Can You Drill Into Concrete Fence Posts? [SOLVED]
If you’ve ever mended a fence post, you know it can be a bit of a tough task. It involves a lot of tearing apart your hard work and replacing it with even more hard work. If you’re trying to replace a concrete fence post, the job just gets harder. That makes the question for the day simple – can you drill into concrete fence posts? And further, what will you need to do it?
Can you drill into concrete fence posts? Yes, but it takes a bit of specialised equipment and some elbow grease.
Don’t worry – by the end of this article, we’ll have you drilling like a pro. It just takes a bit of preparation. Now without further ado, let’s hop right into the thick of things.
Drilling Concrete Fence Posts
First things first – this is entirely within the realm of possibility. Don’t just toss out your concrete fence post because you think it’s impossible to drill into it. Do, however, toss them out if you don’t want to invest in a few specialised tools. It’ll be cheaper and easier to replace a concrete fence post than it will be to drill into it – but it can be done.
Unlike wood, concrete is favoured in most construction positions due to its durability and water-resistant properties. Unfortunately, this means that they’re drastically harder to drill into than a standard wooden fence. To drill into concrete, you’ll need the following:
- A (preferably corded) SDS drill
- Multiple masonry drill bits (at least 4, 6, and 8 mm, if not more)
- Eye protection
- Sturdy gloves
- Steel-toed boots
- Lots of time
- Some strong arms
Now, the first two items on that list only cost money. The last three, however, have a bit of extra value. If you’re not a patient person or are in a rush, you’re not going to like this process. Okay, now that you’ve been warned, let’s talk drills.
What is an SDS Drill?
If you’ve never seen or used an SDS drill, think of it as a handheld jackhammer. In short, SDS drills are specialised drills that hammer and chisel what you’re drilling. And in case you’re wondering, SDS stands for Slotted Drive System. This means that the drill’s bits are designed for specialised slots, so no, you can’t use standard drill bits here.
Now, it’s possible that you can do this with a standard drill bit. It’s worth it to give it a try with that first, but I’m willing to bet you wouldn’t be here if it worked, would you?
You only come here when you have a problem, never just to talk…
Jokes aside, it’s very likely that an SDS is your best bet. You can find both wired and wireless drills, though wired ones are much stronger. Their one downside, obviously, is that you need to be able to plug it in.
What About Masonry Bits?
Remember how we mentioned that there are special bits for SDS drills? Yeah, they’re not your average drill bit. This is for two reasons – first, they are designed to fit an SDS drill. Second, they’re specifically designed for masonry (hence the name) like concrete, brick, and stone. They’re immediately recognisable by their arrowhead shape.
Masonry bits come in a number of sizes, and are made out of everything from tungsten-carbide to chrome-nickel molybdenum steel (wow, that was a mouthful). In other words, they’re stronger than you are… probably. If not, you could likely just punch a hole in the concrete, though I think your hands may dislike that a bit.
Often when deciding on the bit you buy, it’s best to keep it in the family. In other words, buy bits made for the brand of drill you have. This will prevent any weird incompatibilities across brands and make your life drastically easier in the long run.
How to Drill a Concrete Post
Now – onto the actual fun bit.
First things first – a warning. Wear the proper safety equipment. That includes a respirator, eye protection, gloves, a hardhat, and steel-toed boots. You’re jackhammering concrete, and you really don’t want a piece of it in your eye, head, mouth, or feet.
You’re going to want to start with a smaller drill bit than the hole you’re aiming to make. This is important for a few reasons:
- It lowers the risk of damaging the hole by catching supports and reinforcement
- It is easier to drill a large hole when a guide hole has been made first
- You get to drill concrete – enjoy it. Feel like the manly man (or woman) that you are, and take control!
Because concrete often has rebar or steel reinforcement inside, it’s usually pretty hard to accurately make a straight line on the first try. If you poured and laid the concrete yourself, you’ll know if there’s rebar in there. That should make your life a bit easier, hopefully.
Especially if the concrete isn’t reinforced, you will be running the risk of shattering your concrete as your drill. There’s really no great way to decrease this risk than to just work slowly and with intent. Pay attention to the concrete as you drill and pay attention to cracks and hairline fractures.
If you’re drilling through the concrete, you also run the risk of blowing out the back end. The best way to avoid this is to frequently remove the bit and clear out dust. Use large washers to fasten items to the concrete, and just (as above) work with intent. If you just can’t get this done yourself, hire a contractor. They’ll get it done quickly and more easily than you will.
If you need to drill into concrete, you’re going to encounter a few issues. The first is that a standard drill bit likely won’t make its way in. If it does, you’ll likely blow through a few before you finish the job. It’s generally best to get an SDS drill and masonry bits if you’re planning to drill into concrete. Be sure to work your way up in the size of drill bit, starting with roughly 4 mm and slowly upgrading until you’re at the size you need. And be careful to avoid rebar reinforcement – it’s not nice to drill bits.
Beyond that, one of the most important things you need to do is to work with intent. That means working carefully and slowly, paying attention to the concrete. Should you skip this, you run the risk of blowing out or shattering the concrete, which isn’t great. The most important thing here is that you wear protective equipment. Concrete dust shouldn’t be inhaled, and concrete pieces should remain outside of your body – trust me here. At the end of the day, I like to think of this as an opportunity to get new toys. If your partner argues, send them to me – I’ll explain that we all need a few good toys…er… tools.