Miter Saw Vs. Table Saw – Which is Right for Your Needs?

guy using table saw cutting woodworking

If you are going to use utilizing a miter saw or a table saw for a project, it is crucial to understand the difference between the two. Those who do not have access to both types of saws but plan to take on a DIY project may be curious which is the best option for them, both now and in the future. Building up a toolkit of useful tools is something that often takes time but is important for completing projects in the best way possible.

In this article, we are going to look at the miter saw and the table saw so you have the information you need to choose which is the right tool for your needs. Not every project will have the same requirements so it’s important to choose the right option to ensure the accuracy of your project and determine how long the project will take in sum.

The Miter Saw

The miter saw is a specific tool that allows you to make cuts of various angles. The saw consists of a blade which is mounted on a swing, which allows for cuts that run left or right. A miter saw is often used for items like photo frames, door frames, and crown molding which require that more precise angled cut.

One of the most popular saws on the market today is the miter saw. This is also why many people question whether they also need a table saw if a miter saw is present. The name of the saw comes from the fact that it is traditionally used to cut miters. Remodelers, carpenters, and contractors often make use of this precision tool. It is capable of cutting plastics, aluminum, and concrete and can easily provide 45-degree angle cuts. There are multiple types of miter saws, which we will cover later in this article.

Pros:

  • Capable of producing accurate trim work in a limited amount of time.
  • Often considered to be a safe option than the table saw.
  • Miter saws are often more affordable than the alternative.
  • Kickback is traditionally not a problem.
  • Many offer a brake system to cut the power immediately.
  • Are a portable option that can be used or stored nearly anywhere.
  • Offers the best miter and bevel cuts possible.
  • Safer in operation than a table saw is.

Cons:

  • Less accurate for ripping or making longer cuts.
  • Many models have less power than the table saw.
  • May not hold up as well as the alternatives.
  • Does not cut large stock as well as the table saw.
  • Less than ideal for rip or lengthwise cuts.

The Table Saw

As for the table saw, it is also an extremely popular saw for many projects. Those who are do-it-yourselfers often own this saw because it is seen as being versatile and appropriate for many tasks. Just like with the miter saw, the table saw also comes in many different designs. The table saw is able to be used for many woodworking projects and is a versatile tool for those tasks.

You can expect to see a table saw as a common item in any work room and can be one of the largest purchases made by a homeowner or DIY participant. It makes a great option for many, but it is critical to understand the different types of table saws before purchase. Some will likely fit your needs better than others. As far as the options out there, you can expect to find hundreds of brands and types out there so there is truly something for everyone.

Pros:

  • Versatile tool that can do almost anything adequately.
  • Can work with long and thick wood with no issues whatsoever.
  • Ideal for nearly any sort of project due to higher power and larger range of options.
  • Can handle angles with a miter gauge and a dose of practice.
  • Does better with sheet materials than a miter saw is able to.

Cons:

  • Can cause you to experience kickback due to large range of wood that can be used.
  • Does not offer a large selection of guards.
  • Requires an extra tool in order to handle angled cuts well.
  • Significantly more expensive than a miter saw.
  • More dangerous than the alternative in most cases.
  • Requires a much larger workshop space.

Differences Between the Miter and Table Saw

Both of these saws are popular and useful, which may be part of why people become confused about which saw they should rent or buy. Knowing the differences between the two can offer you better insight into which fits your specific needs.

With the miter saw, only crosscuts can be done. It offers an accurate cut on boards of up to about 6 inches with a 10 inch saw and 8 inches with a 12 inch saw. This type of saw can be ideal for someone who is doing things like building decking or handling home renovations. The process itself will often take less time, which is a perk. However, it may not be the right option for other types of jobs.

When looking at the table saw, it has a higher level of versatility than the miter does. It can not only rip boards but also crosscut them. It is also useful for cutting panels. That said, where it has more versatility, it doesn’t always have the highest quality. It is the best option for someone who needs to do many different types of cuts and doesn’t mind if the cuts aren’t perfect.

The Tool for the Job

If you have a specific job that you need done, there may be a better tool for it between the miter and the table saw. Here are a few examples:

  • Ripping Lengthy Boards: Table Saw
  • Crosscutting Lengthy Boards: Miter Saw
  • Cutting Small Sheets or Crosscutting Small Pieces: Table Saw
  • Ripping Large Sheets: Table Saw
  • Making Precise Angled Cuts: Miter Saw

How to Use a Miter Saw

guy using miter saw

For very accurate molding and lumbar cuts, a miter saw is the right saw for the job. It is an essential tool for anyone who is involved in carpentry. Bearing that in mind, a miter saw needs caution to use. When you first power it on, you should not be surprised if it makes noises and jerks while it gets to the right speed. After using the saw, make sure you wait for the blade to discontinue spinning or you may experience spitting wood. It’s also important not to force the blade and instead let the saw do the work for the most precise results.

There are numerous types of miter saws on the market today for you to consider. A basic miter saw will crosscut and do miter cuts. There are also lighter models with inexpensive price tags that tend to be more comfortable to work with. You can also select to purchase or rent a compound miter saw which offers a large number of cuts, including the bevel cut. It also makes it simple to do cuts in various directions without any need to flip your project. In addition to those types of miter saws, there are also sliding compound miter saws and cordless models that may meet your specific needs.

Proper maintenance to a miter saw is crucial if you wish to get the most use out of your saw for many years to come.

How to Use a Table Saw

The table saw is seen as one of the most versatile tools to be found in a woodshop. It’s also a tool that has many productive uses. It can be used to square, rip, cross cut, miter cut, rabbet, dado, and add shapes to the edges of your wood. However, the table saw is also one of the most dangerous tools out there so being constantly conscious of what is going on when using it is a must. If your table saw is maintained regularly, it can be safer and more accurate for all of your woodworking projects.

Maintaining your saw begins with a proper tune-up, which will lead to smooth and easy cutting. If the saw is ill maintained, it can be more dangerous. One of the maintenance tasks that is of supreme importance is keeping the saw free of any rust. Every time you plan to use your table saw, you want to inspect it to be sure there are no issues or rust. Not doing so could lead to a poorly cut piece of wood or even an injury. Those who use the saw regularly will want to do maintenance after each use. If you use it less often, storing it correctly is extremely important to avoid rust buildup.

The humble table saw is best used for situations where you need to make numerous cuts that are all of the same length. This can be difficult to do by hand, but simple when you have the use of a table saw. In addition, it can prevent you from making errors after making dozens of cuts, which may not be realized until you have completed your cutting.

If you want a more portable option, the contractor’s saw is a great solution. It can be used both outdoors and indoors and has various safety features. There is also a benchtop saw which is even smaller. However, it needs the most care to ensure you are safe while using it. That said, the benchtop is not the least expensive just because it is the smallest. As such, it’s best to base your purchase on the features and size that fits your needs the best.

When to Use Each Type of Saw

If you are going to be cutting wood at a certain angle or a precise length, you may be better suited by the miter saw. Many carpentry projects benefit from the use of a miter saw over a table saw. This is especially true for molding and trim projects. In addition, the miter saw is fantastic for craft projects such as building picture frames. It offers quick accurate cuts and is best when time is of the essence.

A table saw may not be the optimal option for angled cuts, however it can do pretty much anything else. It is a versatile tool, which is impressive considering that it is stationary. A table saw can rip through large pieces of maple or oak in only seconds as long as you do not need special mortises or channels. It’s the best option for any large-scale products which require straight and long cuts. It also can accommodate a large selection of blades to add even more versatility into the mix.

What to Consider When Choosing a Saw

There are a few things that are important to be aware of before you select between a table and a miter saw. A person who is a hobbyist is likely going to have a much different set of needs than someone who is purchasing for a large shop. We’ll list the important aspects to think about below:

  • Power: Do you need professional grade tools or is power not a huge contributor in your projects?
  • Size of Project: Do you typically work with larger or smaller projects?
  • Versatility: Do you need the ability to make advanced cuts on a regular basis?
  • Workspace: How much space do you have to house your new saw?

If you have a smaller work space, you are going to need smaller tools, as well. For example, a contractor who is on the go from location to location every day isn’t going to want to have to store and transport a large table saw at all times if the cuts they make are typical rip cuts. Instead having a mobile option is more important to maximize the use of space available. However, someone in a large space may be happy to choose a large table saw which has significant power but also takes up a large amount of space in the workshop.

The same is applicable to miter saw usage. A homeowner who makes basic angle cuts may not want to worry about an expensive and complex tool. However, the woodworker might be the exact opposite. Part of what will determine the answer lies in the size of the blade required. If a miter saw comes with a large blade, that allows you to make longer cuts without taking up extra time. A smaller miter saw, on the other hand, will take up little space in general. The only way to know which is right for you is to think about your needs as far as your project and the size of the space you have available.

Which Saw is the One for You

miter saw vs table sawIf you are new to woodworking you may be forced to choose between the table saw and the miter saw. Which is best will depend upon what you are intending to do with the tool. Some people choose to first start with a miter saw as it is less expensive, takes up less space, and can carry out many cuts. However, a table saw can be more versatile and is often the first saw purchased for a new woodshop. For those who are carrying out projects at home, the added power and lack of needed mobility might make the table saw right. At the same time, the inexpensive nature of the miter saw might make it more attractive to some in the DIY crowd. It’s hard to say one is better than the other, when it really comes down to what your actual needs are.

In some cases, if your budget allows it, buying both gives you the best of both worlds. However, when you need to select on, think about the needed versatility and size of workspace available. In reality, the table saw can do everything that a miter saw can do, but it may not always do it quite as well. Those who need extra precision will want to consider the miter for that reason. In either case, you get a reliable saw that can help you complete projects with ease.

No matter which you choose, take some time to consider the different types and brands available. Look into which features are important to you and which saws those typically come on. This is the best way to ensure the tool you choose is right for the applications it will be used for.

