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When Should I Replace My Masonry Bits?


Wondering when it’s time to replace your masonry drill bits? It will generally depend on three factors: (1) the quality of the bit, (2) the material you’re drilling, (3) and if you’re using it properly for your project.

Below, we’ll dive into the details of those factors that determine when you should replace your masonry drill bits.


Drill Bit Quality

It’s true that you can make a hole in hard material with almost any drill bit. But if you want a precise, efficient hole, choosing a drill bit that matches the measurements of the hole you want to make is best. Some bits have wear markers so you are able to tell if the holes you are drilling will be within specification. Unfortunately, all masonry drill bits aren’t created equally. (And neither are drills, for that matter.)

There is usually a big difference between less expensive drill bits and ones that cost more. The differences are usually performance and short life span.


The Material You’re Drilling

Are you trying to drill a hole into brick, concrete, or some other material? If you’re using the wrong drill bit for the job, it can wear them out quickly.

Before you start drilling, evaluate exactly what you’re drilling through. If it’s a material that’s going to be tough to get through with the bits that you have, consider relocating the hole. Avoid drilling into something that you shouldn’t, such as piping or conduit. Otherwise, you could damage the building/structure/home, much less your drill bits!

Whether you’re drilling into brick or concrete, one thing is certain – you can’t use the same type of masonry drill and drill bit for both materials. If you need to make a large hole, a rotary hammer drill is the best power drill for the job. A rotary hammer drill uses powerful blows and a hammering motion to bore holes into concrete or brick, and it takes less time and effort.

If you’re drilling into concrete – particularly reinforced and ferro-concrete – you may encounter rebar. This reinforcement is used to increase the strength of concrete. Because ferro-concrete is so dense, a rotary hammer drill and high quality drill bits are needed.


How, Why, and How Often You Use Your Bits

It’s difficult to guess how many holes a single masonry drill bit can make before it needs to be replaced. A rough estimate is that you’ll use one 3/16" drill bit for every 100 holes. However, it really depends on the depth of the holes and the diameter of the bit. While you’re drilling, don’t be surprised if you break a few bits. One thing is for sure, full head carbide bits consistently offer longer life in more difficult applications.

Something else to consider: the hotter the bit gets due to continuous drilling, the quicker it will need replacing. Drilling for long periods of time without pausing and letting the bit cool down creates a tremendous amount of heat and can impact the lifespan of the drill bit. As such, it may need replacing sooner.


Most Common Drilling Mistakes

The following mistakes in drilling methods can significantly impact the life of your masonry bits and result in more frequent replacement.

  • Using the wrong drill bits – If you use all-purpose drill bits on abrasive materials like masonry or stone, their edges will become dulled and ineffective on metal or wood.

  • Applying too much or not enough pressure – Too much pressure can break the bit, and not enough pressure can blunt the bit. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is to use more pressure the larger the drill bit.

  • Using the wrong speed settings – If you’re using a drill speed that’s too high, bits may bind and break.

  • Not having patience – If you’re drilling a large hole, it takes time. The masonry and concrete may be difficult to drill through. Have patience, and refrain from drilling too fast at too high of a setting.

One more factor to consider when deciding when to replace your masonry drill bits is the quality of the hole you want to make. Do you want a clean, smooth hole for dropping an anchor into, or is a quick-and-dirty hole just to run some cable? Along with the material and quality of the drill bits, consider the type of hole you need and what will be required to produce it.

No matter what kind of drill bit you use or how often you replace them, make sure it’s the right one for the tool you’re using as well as the material you’re drilling. And always be safe!
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