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Concrete Core Drilling and Equipment

Updated on November 8, 2010

Concrete Core Drill Guide

Concrete core drilling is the process of boring holes into varying thicknesses of concrete, primarily for routing utilities through homes and commercial businesses. If the process of drilling concrete is something you have not done before stop and take the time to read this brief hub to get yourself acquainted with the boring process and concrete equipment.


Drilling and boring concrete is not like most do-it-yourself projects. The equipment used in concrete drilling is very powerful and technical. Working in this field can be a very hazardous activity. Accidents can happen on any job, but when extremely low geared drills and core rigs bind on the concrete and suddenly snap free people tend to get hurt. Like any activity, taking the time to read about the process and learn the use of the tools makes for a safer work environment.

Which Drill to Use.

The first step to drilling concrete is to match your job to your tool and bit. This is easy once you understand the process and the application of the drills. Most do-it-yourself jobs involve smaller holes for wire utilities or small tube lines, which are easily bored with hand-held drills. Holes 5 inches round with no more and 4 inches of depth should be easy to core with a hand-held drill. Wider or deeper holes stress that cause stress on your drill can turn potentially dangerous. The skinnier the hole, the deeper you can go with less danger of binding on a hand-held drill.

For large holes you need to use a stand mounted rig. These drills are attached to the wall, floor or ceiling with anchors. They are stable and secure allowing a single person to core much larger holes safely. Holes that would be impossible with a handheld concrete drill. A core rig is low-geared and works tirelessly at concrete to carve out holes over a foot in diameter. DIY drillers should be aware that if you attempt a hole this size you will be hard at word for many hours depending on your depth. Using a tool like this take preparation and forethought.  Core rigs also involve water in the process to keep friction and heat at bay. This preserves the very expensive core bits.

Core Drill Bits

Concrete Drill Bits come in many sizes and depths. Most commonly the sizes for hand-held drills are under 5 inches. Some brands do sell larger diameter bits for specialty jobs, but again, be wary. Most concrete drill bits have diamond teeth that make short work of concrete no matter how long its been curing. Regardless, it is important to keep an extremely sharp bit when coring concrete. Once the bit wear out it friction and stress on the drill increases as do the  chances of an accident. Core rigs that use wide bits on deep holes are most prone to stress and friction—and accidents. Most core rig bits allow deeper penetrations than hand-held bits. However, if the bit isn't deep enough you can purchase an extender that will allow you to go the depth you need for your utilities.

Core Drill Tutorial

Concrete Coring Tips and Hints

  • Find out exactly what utilities you are drilling the holes for before you drill. Don't just guess approximately. You always want to drill the smallest hole possible, for yourself and the structure you are drilling into. The couple of minutes it will take to learn the exact specifications will save you in the long run.This is one instance where over sizing is not a good idea.
  • Don't oversize your hole, but do oversize your drill. Too many people will attempt to hand-drill a hole that was made for core rig. Why? Because hand drills are cheaper and purchasing a core rig (or even renting a core rig) is often very expensive. Always follow the recommended uses that come with the drill and oversize your equipment when it comes to concrete. If core several holes you want to make sure your equipment can withstand the several hours of constant heat, friction and burning. Your drill will last longer as well as your back too!
  • Having doubts? hire a pro. I like do-it-yourself projects. In fact, my house has been one big do-it-yourself project for the past 5 plus years. One of the best skills I picked up doing my massive remodel is knowing when to pay someone to come forward and finish the job. I'm not saying you shouldn't drill your own concrete, but I'm just saying that sometimes its better to pay the professionals and get back to a job you feel more confident and have more fun with.


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      Dean Reese 3 years ago

      I had no idea that matching your job to your tool and bit was so important. My brother is involved in drilling concrete and I'm not sure if he is aware of this. I'll have to let him to know to make sure he gets it. Thanks for the help!