Conclusion

When it comes down to it, the miter saw, and table saw are both fantastic options depending on your unique needs. Each tool is capable of doing many things well. The ultimate decision is going to boil down to an understanding of what you need and what each saw can provide to you. Think about budget, project versatility, and space to decide which is the right tool for you. In the end, the investment is your own and what matters isn’t which tool someone else needs, it’s which tool will best help you with your own projects. Take some time to consider the factors listed above and enjoy your new saw!

Best MIG Welder for 2019

best mig welder

Looking for a welder for your home workshop? Whether you’re restoring your dream car or fabricating something completely different, a MIG welder can be an incredibly beneficial investment. The technology might date back to the 1940s, but it’s ideal for lower-power consumption needs, although there are plenty of high-power, commercial-grade MIG welders out there that you might want to consider. Of course, it can be challenging to find the right welder – you’ll need to compare them on a head-to-head basis, feature to feature, in order to make an informed purchase decision. We’ve done the legwork for you. Below, you’ll find a rundown of the 10 best MIG welders on the market for 2019, followed by an in-depth review for each model. We’ll even break down what you need to know about buying a MIG welder for your home workshop in our in-depth buying guide later on.

Best Mig Welders Reviews & Comparisons

 NameMax Metal ThicknessVoltage RequiredMetal Types
Hobart 500559 Handler 140 MIG Welder1/4 inch mild steel115 voltsSteel, aluminum, cast iron, copper, brass, magnesium, titanium
Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Handy MIG Welder1/8 inch mild steel115 voltsMild steel
Goplus MIG 130 Welder1/8 inch mild steel110 voltsMild steel, cast iron
Hobart Handler 210 MVP MIG Welder3/8 inch steel115 or 230 voltsSteel, aluminum, iron
LOTOS MIG175 MIG Welder1/4 inch mild steel220 voltsMild steel, aluminum
Super Deal Black Commercial MIG 130 AC MIG Welder1/4 inch mild steel110 voltsMild steel, aluminum
Everlast Power MIG 200 AMP Stick Welder1/4 inch mild steel110 or 220 voltsSteel, aluminum, iron
Lincoln Electric PowerMIG 2103/8 inch mild steel120 or 230 voltsSteel, aluminum, iron
Hobart 500554001 Handler 190 with SpoolRunner 1005/16 steel230 voltsSteel, aluminum, iron
Forney 318 190 Amp MIG Welder3/8 inch steel230 voltsSteel, aluminum, iron

With our head-to-head comparison out of the way, it’s time to delve into the actual individual reviews to help you understand what each of these MIG welders brings to the table, and whether they’re a good fit for your particular needs.

Best 110V Mig Welder

Hobart 50059 Handler 140 MIG Welder

The Hobart 50059 Handler 140 MIG Welder is our top pick, and it earned that rank for quite a few reasons. While it might not be the most powerful welder on our list, or capable of welding the thickest metal with a single pass, it does offer some important benefits. One of those is the fact that it runs on household electrical current – it needs only 115 volts to do the job. It can also work with a very wide range of metals, including cast iron, mild steel, copper, brass, and even titanium and magnesium alloys. It’s the only one on our list to have those capabilities mentioned directly by the manufacturer, as well. It offers a 5-position voltage control selector so you can easily change metal thicknesses without creating a sputtering arc. The patented easy setup process ensures that you only need a few minutes to get things up and running. It also comes with a built-in gas valve, a 10-foot MIG gun with liner, a dual gauge regulator and gas hose, a 10-foot work cable and clamp, and more. The power cord also measures 10 feet, so you can easily reach projects outside the workshop. Note that this welder is MIG ready, with no additional components necessary. It’s also designed and built in the US, and comes with a limited warranty.

Best Mig Welder for Beginners

Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Handy MIG Welder

Compact and lightweight, the Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Handy MIG Welder is an excellent option for just about any home workshop. It is fully ready to go to work right out of the box, with no additional kit needed for MIG welding. It’s also rated for use with mild steel and cast iron, so it is the perfect option for work on automobile bodies, trailers, lawn mowers and other projects around the house. Note that this welder does fall slightly under the Hobart mentioned above in terms of reach – the power cord, MIG gun, gas hose and other components only reach about eight feet, rather than the longer 10 feet. This might not be a deal breaker, as it still allows you to use the welder virtually anywhere, with plenty of reach from the power outlet. Note that the manufacturer recommends this welder be placed on a circuit with a dedicated 20 amp breaker. It features four selectable voltage settings to ensure smooth changes while working. Note that this unit does not come with any shielding gas. You will need to purchase a cylinder separately. This unit is flux-core capable, and comes with all you need for flux-cored wire welding.

Goplus MIG 130 Welder

If you’re looking for a compact, easily portable MIG welder with decent capabilities, look no further. The Goplus MIG 130 Welder, or Wolf Welder, offers a lot of benefits. The body is made from stainless steel to ensure durability and a long use life. It also uses flux cored wire with self-released meetal0inert gas while welding to prevent oxidation. It’s capable of welding steel, as well as cast iron and other metals, and as such is a great choice for working on automobiles, lawn mowers, and similar projects around the house. Note that while the body is made from stainless steel, the handle is made from plastic. It’s thick, but it is not as durable as the rest of the body. The voltage selector offers four pre-set selections, and the body features dual air vents to keep it cooler during operation. It only needs 110 volts to operate, so you can plug it in and use it with virtually any home power outlet. However, note that the cords, hoses and cables only measure about six feet, which is shorter than the previous models on our list. This makes its reach a little more limited, but as the unit only weighs 35 pounds, you can easily combine it with an appropriately-rated extension cord to reach projects that won’t fit on your workbench.

Best Dual Voltage Welder

Hobart Handler 210 MVP MIG Welder

Another Hobart model to make our list, the Hobart Handler 210 MVP MIG Welder is a great choice for virtually any home workshop. Like our top-rated model, the 210 MVP offers a patented quick setup process to get you up and running quickly. It can also work with either 115 volts or 230 volts, making it pretty versatile. The gun packs 210 amps of power, and you’ll find that you can work with steel up to 3/8 of an inch thick. The unit also offers seven voltage settings and a convenient dial selector. The quick change drive roll technology means that you can easily replace wire rolls when they run out without the need for any tools. It’s also designed and manufactured in the US. However, this unit weighs in at a hefty 87 pounds, so while it is portable, it’s not all that practical to tote around. It’s better left in a dedicated position. The available rolling cart makes portability simpler, though, but it is sold separately. Note that this unit does not come with the SpoolRunner 100 spool gun – that is also sold separately. This unit does come with a 5/3/1 warranty from Hobart.

Best 220V Mig Welder

LOTOS MIG175 MIG Welder

With 175 amps of welding output, the LOTOS MIG175 MIG Welder is a powerful machine that delivers professional results. It also offers the ability to weld both mild and stainless steel up to 1/4 inch thick, and aluminum up to 3/8 of an inch in thickness. It comes with a high-speed MIG spool gun that measures over 10 feet in length, and will work with either 4-inch or 6-inch wire spools (industrial grade). Note that this works with flux core as well. With the additional power output, you can tackle almost any job – from basic auto body work to lawn mower repair to stainless steel fabrication or repairs. However, there are a few drawbacks with this MIG welder. The most important one to understand is that it requires 220 volt power. If you already have a 200-volt outlet at your workbench or in the workshop, this is not a problem. However, if you don’t, then you’ll need to have it wired and add another breaker to your breaker box. The welder is also relatively hefty, weighing in around 80 pounds or so.

Super Deal Black Commercial MIG 130 AC MIG Welder

Looking for an affordable welder that offers commercial-grade results, but in a form factor designed for a home workshop? The Super Deal Black Commercial MIG 130 AC MIG Welder might be the right option. It offers 130 amps of power, so it’s not as strong as the LOTOS mentioned above, but strong enough for most of your household repairs and hobby work. It uses flux core wire, as well as being gas ready. One of the perks of this welder is its weight – it’s just 38 pounds, which means you can easily carry it wherever you need to go. The built-in handle helps with that. However, the handle is made from plastic and is susceptible to breaking. The body itself is made from thin sheet steel for durability and reduced weight. It only requires 110 volts of power, so it will plug into any regular outlet you have, and the selector switch allows you to change to any of the four operating modes easily. The welder also ships with a welding facemask for protection, as well as a spool of wire, a chipping hammer, wire brush and a ground cord.

Everlast Power MIG 200 AMP Stick Welder

One of the most beneficial features of the Everlast MIG welder is the fact that it can operate on either 110 or 220 volts, meaning that it’s a great fit for pretty much any home workshop, whether you’re still using regular household power, or you’ve upgraded to a 220-volt system. This means that you have a great tool at your disposal, whether you’re fabricating a stainless steel water catchment system, or repairing a damaged mower deck. It also features a digital IGBT inverter to reduce weight and make the unit much more portable. This unit ships with a 10-foot MIG gun, as well as a work clamp and cable, spare consumable starter kit, and a Euro-style quick connector, which makes this unit compatible with a number of other MIG guns on the market if you decide you want to upgrade down the road. It also comes with the Ar/CO2 regulator. You will also appreciate the dual displays so you always have both the volt and amp readouts front and center, and the unit can operate in both MIG and stick mode. There’s a built-in burn back control that ensures the wire is always the perfect length for the next weld.

Lincoln Electric PowerMIG 210

The second entry on our list from Lincoln Electric, the PowerMIG 210 is a mid-weight MIG welder that offers some interesting benefits for a home workshop. Like the Everlast model above, this one works on both 110 and 220 volts, meaning that you can easily put it to work at home no matter what your setup might be like. It’s also relatively lightweight, weighing in at around 40 pounds, so portability is not a problem. The low profile handle ensures easy carrying without getting in the way, and the display is brightly colored and illuminated for easy visibility. This unit ships with a 10-foot MIG gun, as well as 10-foot cables with clamps, and a 10-foot power cord to help ensure that you can reach the best place to tackle your projects. However, note that this unit does require a spool gun, but it is not included (sold separately). Note that in addition to MIG welding, this unit is also capable of using flux core wire, as well as DC stick welding to tackle heavy-duty jobs around your shop. Note that while most of the body is made from metal, there are several plastic facings that may be subject to breakage.

