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Cordless drill technology has come a long way in recent years, with many rivalling corded versions. But is a corded drill capable of drilling through a tough material such as brick?
In most cases, a cordless drill is capable of drilling into brick. While corded drills are more efficient, modern cordless drills have enough power and torque to drill through brick. Before drilling, ensure that the battery is fully charged and that you’re using a good quality masonry drill bit.
I’ll now walk you through the few necessary steps that you need to take to ensure that you’re able to successfully drill into brick without problems.
Ensure your drill has enough power
A cordless drill gets all of its power from a small battery. Because brick is a particularly tough material, it can be quite difficult for a cordless drill to go through as the battery often drains quite quickly from having to work so hard.
Therefore, it’s important to know which is the best drill and battery to use. To do this, you need to understand how much power a battery has and know the difference between amp-hours and voltage.
Generally, a higher voltage will result in a higher number of revolutions per minute (RPM), so a higher voltage will mean that the drill will spin much faster. Also, amp-hours affects the amount of torque that a drill has, so the higher the amp-hours, the greater the amount of torque.
This means that a drill with a high voltage would be suitable for inserting screws, while higher amp-hours would be better for drilling large holes into tough materials such as brick.
Bricks are a clay-based material and are often available in quite a few different hardness levels. If you’re drilling into a brick wall, then an alternative is to drill into the mortar as it is not as tough.
How to prepare for drilling into brick
It’s important to prepare your drill for drilling into brick, and one of the things you need to do is set the torque to the correct setting (also called clutch settings). Your drill will usually have a dial with numbers on it that you can turn, and those numbers determine when the clutch will slip.
Most clutch settings are numbered from one to twelve, although bigger drills can often go up to twenty. The lower numbers indicate a lower amount of torque, while the higher numbers represent a greater amount of torque.
When you are drilling holes into brick, you need a lot of power, and this comes from the torque setting. Therefore, you should use the highest clutch or torque setting, and this is usually indicated by the symbol of a drill on the clutch dial.
It’s important to always select the correct clutch setting, as if it’s too low in a situation where you need a lot of power, then the clutch could slip.
Sometimes there can be a lot of resistance when you begin to drill. If there is too much, then the clutch will cause the motor to disengage. This is perfectly normal, and all you need to do is turn to clutch setting round to a higher number to increase the amount of torque, which should prevent the clutch from slipping.
Which drills bits to use for drilling into brick
It’s important to always use the correct drill bit when you are drilling into brick or concrete, and these are called masonry drill bits.
Masonry drill bits are not the same as a standard drill bit as they have a much tougher tip. The tip of a masonry drill bit is quite flat and broad and is made from tungsten carbide. The tip is wider than the shaft, and the shaft is made from softer steel.
Masonry drill bits are designed to not overheat, and they work by grinding away at the material you are drilling into while the twist section of the shaft removes the dust and debris that is caused by the drilling.
When purchasing drill bits to use for drilling into masonry you should never compromise on the quality, which means avoiding cheap bits. Masonry drill bits are mostly available in sets, and it’s always a good idea to have several sizes on hand.
A masonry drill bit is suitable for use with a cordless drill for almost all hard surfaces, but you will need another type of masonry drill bit if you’re drilling into something particularly hard like concrete.
For surfaces such as concrete, you should use a drill bit that has an SDS fitting instead of the standard masonry drill bit. This drill bit can be used in a special hammer drill.
What is the hammer setting and when to use it?
Although most of the time you can drill into masonry with a standard cordless drill so long as you have the correct drill bit, it is often better to use a hammer setting as it can take a very long time otherwise.
A hammer setting is designed to give blows behind the drill bit, almost like hitting the drill with a hammer while drilling. This setting enables the drill to drill into a hard surface much faster as it causes a lot more vibration than an ordinary setting, and the extra vibrations make the grinding action of the masonry drill bit happen a lot faster.
The hammer action on drills is measured in bumps per second (BPS). A cordless drill will usually have a much lower BPS than a dedicated hammer drill.
Drills that have both settings (drill and hammer) are commonly known as combi drills. When preparing to drill into brick, you should always check if your drill has a hammer setting, which is usually identified by a hammer symbol on the clutch settings. If your drill has a hammer setting, select that setting before attempting to drill.
Tough jobs require a rotary hammer
Occasionally, you might need to drill a large hole into concrete. If you do, then a rotary hammer drill is needed for the job. Although some cordless drills have a rotary hammer setting, it is usually only found on dedicated hammer drills.
Some rotary hammer drills use SDS drill bits and chucks, which is known as a slotted drive system. These are electric drills, and the drill bit and the chuck are designed to work together in a way that produces faster drilling. These types of drills are the best to use for drilling into tough concrete or brick as they can drill a hole in a matter of seconds.
By comparison, the chuck on a standard hammer drill works backwards and forwards with the same mechanism as cordless drills. As the mechanism is different for SDS drill bits, they are loose when placed into a standard drill and so are not suitable.
Should I drill into the mortar instead?
Sometimes it can be a good alternative to drill into the mortar instead of the brick as it is much softer, but it does depend on a few things. You should always consider how deep your hole needs to be, how big the hole is going to be, how old the brick is, what type of brick it is, and how much weight is going to be placed on the screw.
Although brick can usually support more weight than mortar, that is not going to be the case if it is old or is not in the best condition as the hole could weaken the brick more than it already is. In these cases, it is better to drill into the mortar instead of the brick.