More often than not, a hammer drill is mistaken for an impact drill. This is a common mistake, especially for the first timers in the fields of masonry and carpentry, or those who are not familiar with the tools.
A hammer drill is not an impact drill and each tool functions differently. But how do you differentiate one from the other? To give you a rundown of the differences between the two tools, listed below are some points of comparisons:
What is It
A hammer drill is also known by other names such as a rotary hammer, hammering drill and roto-drill. It is basically a rotating drill with a hammering action. This hammering action allows for a rapid and short hammer thrust in order for the hammer drill to pulverize moderately weak surfaces with the use of relatively small effort.
Usually, hammer drills are either powered by electricity or a battery. An impact driver, on the other hand, is a mechanical tool that creates sudden and strong downward rotational force that is useful in driving in screws and loosening nuts and bolts. An impact driver is the heavy duty version of a regular screwdriver with additional functions.
Purpose of the Tools
When it comes to purpose, the hammer drill and impact drill generally function for different reasons. The hammer drill, from the name of the tool itself, is used for drilling into hard surfaces like brick and concrete. It can also be used as a regular driller for the wooden and metallic surfaces when needed.
The impact driver, on the other hand, is used together with fasteners like bolts, screws, nails and nuts. It is mainly used for driving in screws and other fasteners into surfaces like wood or concrete. In more simple terms, a hammer drill is used for drilling into surfaces while an impact drill is designed for driving in fasteners into surfaces.
However, there are now available impact drills that can do some small drilling jobs just as there are some hammer drills that can also function as an impact drill.
A hammer drill usually comes with a large and heavy design, while an impact drill is usually stubbier and smaller. As the major difference between the two tools when it comes to appearance is the drill chuck.
A hammer drill has a drill chuck where different types and sizes of bits can be attached, whereas an impact drill or driver has none. In lieu of the drill chuck, the impact drill has a hexagonal socket that can hold an adapter and it is into the adapter – connected to the socket – which the bits can be connected.
How it Operates
When it comes to the mechanism, there is also a difference between the two tools. A hammer drill creates more pressure, compared to an impact drill, when being operated.
In addition, the hammer drill runs by vibrating in a forward and backward motion – different from an impact drill which goes into a rotating motion instead of a back and forth movement. When using a hammer drill, it feels like a very fast hammer is hitting on the material while driving the tool into a chosen surface.
Another feature of a hammer drill is an adjustable clutch which can be switched to prevent the use of too much power in case when there is a need to use the hammer drill as a regular drill – take for example metallic or wooden surfaces – in order not to destroy the material being drilled into.
This adjustable clutch, however, is not normally available in an impact drill – and as a consequence, it is more difficult to control the use of too much power.
Which Tool is Better
To answer this question, you have to ask another question – “Which tool will serve my purpose better?” The better tool is one that can fulfill your individual needs.
If you need to drill more often into different types of surfaces, then the better choice would be the hammer drill. If, on the other hand, you need a tool mainly to drive fasteners into surfaces, the lighter and more compact impact drill is the better option.