Hobart 500554001 Handler 190 with SpoolRunner 100

Hobart makes their third entry on this list with the 500554001 Handler 190. This is one of the highest-powered options out there. However, it is only capable of running on 230 volts, meaning that it might not be the best fit for your home workshop. With that being said, if you’re purchasing for a commercial shop, or want to do commercial-grade work at home and are going to be upgrading your electrical system, this is a worthwhile investment. The Handler 190 offers 25 – 190 amp output, as well as seven operating modes with a convenient power dial and on off switch on the front. It can weld steel up to 5/16 of an inch in thickness, and offers a simple, easy setup process to get you up and running quickly. The kit includes a 10-foot MIG gun, as well as a dual gauge regulator and gas hose. You’ll also find 10-foot cables with clamps, and a 10-foot power cord so you can reach whatever you need to reach. Note that this welder comes with the SpoolRunner 100, which makes it capable of welding aluminum out of the box.

Forney 318 190 Amp MIG Welder

The final entry on our list is the Forney 318 190 amp MIG welder. It is capable of welding metals up to 3/8 of an inch thick in a single pass, and can operate in both MIG and flux core modes. The kit includes both the gas hose and the flowmeter you need, but it does not include the regulator, which is one reason it’s last on our list. The unit does feature a Euro-connect MIG gun, which makes it compatible with other MIG guns on the market. Unlike some of the options mentioned on our list, the Forney is only capable of operating with 230 volt power, so it may not be a good fit for a casual home workshop without an upgraded electrical system. With that being said, it does offer some interesting features, such as quick torch connect and spool gun capability. It also offers a full five/three/one year warranty similar to what you’ll find with Hobart products for protection and peace of mind. Note that this unit weighs 74 pounds, so while it is technically portable, you’ll want to invest in a rolling cart to spare your back.

As you can see from our mig welder reviews above, there’s a MIG welder out there for just about anyone’s needs and requirements. Of course, if you have never welded before in your life, or never purchased your own welder before, it can be difficult to determine what your needs and requirements actually are. What should you look for in a decent MIG welder? What are the most important features and what can you live without? We’ll explore those topics and more in our buying guide below.

Your Buying Guide

Whether you’re new to welding in general and want to be able to handle spot repairs at home, or you’ve welded before and are planning on opening a shop at your house, you’ll find that choosing the best MIG welder can be a bit challenging. There are plenty of models, and they all vary slightly from one another. Our buying guide will help you explore those options and understand what’s what.

What Will You Be Welding?

We’ll start our discussion with a question – what are you going to be welding? You’ll need very different capabilities for welding a rusted out lawn mower deck and building a custom livestock feeder out of stainless steel. So, someone with needs based on a hobby, or handling minor repairs around the home, will have very different needs than someone who will be producing professional work.

A simple way to think about this is what you’ll be most likely to work on with your welder. If you’ll be doing general metal frame (auto, motorcycle, boat, etc.) work, you’ll need a machine capable of handling metals from 1/16 of an inch to 1/8 of an inch in thickness. If you’ll be doing heavier repairs, you might need a machine capable of handling 3/16 of an inch to 1/4 inch in thickness. Automotive body work will require a machine that can handle just 3/16 of an inch, while dealing with trailer frames will mean having a MIG welder capable of tackling metal from 1/4 inch to 5/16 of an inch in thickness. Structural welding will require a machine that can handle 3/8 inch thick metal and up.

Your Power Situation

We also need to say a few words about your power situation. Most of the units on our list run on 110 volts, which is the standard household outlet power supply here in the US. This is the best choice for anyone with a general need for a MIG welder, but who will not need higher-power outputs. 110-volt-welders are quite capable, but they do not reach the heats that higher-end welders can, meaning that they may not be the best solution if you need to deliver professional results.

Some of the machines on our list can use both 110 and 220, and some are only capable of working with 220 volts. These are higher-end machines that put out a lot more power. Generally speaking, the more powerful the machine, the more expensive it will be. You will likely also incur additional expenses upgrading your power system in your workshop to 220 volts. The best advice here is that if you don’t need the extra capabilities, go with a 110-volt system to save some money.

Your Budget

The majority of the MIG welders we listed are affordable, and can be easily purchased even with a modest budget. However, it’s important that you account for other items that are not likely included with the MIG welder that you’ll need to work with it. These include things like:

  • A facemask
  • Gloves
  • Gas refills (or entire cylinders in some cases)
  • Wire refills
  • Regulator (if not included with the welder)
  • Welding-capable clothing (sturdy cotton or leather)

You’ll need to account for each of these things in your budget before you make your purchase.

Versatility – Welding Types

MIG welders can come in a couple of different configurations. They either work with argon gas, or they use flux core wire. Some of them do both. There are pros and cons to both types. For instance, flux core allows you to weld without the need for a cylinder, but it does create slag. You’ll need to chip that away and then smooth out the weld. Cylinder-based systems don’t create slag, but they’re more complex and have different maintenance requirements (gas refills). The better option might be to purchase a machine that offers both welding methods so that you can choose the appropriate type for your specific project.

Portability Factors

In a home workshop, it is unlikely that you will have a wide open service bay in which to work with your welder nearby. It’s more likely that you’ll handle smaller jobs inside, but have to go outside to work on larger ones. So, portability will matter a lot when buying a MIG welder. You’ll need to consider a few factors here.

Weight: Ideally, you’ll have access to a lightweight welder. The heavier the welder, the less portable it will be, and the greater the need for additional accessories that will ultimately increase your costs – such as a rolling cart. Most of the welders on our list are relatively lightweight, but some of them are definitely on the heavier side.

Handle: The handle provided is a crucial consideration for portability. Its height will determine whether you can carry it while wearing your welding gauntlets, or if you must remove them first. You’ll also need to consider the material of the handle. Most of the ones on our list are made from a plastic composite material to help reduce weight. However, this can become brittle over time and may crack or break.

Cord Length: Welders have a number of cords and hoses, and you need to ensure that you have the length necessary to reach the project you’re working on. Most of the Hobart welders we touched on in our reviews came with 10-foot cords and hoses, but many others were shorter than this, some considerably so. Make sure that you know not only how long the cords/hoses are that come with the welder, but what you need at your workshop.

What’s Included with the Welder?

When buying a welding machine, you should receive more than just the welder itself. However, the actual items included with your purchase vary a lot from manufacturer to manufacturer and kit to kit. Below, we’ll run you through some of the things that are most frequently included, as well as a few “nice to have” items that you may ultimately need to purchase on your own.

  • Gas Cylinder: If you will be welding with gas, as opposed to flux core, you’ll need a cylinder to attach to your welder. This should be included with the welder, but there are a few models on the market where this is not the case.
  • Torch: Make sure that your unit comes with a torch. If it does not, strongly consider buying another unit; if you’re sold on that particular one, make sure you purchase a torch to go with it.
  • Regulator: Most of the units we covered in our review come with the regulator you need to work with argon gas, but there were a few that did not. You also need to make sure that the regulator is argon/CO2 compatible (carbon dioxide is the most popular MIG welding gas, but argon is also used, particularly for titanium and magnesium).
  • Welding Mask/Helmet: Welding can be quite dangerous, particularly for unshielded eyes. Make sure that the kit you purchase comes with a welding mask or helmet to protect your face and eyes from light and sparks. However, understand that most of the welding masks included are lower-end products. You may want to set aside additional money to buy an upgraded one with advanced features, such as auto darkening.

A Word on Duty Cycle

We couldn’t provide a comprehensive guide without at least touching on duty cycle. This is a term that indicates the length of time you can weld at one go without letting the unit cool down. The longer the duty cycle, the more heat resistant the welder and equipment will be. However, longer duty cycles generally equate to higher prices, as well. You’ll find that most welder manufacturers list their duty cycle in the form of a percentage, and it indicates how much of a 10-minute period that you can actively work before the welder overheats and either shuts down on its own or suffers damage. So, if a unit had a 50% duty cycle, you would be able to weld for five minutes, and then let the unit cool for five minutes before beginning again.

Warranty Coverage

Finally, we need to touch on warranty. Many of the units we’ve discussed come with a 5/3/1 warranty. This means you get a five-year warranty on some portions, a three-year warranty on parts and labor, and a one-year warranty on other components. However, some manufacturers offer limited lifetime warranties, and yet others offer just a basic one-year warranty, or even no coverage at all.

In Conclusion

When everything is said and done, finding the right MIG welder for your needs is not all that difficult. Establish a budget based on your projected needs in terms of welding jobs and materials. Make sure you know what’s included with each welder, and that you’re able to purchase any necessary items that are not included. Finally, make sure you pay attention to portability, the length of the duty cycle, and the warranty provided on the unit.

Top 10 Best Miter Saws of 2019

best miter saw

If you are someone who works with any sort of woodworking or DIY projects, a miter saw could be high on your list of things to add to your work area. Miter saws allow you to do many different types of cuts, like angled cuts along the edge of wood, cross cuts, and angled cuts along the face of the wood. You can do things like cut lap joints, rabbets, and dadoes with this handy tool. These are extremely handy tools to have.

However, there are some things about a miter saw that could make it less useful to you. For example, non-sliding miter saws can’t cut very wide materials. Choosing the best miter saw is important to make sure you get the best use out of this tool. That is why we’ve reviewed some of the top miter saws on the market and put together this guide for you.

Best Miter Saw Picks for 2019: Reviews & Comparisons

Here’s a quick look at the best miter saws we found on the market today, before we get into an in-depth look at all of them.

