What are Rotary Hammers?

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  • Written By: Michael Straessle
  • Edited By: Lindsay D.
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2019
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The best way to learn what a rotary hammer is would be to learn the different uses for rotary hammers. Rotary hammers have been around for years and have only improved over time. The most common use for rotary hammers is drilling into concrete, or something as hard as concrete. The rotary hammer looks like a huge drill and it is considered to be in the category of that tool. However, it is called a hammer because it moves the rotary bit in and out at a rapid speed in order to break up the concrete while drilling through it. When houses are damaged by termites, the termite technician will use a rotary hammer to drill through the slab in order to pump the right chemical below the bottom of the slab to kill the termites. But they are used for much more than just pest control.


When concrete needs reinforcement, rotary hammers will be used to drill holes so they can add rebar. Demolition squads will use them for strategically placing charges to implode a building or to move a certain amount of rock from a mountainside. Because you can purchase almost any type of bit for this tool, it becomes a versatile piece of equipment. For example, one accessory for this tool looks like a shovel. When the rotary hammers motor is turned on, the in and out motion will give you the same function as stepping on the edge of a shovel to dig a hole. While the accessory is not as big as normal shovels, they will remove dirt or clay if from an area that does not allow for a regular size shovel.

Rotary hammers are also called rotary drills because they can be switched back and forth from drill to hammer. The rotary hammer, with a handle that protrudes out of the side for a firmer grip, is a great tool when working over your head. Imagine drilling a hole through a concrete slab over your head and all you have is a star-chisel and a hammer. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the star-chisel, they are well known as a knuckle-buster as missing the end of the chisel with the hammer was quite common. The movement that the hammer option provides produces more than a thousand blows per minute. That is a lot of power whenever you are holding the end of it and you are trying to penetrate very tough concrete.

Common sense tells us, even if we have never used rotary hammers before, that there will be a great deal of vibration going on while using it. Given that it moves in and out while it rotates into the concrete there is always the chance of the drill bit striking something very hard and stopping the motion of the bit immediately. This can cause damage to your wrists, as the drill bit becomes immovable but the motor of the rotary hammer is still turning. This is why it is highly recommended that you grip the drill firmly before beginning the drilling process. Therefore, the first time user will want to handle the rotary hammer while it is on to see what it is like. Remember to wear a good pair of work gloves to prevent blisters.


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