Need to drill into a thick, brick wall? Or fit new flooring? Or screw something into concrete? Hammer drills are designed for more heavy-duty work than your average household tool. They use a powerful hammering motion that increases the force when the drill bit is rotating, for those times when you need a bit more oomph.
toolsThey will generally double as a normal power drill - you can turn off most hammer functions - and some combination drills have settings for the likes of impact-driving and screw-driving.
Some on this list, the SDS (Slotted Drive System) drills, have a different chuck design (the mechanism that attaches the drill bit in place) and special drill bits that deliver a stronger, more accurate blow for extra heavy-duty work.
If you opt for a cordless machine, be sure to check the battery charge time, as well as the number of batteries included. Some cordless ones don’t come with a battery full stop, meaning that you’ll have to buy one separately. This can bump up the price considerably, although they are usually compatible with other tools made by the same manufacturer.
Most here are around 18 volts, but you’ll find that machines will vary depending on their capabilities. We tested them at home on for a range of tasks, from drilling through concrete walls to fit rawl plugs, to putting up curtain rails and pictures. When drawing up this list, we looked for performance for the price, ease-of-use, ergonomics and durability to find the best drill for the job.
1. Worx WX372: £79.99, argos.co.uk
This compact and well-thought out cordless machine makes light work of masonry. The 20-volt lithium battery stays charged for at least a year and you can use it with other Worx tools, too.
2. Powerbase 14.4V: £29.99, homebase.co.uk
At 14.4 volts, this one is not as powerful as the more expensive models on the list, but for light masonry work and woodwork, it does the job well, while the screwdriver function makes short work of putting together furniture and fitting flooring. You get a good quality set of bits and the battery life is fantastic.
3. Ryobi CRH1801M: £121.95, amazon.co.uk
If you have hard masonry to get through, consider an SDS-plus (Slotted Drive System) drill, a setup where bits do not need to be held in place with a chuck key (like they are on standard drills), so power is directed super-accurately. Despite the bulkiness, this is designed to be particularly comfortable to hold when working in small areas or over head. Price is for body only so you’ll need to buy batteries and charger separately.
4. Makita DHR242Z: £166.96, amazon.co.uk
This cordless SDS-plus drill is solidly built, compact and has a good grip on the handle. It’s the perfect weight and extremely powerful. It works for ages on one charge, so even if you’re chiselling into concrete walls for most of your day, it is brilliant. Well worth the money.
5. Mac Allister Cordless 18V Li-Ion Combi Drill: £160, diy.com
This three function, SDS-plus drill (rotary only, hammer and chisel) has a comfortable handle and a particularly stable feel to it, working a treat even on some very thick materials that we tried it on. It comes with two lithium batteries, plus a charger and a whole bunch of other handy accessories.
6. Bosch PBH2100: £69.98, amazon.co.uk
Ideal for working through concrete and masonry, chiselling and drilling, anywhere around the house, this SDS-plus machine is lightweight, slimline and compact, with a soft grip so you can keep using it for longer.
7. Stanley Fatmax FME142K: £119.99, homebase.co.uk
Built to an industrial standard, despite the relatively low price tag, this corded hammer drill offers huge strength and is wear resistant as well as durable against drops. The two gears mean you can increase the torque in the lower speed setting, giving a better overall performance for delicate materials like tiles or glass. The lead is nice and long too.
8. Xtreme 14.4V: £39.99, homebase.co.uk
If you need a small machine for drilling holes around the house and garden into masonry, wood, metal and plastics, this will serve you well. And for under £40, it’s a bargain. It’s not one for seriously heavy-duty jobs, but for hanging pictures and putting together flat-pack furniture, it’s a winner.
9. Dewalt DCH274: £420, ctsironmongery.co.uk
The brushless motor on this SDS-plus drill stops the friction that can cause loss of energy in other machines. This, combined with the advanced battery power, means it keeps going for much longer than some cheaper models. It also benefits from a quick change chuck for easy switching between the hammer, rotary-hammer and rotary-only applications. So whether you want to do light chiselling in plaster or tiles or drill through wood and metal – even if it’s incredibly tough - it’s absolutely brilliant.
The Makita DHR242Z ticks every box for most people’s needs and is wonderfully compact, solid and powerful. If that’s too pricey, or you’re not going to use it that much, the Bosch PBH2100 is also does most jobs with ease.
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