 NameAvg. Star RatingNotable Feature
DeWalt DW715 15-Amp 12-Inch Single-Bevel Compound Miter Saw4.5Portability
Bosch 120-Volt 12-Inch Dual-Bevel Glide Miter Saw4.5More control for precision cutting
Hitachi C10FCG 15-Amp 10-Inch Single Bevel Compound Miter Saw4.5Great for beginners
DeWalt DWS780 12-Inch Double Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw4.5Professional-grade accuracy and quality
SKIL 3821-01 12-Inch Quick Mount Compound Miter Saw with Laser4.5Extremely user friendly with lots of helpful features
Makita LS1040 10-Inch Compound Miter Saw4.5Rock solid stability
Hitachi C12RSH2 15-Amp 12-Inch Compound Miter Saw with Laser Marker4Affordable option for a high quality saw
Makita LS1221 12-Inch Compound Miter Saw Kit4.5Cuts aluminum and wood
DEWALT DCS361M1 20V Max Cordless Miter Saw4.5Cordless and very safe
Craftsman 10″ Single Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw4Durable and affordable
Delta 26-2250 12-Inch Dual Bevel Sliding Cruzer Miter Saw4.5Huge cutting capacity and lots of versatility

Now let’s take a closer look at each of these saws. These are the top miter saws on the market today, and to test each of them, we put them all to the test. Each offers something unique to the handyman, DIY warrior, or woodworking professional.

DeWalt DW715 15-Amp 12-Inch Single-Bevel Compound Miter Saw

DeWalt is a leading name in the world of power tools, saws especially. This one in particular is perfect if you need to take your woodworking on the go. It is one of the most portable saws on our list, weighing less than 50 pounds, and having an easy-to-carry design. It is a precise saw, with an adjustable lock miter system that allows you to do all kinds of angles and precision cuts with ease. You can make bevel cuts of 48 degrees left, and three degrees right. This allows you to do quite a lot of bigger jobs.

If you prefer a compound miter saw over a sliding model, this one has one of the biggest ranges you’ll get for cutting different angles, from a compound saw. It’s a fast and powerful saw as well, allowing you to get 4,000 RPM from the 15-amp motor. It has plenty of safety features, such as a transparent blade guard that automatically lifts out of the way when you cut, and then returns to place when you aren’t cutting.

There is no laser on this model, and that may be the only downside. However, if you don’t like using the laser guide, or you have no preference, this may not be a downside for you at all.

Bosch 120-Volt 12-Inch Dual-Bevel Glide Miter Saw

If you need a miter saw that gives you very exact precision for cutting, you can’t go wrong with this Bosch saw. It features a patented axial glide system that Bosch is known for, which not only allows you to perfect control when cutting, it also takes up far less space in your work area than other sliding miter saws. Despite being very compact, it does offer you a lot of cutting capacity. It can cut 16 inches horizontally, 6.5 inches vertically, and 6.5 inches of crown. That’s a lot of space to make plenty of cuts, more than a standards 12-inch saw would offer.

It does offer an ambidextrous grip so anyone can use it with either hand, and it has an ergonomic design for more comfort. Bosch also equipped this saw with a dust collection system that includes a chute, a vacuum adaptor, and a bag. This means you can keep your space cleaner while you work.

This is not a portable saw, despite its compact size. It weighs nearly 90 pounds and doesn’t have an easy handle. It also does not have a laser guide.

Hitachi C10FCG 15-Amp 10-Inch Single Bevel Compound Miter Saw

If you are a beginner to the world of DIY projects or handyman tasks, this saw is where you should start. It’s easy to use, well-designed, and should last you for years. It doesn’t have a lot of fancy bells and whistles, and a more experienced carpenter may find it limiting, but the price and the features are perfect for entry-level woodworking.

It is made of lightweight, but durable steel and aluminum, and it has a very accurate calibration. It doesn’t have a laser guide, and the safety features are very basic, but the saw gets nothing but good reviews from beginners.

This isn’t the tool to use for larger projects, because it doesn’t have that wide of a range. However, it’s a very affordable option to get started with.

DeWalt DWS780 12-Inch Double Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw

If you need to be able to make professional, precise cuts that are smooth and perfect every single time, this saw is a great place to start. It tilts in both directions a full 45 degrees, so it can easily tackle crown molding and more. The miter base is very well-designed to work for professional use and is perfect calibrated.

This saw does lack a laser system, and the safety features are a bit lack luster – both things are indicative of the fact that this saw is really meant for professionals. It is one of the most lightweight professional miter saws out there, weighing only 56 pounds, and the high-quality materials mean this saw will last. It also has a great dust collection set up, and DeWalt actually guarantees that 75% of the dust will be collected by the system.

This is an affordable option for a professional.

Skil 3821-01 12-inch Quick Mount Compound Miter Saw with Laser

If you need a saw that practically does the work for you, this one from Skil is ideal. It has a variety of very user-friendly features, such as a laser guide to keep your cuts accurate, a clamp to keep your materials in place, and nine positive stops that make it very stable. The design, performance, quality, and price on this saw are all perfect compared to similar saws. It also is designed to help reduce vibration while you work.

This is a great tool for a more advanced hobbyist, or someone who wants a single saw to go from hobby work to professional work. The only real downside is that it’s a fairly simple design and lacks those cutting-edge features like an LCD screen.

Makita LS1040 10-Inch Compound Miter Saw

Need a saw that won’t budge once you put it in place? This is the model for you. It has a powerful motor and an awesome safety fence to keep you out of harm’s way, but the non-sliding arm is extremely stable while you are working. If you are looking for a great 10-inch saw, this is our top choice. It has lots of power, and the stability makes you more accurate. Power and accuracy are the two most important things, after all.

The only downsides are that you can’t get a stand for this saw, and that it doesn’t collect dust well at all. But beyond that, it has everything going for it. At under 30 pounds, it can be easily hauled around to jobs or other parts of a work area.

Hitachi C12RSH2 15-Amp 12-Inch Compound Miter Saw with Laser Marker

Do you want all the features of the most expensive saws out there, but need to keep your budget in check? This saw is one of the better options you could choose. It features extremely high quality materials, with a design that is meant to help you with accuracy. From the laser guide system to the sturdy and reliable body design, this saw is perfect for someone that is looking for a way to get the best of both worlds. Get the power and precision you need without breaking the bank.

It does have a sliding fence that keeps you safe while you work, and the handle is cushioned to help block out vibrations. This saw does suffer from a lack of great dust collecting, but beyond that, it’s an excellent choice when you’re looking to invest in something you can afford.

Makita LS1221 12-Inch Compound Miter Saw

Do you need a saw that offers a little bit more flexibility than other miter saws on the market? Check out this one from Makita. It can cut both wood and aluminum, and it has a very large capacity. It can cut through material that is four by six inches, which is exceptional for such a lightweight and small saw. The powerful motor rotates the blade at 4,000 rpm, so you can get through pieces faster.

This is also one of the safest models we reviewed. It features a blade guard, a lock button, an automatic brake, and both a vertical and a horizontal vice to keep the saw in place during use. It weighs only 37 pounds, so you could carry it with you.

DeWalt DCS361B Sliding Miter Saw

Need a miter saw that can go with you anywhere? This is a cordless saw that runs on a rechargeable battery, similar to a power drill. It doesn’t have a long run time, but it’s great for powering through jobs that take you away from electricity. It’s easy to use, and features a lot of great characteristics. For example, it has a smooth lever action, which a lot of miter saws struggle with, and it has tons of great safety features.

This model is only 36 pounds. The dust collecting system is not impressive, but otherwise, this saw is perfect for a professional or serious hobbyist that wants to be able to take their saw to the project.

Craftsman 10-Inch Single Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw

If you are tired of replacing power tools, look no further. This saw may be one of the more affordable options on our list, but it offers great durability. It’s a lightweight option that can be carried with you to other work areas, but it doesn’t sacrifice on a great build or awesome precision. It does have a laser light, and it can be used in a variety of ways.

This saw’s primary draw is that it will last a long time, and it is affordable. It isn’t the largest saw in the world, so it doesn’t slice all the way through thick wood. If you often do big jobs, you may need a different saw.

This saw is ideal for a homeowner that wants a saw they can trust will be around for years.

Delta 26-2250 12-Inch Dual Bevel Sliding Cruzer Miter Saw

The final saw on our list is ideal for people who do carpentry or woodworking for a living. This saw offers a ton of capabilities and has one of the largest crosscutting capabilities in any sliding miter saw. You can adjust the front bevel, you can set the machine closer to walls because of the guide system, and it features a smooth articulating system of guide arms that are very easy to adjust. Unlike other saws we reviewed, this one has decent dust collection as well.

However, it doesn’t come with many safety features, so keep that in mind.

Who Needs a Miter Saw?

While not every person needs a miter saw to use in their home, it makes a great addition to a workshop if you frequently work on wood projects. If you take part in any carpentry projects, this type of saw is your best bet. You’ll need to do angling at some point, regardless of whether you are putting up trim or framing a new shed. While a miter box is an option, it isn’t as capable or quick as a miter saw will be.

This tool is also versatile and can do many of the same functions as a circular saw or chop saw when it comes to materials that require straight cuts. Anything from 2x4s to 4x4s can be cut quickly and easily if you use a 10” or 12” blade. The reality is that most things related to carpentry will be easier with a this type of saw. You can do the typical quick cuts, as well as other cuts, depending on the saw that you choose.

However, if you are looking to largely rip apart large sheets of wood, this might be better done by a table saw. If that’s the case, be sure you choose an option with a tilt function, so you can also get your angling work completed with the same tool.

Anatomy of a Compound Miter Saw

If you aren’t familiar with a compound miter saw, you may be wondering what all of its components are and what they offer. The main parts of it include the on/off trigger, sliding rails, fence, miter adjustment, and bevel adjustment. We’ll go over exactly what every part is there for and how to use them to the best effect while woodworking.

On/Off Trigger

The trigger or handle for the miter saw might seem fairly self-explanatory but there are a few things you should think about. The handle is exactly what it says on the tin while also offering a way for you to pull the saw blade down onto the material you are using. This is also where you’ll find the trigger, which is how you are able to turn the saw on or off. Depending on the placement of the saw’s handle, it may mean the saw is better for someone who is right or left-handed. However, some miter saws place the handle in the middle, so anyone can use it with ease. It’s also worth noting that some saws have a vertical grip while others have a horizontal one.

