There was a little confusion in a recent post about Bosch drill and drive bit sets. In the post, I mentioned how the new Bosch drill and screwdriver bit assortments come with rotary masonry drill bits, and how this was an indication that the accessories might not be not up to full Bosch Tool quality levels.
You can’t find “rotary masonry drill bits” in Bosch’s catalog or on their website, or at least I couldn’t.
There are several types of masonry drill bits, but “rotary” masonry drill bits are perhaps the most uncommon. Maybe 7 or 8 years ago, I searched for them high and low, before finally giving up and purchasing a hammer drill.
Stuart, I’m kind of missing the point on why you’re emphasizing “rotary masonry drill bits.” I’m not sure what you’re distinguishing that term from. There are really two categories of masonry bits. Those that will go in a regular drill (either with smooth shank or possibly hex “quick change”) or those that will go in a rotary drill that can slide (SDS, spline, etc.) I know you know this, so I’m just missing what you’re getting at…
These are rotary masonry bits. They look like hammer drill bits, but they can only be used in drills with a rotary-only action.
There are 3 types of masonry drill bits, 2 of which are more common, at least when we’re talking about 1/8″ thru 1/2″ or so in diameter.
1) Hammer drill bits, designed for vibratory impacting and rotary drilling action.
2) SDS-style and similar bits designed for use in rotary hammers.
3) Rotary masonry bits, which are designed for use in non-hammer drills.
Rotary masonry drill bits resemble hammer drill bits, but have slightly different tip shapes (at least from the few examples I’ve seen), and are typically shorter.
Most people are only familiar with hammer drill bits and SDS-style rotary hammer drill bits. Because of this, the “rotary” distinction of rotary masonry bits might go unnoticed.
Hammer drill bits will work in a regular drill, but not very good. Rotary masonry drill bits will work in a regular drill and aren’t designed for use in a hammer drill. I suppose they could be used in a hammer drill, but only in rotary-only mode. Rotary masonry bits often come with warnings that they should only be used in drills with rotary-only operation.
Rotary masonry bits look the part of other masonry drill bits, but in my experience they are a lot slower to use. I don’t like ’em. I bought the above-shown Black & Decker Firestorm bits after buying my hammer drill, just in case. I still haven’t used them yet. My pre-hammer drill experiences were with a couple of individual rotary masonry bits I received in packs of masonry wall anchors.
Before buying my hammer drill, I couldn’t find rotary masonry drill bits at Home Depot, Lowes, or Sears, only hammer drill and rotary hammer bits, and so it wasn’t long before I changed what I was looking to buy.
But, if you don’t have a hammer drill or rotary hammer, and don’t want to buy one, rotary masonry drills are pretty much your only option for drilling into masonry materials.
The only hex-shank masonry bits I’ve seen are these new impact-rated ones and Bosch’s impact-rated multi-construction bits. I suppose that those too would be considered rotary masonry drill bits. Correction: Dewalt makes a 3pc set of hex-shank rotary masonry drill bits ($15 via Amazon). Most of the rotary masonry drill bits you’ll find have smooth round shanks.
After doing some more searching online, it turns out that there are actually more brands and styles of rotary masonry drill bits than I was aware of. For instance, I could only find hammer drill bits and SDS-type rotary hammer drill bits on Bosch’s website, but it looks like there’s at least one Bosch rotary masonry drill bit set on Amazon.
A Couple of Current Options
- Black & Decker Bullet masonry drill bit 5pc set ($14 via Amazon)
- Bosch Fast Spiral masonry bit 14pc set ($15 via Amazon)
- Skil rotary drill bit 14pc set ($19 via Amazon)
There are other options, but these were the only ones I could find from known brands. It looks to me like the Bosch and Skil sets are identical, except maybe in how they’re packaged.
The Bosch and Black & Decker sets seem to have positive reviews on Amazon, so perhaps my experiences were with particularly bad quality bits.
I don’t like to be so discouraging, but if you have to drill holes into masonry materials once, there’s a good chance you’ll have to do it again. Rotary masonry drill bits should be okay in a pinch. After that, start budgeting for a corded hammer drill that’ll give you years of service.
Do you have any experience with rotary masonry drill bits?
Did you already know that such non-hammer and non-rotary hammer masonry drill bits existed?
Having used all of the above, if you have to put a lot of holes in concrete or masonry borrow, rent or buy a rotary hammer and a proper SDS bit. The difference is seconds per hole vs minutes (or longer) per hole. A ‘hammer’ drill just doesn’t put enough energy into each impact to actually do anything.
Thanks for the post, Stuart. I’m going to look more closely at a couple sets of drill bits I have to look at the differences. From what I can guess, most of what I have are actually these rotary masonry drill bits, and it’s very possible this is the only thing I’ve ever chucked into a hammer drill.
I, like many others, have never been impressed with hammer drills, even my corded one. It’s likely that I wasn’t even using a bit designed for hammering!
“Rotary Masonry” works great for certain kinds of brick without the “Jackhammer noise”. We have used them outside patient rooms for hospitals for example.
They’re handy for drilling holes in plaster or drywall for anchors. Saves your regular bits.
Sounds like overkill.
this will sound odd but I have to larger ones I use for drilling into dirt too. Down south here this clay soil will harden over (I mean it is what bricks are made of )
so I use 2 of them for drilling into dirt too – (grounding rods)
and I think they do great into brick without beating on them.
