How to Drill into Brick Without a Hammer Drill Easily

If you often engage yourself in random jobs around the house, you probably know that using the right tool for the job is key to get the best results in the least amount of time. Many times you have to work with what’s available, though. For example, you might have to drill into hard materials such as brick without having a hammer drill. Is it actually possible to use a regular drill instead?

It’s not the best option, but it’s achievable. In short, these are the steps to follow:

  • Choose an appropriate bit for bricks. Carbide-coated tip bits, called Masonry Bits, are specifically designed for hard materials such as bricks and concrete. Use Core Bits for very large holes;
  • Mark the position of the holes you intend to drill, try to locate possible obstacles, prepare yourself to deal with a lot of dust;
  • If you need to cut a big hole, create a pilot hole with a small bit first, then work your way up;
  • Take frequent pauses to keep the drill and the bit from overheating; applying water on the bit and the hole will help too.

Now let’s start detailing all these steps.

How to Drill into Brick Without a Hammer Drill – Follow These Steps

1) Choose the Correct Bit for the Application

The first and most important thing to get right is choosing the right bit for the job at hand. There is a variety of bits you could possibly choose from. The key factor that will guide your choice is the composition of the bricks.

  • In case you are drilling hollow bricks, the actual material that you need to get through is quite low: a standard HSS drill bit or cobalt bit will work just fine here.
  • Drilling into solid brick is another matter. In this scenario, you’ll need masonry bits. These bits come with a carbide-coated tip, which helps them get through tougher materials and helps them from wearing too quickly.

If you don’t know what type of bricks you will be drilling in, use masonry bits. It’s better to be safe than sorry. If you need to drill a big hole, make sure to start with a small diameter bit and work your way up. Get a drill bit set so that you can work in steps easily.

Try to get some quality masonry bit. Look into solid brands, avoid being cheap. It’s for your own safety. You don’t want a bit to fail on you while in the middle of the job. A flying bit can cause serious injuries. Make sure to check the bit is not damaged from time to time. If you see any cracks starting, throw the bit away immediately. And consider yourself lucky.

2) Prepare for The Drilling

Before we get to the main part of the job, there are some preliminary steps to take.

  • If you are drilling multiple holes to attach something to a wall, at least double-check their position. Make sure to mark them down with a marker. You definitely want to avoid drilling in the wrong spot.
  • In case you are cutting a deep hole, make sure there’s nothing dangerous in the way. You should try to locate possible obstacles by using a cheap Wall Scanner.
  • Keep the age of the bricks into consideration. Old bricks tend to be denser, thus much harder to get through. If you are working on an old wall, use an even more conservative approach: start with the smallest bit you have and move your way up in multiple passes.
  • Drilling into brick will produce a lot of dust. Especially when working with old walls, you don’t really know what they used to make those bricks. That’s why is even more important to wear appropriate safety gear: a face mask and glasses are a must against brick dust. Consider using goggles too, drills get pretty loud. On top of that, keep the area ventilated if you are working indoors, but close any door that communicates with other rooms of your house to keep the dust from spreading.

3) Take Small Steps

At last, it’s finally time to get to the drilling. If you need to cut a large hole, it’s key to start with a smaller bit. This is advisable for multiple reasons:

  • When drilling hollow bricks, starting small minimize the chance of cracking the brick;
  • With harder bricks, using a big bit to start would require much more effort on your part, since there’s no hammering motion. Moreover, it will likely take a toll on your drill, since it will likely require more power than what’s actually available.

So start with a small bit to create a pilot hole, then work your way up to the desired diameter. Take 2 or 3 steps at least. Working this way will make your drill run smoother, and the bits won’t wear as much.

If you are using a core bit, use a 45° angle to initiate the cut. Then, slowly straighten the drill until you reach a vertical position. The reason why you should do this is simple: if you start at a 90° angle, it would be much harder to keep the drill in position.

4) Work Smart, not Hard

“brick, wall, textura” by bartoszjanusz is marked with CC0 1.0

Ideally, you’d be using a hammer drill for a job like this. Since you’ll be using a regular power drill, you can’t use the same approach. The lack of power and of the hammering action would make it not only ineffective but also counterproductive. It is likely to result in a dull or shattered bit or even worse, a burnt motor.

That’s why you should take into consideration the following tips:

  • Masonry bits tend to be expensive. That’s why you should try to preserve them as best as you can. For example, you should try not to overheat them, since a hot bit tends to wear out faster. To avoid that, frequently take pauses when drilling to dip the bit into water. You should also pour water on top of the hole while drilling: it will work as lubrication, and it will help with dust management too.
  • Talking about dust, it’s a good idea to keep the hole and the area clean when working. From time to time, Move the bit up and down inside the hole to free some space from dust. Consider using a vacuum to clean the area while you let the drill catch its breath.
  • Keep in mind that you are not operating a hammer drill. Be patient. Don’t speed too much, instead work as slowly as possible. Don’t apply too much pressure, let the tool work at its rate. That way, you’ll avoid overheating the drill and you’ll get a cleaner hole.

What if you Need to Cut a Large Hole?

If you need to cut an oversized hole, then it might be difficult if not impossible to find a large enough masonry bit. In this scenario, you need a core bit. If you are familiar with hole saws, which are used in woodworking to cut big holes, the same thing happens here.

A core bit has a hollow cylindrical body made of steel with a set of teeth on top. The latter could be either diamond or carbide coated. Some core bits are equipped with a pilot bit to guide you during the cutting. Without it, it might be difficult to control the tool while initiating the cut.

Make sure to get a Dry Core Bit such as the one in the following image. Most of the bits are in fact designed to be used with wet drills. How to use such bits? Well, the steps are quite alike the earlier ones. The main difficulty will be starting the cut in the correct position. Two ways here: get a core bit with a pilot bit, or else start at a 45° angle as I mentioned before. Take the same precautions against overheating: frequently pour/spray water on the bit/hole.

The process of cutting with such bits will be even slower and it will require quite an effort on your part. Be patient. Take a pause when you are getting tired.

Final Thoughts

In this quick article, we determined that you can drill bricks even if you don’t have a hammer drill. A regular drill will work just fine if you take the right steps.

The key thing is to use an appropriate bit. Luckily, there are drill bits specifically designed for hard material. With certain bricks, a standard HSS bit would probably work too. If you are not sure, use masonry bits nonetheless. For large holes, for example if you need to create a passage for a pipe, get yourself a core bit.

Since a regular doesn’t have any hammering motion, there’s only that much it can do in a short amount of time. To maximize your results, keep your bits sharp and use water to reduce friction. Also, you could try and mimic the hammering motion by moving the drill in and out of the hole from time to time. It will also help get rid of some of the dust. In any case, make sure to not push the drill too much.

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