Sliding Rails

You will only find sliding rails on a sliding miter saw and their purpose can be easily determined. Essentially, sliding rails offer a way for the handle, motor housing, and blade to move away from their set position and extend farther out. When you consider the size of the rails, you’ll want to select based on the width of the material that you intend to cut. It’s also important to look at the space needed behind the saw for the rails to properly retract.

Fence

The fence is the part of the miter saw which your material is pressed against to ensure a level and flush cut. You want a reasonably tell fence that will help ensure your saw is set at the relevant angle for whatever project you happen to be working on. The taller the fence is, the more stability you will have if you tend to work with tall materials. Having a quality fence is especially important when cutting things like base boards or large piece of crown molding. The best fence is a sliding one that extends away from the cutting area.

Miter Adjustment

The miter adjustment is crucial, since it’s literally why the tool gets its name. The adjustment on the saw allows you to change the direction of the blade and motor housing so you can do whatever type of cutting you need. However, the amount of adjustment will vary, with some moving up to 60 degrees in both directions. With a simple adjustment system, it will be much easier to work with different materials. It can save you a decent amount of time. The most important thing to look for is a system that offers multiple preset locking points, so you can adjust and move on.

Bevel Adjustment

The second component of a compound miter saw that makes it what it is would be the bevel adjustment. While the miter adjustment makes it a miter saw, the adjustment for the bevel turns it into a compound miter saw. In most cases, you’ll find that this adjustment is found on the back of the saw. What it does is provide the opportunity for you to change the vertical angle of the saw’s blade. If there is only a single bevel, you can tilt the blade either left or right, but a dual bevel gives you the option to do both. If you expect to be adjusting the bevel on a regular basis, you’ll want to look for a display that is simple to read.

Which Type of Miter Saw to Choose

There are two major types of miter saws: sliding compound and traditional compound. These are the two best types of miter saws that you will find on the market today. This has been true for over a decade at this point. While you may find plain miter saw or chop saw, there aren’t a ton of them out there. Even if you do manage to scrounge one up, the cost difference usually doesn’t justify choosing one. That is because with a compound miter saw, you can cut bevels, miters, or each both at the exact same time.

  • Compound Miter Saw – With a compound miter saw, you can make bevel cuts, which are essentially titled cuts. You can choose from a dual or single bevel saw with the former being more versatile than the latter. A dual compound miter saw is fantastic for those who need its features along with a good dose of accuracy when making cuts.
  • Sliding Compound Miter Saw – The versatility is even more enhanced with this saw option. However, it also tends to be the most expensive miter saw available. You get everything found in a compound miter saw along with a sliding arm to cut thicker and wider pieces of wood. The most common reason to choose this type of saw is due to the larger cutting capacity available from it.

You’ll also want to think about the blade size you need. Most of the time a 10” blade is going to be less expensive, but it does have limitations in terms of wide cuts. However, they are inexpensive and the saws that use them are often light and small, which is great for travel. A 12” blade is more expensive but is also going to be capable of more substantial work. If you plan to work on large materials, this might be the way to go. The great thing about miter saw blades is that regardless of size, they still offer the same level of precision.

> Check out our Miter Saw Buying Guide

Features

No matter which saw you choose, there are a few features you will want to have. Some are common and will be found on every saw, while others may not be. We’ll share some information on what the importance of them are and let you decide which are the most important while making a purchase decision for a high-quality miter saw.

dewalt miter saw

  • Laser Guide System – A laser guide will allow you to make the most accurate cuts, but not every system is of the same quality. It’s always best to read reviews and get an idea of what to expect before banking on it being the right miter saw for your needs.
  • Dust Collection System – This is sometimes just a dirt bag, which isn’t super effective. Other times you may find an actual collection system. This can help keep the area where you are cutting clean and prevent dust from entering your saw to keep it working well for a long time.
  • Motor Type – Making sure the motor is robust enough for your needs is another must. Most saws will have 10 amps or more of power, but you want the larger option if you plan to use the saw on a regular basis. Smooth start technology can also be a helpful addition to your saw.

Cut Types

The miter saw is fantastic as a tool since it offers the ability to make many unique types of cuts. This includes cuts perpendicular to the grain (cross cuts), cuts angled across the edge of your material (bevel cuts), and cuts angled across the face of your wood (miter cuts). With a sliding miter saw you also get additional depth control which allows you to cut material away for lap joints, dadoes, and rabbets when doing multiple passes. As such, there are tons of options with a high-quality miter saw.

However, it’s worth knowing that a miter saw cannot do absolutely everything. You won’t be able to make curved cuts or rip cuts, for instance. This tool also has limitations based on the width of the material that you use. This is also why sliding miter saws are so popular, as they offer more versatility in this case. With the non-sliding version, you are limited based on the blade size on what width of material you can work with. But when all is said and done, what a miter saw does, it does with a higher-quality and more quickly than other tools

Focus on Safety

While you may not enjoy reading about miter saw safety, it’s still an extremely important factor to think about. All of the fun of working with a power tool can be ended forever if you get into an accident. This is also what leads some woodworkers to become fanatical about safety while doing work. While the basic safety practices are the same for most power tools, the more you hear about it and put it into practice, the better off you will be.

The biggest safety factor when using a miter saw or another other power tool is yourself. You are the person who is operating the tool and you are the person who makes decisions before, during, and after using it. If you are someone who doesn’t put safety as a priority, having the best safety features isn’t enough to ensure you don’t end up injured while using it. However, those who make safety a crucial part of their use will have a better experience, regardless of extra safety features on the saw.

The basic safety precautions involve wearing protective eyewear, avoiding articles of clothing and jewelry that are loose, and doing a onceover of the material you will be cutting to find any screws, nails, staples, or other items. It is also recommended that you wear some sort of hearing protection to protect your ears. Those are the things you can do to keep yourself safe without even considering the features on the miter saw you choose.

When you do select a saw, you want one that has a blade guard at a minimum. This guard should be transparent and you should have no issues seeing through it. The reason for this is if it isn’t easy to see through, you might find yourself moving it out of the way to look at what is happening. This is the exact situation that a blade guard is made to prevent so it’s better to choose the right option from the start, rather than having a protective measure that you do not use.

Most modern miter saws will also include an electric brake, which is a fantastic safety feature. Basically, this brake is used to stop the blade quickly, so you don’t get injured before it completely shuts off. When you leave your blade in what you are cutting after the cut is complete, this adds to the quickness of the blade slowing and coming to a stop. On top of that, it also provides a higher level of safety and offers the best finish for the cut you made

Hammer Drill vs. Impact Driver

hammer drill vs impact driver

If you use power tools frequently around your home, you have probably run into this question before: What is the difference between a hammer drill and an impact driver? These two tools look similar, are operated in a similar way, and may, at first glance, seem to do similar things. But the truth is that these two tools each have a unique purpose – and there are other things different about them as well. From the way you operate them, to how much they cost, a hammer drill and an impact driver are different. Let’s take a close look at what each of these do, and when you should choose one over the other.

A Quick Comparison of Hammer Drills and Impact Drivers

Below, we’ll cover each of these tools in depth so that you understand exactly when you may need one or the other. But let’s do a quick comparison so you understand the big differences right away.

If you strip away all the things that make these two tools different for usage, and just consider the way they operate, you’ll see the major difference between a hammer drill and impact driver. A hammer drill operates in a back and forward motion – like a hammer. An impact driver operates in a rotary manner – like a screwdriver. And while many models of either type of tool allow you to use them as a standard power drill, this is really the bottom line. A hammer drill is a powered hammer, primarily made to drill holes through concrete and drywall, and an impact driver is a powered screwdriver, primarily made to drive screws into concrete and drywall.

Once you understand that major difference, you can start to see when you may need one or the other. However, there are quite a few other specifics that make these tools different, so don’t decide just yet. Now let’s take a close look at these two tools.

The Hammer Drill: What Is It, and Do You Need It?

What is a hammer drill? Well, have you ever tried to use a drill to create a hole in drywall before you inserted a plastic anchor? What if you needed to do something similar in a concrete wall? A hammer drill is the tool you’d use.

To understand exactly how a hammer drill works, let’s talk about the parts of a drill. A standard power drill is made up of around six important parts:

  • The grip is where you hold the drill. A hammer drill has this part as well.
  • The trigger is what you pull or press back with your finger to work the drill. A hammer drill is operated in the same way.
  • There is usually a switch that reverses the direction of the drill bit, so that it turns either clockwise or counter-clockwise.
  • There is a torque selection ring on the end of the nozzle, where you can choose how much torque you want the drill to use for a job.
  • Connected to that ring is the chuck, the part that holds the drill bit.
  • Finally, there is a drill bit, which is a long metal tool, inserted into the chuck, which cuts a hole into the surface you use it on. These can come in many shapes and sizes, but they are all designed to be rotated into the material in order to cut a hole in the material.

So, a hammer drill contains many of these parts, but it doesn’t work in the same way. Where a standard power drill is designed to rotate the drill bit into a material, a hammer drill is designed to pound into the material. Instead of choosing the torque with the selection ring, and seeing the drill bit, held by the chuck, rotate, you’ll be holding what amounts to a mini jack hammer. The hammer drill doesn’t have a solid nozzle leading to the chuck.

Instead, it has a motor, connected to what is called the housing. Inside the housing, the motor vibrates another part of the hammer drill in a back and forth motion, so that it pounds into the material. This part that is moved is called the bit or drill, and it works similarly to the way a drill bit does. It is also held in place by a part called a chuck. Instead of having grooves to help it cut into the material while being rotated, this bit features a blunt shape that is meant for pounding holes into a surface.

Where the chuck connects to the housing, where the torque selection ring would be on a standard drill, there is usually a second handle to help the user keep the hammer drill controlled. The back and forth motion can cause this tool to be a little harder to handle.

