In the vast universe of power drills, understanding specific functionalities can be a bit of a maze if you don’t understand the differences.
In this article, we’re setting the record straight on what is a combi drill, impact driver, and hammer drill to help you understand the differences.
Contents (Jump to Topic)
First Up, The Different Types Of Drill
In any craftsman’s toolkit, drills hold the top spot for being among the most important and most used.
They’re essential, versatile, and come in various flavors, and almost all can now be purchased as cordless drills.
To make sure you’re using the right drill for the right job, it’s crucial to understand their individual strengths and limitations.
The Combi Drill: Jack Of All Trades
Merging the capabilities of a drill driver with a hammer drill, the combi drill (or combination drills) can seamlessly transition between drilling into wood, sinking screws into metal, and even tackling masonry tasks with its hammer action.
This dual capability of this versatile tool ensures that users don’t need to switch tools when moving from delicate woodwork to robust masonry, making it a favorite for DIY enthusiasts and professionals alike.
Its design often incorporates variable speed settings and torque adjustments, granting the user precision control. This adaptability ensures the right amount of power is delivered, be it for a fragile task like assembling furniture or a demanding one like drilling into brick.
However, while combi drills boast commendable versatility, they might not always match the specialised prowess of tools designed for specific tasks such as impact drivers and hammer drills.
Nonetheless, for those seeking a multifunctional tool that can handle a wide range of drill bits and tasks, the combi drill emerges as a top contender.
- Versatility: It’s capable of both drilling holes and driving screws (especially helpful when using wall plugs / Rawl plugs)
- Adaptability: Suitable for wood, metal, and even basic masonry tasks, thanks to its hammer function.
- Variable settings: Allows for precision with multiple torque settings to prevent damage to softer materials and has a keyless chuck for ease of use.
What Lets It Down
- Power Limitations: While versatile, it might lack the power needed for more demanding tasks as they are typically cordless.
- Weight: Tends to be slightly heavier than regular drill drivers.
The Impact Driver: The Torque Titan
An impact driver, often mistaken for a regular drill, is a tool designed with a very specific task in mind: driving screws.
At first glance, they might resemble your everyday drill, but they pack a punch that sets them apart.
Equipped with a collet that accepts hex-shanked driver bits, impact drivers deliver a tremendous amount of torque (but aren’t suitable for many types of drill bit)
This comes in handy when dealing with large screws or when facing stubborn materials that resist typical drills.
Unlike regular cordless drills that simply spin their bits, impact drivers introduce both rotation and concussive blows to power-drive screws without stripping the screw head.
Here’s a video of an impact drill in action:
This unique combination of force ensures that screws are driven more efficiently, with less effort from the user.
Another noteworthy feature is their compact size, which allows them to fit into tight spots where other drills might struggle. This makes them a favorite for tasks like assembling furniture, installing cabinets, or building decks.
However, it’s essential to remember that while impact drivers excel in driving screws, they aren’t designed for drilling.
- Torque: Unparalleled torque ensures screws are driven smoothly.
- Compactness: Its design allows it to fit into tighter spaces.
- Speed: Rapid bursts make driving screws faster.
What Lets It Down
- Functionality: Solely designed for screws; not versatile for other tasks.
- Noise: The high torque comes with increased noise.
The Hammer Drill: Masonry’s Best Friend
Unlike standard drills that rotate their bits, hammer drills add an additional dimension: a rapid, rhythmic hammering action.
This pulsating force, combined with the drill’s rotation, allows it to bore efficiently into some of the most resilient materials like brick, stone, and concrete.
Essentially, while the bit spins, it also chisels away at the material, creating holes in even the most stubborn surfaces, however, this can limit battery life on cordless models.
This unique combination of spinning and hammering is what sets the hammer drill apart, making it a mandatory addition to the toolkits of masonry professionals and serious DIY enthusiasts.
Its design, tailored to handle rigorous tasks, often features a robust build and ergonomic handles to manage its power and vibration.
While undeniably potent, hammer drills are overkill for softer materials or delicate tasks.
However, when faced with a wall that refuses to yield or something heavy that needs securing, the hammer drill stands unmatched as the most powerful drill.
