Core drilling is important on large job sites when you want to insert something large through concrete or metal, such as piping, sewage, and the like. Choosing a core drilling machine and the bits you’ll need can be tricky, but I’m here to help.
I’ve listed some core drilling machines and bits for you to get started. This will help you decide which tool to use for your next project, as some are handheld while others come with a stand.
6 Best Core Drills
Here are my top picks for the best core drilling machines:
The Bluerock Z-1 2-Speed Coring Drill is a machine capable of wet drilling due to the included water hose assembly. This will help with difficult tasks on the job site, especially for installing piping underneath a concrete construction. It has a 1-1/4-inch, 7 UNC standard spindle while it comes with 1 to 4-inch bits to get you started.
Because it has two speeds (2,100 RPM and 950 RPM), you can choose the one appropriate for your needs without ruining your material or wasting time. This core drill has a 1,500-watt motor rated at 110V 50-60 Hz. Because the lever is on the side it will provide comfort, alongside the automatic hold-down switch.
This 4-inch drill has a safety clutch that will help in the job site to give you peace of mind. Moreover, its portable design makes it easy to handle awkward situations. I like the durable carrying case that’s form-fitted to keep your core drill and other accessories (such as bits) in place without losing them.
Things I Like About This Product: It has an automatic hold-down switch for continuous drilling. Since it is a hand drill, you can position it in various ways as compared to free-standing units.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The drill is a little on the heavy side so it can be a bit difficult for first-time users.
If you prefer to work with a free-standing unit, the Happybuy Diamond Core Drilling Machine with Stand is for you. This tool is applicable for both wet and dry operations and is powered by a 3,980-watt 110V motor. It is an 8-inch unit with a smooth speed change, so you can easily adapt to any kind of material, such as concrete, bricks, and blocks.
For durability, it has a steel forged output shaft on the diamond core for longer-lasting water resistance. On the other hand, its water inlet is anti-corrosion because it is made of pure copper. Likewise, it has overload protection and a cooling system to protect you and the machine from an accident such as burning in. The compact size is perfect for most garages and job sites.
It has a drilling diameter of 4.25 inches and a vertical depth of 8 inches, and a personal protection switch for safety. As it comes with various accessories, such as an air tune, carbon brushes, monkey wrench, box spanner, five screws, the diamond bit, and a user’s manual. With a speed of 750 RPM, this tool also has a nearly maintenance-free non-water seal cage.
Things I Like About This Product: It has a high drilling capacity and has durable parts to make it adaptable to different situations and bad weather.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: Buyers have had some minor shipping issues such as dented boxes.
For beginners, I’d recommend the Happybuy Diamond Handheld Core Drilling Machine due to its lightweight design. At only 20.7 pounds, this unit is usable on reinforced concrete, stone, brick, fireproof materials, ceramic, and the like. It has a drilling capacity of 6 inches in diameter and it has a spindle thread of 1.25 inches UNC.
With a rated power of 2,180 watts and a power supply of 110V 60Hz, this powerful handheld drill has a speed of 1,600 RPM. What’s more, setting it up is a breeze due to its quick connect water valve with shutoff for wet applications. Likewise, it has a steel forged output shaft to make it water-resistant. Because it has a variable speed feature, it will help with different material types and save you time in the long run.
Due to its shoulder rest design, looking for the stress point and buffer will be a breeze and it will be comfortable to operate the core drill. Like most water-capable units, this one has an anti-corrosion copper inlet. Core drill bits with a size of 5/8-inch-11 will fit this machine.
Things I Like About This Product: It has a comfortable shoulder rest design and it is lightweight compared to most core drilling machines that are handheld.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The circuit breaker on the side of the drill could be better when it comes to extra durability.
Great for heavy-duty jobs, the CS Unitec ETN 2001 P 2-Speed Core Drill is a German-made machine that is both handheld and rig-mounted in its design. Made for both wet and dry applications, this concrete core drill is also applicable for bricks, blocks, and stone; making it great for a multitude of uses.
With a capacity of up to 4 inches (rig-mounted) and 3 inches (handheld) in diameter, this model is powered by a 15-amp 110V motor bearing dual-speed modes: 800 RPM and 1,570 RPM. Mounting is also easy due to the 52-mm collar (the rig mounting kits are sold separately).
Due to its GFCI overcurrent cut-off protection standard, you will have peace of mind when it comes to safety. What’s more, it has an adjustable valve for any garden hose using its quick connection for water supply. Because it weighs only 15 pounds, it is one of the most lightweight handheld core drills on the market – ideal for long hours of drilling.
Among its convenient features include a standard connection for the spindle, an additional handle, and a locking switch for continuous operation. It also bears a metal gearbox to reduce maintenance costs and troubles.