Some hammer drills are actually two-in-one tools that can be used as standard rotating drills as well. These tools will have a special setting for the hammer drill function that can be turned off.

Using a hammer drill isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s also not rocket science. You’ll need to set the depth for the drill bit. This means that you need to know how deep you want the hole to go, and use the depth stop tool attached to the hammer drill to help guide you.

Next, you need to be sure you are holding the hammer drill properly. It must be property balanced to keep your hole precise; otherwise, you’ll end up with a very big hole that you didn’t mean to make. Stand firmly and grip the hammer drill with both handles. Lean into the drilling as you use it and use your front hand to keep it steady and balanced.

Now, start slowly and make sure that you get the hole precisely where you want it. It’s a good idea to start extremely slowly and create the beginnings of the hole first, and then allow that initial beginning to keep the drill bit in place while you continue at full speed.

You don’t want to lean into the drilling with all of your strength, because the drill bit is already under pressure. It may break. Just use enough of your weight to keep the hammer drill steady. If you start to build up a lot of concrete dust, you can withdraw the drill just a little to remove some of it. If your drill is of good quality, and the bit isn’t worn out, you should be able to drill a two-inch-deep hole in concrete or bricks in less than 60 seconds.

You would choose a hammer drill if you wanted to:

  • Make a hole in stone
  • Make a hole in concrete
  • Make a hole in bricks
  • Make a hole in mortar
  • Or drive an anchor into any of these materials

A hammer drill should not be used with screws, ever. Let’s take a look at the tool for screws.

The Impact Driver: What Is It, and Do You Need It?

The one important thing that a hammer drill cannot do, is rotate. It pounds back and forth; but some things, such as screws, need to be rotated into a surface in order to anchor them in place. However, you may be thinking that you can do that with a basic drill, right? Well, not always.

Think of an impact driver as a much more powerful and precise standard drill. It offers more rotational torque than the standard drill, and also combines this with an extra boost of power with every twist. This means that it can drive screws into masonry, or surfaces where a standard drill just isn’t cutting it. It also means you can perform tasks faster than a standard drill might.

The parts of an impact driver include the grip, forward/reverse switch, trigger, and motor, similar to a hammer drill. But there are two parts of an impact driver that are just a little different.

First, most impact drivers include an LED light under the bit, to allow you to see the detail of your work. Second, the chuck on this tool doesn’t accept a variety of bits made for different jobs. The impact driver uses a hexagonal shank to cut into the surface that you are drilling.

Here’s a good way to understand how an impact driver works:

Picture turning something with a wrench. Every time you turn the wrench, you add a little bit of power to the wrench by striking it with a hammer in the direction that it is turning. Most people could hit the wrench about once a second if they were fast and accurate. An impact driver adds a boost of power to every turn of the bit 50 times per second. That amount of power is what allows the impact driver to cut through concrete, stone, and other tough materials.

There are a couple of downsides to this more specific tool. It doesn’t have a clutch, and it also doesn’t accept round shank drill bits. There are standard drills that are combination tools that can be turned into impact drivers, which may be a good choice for a carpenter or handyman that frequently needs to work with brick, stone, concrete, or other hard surfaces.

Using an impact driver is similar to using a standard drill. First, choose which bit you want to use, and then determine if you want to put the bit in a bit holder for some extra length. Then insert into the chuck and set the impact driver to forward. Turn on the light, set the bit where you want it, and carefully pull the trigger until the bit begins to turn. Keep in mind that this can be a noisy tool.

While you are working, you can start to increase the speed once you know for sure you are steady. Some impact drivers have a speed setting near the bottom of the grip, be sure to check this before you get started.

While it can seem like an impact driver is only for very specific cases that a standard drill can’t cover, they can be very useful tools. You may consider one if you have to do any of these things:

  • Remove bolts from metal structures.
  • Install giant screws in solid lumber, metal, concrete, and other hard surfaces.
  • Drive smaller, hidden fasteners with extreme precision.

Here’s one very important reason to have an impact driver. Do you do any sort of handyman or DIY work, and have arthritis or wrist problems? The torque control of an impact driver ensures that you never have to worry about the driver seizing and turning in your hand. This can protect your hands and wrists from painful wrenching and injury. This may also be a good option for professionals who want to limit job-site injuries for employees.

Impact drivers don’t take the place of a standard drill in every situation. You don’t always need that much power, and you could damage a more delicate material if you use the impact driver too hard. But it is an excellent tool to have if you work with anything tougher than drywall.

Impact Driver vs. Hammer Drill: Do You Need One or the Other?

If you are trying to decide between a hammer drill and an impact driver, the question really isn’t which is best for the job. Just by knowing what each does, that much will be obvious, since they both do different things. If you need it to do one specific type of job, get the one that does what you need. You can also consider renting this tool if you just have a single job to do, because they can be pricey.

However, if you are more interested in rounding out your tool kit with a highly useful and versatile tool that can help you in many situations in the future, that can be a harder decision to make. Start by asking yourself what types of jobs you do more of. Do you need to drive screws into solid materials, or punch holes into solid materials, more often? Consider making a list of all the types of jobs you do on a normal basis and see how many would be best suited by a hammer drill, and how many are better suited by an impact driver.

Finally, consider that these two tools are very complimentary, and you couldn’t go wrong by having one of each. If you are a handyman or DIY lover of any sort, you’ll find that both of these tools can be very useful to your tool box.

Check Out the Multi-Use Tools

Finally, it’s also a good idea to check out standard drills that can also be hammer drills or impact drivers. Be sure to keep in mind quality when it comes to these tools. The more a tool tries to do, the more likely it is that quality is sacrificed in certain areas. These all-in-one tools will be more expensive, but they can also save you a lot of space and time.

Consider a cordless option no matter which tool you use. This allows you to take the tool wherever you need it to go, no matter what.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that these two tools each do something different but important in the world of construction and DIY projects. Both are great assets to any toolbox, but you may not need both, or even either, depending on what you work with. Look around at your most common projects and you’ll see quickly which of these tools is best for you.

Top 10 Best Hammer Drills of 2019

best hammer drill

The best hammer drill ensures that you can power through cement just as easily as sheetrock. It gives you the oomph to tackle large jobs, but the portability necessary for small ones. Whether you’re embarking on a whole-home renovation, or are just sick of dealing with the limitations of your rotary drill, our selection of the best hammer drills on the market will ensure that you’re always ready for the occasion. Our handy comparison chart below helps you choose the right one. Lets get started!

10 Best Hammer Drill Reviews

 NameTypePower SourceHandle Type1 inch
Bosch 11255VSR SDS-Plus Bulldog Xtreme Rotary HammerRotary HammerCordedD-Handle1 inch
DeWalt D25263K D-Handle SDS Rotary HammerRotary HammerCordedD-Handle1 inch or 1 1/8”
DeWalt DW511 1/2” (13mm) 7.8 Amp VSR Hammer DrillHammer DrillCordedPistol Grip1/2 inch
SKIL 6445-04 7.0 Amp 1/2” Hammer DrillHammer DrillCordedPistol Grip1/2 inch
DeWalt DC725K-2 18-Volt NiCad 1/2” Cordless Compact Hammer DrillHammer DrillBatteryPistol Grip1/2 inch
Makita XRH01ZVX 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Brushless 1” SDS PLUS Rotary HammerRotary HammerBatteryD-Handle1 inch
DeWalt DCH 133B 20V Max XR Brushless 1” D-Handle Rotary HammerRotary HammerBatteryD-Handle1 inch
DeWalt DCD996B Bare Tool 20V MAX XR Lithium-Ion Brushless 3-Speed Hammer DrillHammer DrillBatteryPistol Grip1/2 inch
PORTER-CABLE PCC620B 20V MAX Lithium Ion Hammer DrillHammer DrillBatteryPistol Grip1/2 inch
Milwaukee 2702-20 M18 ½” Compact Brushless Hammer Drill/Driver BareHammer DrillBatteryPistol Grip1/2 inch

Now that we’ve gotten a bird’s eye view of the topic, it’s time to see what each of the models in our chart above brings to the table.

Best Rotary Pick: Bosch 11255VSR SDS-Plus Bulldog Xtreme Rotary Hammer

If you’re looking for a great all-around performer, then look no further than the Bosch 11255VSR SDS-Plus Bulldog Xtreme Rotary Hammer. Note that this is a rotary hammer, not a hammer drill, which means that it is a little larger than other models on the market. However, that size increase just means it’s that much more capable. This model can reach 1,300 rpm, with up to 58,000 bpm (hammer). While this is a corded model, the cord features an interesting rotating turret that protects it against bend-related damage, and also ensures tangle-free use. With 36 different locking chisel positions, you can optimize your work angle to suit any needs (ergonomics, tight spaces, etc.), and you will even find that there’s equal power in both forward and reverse. Choose from three modes of operation – rotary, rotary hammer, or hammer only. Bosch also backs this tool with one of the best guarantees in the industry – you get a full 1-year warranty, a 1-year service protection plan, and a 30-day money-back guarantee to offer peace of mind and protection. With that being said, this is one of the heavier models on our list, weighing in at 11.4 pounds. That means it’s better suited for those with good upper body strength, particularly for prolonged use periods.

