The weight and power of the drill will get through the material. It doesn’t need too much help from you.

Check For a Power Supply

As you are using this drill for hard materials, it means you will be drilling into walls regularly. For that very reason, you need to check for electrical cables before starting. You will find it very easy to burst through the wires or cables with this drill.

Maintaining Your Drill

The final thing for us to discuss is how you maintain your drill. It is essential if you want it to continue to function as well as it should.

After drilling, remove any debris from the end of the bit. Also, do the same from other parts of the drill. Dust and debris cause problems over time, so cleaning your drill will stop this.

Keep an eye on the chuck and that it remains tight. If a bit is damaged, remove it before it can cause damage to other parts of the drill.

Of course, there’s nothing different regarding an SDS drill compared to other cordless combi drills regarding maintenance.

Do You Own an SDS Drill?

So, that is how to use an SDS drill, and as you can see, it’s very easy to do. The main thing is to keep in mind that this drill is used for tougher materials compared to a regular drill. The hammering action is outstanding, and it’s no surprise that it’s viewed as a mini jackhammer by some.

If you have hard masonry that you need to smash up to remove, or any other hard materials, standard drill bits will not work. Instead, leave this drilling to SDS drills, and see the difference it makes.

They are handy tools to own if you plan on doing some heavier projects at home. If this is the case, then investing in one is a good idea. They don’t have to break the bank, but the drill bits can be a bit specialised, but the difference they make to the end result will make it worth your while spending that bit extra at the outset.

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