It doesn’t matter if you are just a keen DIYer or a tradesman, there are certain jobs that require a little more power. And, when it comes to drills this power tool gives you just that.
Ok, let’s dig into the basics.
Contents (Jump to Topic)
What Does SDS Stand For?
The first thing most people want to know is, what does SDS mean? Well, the simple answer is Slotted Drive Shaft. However, you may also hear it referred to as a Slotted Drive System or Special Direct System.
Unlike the standard rotary drill which has a three-jaw chuck, these drills feature the slotted drive shaft (SDS) chuck. For this reason, they produce the extra torque and force required for fast and efficient drilling on heavy-duty jobs.
How Do Hammer Drills Work & What Are They Used For?
Just as the name suggests, a hammer drill is so-called because as the drill bit rotates it also hammers. Although the hammering can be created in different ways, SDS drills work using a piston mechanism to create the hammering.
By combining both the rotary and hammer action drilling through materials like steel, brick, concrete, and masonry is a lot easier.
Are SDS Drills & Hammer Drills The Same Thing?
The most important point to remember when talking about SDS drills, you are talking about the chuck design and not the actual drill itself. An SDS chuck is designed in such a way that ensures the drill bit does not come loose when under pressure.
Whereas hammer drills, often referred to as percussion drills or impact drills, have a chuck that is tightened by hand and a chuck key. The other key difference is that the SDS hammer drill uses a piston to create the hammer action. Unlike a standard hammer drill that relies more on the weight of drill users.
Here are some key differences between SDS drills vs Hammer drills:
- An SDS drill features a simple quick-lock shank chuck as opposed to the jaw lock and chuck key featured on a standard rotary or hammer drill.
- A conventional hammer drill has a hammer action that moves the chuck and drill bit forward and back, relying on the user’s weight. Whereas, an SDS drill offers hammer action when drilling using a piston.
- In general, SDS drills carry far more power than the standard hammer drill, which makes them ideal for heavy-duty drilling jobs.
The Main Parts Of An SDS Drill
When using any power tool it helps to understand, not just what it does but what the key features are and what the different parts do. To understand how a hammer drill works, let’s explore the various parts of a standard SDS drill:
The SDS drill comes with the main stationary handle set at the back of the machine. In addition to that, there is an adjustable extra front handle. This adjustable handle gives extra stability which helps ensure that your holes are nice and straight and use SDS drill safely at the same time.
Quick Release Chuck
Located on the front-most part of the SDS drill, the quick-release chuck is also known as a keyless chuck. This quick-release chuck allows you to quickly and easily insert and remove the drill bit. This chuck is designed specifically to ensure that the drill bit cannot become loose during the drilling process.
For ease of use the speed control button is below the main handle, with a small lever on top that helps you change the setting. You can use your SDS drill for normal rotary action, hammer-only mode, and rotary with hammer action.
For some jobs it is necessary to have several holes, and, of course, these need to be the same depth. Making the adjustable depth gauge an important part of the drill. Just set to the depth required and you’ll have holes as good as a pro.
The SDS drill functions with the help of an inbuilt hammer mechanism. When the drill is in operation, the hammer mechanism inside moves the drill bit back and forth with the assistance of the piston. Literally hammering the drill bit into the surface.
The small metal piston works using pneumatics, i.e compressed air, once the trigger is pressed the piston moves the drill bit rapidly backward and forwards creating the hammering action.
Because this tool uses a fast-moving piston it is necessary to have small ball bearings to reduce friction as the drill bit thrusts back and forth. These ball bearings help reduce wear and tear on the internal workings of the drill.
SDS Vs Regular Hammer Drills (Pros & Cons)
If you are stuck between SDS and regular combi drills with a hammer function, here are a few pros and cons that may help you make the right decision:
Pros Of An SDS drill
- Good selection of modes (Rotary, Hammer, Rotary & Hammer)
- Capable of drilling deeper holes
- Fast drilling in hard surfaces
- Compact and easy to use
- Both corded drills and cordless drills available
Cons Of An SDS Drill
- Requires specific SDS drill bits
- Expensive when compared to standard drills
SDS Vs. SDS Plus Vs. SDS Max: What’s The Difference?
