How Does a Pneumatic Hammer Work?

A pneumatic hammer, also known as air hammer or power hammer uses compressed air to carve or chip away at stone, metal and other materials. It is a tool generally used to shape or smooth a surface area, to dig holes or cut through a surface.

An air hammer, which is a replacement for the traditional hammer and chisel, is a handy tool that is very valuable for its speed which at times may lack a bit of precision in the final result. Pneumatic hammers are generally attached by a tube or hose to a large tank that pumps up air and thus making the pistons move.

The Piston

The piston, which is located inside a cylinder, is the only part of the air hammer that moves. Compressed air is pumped in the cylinder so that the metal piston moves up and down mimicking the movement of a hammer.

While moving up and down, the piston opens a valve that allows the compressed air to enter the cylinder and thus pushing the piston itself. Therefore, when the piston reaches the top of the piston, air flows from above it and pushes it down, whilst when the piston reaches the bottom, air flows from below pushing it upwards. Thanks to the compressed air the piston moves up and down at the desired speed.

The Drill Bit

The speed and force of the piston are regulated by the drill bit which is a metal bar at the bottom of the cylinder. Each time the piston hits the drill bit, this is pushed into the surface to drill.

These two objects (piston and drill bit) move in opposite forces: every time the piston moves downwards and hits the drill bit, it is pushed upwards again and whilst the piston moves upwards, the drill bit goes downwards into the pavement. It is important to note that these two forces move in equal but opposite strength and direction.

Tips and Bits

To perform different actions, some of which are to smooth, to cut and to drill, the pneumatic hammer uses different tips or heads which are also known as the drill bit. Various tips are employed for the different tasks.

So for example a hammer tip is used when you want to shape materials, a chisel tip is employed when you want to score or cut into the surface. Bits have the same function of the tips or heads.

A ‘nibbler-like’ bit is perfect for cutting steel, while a round-tipped bit can punch holes through metal and a flat spade masonry bit is ideal to take out mortar.

Safety Tips

Since pneumatic hammers are very powerful tools it is important to always keep a steady hand. Moreover, make sure to safety glasses and ear plugs to avoid. Take note to always unplug the air hammer when changing the tips and bits.

Pneumatic hammers are one of the great advancements in power tools that we have today. Such technological advancements allow faster and safer working methods to craftsmen without the traditional time and energy consuming methods.