Creature Comforts

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Hilti's bit change is excellent.

Credit: Photo: David Sharpe

Boxes. Good toolboxes are always important, but with 20-plus–pound hammers–plus bits–it's even more important; these tools require a box that can withstand not only the weight of the tool banging around but also a collection of heavy bits, which altogether can reach 30–40 pounds.

Fortunately, the boxes in this group were up to the task. All are plastic but are made tough enough to hold the weight. I liked the Hilti, Hitachi, and DeWalt boxes best. They're all big enough and have ample room for extra bits. Hilti's box top and bottom are identical, making upside-down box opening a regular occurrence. A duct tape X on the top solves this, though. The Bosch and Makita boxes worked fine, though I wish they were a little roomier. The best news is that all the boxes' interior tool-positioning tabs are clearly laid out, making it easy to get the tool back into the box.

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Bosch's large sliding switch is easy to reach and activate.

Credit: Photo: David Sharpe

Winners

This tool test sets the record for the biggest Dumpster bill of any I've done. We broke up tons of concrete, block, and stone over weeks of working these hammers hard.

We liked the DeWalt model the best–it's a great all-around demo tool. It has very good balance and we like the in-line body design. All the controls are in the right place and vibration is well-dampened. We also liked the Hilti. With its heavy-duty construction it should endure the test of time, which is something to consider when you see its higher price. It's got a great bit change and the best vibration-dampening.

The Bosch and Makita came in a very respectable third. These are well-designed tools with plenty of power and were quite comfortable to use in various positions and materials.

Hitachi's new tool didn't seem to have the power and performance we need.

–Erik Elwell owns Thompson Construction, a high-end residential and light commercial remodeling firm in New York City.

Iron

We use all kinds of different bits or irons on our jobs. For starting in on a slab, we usually chuck up a bullet-point bit to dig a starting hole. Once we have the hole, we switch out for a spade bit. Depending on the concrete's density, we opt for 1- to 3-inch chisel; the softer or more brittle the concrete, the wider the chisel. For cleanup work and brick demo, we usually keep to a 1-inch bit because it provides the most control. When removing tile from a mortar base, we generally use the widest spade bit we can find. Four- to 5-inch spades generally get the job done in a hurry.

Thanks to Dril-Tec for supplying the bits for this test.