Things I Like About This Product: It has two speeds available for flexibility and it has a lighter weight than most core drills of its class.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: You have to buy the rig mount separately.
Another free-standing unit I’d like to recommend is the Bluerock 8-Inch Core Drill with Stand. This one has a max drilling capacity of 8 inches and has overload protection for its 2,400-watt 110V 60 Hz motor. With its water hose connection, drilling in wet conditions can be a simple task.
This drill has a speed of 750 RPM, which is similar to most core drills in free-standing mode. If you have drill bits with 1-1/4-inch thread size (common in most core drills), they will fit into this machine, which is capable of handling rock, masonry, bricks, and similar materials. To keep the machine stable, it has an option to be bolted down using a wedge bolt or sleeve anchor.
I like that it has a convenient safety clutch, and the adaptable water spigot (made for standard garden hose sizes) will make wet drilling easy and convenient as well. Among its tools and accessories included are two spare brushes, three hex wrenches, and two normal wrenches. It even has a top bolt that is adjustable for ceiling binding.
Things I Like About This Product: It has a water flow adjustment and it will easily fit standard garden hoses for a quick setup. The speed is also sufficient for a free-standing core drill.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The packaging could be improved to keep all the pieces together and the instruction manual lacks detail.
Sporting a higher motor power of 4,800 watts, the Vevor Core Drill Machine with Stand has a 12-inch drilling capacity, which makes it ideal for heavier jobs. With a speed of 500 RPM, this tool is usable on wet and dry applications for concrete, blocks, marble, and bricks. It has a steel-forged output shaft for its water supply and pure copper for its inlet for durability during wet drilling.
Likewise, its casting material for the large handle is made to prevent shifting while lifting. I like that the stand comes with wheels for easy mobility around the job site, which will help to increase your productivity. Moreover, it has a 90-degree rotatable base that further improves its flexibility when you want to drill in difficult situations.
Aside from that, the aluminum material makes the construction portable without compromising durability. Included in the package are a hex socket wrench, leakage protector, internal expansion bolt, gasket, water pipe and joint offset spanner (17-19), and other accessories you’ll need. Unlike other units, this already comes with a diamond bit that’s ready to be used.
Things I Like About This Product: This drill has a 12-inch drilling capacity, which makes it ideal for heavy-duty work. It also has wheels for easy mobility and a rotatable base for flexibility at work.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The speed of the drill is not that high, but the tool makes up for it with its 12-inch drilling capacity.
4 Best Core Drill Bits
Now that I gave you my machine suggestions, here are my top picks for the best core drill bits:
For those who often work with concrete drilling, the Bluerock 1-Inch to 6-Inch Core Bit Set is for you. This set has wet-type properties that will do the job for your standard water-assisted concrete coring. Each of the bits have a length of 17 inches, while the inside barrel depth is 14.5 inches. The long length gives it more leverage for handling bigger jobs, including piping.
What’s more, it directly fits any standard 1-1/4-inch core drills because of its thread size, which is common anyway, so it is easy to set up with the unit that you already have. Bearing a bright orange color that’s easy to spot on the job site (especially in low-light areas), this set is suitable for both wet and dry drilling operations.
If you have any of the BLUEROCK Z-1 Core Drills, this set of diamond core drill bits will fit them exactly. If you do want to use it for other drills, such as the Hilti BI+, DD-BU, and DD-BL, certain adapters are available from the manufacturer’s site or by request.
Things I Like About This Product: Because of their long length, the bits are ideal for drilling longer materials, such as when working with piping installation underneath the concrete.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The drill bits are not suitable for other types of hard materials other than concrete.
If you have a different drill shank, the Binota SDS Plus Concrete Hole Saw Set is for you. Including sizes from 30 to 100 mm (1.18 to 3.94 inches), these drill bits are neatly packed in a sturdy case that has slots to keep them from moving around during transport. Along with the bits comes a connecting rod, a screw, a positioning drill, and a hole opener.
Because they are made with YG8 alloy for the cutter heads, they are suitable for bricks, concrete, cement, and similar materials. The aluminum-plastic box is easy to carry around and stores everything in place. This set is ideal for piping, sewage, water heater and air conditioner installation, and the like.
It has two connecting rods: one for SDS plus and another for SDS MAX, both 11.81 inches in length. It has a hole saw depth of 1.89 inches, as well as a locating drill diameter of 8 mm or 5/16 inches. If you have a 1/2-inch or 3/8-inch chuck on your regular hammer drill, these core drill bits will fit just fine.
Things I Like About This Product: The set has wide compatibility with different drills and sizes, and comes in a sturdy box.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: Removing the threads from the core saw can be tricky (you might need some grease for them). The pilot bit screws would benefit from a redesign, to avoid falling out.
