SDS Vs SDS Plus – (Is SDS Drill Essential?)

In order to work on high-strength materials such as concrete, stones, masonry, and bricks, you will need a more powerful drilling machine. A regular drill machine is not able to use on this material due to its less efficiency. Hence specially designed drill machines such as SDS and SDS plus can be used on these materials successfully.

Difference Between SDS vs SDS Plus

SDS Plus is an improved version of the SDS drill. Both tools can use 10mm drill bit with 4 rails and can be used for drilling harder material. These tools have hammering, rotation, and combine mechanisms.

SDS and SDS plus both are hammer drills. There is a free front-back moving drill bit instead of a fixed one in the hammer drill. So let’s see, what are the other differences and how we can use them in detail.

What Are the Differences Between SDS and SDS Plus Drills?

When considering the SDS and SDS plus drills, SDS plus are the improved version of the SDS drill. In both tools, we can use a 10mm diameter drill bit and it has 4 rails. SDS and SDS plus have piston-based hammering mechanisms and both are higher efficient than a regular hammer drill.

SDS and SDS plus both can be used on harder materials such as concrete, brick, stones and many harder materials.

But SDS and SDS plus drill bits are not able to use on the concrete with inside rebars. You will need a same-size rebar cutter to drill that concrete piece.

Most of the SDS and SDS plus drills have 02 settings such as rotating and hammer drilling.

Differences Between SDS and SDS Plus Drill Bits

SDS is about phased out and SDS plus can buy from most stores. Both SDS and SDS plus are used with carbide drills. Drill bit size varied from 5/32” to 1-1/8” and thin wall carbide core bits up to 4″. There are also several types of small chipping and chiselling bits can be used if there is only a hammering setting in the SDS drill. 

SDS, SDS plus, and SDS max are different by their drill bits, operational modes, and chuck.

  • SDS and SDS plus drill bits are 10mm in diameter and have 4 rails.
  • SDS max is 18mm and has 05 rails.

SDS max is used for extremely heavy-duty jobs like drilling concrete with reinforcement, and SDS plus is not that much.

hammer drill bit, sds plus drill bit and sds max drill bit
Hammer drill bit, SDS Drill bit and SDS Max Drill Bit

What are the SDS, SDS Plus and SDS Max Drills?

SDS Drill

The SDS drill is the beginner of the SDS drill series. Its power is between the hammer drill and SDS plus drill. It has a slotted drive shaft and 10mm diameter and 10cm-20cm drill bits can be used.

In the tool, you can see two settings such as rotational and rotational with hammering. Due to the lower power of the tool, it can’t be used on heavy-duty tasks.

SDS Drill

SDS Plus (Mid-Size SDS)

A midsize hammer is suitable for heavier-duty applications. It is not suitable for operating in a rotary-only mode. It uses the SDS-Plus bits.

SDS-Plus bits have grooves on the shanks. Those grooves lock securely into the chuck but allow the bit to move back and forth independently of the chuck. They are super easy to insert and remove no tools are required. Some of the big rotary hammers also have a similar system, but a larger one called the SDS-Max

SDS plus is more powerful than SDS drill. But it can use longer SDS drill bits. Using SDS plus you can drill concrete, bricks, and stones easily. But you can’t do it for heavy-duty tasks such as drilling with rebars, chiselling, chipping etc. You will need an SDS max drill for that.

SDS Plus Drill

SDS Max Drills (Demolition Hammers)

SDS max is the most powerful SDS hammer drill. It used 18mm diameter drill bits with 05 rails and mostly used for chiselling, chipping and heavy-duty drilling such as concrete with rebars. When you use this you can have more than 50% efficiency of each task.

There are 03 modes, such as hammer mode, rotational mode and combined mode are them. So you can use it as a chisel, as a hammer drill, and a regular drill with suitable drill bits.

SDS Max Drill

I have prepared an article about the Differences Between SDS, SDS Plus, and SDS Max drills? It will explain in-depth of these 03 tools in detail.

SDS drills feature a slotted drive system. A slotted drive System means the chuck is designed to fit specialist SDS drill bits. These have slots at the end of their shanks and it’s ensuring a seamless fit into the chuck. The bit’s slots feature a pair of sprung ball bearings.