DeWalt D25263K D-Handle SDS Rotary Hammer

Another excellent performer, the DeWalt D25263K D-Handle SDS delivers plenty of power, good ergonomics, and even includes anti-shock technology to help reduce the impact of use on your body to prevent overuse-related injuries (think carpal tunnel, and/or nerve damage from using the hammer mode for prolonged periods). It is also one of the few on our list to be made available with two different chuck sizes. Opt for the 1-inch chuck for standard jobs, or go with the 1 1/8-inch chuck for heavier duty needs. The DeWalt D25263K creates three joules of impact energy, transforming even the toughest jobs into quick solutions. The motor is an 8.5 amp, high-performance affair designed for reliability and performance, even in demanding conditions. Like the Bosch we discussed previously, the DeWalt also provides full power in both forward and reverse. It also features an integral clutch to help reduce the potential for high-torque reactions. The 360-degree side handle ensures that you always have a firm grip, as well as the ability to bear down while working, and the carrying case hides a depth gauge rod, as well. This tool also comes with a three-year limited warranty. It doesn’t cover as many potential issues as the Bosch warranty, but it is certainly longer

DeWalt DW511 1/2” (13mm) 7.8 Amp VSR Hammer Drill

The first pistol grip model on our list, the DeWalt DW511 is also our first actual hammer drill (the other two models we’ve discussed thus far are rotary hammers, which are very similar, but slightly different). This model offers a few interesting features and capabilities. One of those is the pistol grip for easier handling. It also includes a depth rod to ensure that you don’t drill/hammer too far into your substrate, as well as a 360-degree handle for better grip security and weight/bearing while using the tool. This tool features a 1/2-inch chuck, so it will work with most standard bits and other accessories used with household rotary drills. To ensure that you’re able to work on whatever you want, whenever you want, the DeWalt comes with variable speed settings, allowing you to drill or hammer faster or slower depending on substrate strength or toughness, as well as other considerations. The unit comes with a 7.8-amp motor for outstanding performance, rivaling some of the more expensive models on our list. It also features a lightweight design, coming in at just 4.3 pounds. Note that while this model offers a dual mode, it does not offer a hammer only mode. You can turn it to rotary mode, or rotary/hammer mode. Also note that this tool is designed primarily for use with light-duty concrete, masonry, tile and other hard materials (for hammer mode).

SKIL 6445-04 7.0 Amp 1/2” Hammer Drill

The SKIL 6445-04 is a powerful, lightweight tool designed for both homeowners and professionals. It features a conventional 1/2-inch keyed chuck, so that it can use most drill bits and other accessories designed for household power drills and similar hand tools. However, this also makes it a bit more light-duty in design, and should not be used on heavy-duty masonry, concrete and other hard materials. The SKIL hammer drill kit comes with a handy depth gauge rod, as well as a pivoting 360-degree handle to ensure a comfortable, firm grip and the ability to bear down easily while working. The trigger offers variable speed functionality so that you can customize your efforts to the materials you’re working on, and other considerations, and the 7.0 amp motor offers excellent performance for light-duty jobs. At just five pounds, this is one of the lighter hammer drills on the market, although it definitely weighs more than the DeWalt model we discussed immediately above. It also comes in under the DeWalt in terms of warranty protection – the SKIL only benefits from a one-year limited warranty. Of course, the price difference between the two models might be all you need to convince you that this is a worthwhile investment.

DeWalt DC725K-2 18-Volt NiCad 1/2” Cordless Compact Hammer Drill

Looking for a lightweight, compact cordless hammer drill that offers good performance without being tied to a power outlet? If that sounds like you, then the DeWalt DC725K-2 is a great option. It’s made right here in the USA, and it features an 18-volt battery system. It actually ships with two batteries, as well, so you can keep one in the drill and one on the charger, and then hot swap when you deplete the charge in one. This DeWalt DC725K-2 combines the functionality of a conventional rotary drill with hammer capabilities – you get 17-settings, plus a drill setting and the hammer function. Note that this impact drill rotates even in hammer mode – there is no non-rotating mode. The 1/2-inch chuck is a great fit for all standard bits, chisels and other accessories, and the unit only weighs 4.9 pounds with the battery installed, which helps reduce fatigue during use. The LED light on the front of the hammer drill helps provide better visibility in low-light situations, and the drill can actually reach 1,700 rpm and 29,000 bpm. In addition to two batteries and the drill, this also ships with a handy carrying case, as well as a battery charger.

Best Cordless Pick: Makita XRH01ZVX 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Brushless 1” SDS PLUS Rotary Hammer

One of only two battery-powered rotary hammers on our list, the Makita XRH01ZVX is definitely one of a kind. It combines the power and performance of a rotary hammer with the portability of battery power to deliver the ultimate in convenience and capability. Like the DeWalt unit we discussed above, the Makita features an 18-volt battery system. It features a 1-inch chuck (the industry’s first on a battery-powered), so it is designed for use with larger bits and chisels. However, note that both the battery and the battery charger are sold separately and are not included with this power tool (which is one reason it didn’t rank better on our list!). It does come with a handy vacuum attachment with a HEPA filter, though, to help dissipate the debris from your hammering project. That’s an important consideration, particularly for jobs taking place within a fully-constructed building, rather than in new construction where cleanup is performed after the build is finished. The Makita XRH01ZVX weighs in at just over 14 pounds, making it one of the heavier options on our list, but that weight does include the vacuum unit.

Best for Concrete: DeWalt DCH 133B 20V Max XR Brushless 1” D-Handle Rotary Hammer

The second battery-powered rotary hammer to make our list, the DeWalt DCH 133B is an interesting tool. It features a 20-volt battery system for better performance, a longer-lasting charge, and higher rpms during use. It also features the conventional D-shaped handle for a more secure grip in operation. The depth gauge rod helps keep you on track with your project, and the 360-degree side handle ensures that you can keep a firm grip on things while adding weight to the hammer operation. Note that DeWalt’s unique 2.6 joule motor actually offers faster hammering operation than most corded models can claim, and the compact size means that this tool is easy to fit within restricted areas. The DeWalt DCH 133B also features a 1-inch chuck, so it’s designed for use with larger accessories, and it is also rated for use with heavy-duty concrete, masonry and other materials. This power tool only weighs five pounds (without the battery), which means you get high-quality performance and professional results with less arm and hand fatigue. Maximum speed (no load) is 1,500 rpm, with up to 5,550 bpm for hammering. Note that while this is a battery-powered item, it is not sold with the battery or charger. Both are additional costs, which is one reason it ranks lower down our list.

DeWalt DCD996B Bare Tool 20V MAX XR Lithium-Ion Brushless 3-Speed Hammer Drill

The DeWalt DCD996B features 20-volt battery technology combined with three speeds to help ensure that you can complete your project quickly and easily. This DeWalt DCD996B comes with two 20-volt batteries, as well as a charger, and is able to reach 38,250 bpm in hammer mode. The newly designed motor offers outstanding performance, with 57% more operating time than older designs, and the compact form factor means that you can go anywhere, even into tight spots. The unit is also equipped with a three-mode LED light on the front for better visibility. Spotlight mode is a nice touch, and helps to illuminate the entire work area in low-light conditions. With two batteries, hot swapping is possible, allowing you to keep one battery on the charger and one in the drill, and then swap out when the charge runs low. Fast charging technology means that the depleted battery needs only a short time to be usable once more. This is also one of the lighter hammer drills on our list, which means reduced arm and hand fatigue during use. However, note that this unit does not have a depth rod.

Porter-Cable PCC620B 20V MAX Lithium-Ion Hammer Drill​

One of the more capable hammer drills on the market, the Porter-Cable PCC620B features 20-volt battery technology for longer operation, higher rpm and better overall performance. It features a two-speed gearbox, and can reach as high as 1,600 rpm in drill mode, or 27,200 bpm in hammer mode. The chuck is 1/2-inch, so it will fit well with conventional drivers, bits and chisels, and there are 23 total clutch settings to ensure that you can get the job done quickly and easily. Like the DeWalt we discussed above, this hammer drill kit features a handy LED light on the front to act as a spotlight during low-light operation. With a weight of just 3.6 pounds, this unit is both capable and lightweight, helping to reduce stress and strain during operation. Note that this drill is rated for light-duty concrete and masonry only. It’s also important to note that this version ships without a battery or battery charger. It also requires two lithium ion batteries in order to operate. Batteries and chargers are sold separately, and will incur an additional cost. However, it does come with a three-year limited warranty, which is more than many competing models on our list can claim.

Milwaukee 2702-20 M18 1/2” Compact Brushless Hammer Drill/Driver

Just because it falls at the end of our list does not mean that the Milwaukee 2702-20 M18 is not a contender. It features an ergonomic pistol grip, as well as a brushless motor for 50% more run time and twice the durability of older models. The chuck on this model is 1/2-inch, so it fits with consumer-grade bits, chisels and accessories, and the unit itself only weighs three pounds, which means that arm and hand fatigue are minimized. It’s interesting that this model offers outstanding torque – 500 inch-pounds, in fact. It can also reach 1,800 rpm. It features built-in overheat protection in the form of the Redlink Intelligence system, which helps avoid damage from abusive use and overheating (and will automatically shut the unit off if an overheat condition occurs). Note that the battery and battery charger are not included, and will require an additional charge. This is an 18-volt system, and will require 18-volt batteries and a compatible charger. It ties in with other 18-volt Milwaukee products. Like most other battery-powered hammer drills on our list, this model does not offer a hammer-only operation mode. It can be used in rotary, or in rotary/hammer mode only.

Buying Guide

Now that we’ve covered the best hammer drills available on the market today, let’s take things a step or two farther. What does a hammer drill really do? Do you need one? Do you need a rotary hammer? A regular old power drill? These are just a handful of questions that we’ll explore in our in-depth guide in order to help you make the most informed purchase decision possible. So, without further ado, let’s get started. We’ll begin with the basics. What the heck is a hammer drill, anyway?

What’s a Hammer Drill?

It’s no secret that the right tools help you get the right results. Whether you’re trying to drill through heart pine to create that to-die-for wall cladding in your soon-to-be in-home library, or powering through a portion of the concrete slab under your home in a bathroom renovation, the right tool makes a massive difference. In many of these cases, you’ll need a hammer drill. Wait. A what?

A hammer drill is pretty similar to a regular rotary drill. You might actually hear these tools called rotary hammers – that moniker is a nod to just how closely related these two power tools are, although true rotary hammers are larger than conventional hammer drills and are better suited for (and usually found on) large-scale, professional construction and demolition jobs, whereas hammer drills can be found everywhere from a DIY enthusiast’s toolbox to the construction site.

So, what’s it all about?