- Power: Efficiently drills through robust materials like concrete or brick.
- Depth: Its design allows for deeper drilling than other drills.
- Durability: Made for tough tasks, it’s built to last.
What Lets It Down
- Bulkiness: Larger and heavier than its counterparts.
- Specificity: Primarily designed for masonry.
- Vibration: The hammering function can lead to increased vibration.
- Power: Unless spending a fortune, hammer drills are typically corded for more power, limiting mobility
Combi Drill vs. Impact Driver vs. Hammer Drills
Now you understand the main pros and cons of the main types of drills, let’s compare them to help you decide which is going to be the best for you.
Combi Drill Vs. Impact Driver
When comparing the combi drill to the impact driver, it’s a battle between versatility and specialised strength.
Knowing the type of work you’re going to be doing should make this an easy decision on the type of drill you need.
Advantages of Combi Drill
- Multiple Functions: Can both drill and drive.
- Material Versatility: Works on various materials including basic masonry.
Cons of a Combi Drill
- Power: Might not provide the torque needed for more demanding driving tasks.
Pros of an Impact Driver:
- High Torque: Specifically designed for driving screws efficiently.
- Compact Design: Can fit into places a combi drill might struggle with.
Cons of an Impact Driver:
- Limited to Driving: Not designed for drilling holes at all.
Combi Drill Vs. Hammer Drill: A Dance of Flexibility and Force
When it’s a question of general use versus masonry work, this comparison takes center stage.
It really comes down to what you will primarily be using the drill for. If you need a versatile drill around the home, then a combi drill will be your ideal choice.
Hammer drills are typically only used by professionals that require a heavy-duty drill that can get through stubborn and concrete.
Pros of Combi Drill
- Adaptability: Can transition between different tasks easily.
- Less Aggressive: Suitable for more delicate tasks that don’t require force.
Cons of Combi Drill
- Masonry Limitations: Doesn’t have the same hammering power as a dedicated hammer drill.
Pros of Hammer Drill
- Power: Specifically designed for tough masonry tasks.
- Efficiency: Gets the job done faster when working with robust materials.
Cons of Hammer Drill
- Overpowered for Simpler Tasks: Its power could be an overkill for basic tasks.
Here’s a video showing the difference between a combi drill and hammer drill
Choosing Wisely: Making the Right Decision for Your Project
Power tools are investments, and like all investments, they should be made wisely.
Understand your project’s requirements, but also take into account what you may need the drill for in the future.
Drills can be a sizeable investment and spending the money on a drill for one project may not be the best use of your money.
Conclusion: Every Drill Has Its Day
In the end, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.
Whether it’s the combi’s adaptability, the torque brilliance of the impact driver, or the sheer power of the hammer drill, each has its unique place.
The key is understanding their strengths and limitations, ensuring every DIY venture is a success.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
In case you still have some questions about the different types of drills, here are some other commonly asked questions.
What is the difference between a Combi drill and an SDS drill?
A Combi drill is a versatile power tool that can be used for both drilling and screwdriving. It has a keyless chuck that allows for quick changes between bits, and it is suitable for light-duty jobs such as drilling into wood or metal, as well as driving screws.
An SDS drill is a hammer action drill designed specifically for masonry applications and drilling into hard concrete or brick.
Can a combi drill be used as a screwdriver?
Yes, a combi drill can be used as a screwdriver. Combination drills are versatile power tools that feature two functions in one: drilling and driving screws. They have a dual-function chuck that allows you to quickly switch between the two functions. This makes them perfect for tasks that require both drilling and driving screws.
What is a brushless combi drill?
A brushless combi drill utilizes brushless motor technology to provide greater power, speed, and efficiency than traditional drills. This type of drill has a much longer life span and is quieter than its predecessors brushed motors.
Are diamond tip drill bits actually diamonds?
Diamond tip drill bits are not actually made of diamonds, despite their name. These bits have a special cutting head that is coated with a diamond dust mixture that acts similar to the way a real diamond would. This coating helps them cut through hard materials like ceramic tile, natural stone, and concrete much faster and with more ease than traditional drill bits.