What Is An SDS Drill (2024 Guide)

Curious to know what is an sds drill?

Awesome, you are in the right place.

In this ToolsGaloreHQ.com guide, I will show you:

  • Different types of SDS drills
  • What makes this drill unique
  • Key features of an SDS drill
  • And So Much More!
what is an sds drill

Before we get into the details about what is an sds drill, please have a read of the table below.

Introduction To What Is An SDS Drill

Most standard drills have a 3 clutch chuck mechanism as shown below. This mechanism is generally used to clamp tightly onto drill bits that have a round shank.

standard drill chuck

The issue with regular drills, and this is where the sds drill comes into play is that when drilling into really tough material. i.e. Masonry or concrete. The drill chuck - with its 3 gripping points tends to struggle to hold onto the round shank, due to the uneven aggregate and tough material.

What actually ends up happening is there is some form of separation that occurs resulting in jamming.

The SDS Drill was designed specifically to deal with this very problem. In summary SDS stands for Slotted Drive System.

standard drill bit

These are fundamentally drills whose chucks accept slotted drill bits.

This is significant in that you completely remove the downside of slippage when drilling through hard aggregate material such as concrete, stone or masonry.

Also because of the slotted nature – it makes the hammering functionality a lot more effective.

An SDS Drill is purpose built for hard tough drilling jobs. Let’s analyze in the next section what are the key features that really make this drill special.

Read More:>>> Find Corded Hammer Drills For Tough Drills

Breaking Down Of What Is An SDS Drill From It’s Key Features

The SDS Drill is a heavy duty drill bit, see the image below for some of the key features that are typical across the various original equipment manufacturers and brands.

SDS hammer drill


The SDS drill chucks are designed to accept SDS Drill bits. They are incredibly easy to use and all you really need to do is pull back the chuck lock and you will be able to insert your slotted drill bit into your chuck.

Generally, listen for a click. This clicking sound basically tells you that the chuck is in place. From experience I can tell you that you can rest assured that it will not move.

If you want to disengage the drill bit from your sds drill, all you really need to do is pull up the chuck collar and it will drop out.

Read More:>>> Learn More about the differences between 1/2 inch and 3/8 inch drills

Powerful Motor

As you can see SDS drills appear to be a lot bulkier than your regular drill and with good reason. These drills have very powerful motors generally within the 12 – 14 A range, and are capable of providing on average about 5.5 ft/lbs of impact energy.

One thing that is also worth noting, these motors have been designed to operate at high capacity factors. Meaning that they have great overheating mechanism especially when utilized for extended periods of time.

Sturdy Base

This is an absolutely important feature for SDS drills. Many of them you will find are equipped with vibration damping technology or some form of double insulation to increase the effects of impact resistance.

Many high quality SDS drills are made from a base that includes some form of metallic alloy. Such as aluminum alloy. This sturdy base really helps damped vibrations and keep the tool stable overall during operations.

safety sds drill

Ergonomic Features

As with all power drill, humanistic design is a critical feature of any high quality SDS drill.

These are typically equipped with variable speed triggers, optional additional items such as depth rods and belt hooks.

Modern SDS drills have also been designed for extended period of operation.

This can be seen with some brands going over and above and providing safety clutch protection to prevent wrist fatigue and a 360° adjustable handle that really helps when working under different conditions.

One thing I always check for especially for a high performance drill such as your SDS drill, is it’s testing regime. Also whether it has been certified under UL, CE or RoHS for things such as drop testing.

This is very important to consider, because you will probably be using this power tool in conditions that could cause it damage if ever it were dropped.

SDS Drill: Three Common Types

Not all SDS Drills are the same. There are fundamentally three types. Namely:

  • SDS
  • SDS Plus
  • SDS Max

The SDS Drill bit was originally invented by the German power tools manufacturer Bosch. It was created because craftsmen and engineers were looking for an easy to use bit that was capable of drilling into masonry and concrete.

The SDS Plus is an improvement on the original SDS drill bit. You will typically also find these in slightly larger sizes. Ranging from 3/8 inch going upwards.

What’s important to note is that both the SDS and SDS Plus are generally compatible between tools.

This is all good and well, however there still remained one big problem facing the drilling industry.

That was the question around having a drill bit large enough to drill ½ inch or bigger holes into concrete without spending the whole day.

That was the birth of the SDS Max. This drill bit generally has a shank that goes anything from ¾ inches to 1-1/8.

The main difference between SDS Max and it’s counterparts (SDS Plus or SDS) is that it’s more built for commercial operation and is generally more expensive as well.

The SDS Plus and SDS drill bits are commonly found at your local tool depot or hardware store. Where as the Max version is harder to find and is generally ordered specifically by contractors or tradesmen from suppliers.

Read More:>>> Hammer Drills Find Out What They Really Are All About

Key Safety Tips When Using A SDS Drill

Now that you are well aware of what makes an sds drill, let’s delve a bit deeper into ensuring that you operate the power tool safely at all times.

Since this power tool will primarily be used to drill into masonry and concrete – eye protection and ear protection become imperative.

You wont believe how many experienced contractors and DIYers disregard these simple tips. Doing so really does put your hearing and sight at risk.

Over and above be sure to wear workman gloves and heavy duty boots (incase the drill falls on your feet).

Also be sure to follow any other safety requirements that are stated by each individual equipment supplier.

Final Thoughts on What Is An SDS Drill

Well done on making it to the end. Hopefully I have managed to shed some light on a couple of issues and questions you may have had regarding sds drills.

Overall it is very simple. These power tools are custom built for drilling into the toughest of tough material such as your masonry and cement. Therefore due to this, the entire machine is built for high performance, durability and comfort.

Mogale Modisane, PrEng

Mogale Modisane, PrEng

Mogale is a professional engineer (PrEng). With experience working on large-scale Solar, Wind, and Hybrid Projects. He has been exposed to multiple tools throughout his career and has a keen interest in breaking down the often murky world of power tools, machines, and measurement equipment making them more accessible and understandable to everyone.

6 thoughts on “What Is An SDS Drill (2024 Guide)”

  1. I must thank you for the efforts youve put in penning this site. I am hoping to check out the same high-grade blog posts by you in the future as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my very own blog now 😉

  2. Pretty insightful post. Never believed that it was this simple after all. I had spent a great deal of my time looking for someone to explain this subject clearly and you’re the only 1 that ever did that. Kudos to you! Keep it up


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Mogale Modisane, PrEng

Mogale Modisane, PrEng

Mogale is a professional engineer (PrEng). With experience working on large-scale Solar, Wind, and Hybrid Projects. He has been exposed to multiple tools throughout his career and has a keen interest in breaking down the often murky world of power tools, machines, and measurement equipment making them more accessible and understandable to everyone.

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