Really, the crux of the matter is obvious in the name – HAMMER. That’s what it’s all about. A hammer drill combines rotary motion with back and forth motion to hammer the drill bit’s tip into the material you’re working with.

These type of drills are very similar to other handheld power tools. They look almost exactly like rotary drills, too. However, in addition to rotary action, the bit is also hammered forward, which is necessary when working with a number of harder materials, including:

  • Brick
  • Block
  • Concrete
  • Tile

Other masonry surfaces
The mechanics behind this action are relatively simple. There is a weight, which acts as the hammer. It is pulled back via a spring during operation, and then a trigger releases the spring, sending the weight forward, where it hammers into the back of the chuck. This process repeats over and over again during operation, and it happens very quickly (bpm is the measure of how quickly different models can operate in this mode – the higher the bpm, the more times it hammers per minute).

What are the benefits?

There are actually quite a few benefits to using a hammer drill, most of which can be found by using other tools too. It’s the hammer drill’s ability to combine those benefits into a single unit that is important, combined with the ability to drive or drill into harder substances than what you’d be able to handle ordinarily. The key uses for hammer drills, include the following:

  • Chiseling
  • Drilling into hard materials
  • Breaking up hard materials
  • Removing hard materials, such as tile

Hammer Drills vs. Rotary Drills vs. Rotary Hammers

There are several power tools that share a similar form factor. These lookalikes also share some operating characteristics, but they’re far from being the same thing. You need to know the key differences so that you can choose the right tool for the job and avoid potentially destroying an expensive tool in the process.

Rotary Drills: If you’ve ever used a power drill, then you’re familiar with rotary drills. You put a bit in the chuck, tighten it completely, select the speed that you want, place the tip of the bit where you want to drill, and then pull the trigger. The drill spins the bit, which bores into the surface, creating a hole (there are, of course, many additional accessories that can be used with rotary drills, from sanding discs to chisels). These tools are primarily made for use with lighter materials, like wood, plastic, and sheetrock. You can buy specialty masonry bits to use them on brick and block surfaces, but the going is slow.

Hammer Drills: If you have a lot of hard-surface drilling to do, you should invest in a hammer drill, rather than struggling with a rotary drill and masonry bit. These tools combine hammering action with rotary movement to make quick work of chewing through tile, brick, concrete and the like.

Many of these tools can also be set to rotary only mode, and can be used in place of a standard rotary drill. You’ll find both corded and cordless versions on the market, and both tend to be rated for lighter-duty materials, rather than thick, heavy-duty material.

Rotary Hammers: These tools are the bigger brothers of hammer drills (both in terms of capabilities and price). These tools are designed for heavier duty use, and play important roles in the construction and demolition industry. They’re usually found more on the professional side of things, rather than the DIY side, but plenty of homeowners choose to purchase them if they have the need for this type of investment.

Rotary hammers are larger and more capable than hammer drills, and are usually used for drilling larger holes (they most often have 1-inch or 1 1/8-inch chucks). They can also be found in cordless or corded varieties. They are often equipped with a depth rod to help prevent drilling too deeply, as well as a side handle that swivels so you can hold the tool more securely, while also putting more weight against it during operation.

Which is right for you?

For most DIYers, the best choice is going to be a hammer drill, but a rotary version can be an excellent investment at the same time. You’ll see from our list of the best hammer drills on the market that our own options are split between hammer drills and rotary hammers, simply because they can both be excellent investments.

Key Considerations When Comparing

Make no mistake – a hammer drill is an investment, and whether you opt for a corded or cordless model, a light-duty model or a rotary type, you need to ensure that your investment pays off. The key to doing that is buying a tool that fits your needs now and down the road. Below, we’ll touch on some of the most crucial areas of consideration when making a purchase.

Motor Power

Motor power is a very important consideration. In fact, the entire equation hinges on it. The stronger the motor, the better the performance will be. It also tends to correlate with the durability and longevity of your tool, as well. Choose a model with a motor strong enough to handle your heaviest foreseeable needs. Otherwise, you might find that your hammer drill bogs down or even cuts out during heavy use.

Cordless

Cordless hammer drills are widely available on the market. These offer a host of advantages over corded models, although portability is probably the key consideration. They’re also usually lighter, which means they’re easier to tote with you, and they don’t wear out your hand and arm muscles as much during use. However, you need to balance those advantages against some disadvantages. Cordless hammer drills are usually more expensive than corded models, for one thing. They also have the downside of needing charged batteries in order to operate. Finally, some cordless models are sold without a battery or charger, so you might need to make a larger investment than you initially think.

Corded

Corded hammer drills tend to be stronger than their cordless brethren (note that this is not always true). They generally last longer and are cheaper to purchase, as well. However, you’ll find that corded models have a few downsides of their own. One of those is that you’re tied to a power outlet. You’ll need to stay connected at all times, which can be a pain. Even an extension cord may not give you enough length for some tasks. Another drawback here is that corded models tend to be heavier (again, this is not always true), which means there’s more stress and strain on your hand and arm muscles. With that being said, you never need to worry about whether or not your battery is charged.

Chuck Size and Type

The chuck is located at the end of the drill and is what holds the bit, chisel or other accessory in place. There are several different chuck sizes on the market, as well as different chuck types. The most common chuck size for a hammer drill is 1/2-inch. With rotary hammers, it is 1-inch, although some models are available with a 1 1/8-inch chuck. Other sizes on the market include 3/8-inch, 1 3/8-inch, 3/4-inch, and 1 3/4-inch, although these are less common than 1/2-inch and 1-inch chucks. The size of the chuck will dictate the size of the accessories you can use, as well as the size of the holes that you can drill.

Chuck “type” generally refers to the securement method by which it holds your accessory in place. Spline chucks are the most common, and have been around the longest. You’ll find these in sizes ranging from 3/8-inch to 1 3/8-inch. Two interlocking splines and a key are used to tighten the grip on the bit and hold it securely. SDS-plus and SDS-max are both Bosch inventions that have been adapted for use by other brands, and are for use with larger bit sizes, from 1/2-inch to 1 3/4-inch.

RPM

RPM stands for revolutions per minute, and is a measure of rotary speed – how fast the drill can spin. The faster the rpm, the faster you can drill the hole. However, high-speed operation on hard surfaces may damage some drill bits.

BPM

BPM stands for beats per minute, and is a measure of hammering speed. The higher the bpm rating, the more hammer blows fall per minute, and the faster you can drill or cut through hard materials.

Lights

Many modern hammer drills are equipped with supplemental lighting on the front. These are usually LED lights, and some designs feature multiple functions depending on your usage needs. They’re more common on cordless models than on corded options.

Depth Rod

A depth rod is precisely what it sounds like – a rod that affixes to the front of the hammer drill that can be preset to specific depths and prevents you from drilling beyond a particular limit.

360-Degree Side Handle

This is a handle mounted near the front of the hammer drill that folds out to allow you a more secure hold, and the ability to place more weight behind the drill.

Variable Speed Triggers

A variable speed trigger is an important benefit, as it allows you to change the rotational and hammer speed to suit your needs by incrementally pressing or releasing the trigger.

The Importance of the Right Drill Bits

Hammer drills might be similar to rotary drills, and they can use the same drill bits for work on softer-surface materials. However, if you are going to be using your hammer drill for the purpose it was intended for, you’ll need specialty bits. There are quite a few different bit types, styles and material options on the market, some of which are discussed below:

  • Clay Spades: Clay spades are specially designed bits used for dealing with clay and clay-like materials. It actually looks a bit like an actual spade, thus the name. In most instances, these are used not only for hard materials like concrete (usually loose for this material), but also for hard clay and dirt.
  • Cold Chisels: Cold chisels are made from cold forged steel and they are usually used for cutting through metal in conjunction with the hammer drill’s hammering motion. They are available in a range of widths, as well as tip types to suit different needs.
  • Tile Remover: A tile remover has a flattened head specially designed for getting under tiles and helping to remove them from the floor or wall surface. These work with the hammering motion to speed up the removal process compared to what is possible if you were to remove the tiles by hand.
  • Bull Point Chisel: A bull point chisel is used for light-duty work where you need to chip or chisel through mortar, tile and other masonry material. In most cases, these are made from hardened steel to ensure a longer use life and better performance.
  • Scaling Chisel: A scaling chisel is used primarily for removing concrete spatter that has dried, although it may also be used for removing scale and rust, as well as other corrosion in some instances.
  • Speed Clean Bits: A speed clean bit is a self-cleaning style of drill bit designed specifically for use with masonry. These types of drilling speed projects often create considerable amounts of masonry dust, which can clog the bore hole. Speed clean bits remove the dust as the drill spins, preventing the hole from filling with debris.
  • Full Head Carbide Bits: Any drill bit that you use with a hammer drill should be a full head carbide bit. This is an indicator of the bit’s construction material. Bits made from carbide can offer up to four times the lifespan of conventional drill bits.
  • Rebar Cutters: As the name implies this is a heavy-duty bit made for use with thick concrete applications where rebar might be present within the masonry material. A rebar cutter is a bit like a chisel, but the blade portion is specially designed for use with iron rebar. The hammering motion of a rotary hammer allows the bit to cut through rebar.
  • Stop Bits: Stop bits are actually exactly what they sound like – bits designed to allow you to penetrate only so far into a material before being stopped. These can be used in place of a depth rod in some instances.

In Conclusion

Whether you need to work through concrete, drill into cinder block, deal with aging brick, or fight with old tile that you need to remove, a hammer drill is the tool that you need. However, if you will be drilling through wood, plastic and other softer surfaces, you may not need a hammer drill – a regular rotary drill will be sufficient. Additionally, if you’ll be doing a lot of work with masonry materials, it might be worth considering a rotary hammer, rather than a hammer drill, as they tend to be larger, more powerful and more capable.

By this point, you should have a good idea of the most important features to look for as well as the type of bits and accessories you need. Of course, our rundown will give you access to the options you need to get the job done, whether you’re remodeling your bathroom, or starting your own contracting business.