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Drills for bolting that are not Bosch or Hilti
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By safetyfourth
Mar 27, 2013
Are there any good, less expensive drills that someone can recommend for bolting?

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By M Sprague
Administrator
From New England
Mar 27, 2013
Lichen head. Me, with my usual weatherbeaten, lich...
Not really. Unfortunately, you seem to get what you pay for. I have a friend who used a Dewalt that he had for work, for a while. He said it worked alright, but I noticed he sprang for a new big Bosch pretty quickly. If you can't find someone to help you out with their drill for your first projects, you might be able to find a used older model on eBay or a refurbished one. Personally, I would just wait and keep saving and keeping an eye out for sales. Cheap tools just wear out quickly or work like crap, so you have spend the money to get another one anyway. With used older ones the batteries will be most likely pretty shot and the price of getting new ones would be a big chunk of a whole new drill. I got the biggest Bosch with two of the big batteries for about $600, but if not drilling a lot at once, you could get the smaller "Kinder" model with one battery for quite a bit less (less of a hog to carry too). My other Bosch drills lasted for many years of pretty heavy use, and they seem to keep getting better. A 1/2" hole in granite in less than 30 seconds! That is worth paying for :) I gave my old ones to friends who didn't need to drill as much or rely on them out in the outback.

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By John Wilder
From Las Vegas, NV
Mar 27, 2013
Any cordless rotary hammer drill over 24v should work, but rotary hammers are expensive for the most part. And Bosch and Hilti have the best reputations among those of us who bolt frequently for a reason.

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By Doug S
Mar 27, 2013
Edge of Time
I use just about every brand regularly at work. Although the dewalt would work if you're not too serious about it, the bosch is hard to beat for drilling holes quickly. There is a noticable difference. It seems to me like they have a more aggressive hammer action, so they drive holes significantly faster. They do make less expensive 18v models. If you go that route, get lithium ion batteries.

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By rock_fencer
From Columbia, SC
Mar 27, 2013
Myself placing a a blue/yellow offset MC to protec...
ive seen some light panasonics in use here in the SE...albeit we arent putting up sport routes. Light and good for ~ 8-12 bolts depending on power.

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By Thomas Beck
From Las Vegas, Nevada
Mar 27, 2013
beck on limestone
It's Bosch or Hilti for a gun. As John says they are not cheap but last a really long time with care. I've got one 18 years old with over 400 holes notched up and some on site construction work also...still works perfectly.

You can get batteries rebuilt by searching for outfits which do rebuilding ..listed on ebay. at about $150 a pop. the refurbs can be better than new batteries.

Today if I had choice of 24 or 36v, I'd go with 36v. Get a new one. Google search will find you sources.

One of my friends tried the used route on ebay and spent way more dollars playing round, trying to get fried or trashed equipment to work. Few things more scary/frustrating than having your "gun" quit on you while on lead on a shaky stance.

Far as drill bits...IMO Hilti's last the longest, Bosch second best and Dewalt last in quality (the carbide is softer), but if you know how you can sharpen Dewalt and Bosch bits. Use a common bench grinder and a diamond stone. A properly relieved/sharpened Dewalt bit will be as aggressive and fast as a new Hilti bit; albeit a little more delicate. Risk there is after 3 or 4 sharpening's, if you mess up, the drill diameter will be too small and you'll be getting bad/failed placements. If sharpening, I use a dial caliper to compare sharpened bit diameters to new diameter so you don't find yourself on your project installing shit bolts.

You'll get a lot more use out of the cheaper bits if you don't try to drill the hole in one go, but rather let the bit cool down some at 1/3 and 2/3 depth and blow out the dust. When you see the bit shaft turning color you are getting it too hot for longest life. Next thing which will happen is the carbide will chip. Course it is easy to let bits cool off if rap bolting....not so easy to do if you're run out and gripped on lead.

My editorial opinion: Just cause you have a shiny new tool doesn't qualify you to construct new routes. Just like having a tool belt and a hammer doesn't make you a carpenter. Watch, Observe, learn from someone experienced and think before drilling please.

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By 1Eric Rhicard
Mar 27, 2013
It is a good sized roof. Photo: Jimbo
I would guess that if you cannot afford a Bosch you can't afford the number of bolts and hangers you will use even if you get a cheap drill. This is unless you are planning to do routes that use mostly trad gear. We just put up 6 new 50-60 foot routes in two days. We used 56 bolts and hangers as well as 12 quicklinks. Wedge anchors were given to us and the hangers were a good deal at $1.20 and the links were a dollar each. Total cost roughly $80 and that is cheap. Normally it would be a minimum of $3/bolt and hanger.

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By Andrew Gram
Administrator
From Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 27, 2013
Andrew Gram
Depends on the rock. I use an 18v Makita for desert sandstone and limestone and love it - it is really light weight compared to 24 or 36v Hilti or Bosch drills, which makes drilling on lead a lot nicer. I get 30+ half inch holes in Wingate on one lithium ion battery. Haven't used it on hard rock like granite or quartzite and i'm sure it would struggle there, but mine works perfectly for my needs.

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By 20 kN
Administrator
From Hawaii
Mar 28, 2013
1Eric Rhicard wrote:
Total cost roughly $80 and that is cheap.

Ha, we spend nearly double that bolting one pitch in Hawaii. $14 a bolt with epoxy, $10 a foot for 316 3/8" chain, and $5 per quicklink for 316 quicklinks.

