Rotary hammer, tips for purchase and use

A rotary hammer is the big brother of the hammer drill. Rotary hammers are equipped with a pneumatic impact mechanism. In contrast to a hammer drill, you do not have to exert force when drilling in hard materials. That makes it ideally suited for drilling in stone and concrete.

A closer look at the rotary hammer

With a rotary hammer, you can hammer in concrete as well as drill and screw in all possible materials. But since a rotary hammer is relatively heavy, it really only makes sense to purchase one if you need it for heavy-duty jobs. For drilling in wood, metal or softer stone types, you’re better off with a hammer drill or a screw drill.


A rotary hammer is equipped with an electro-pneumatic hammer mechanism. In combination with high impact energy, this ensures that you do not have to apply force even when drilling in the hardest materials.

The impact force of a rotary hammer is expressed in energy (joules). The higher the number of joules, the faster and more convenient the heavy drilling jobs will be.

SDS connection

Rotary hammers have a so-called SDS-plus drill connection with which you can change drill bits quickly and easily. Regular round shank drills do not fit in the drill chuck of a rotary hammer. If you still want to use them on your hammer, you can make them fit with an SDS drill chuck adapter.

Chisel function

rotary hammer with chisel

Many rotary hammers are equipped with a chisel function. You can switch off the turning movement and, the machine will only hammer. The chisel function is useful, for example, when making trenches for pipes or breaking out tiles. There are special chisels for sale for various jobs.

Choosing a rotary hammer

As with all power tools, our advice is to choose a professional machine. They are available from around 200 euros. Three things that are important for your choice:

How much power do you need?

How much impact you need depends on the material you are drilling in and how large the holes need to be. As a guideline, you can use:

  • For light drilling jobs, up to 20 Ø in concrete 2 joules or less
  • For medium-duty drilling jobs, up to Ø 24 mm in concrete 2-3 joules
  • For heavy drilling jobs, more than Ø 24 mm in concrete 3 joules or more

Battery or mains power?

makita cordless rotary hammer

Cordless working is always more pleasant, and there is a wide choice of cordless rotary hammers. There are also drawbacks to practical advantages. Cordless rotary hammers are generally less powerful than machines that run on mains power, and they are usually more expensive.

With or without chiseling function?

With a chisel function, a rotary hammer has a number of additional uses. Even if you do not need these for your current job, you never know how they will ever come in handy, so we advise on buying a machine with a chisel function.

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