I find myself needing to do more and more stucco and concrete chipping work that is suitable for purchasing a rotary hammer. Can anyone here tell me if such tools can entirely replace a normal drill? On paper, it seems like they can; they can do pure drilling, hammer drilling, or non-rotating chipping. I'm an efficiency-minded kind of guy, so if it's possible to replace my drill with a high-quality do-it-all machine, I'd really like to. Off the top of my head, I can imagine two drawbacks to using a rotary hammer for everything:

  1. They are heavier than regular drills.

  2. You need to use an adapter to use regular non-SDS drill bits, further increasing the weight, and there's more slop since the adapter will slide up and down a bit.

Are there more downsides? Is it indeed feasible to use a rotary hammer for everything?

  • I find it harder to control my drilling speed with my rotary hammer drill than my regular hand drill. Mind you, it might be the brand/quality/features of my hammer drill. Aug 30, 2014 at 1:30
  • Which drill do you have? I'm leaning toward the 1-1/8" Bosch.
    – iLikeDirt
    Aug 30, 2014 at 1:33
  • I can't find the it online. I went with a cheap local brand that usually have good quality/price ratio... but not that time. :( Aug 30, 2014 at 1:47

2 Answers 2


Not really. I did this and regretted it.

The problem is that the rotary hammers that are worth it are very heavy and overbuilt (the larger Bosch SDS series etc.). They make fantastic rotary hammers but are too heavy for use as a drill for extended use unless you have really beefy forearms. In this scenario, you should get a 18v cordless drill for when you want to drill.

Then there are very lightweight rotary hammers (such as from Harbor Freight) where the rotary hammer action is extremely weak. These do a good job as drills but not as rotary hammers.

  • Note: From my experience, the rotary action on the lightweight harbor freight drills will break after about 3-4 holes in concrete/masonry. This may or may not be enough for your needs (it was for mine).
    – RoboKaren
    Aug 31, 2014 at 19:57
  • 1
    Yeah, I don't buy Harbor Freight's power tools; only their hand tools. Their power tools don't seem to last very long.
    – iLikeDirt
    Aug 31, 2014 at 20:21

You have answered your own question. Yes you could buy a hammer-drill and use it in "drill" mode. The drawbacks are size and weight. Additionally, some hammer-drills are equipped with a chuck that will not accommodate small drill bits, by small I mean less than 1/8".

A better option would be to get a hammer-drill and use it for heavy work, including drilling. Also get a smaller lightweight cordless drill.

  • Another drawback is that in the rotary hammer, the rotational velocity is normally limited to 1000 RPM or less, which may be inadequate for small holes in wood and similar applications. Also the torque is normally much higher, and coupled with a higher mass / inertia of the tool, may cause damage when driving fasteners.
    – mongo
    Nov 30, 2020 at 15:09

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