Drilling is the biggest part of any build job. Both the material and the size of the hole are going to determine which drill bit is right for the job. When drilling into concrete/masonry material, there are a few key distinctions and things you should know before choosing your masonry bit.
How Concrete/Masonry Bits are Different
Not all bits are created equal. Let’s look at how they differ.
Concrete and masonry bits are specifically constructed for the heavy duty pounding that they get from everyday use in hammer and rotary hammer drills. They are not interchangeable with bits designed for glass, wood, tile, and metal surfaces unless you are using a specialty multi-material bit.
Masonry shanks, designed to fit a 3-prong hammer drill chuck, are usually round or hex-shaped and smooth. Concrete bits have notched shanks to fit the slotted-design systems of rotary hammer drills. This includes slotted design systems (SDS, SDS-Plus, SDS-Max, or Spline) chucks.
In order to drill through hard surfaces, such as concrete, stone, even rebar, concrete tips are made from one of the world’s hardest materials: tungsten carbide. Masonry tips are made from hardened steel and heat-bonded to a black oxide coating to retain lubricants and prevent overheating.
Concrete and masonry use different drills. You can use some masonry bits in a standard drill for small, low impact jobs with good results, but for the best results, use a hammer drill. To drill concrete, use the pulverizing action of a rotary hammer drill with a spline or slotted design system to get the job done quickly, easily, and perfectly.
Concrete/Masonry Bits Types
Finding the right bit type can be the difference between a costly mistake and a precisely drilled hole. With concrete, the stakes are considerably higher than with other materials. White Cap has the right tools and equipment for your jobs, no matter how big or small, and in the quantities you need.
At White Cap Supply, we have an incredible selection of concrete and masonry bits, plus standard bits, to get your jobs done with perfection. Visit WhiteCap.com to order, find your nearest retail store, or discuss your project needs with one of our knowledgeable, experienced sales people.
Job Specs Determine Best Bit
Don’t let anyone try to underestimate how time-consuming, confusing, and complicated it is to draw up project specs, determine the right tools and equipment for each phase, as well as determine how many of which bit, right down to the best performing ones to achieve maximum profitability and client satisfaction.
Analyzing Your Project
Choosing the right drill bit depends upon many factors: project size, number of holes to drill, hole depth, schedule, crew size, and drilling material.
Drilling in light concrete, brick, or artificial stone? Whether it’s a few holes or hundreds, choose any masonry drill bit, but always invest in the best materials you can afford such as black oxide-bonded tips. Cheap, inferior bits quickly overheat, resulting in more downtime, increasing labor costs, and raggedy substandard holes, not worthy of your reputation for quality.
Drilling in hard concrete or natural stone? Use tungsten carbide tips or full-headed concrete bits. They’re constructed for the toughest jobs, and drill hard surfaces better, faster, and more efficiently and will last longer than non-carbide bits.
What Kind of Drill to Use
Choosing drill bits that are compatible with your drill is critical. Do you have a hammer drill or a rotary hammer drill? What kind of chuck? And check your drills to make sure there are no frayed cords, and take care of any drills that need to be replaced.
Hammer drills have a 3-prong round or hex-shaped smooth chuck, but rotary hammer drills use a slotted design system (SDS, SDS-Max, or SDS-Plus) or a spline chuck.
Choosing a Masonry Bit
Now that you’ve drawn up your project specs, you’re ready for the most enjoyable part of any job: shopping for tools, in this case, bits.
Here is a quick refresher guide to help you choose the right concrete bit.
- Choose the highest quality you can afford.
- Determine the diameter and depth needed for every hole at each stage of your project and select the appropriate quantity.
- Most bits have a 2-cutter sided, usually ½” or smaller, good for drilling in masonry and unreinforced concrete. Use X-shaped 4-cutter heads for larger projects and tougher surfaces. For best performance and cost-efficiency, opt for full-head carbide 4-cutter which also cuts through rebar.
- Match your SDS-Plus or SDS-Max rotary hammer with the same bit connection; they’re not interchangeable. As the drilling hole diameter increases, consider trading in your SDS-Plus for a SDS-Max.
- Use hollow-core bits along with universal shrouds or onboard dust extractors to collect dangerous silica dust while you drill and to meet OSHA guidelines.
Don’t Ignore Silica Dust
Silica dust inhalation is a dangerous byproduct of drilling in sand, stone, rock, brick, block, mortar, concrete and other such materials. The dust, which hangs in the air on job drilling sites, penetrates the lungs, stomach, and bones which may result in silicosis, cancer, or even death.
OSHA has established guidelines to prevent the inhalation of this deadly dust and provides updated information how to control dust, tools to help harness the dust, a list of safety equipment and clothing.
Recommended guidelines include but are not limited to:
- Everyone drilling concrete or masonry, or working where concrete or masonry are being drilled, should wear dust masks approved to protect against silica dust inhalation.
- Make sure areas are well ventilated.
- If possible, wear a disposable uniform.
- Wash hands and face after exposure and before eating.
- Parking areas should be away from drilling sites and dusty areas.
- Hollow core bits, dust shrouds, and onboard dust collection attachments offer safe ways to collect dust and protect your crew.
- If possible, use wet methods to help keep dust from becoming airborne.
- Whenever possible, set up enclosures to isolate or limit dust.
- See OSHA for complete regulations.