During the operation, the hammer action pushes the bit forwards. The sprung ball bearings are housed in the slots on the bit and act as a sort of safety mechanism and ensure the bit stays fitted in the chuck. SDS drills need to have a high strength to perform heavy drilling applications.

For that, the smooth action of the ball bearings in the bit helps to boost the drill’s strength while also working to reduce friction levels. The slots help to permit the back-and-forth hammer action. The hammer motion is driven by a piston.

Difference Between SDS and Hammer Drill

SDS drill is different from the hammer drill, in its

  • Mechanism
  • Usage
  • Hammering power
  • Chuck
  • Types of drill bits

Read More About – SDS Drill vs Hammer Drill: Which is the Best?

 SDS DrillHammer Drill
MechanismWith a piston-based hammering mechanismWith percussion mechanism
UsageHeavy-duty deep drilling Light drilling 
ChuckQuick changed chuckKeyless
Use hammer mode onlyYesNo
Drill bitsSpecial bitsCircular
ConclusionHas more power and more performance With less hammering power
Differences between SDS drill and hammer drill

NormallSDS drills can be named as “rotary hammer drills” also. Hammer drills can name “percussion drills” also due to their hammering mechanism differences. In the hammer drill, there is a clutch-based hammering mechanism and in the SDS there is a piston-based hammering mechanism.

Chuck and Jaws
A hammer drill chuck has three jaws. While tightening the chuck, these three jaws can move close, and the drill bit will tighten. Hammer drills (such as SDS drill types) do not need to provide much torque for the drilling there, for the chuck will not lose. SDS drills are with a different chuck without a key or rotational tighten. Just move backward the chuck and then drill put it into the chuck and move forward. Then the drill will be tight with the inner bearings of the chuck.

SDS drill provides force directly to the drill bit. Therefore; chuck does not move with the drill bit. The drill bit can move about 1.5 inches forward and backwards. Due to this back force effect is too much less.

When the SDS plus mechanism is upgraded a bit there is an SDS max drill. There are differences between SDS plus Vs SDS max. SDS max is extremely used for heavy-duty projects.

How to Identify SDS and SDS Plus Drill?

You can identify SDS drills by their chuck, drill bit, and shank. Most SDS drills look heavy-duty. Few are powered by a battery and most of them are corded.

You can identify the SDS drill by its chuck easily. Normally, we have to tighten the church after putting the drill bit inside. But in SDS there is a spring mechanism and it will not tighten too much the drill bit. As well as you can see there is about 15mm free movement when it fits to the chuck.

As well as you can see there is a rail on the drill bits. So if it is SDS there are 4 rails on the drill bits and of it is 05 mostly that is an SDS max drill.

Can I Use SDS Drill Bit in Normal Drill?

Practically, You can use the SDS drill bit in normal drills (regular hammer drills), if the SDS drill bit can fit into the normal drill chuck. Due to the rails on the SDS drill bits, chuck jaws will not tight properly, hence it can lose or the drill bit will wobble and slip easily.

When you use an SDS drill bit in a normal drill, you can see, its expected performance has been reduced due to low-power hammering action.

If you wish to use SDS drill bits in regular drills (only spinning, no hammer actions) it is useless. These drills do not have hammer action as well as lower torque.

If you need to use an SDS drill bit in a regular drill please refer to this guide Can I Use an SDS Drill Bit in Hammer Drill?

Are SDS Drills Better than Hammer Drill?

SDS drills are also a type of hammer drill. As before mentioned, SDS hammer drills are more powerful and efficient than hammer drills. SDS drills are very suitable for heavy-duty drillings. Like concrete and masonry.

Are SDS and SDS Plus Interchangeable?

SDS and SDS plus are interchangeable. Both SDS and SDS Plus have a diameter of 10 mm. SDS is the original slotted drive system. SDS Plus is an improvement of SDS but was designed to be backward compatible.

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Tom Mackency

Tom Mackency

Hi, I am Tom Mackency. It has been 10 years that I have been working as a professional woodworker since 2013. I am really enjoying my carrier by creating many kinds of projects in my workshop. But mostly I like for home improvement projects. Home improvement and DIY projects are the most interesting things for me. More than that, the coolest things are power tools. Those are very precious and efficient than a decade ago. So I try to introduce so many things about power tools, woodworking, DIY projects, home improvement and many more interesting topics here.