Whether it’s an SDS and SDS Plus drill, both types have the same chuck design. However, when it comes to the SDS Max their drill bits and chuck systems differ. Let me explain.
SDS Vs. SDS Plus
A commonly asked question is, can I use SDS Plus drill bits in an SDS drill? Yes, you can, both SDS and SDS Plus drill bits are completely interchangeable with each other as they are both 10mm drill bits.
The main difference is SDS plus bits feature 4 splines in the shank, whereas regular SDS drill bits only feature 2.
Both of these drills and drill bits are considered better for the DIYer as they are more geared towards lighter work but having said that, they are still good for reasonably heavy-duty work.
When you talk about the SDS Max you are talking about a major piece of equipment for some serious tough materials. Because of this, the chuck and drill bits are 18mm in width at the shank and feature an additional indentation to give an even better grip once inserted.
This extra indentation and size difference means that it is not compatible with the smaller SDS drills.
Common Modes Found On A Modern SDS Drill
An SDS drill is a versatile tool that can operate in different modes such as the following:
Normal Drilling – In this widely used model, the chuck is in rotary mode only.
Hammer Only – The rotatory action is turned OFF, with the hammer mechanism in action making it an electric chisel.
Rotary Hammer Mode – This mode supports the SDS drill’s heavy-duty function, with the rotatory drill and piston working simultaneously in a rotary motion.
What To Look For When Buying An SDS Drill?
Here are a few key criteria you should consider when looking for an SDS drill, whether online or offline.
Power & Speed
You can buy both mains-powered SDS drills and cordless SDS drills (battery-powered) versions. But, voltage and power determine the depth of the hole and the drilling rate. As a rule of thumb, remember that anything above 1000rpm can drill through any surface.
Size & Weight
Although the size and weight usually don’t have a bearing on the drilling performance. When handling power tools it is important that you can do so safely. There is absolutely no point in having a tool that you struggle to use.
A decent SDS drill is an investment, more so than other power drills. However, if you require a good hammer drill that you use regularly, it is worth every penny.
Most modern SDS drills come with this as standard, but make sure there is some electrical shock protection built into the drill, just incase you accidentally drill into a live electrical wire.
Summing It All Up
An SDS drill can make your life easier in scenarios where an ordinary drill falls short. However, it’s important to be well-versed about how it works, the various functions it performs, and how it’s different from the other drilling machines.
Being in the know could be what stands between a masterpiece or complete failure of your next grand DIY project.
People Also Ask (FAQ)
People often end up wasting large chunks of money when investing in tools given a lack of knowledge. So, it’s important to clear your doubts before you finally decide to buy an SDS drill.
Can normal drills use SDS drill bits?
Because of the quick-release chuck system and how it works normal drills will not hold SDS drill bits securely. They not only work loose you will risk damaging the SDS drill bit making it useless for use in the future.
What is the difference between HSS and an SDS drill bit?
HSS stands for “High-Speed Steel” and refers to an alloy that drills through steel at high cutting speeds. The difference is that the HSS drill bit shank is perfectly cylindrical, whereas the SDS drill bit has indentations specific to the SDS drill range.
What is an SDS chuck adaptor?
An SDS chuck adaptor allows you to use your SDS drill bits in your standard rotary hammer drill. Once you have interchangeable chucks you can use both your normal drill bits and SDS bit in your standard cordless drill.
Can SDS drill wood?
Although an SDS drill can drill wood, it is designed for serious heavy-duty work and is quite an investment. This is fine if you already have an SDS, but if you are thinking of buying one just for wood I recommend you don’t. A normal drill is just fine for most projects.