I would never even try to use one on concrete or cement.
Stuart, while my first experiences, about 30 years ago, using the rotary mason bits like the ones you pictured above, in a regular rotary drill were not impressive, adding a hammer drill proved a big step up. Standing on an extension ladder about 20 feet in the air trying to lean into a corded drill with no hammer action while drilling a 1/2″ hole through a 10″ poured concrete lentile was no fun. Before I bought my first hammer drill I actually tried repeatedly retracting the bit from the hole a few inches and slamming it back in to create my own hammer action. Ah youthful exuberance, what a substitute for money and knowledge! In recent years I too discovered the newer bits designed for hammer drills and they are certainly much better and another step up. Thanks for the reviews and a great web site.
I have never come across rotary only masonry bits. Here all our houses are built with bricks and mortar so every curtain rail, picture hook, light fitting etc has to have a hole drilled. I use my Hitachi 240v hammer drill for this and it works flawlessly. I recently picked up a Makita 18v drill driver and it is also incredible. If drilling plenty of holes then a SDS drill is a no brainer.
I do however have a couple of concrete drill bits so I must experiment drilling with these in non hammer mode (rotary).
The Bosch Multi-Construction non hammer masonry bits are very popular over in the UK and Europe.
I am not sure exactly how similar things are over in the US but we use a great deal of red and brown plugs for fixing into brick and concrete.
They are superb and quieter for fixing work.
I still use an SDS plenty and a combi drill with standard masonry bits but if I only need to do say a dozen holes I will often just grab the drill driver and a Multi-Construction bit.
They drill tile, metal, timber and I once in desperation managed to drill a mirror with them too!
They have become very popular in the last couple of years.
I like the Bosch multi construction bits, but I do use them with hammer on the cordless drill all the time when I’m drilling something of medium hardness even though I probably shouldn’t, they last well even with that abuse.
Have a cordless SDS drill now which has reduced my use though.
Co-workers were always amazed when I drilled a hole in 50 year old concrete pillars with my Bosch PS-20 and normal hammer drill bits. “My drill couldn’t do that”. I was only drilling a hole big enough for plastic anchors, but it went fast enough and the job always got done.
How about a side by side picture of a ‘hammer drill’ bit and a ‘rotary masonary’ bit?
I took these photos about 3-1/2 years ago when I packed my rotary masonry bits into a storage bin with other “I don’t need this now but don’t want to discard it” tools and accessories. I know where they are and will dig them out the next time I can.
The Bosch/B&D rotary masonry bits are GREAT for drilling into mortar when you just need to make holes for plastic anchors. I doubt they were ever intended to see repeated use in larger projects.
I bought a bunch of the smaller B&D sets when they were on clearance at Lowe’s for some crazy price, just to have multiples of all the common sizes for anchors. They drill pretty clean holes without crumbling the surrounding mortar, which is pretty good for the price if you’re just wanting to drill some anchor holes and not spend $$$ on a hammer drill to do it.
Since the 12V Max lines now have hammer drills, these might be a good option for smaller jobs, since you can use hammer drill bits but you’re using a smaller, more controllable drill rather than a heavy 1/2″ sucker.
I like having the options, so you can spend a few bucks and use the right drill bit for the drill you already have to get the job done, rather than having to buy or rent a new tool to do the job, but the downside is the confusion over what should be used with what, at least for the average consumer. Hopefully the packages are well marked as to what drills the bits are for – and what drills they should not be used with.
They are also good for drilling pilot holes for screws into things like RailRoad ties, which often have dirt or gravel embedded in them, which dulls and can even ruin a regular bit.
I had no clue they even made the inferior bits.. They are fine for plastic anchors.. But I need to drill holes in concrete to anchor a gazebo we purchased.. I grabbed 2 bosch(what I thought were masonry) drill bits.. Chucked them into my 1/2″ Milwaukee hammer drill… Started drilling got the first 3 holes done.. Placed the first anchor bolt went in fine.. The second.. I got it about 3/4 of the way in and it started to bend.. So I thought. It went in far enough I can just cut off the excess and file it clean… I must not have cleaned the hole out well enough… When I tried to spin the nut off the anchor bolt broke off flush.. Tried the 3rd bolt.. It didn’t even make it half way in.. Bent over.
So I started looking at the package for the anchor bolts.. Thought maybe I just got some cheap ones.. Package seemed to indicate they were quality redheads.. Looked at the masonry bit package and I noticed in the fine print it said not for hammer drills!!! So I’m thinking well it drilled the holes fine.. Must be cheap steel and it wears down the tip fast.. And so the holes get narrower as you go.. Which would explain why the first hole worked fine then they got progressively worse.
So.. let’s say I really wanted to buy an inferior masonry bit.. When I am done using it for the day and put it away.. next time I need one…how am I supposed to tell the difference from the real bits and the inferior bits after the package is long gone??
I just wish manufacturers would quit compromising on the quality and or quantity of their products.. How many times can you reduce the size of a package of whatever product your selling??? Am I gonna goto the store one day and buy a bag of chips and find only one chip in it?????
Just raise the price… it’s not like people don’t know what you’re doing to us.
I bought 16 anchor bolts.. Guess I should have gotten 16 drill bits as well.. I wonder if they even sell real masonry bits anymore..