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By safetyfourth
Mar 28, 2013
Thanks for the responses. I would be using it for gear protected routes, mostly for anchors or where protection is impossible by traditional means. But it's in granite. So it looks like it's bosch or hilti. (probably going to stick to hand drilling)

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By Greg G
From SLC, UT
Mar 28, 2013
The route in it's entirety.
Definitely hand drill the anchor bolts if only using them for rap anchors. Splitting the chore with your partner makes them zip right in, and also makes you think a little harder regarding where to locate them or if they even mandatory as there may be trees or a walk off close by. Sometimes you'll reclimb something you put up, and realize it sucks totally unworthy of wasting bolts on.

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By JohnWesely
From Red River Gorge
Mar 28, 2013
Gunking
rock_fencer wrote:
ive seen some light panasonics in use here in the SE...albeit we arent putting up sport routes. Light and good for ~ 8-12 bolts depending on power.


Those things are super light and slick.

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By safetyfourth
Mar 28, 2013
Yeah I've learned that it takes some thought and purpose to hand drill, and I do appreciate it when it comes to putting up new routes.

I was hoping that there was a small cordless drill on the market that could be used to drill a limited number of holes, but it sounds like, especially when it comes to harder stone, anything under 18v is essentially worthless.

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By freezeus
From Pittsfield, VT
Mar 28, 2013
If you are doing just a few holes at a time the Ryobi 18v Lithium SDS Rotary hammer can be purchased for as low as $129. The batteries are light and easy to carry a spare. Can do as many as 4 holes per battery on sandstone/limestone or two holes per battery on a medium schist. If you are planning on a bunch of sport routes then the bosch is the way to go.

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By Morgan Patterson
Administrator
Mar 28, 2013
Stoked...
This place is where I got my drill... reconditioned and no issues to date... great deal.

cpotools.com/bosch-cordless-ro...

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By drewford
From Wasatch Back, UT
May 29, 2014
Base of Stiffler's Mom
Battery technology is changing constantly. I've owned Bosch, Hilti and now I own the Ryobi 18v One Plus.

Pros:
Total cost for the naked drill - $99. If I accidentally drop it, I'm not out $500.
With a Lithium+ battery I'm getting anywhere from 8 to 12 3/8" holes depending on rock type
Light (5 lbs.) and compact
Up to 1/2" SDS bit
Ryobi has a entire line of One Plus tools. The batteries swap between my drill, my weed wacker, saws, etc.
With two batteries it weighs less than my last Bosch with one battery.

Cons:
Not as well made as a Bosch or Hilti. Consumer grade, not for use in the trades.
Does not hit as hard as a Bosch or Hilti. Holes take a bit longer.

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By Rschap
From Grand Junction, CO
May 29, 2014
This is what I did and I think all said and done I spent $100-$150. Biggest downside is weight, I put the batteries in a small back pack.

supertopo.com/climbers-forum/6...

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By john strand
From southern colo
May 29, 2014
Andrew Gram wrote:
Depends on the rock. I use an 18v Makita for desert sandstone and limestone and love it - it is really light weight compared to 24 or 36v Hilti or Bosch drills, which makes drilling on lead a lot nicer. I get 30+ half inch holes in Wingate on one lithium ion battery. Haven't used it on hard rock like granite or quartzite and i'm sure it would struggle there, but mine works perfectly for my needs.

I have a makita 18V as well.it works really well on southern Co crap rock...Penitente stuff, I easy get 12+ holes (3.5") per battery, maybe more. i also use Makita stuff for construction and have several tools That said.I would for sure go for a Bosch 36V in harder rock

i got mine new, for $150 (bare tool)

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By Adam Floyd
From Las Vegas
May 31, 2014
Vegas the Dog
My new Dewalt 20v is pretty slick, but the sameish weight as the 36v Bosch

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By oldfattradguuy
May 31, 2014
Makita works well. There is a guy in Wyoming that turned me on to them and I doubt there are many folks who drill more than he does. Drill/2 batteries was $300 on amazon.

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By Joe Stark
From Iowa
May 31, 2014
Warming up
m.ebay.com/itm/331209000662?na...

Good deal on a Hilti.

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By tom donnelly
Jun 20, 2014
5 AH batteries on the way

toolguyd.com/bosch-18v-5ah-bat...

professional-power-tool-guide....

toolguyd.com/dewalt-20v-5ah-ba...

18V tool roundup June 2013
protoolreviews.com/tools/power...

batteries
toolguyd.com/power-tool-brands...

If one battery ain't enough for those 1" diameter holes
makitatools.com/en-us/Modules/...

The best for bolting on lead may be the Panasonic EY78A1 runs on 18V or 14.4V, 4.2AH batteries, superlight, expensive. But in the US it looks like the older EY7840 is still being sold - 14.4V, 3.3 AH. Still very good.
see p. 34 of panasonic-powertools.eu/powert...

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By nbrown
From western NC
Jun 20, 2014
Top of Shortoff with the Bonsai
tom donnelly wrote:
The best for bolting on lead may be the Panasonic EY78A1 runs on 18V or 14.4V, 4.2AH batteries, superlight, expensive. But in the US it looks like the older EY7840 is still being sold - 14.4V, 3.3 AH. Still very good. see p. 34 of panasonic-powertools.eu/powert...


Been using this one for a few years now and while it is a bit slow, it's very light and compact. It's also easy to hold above your head due to a good design for "overhead drilling".

If it's just a few bolts though, personally, I still prefer to do it by hand. It's a more satisfying experience at the end of the day. Don't ask me why because I don't know. Maybe it's the therapeutic effect of wailing on something with a hammer for a bit...

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