The Bosch SDS Max Rotary Hammer Core Bit is a good choice for those who already have drills from this brand. This bit comes in various sizes, which makes it ideal for different applications, starting from home improvement jobs to heavy-duty work.
This carbide-tipped SDS-MAX rotary hammer core drill bit is specially designed with a wave pattern and a smooth integral shank for better transfer energy. Adding to its durability is the rubber ring on the lower part of the core head. Because it has a full range in both SDS-MAX and spline, it will be flexible for various operations.
Moreover, it has a hammer steel chisel with a unique cutting head that adds to its breakout capacity, thanks to its extra wedges. In addition to that, you’ll remove chips faster due to its aggressive tip design on each thru-hole bit. Applicable for concrete, blocks, and bricks, each core bit has asymmetrical carbide teeth, which also makes them durable for tough jobs.
Coming with a pilot bit and a shank, its SDS-MAX design allows it to be used even on smaller rotary hammers. It is backed by a 1-year limited warranty.
Things I Like About This Product: It has specially-designed waves on its head for better transfer energy plus extra wedges on the hammer steel chisel.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The rubber ring is not as durable as others.
Another bit that’s available in different sizes, the EDiamond Tools Wet Drill Core Bit has choices from 1/2-inch to 16-inch bits, all of which have a 1-1/4-inch-7 threaded shank. Because they are at #30/40 diamond grit, they can be used on hard concrete, brick, masonry, and other tough workpieces.
Despite having multiple size options, they all have a similar drilling depth of 14 inches, which is sufficient for most concrete drilling and installation work. As long as your drill is around 2,000 RPM, it will work just fine.
I like that this bit is usable for rebar, which makes it a heavy-duty option for professionals. This will be important for those who are working with installation projects involving a concrete wall. What’s more, the company also sells adapters for SDS-plus type drills so it has wide compatibility.
Since this drill bit is made for tough jobs, it is recommended that you connect it to a heavy-duty drill with a better motor capacity. This is to avoid the problem of overheating and to help reduce the number of breaks needed in between.
Things I Like About This Product: There is a wide selection of core bit sizes to choose from and they are applicable for heavy-duty drills and jobs. Moreover, these drill bits will cut rebar with the right drill settings.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The core drill bits are only applicable for wet use.
The Methodology: What I Considered When Picking the Drills and Bits Featured Above
Choosing core drilling machines and their corresponding bits is not always easy. This is why I’ve listed down some criteria that helped me in my selection, which I think will help you, too:
For Core Drilling Machines
- Drilling speed: Handheld core drills mostly have higher speeds (around 1,000 to 2,000 RPM) than those that are free-standing (typically at 750 RPM). This is because free-standing machines typically have more cutting capacity than their handheld counterparts.
- Design: Core drilling machines come in either handheld or free-standing, as mentioned above. Handheld units are ideal for portability or when working outside, while a free-standing unit is best for heavy-duty work.
- Usability: Consider a drill that’s lightweight if it is handheld and can be bolted down if it is free-standing. Changing the bits should also be simple to avoid consuming too much time. You might want to read my article about how to use a core drill too.
For Core Drill Bits
- Sizes available: Similar to buying regular drill bits, you should know which sizes are available from the manufacturer.
- Construction: Having construction that allows better grip and energy transfer from the motor to the bit will help you get your job done faster with little room for errors. Such construction will also add to the durability of each bit (even though we know bits are usually expendables over time).
- Compatibility: You should know if the drill bits fit your corresponding drill based on its shank size.
My top choice from the units mentioned above is the Bluerock Z-1 2-Speed Coring Drill, which has a dual-speed motor, while my second pick would be the Happybuy Diamond Core Drilling Machine with Stand, which has a high drilling capacity.
If you want a budget-friendly option, I’d recommend the Happybuy Diamond Handheld Core Drilling Machine with its comfortable shoulder rest design. For heavy-duty operations, you’d love the CS Unitec ETN 2001 P 2-Speed Core Drill, which is not only a dual-speed unit but is also very lightweight.
The Bluerock 8-Inch Core Drill with Stand is a great choice for a vertical one for the job site or in a garage. For a higher drilling capacity, the Vevor Core Drill Machine with Stand is my go-to pick.
If you want quality core drill bits, my top pick is the Bluerock 1-Inch to 6-Inch Core Bit Set, which is made for longer materials. The Binota SDS Plus Concrete Hole Saw Set has good packaging while the Bosch SDS Max Rotary Hammer Core Bits has a special design that maximizes energy transfer. If you want a rebar cutter bit, I recommend the EDiamond Tools Wet Drill Core Bits.