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What Is an SDS Chisel?

Jean Marie Asta
Jean Marie Asta

A special direct system (SDS) chisel is a type of power tool used for a number of functions in construction and manufacturing settings. These tools may be used for the same purposes as a hammer, drill, or traditional chisel. Due to its versatility and the amount of power it provides to workers, an SDS chisel is a common piece of industrial machinery.

Standard chisels are a simple blade with a handle used by workers to chip small pieces off of a work piece. They are typically used in woodworking, but can be used on metal objects as well. Usually a hammer is used together with a chisel to allow the worker to carve into the work piece with more force. When used in this way, an SDS chisel substitutes electrical power for hand power.


In addition to being machine powered, an SDS chisel is different from standard chisels in its ability to work as an electrical hammer or drill. A switch located on the SDS chisel can be adjusted according to which of the tool’s three functions are needed. The speed of the tool is adjusted with a second switch.

SDS chisels are capable of supplying more force to a work piece than many other hand-operated power tools. They are also capable of using drill bits much bigger than those that can fit into standard drills. For workers, this has both advantages and disadvantages. An SDS chisel can be used on denser work pieces than a typical drill, and perform some actions a drill in incapable of. With the increased power, however, come safety hazards, and unlike many other handheld tools, SDS chisels are unsafe to use on ladders, and other areas where a worker’s footing might be unstable.

A wide variety of detachable bits can be used by an SDS chisel. These vary depending on how the tool is being used, and depending on the work piece. Special bits can be used to carve a groove in the work piece, scrape off shavings from it, or break off larger chunks. The standard bits used for most drills are all usable as well. These may be replaced as needed using a quick release lever located on the chisel.

An SDS chisel can meet a number of needs in the workplace or even in home-based construction settings. It is a powerful tool and requires a skilled and steady hand to safely and effectively operate. Still, its use is recommended for working with stone, cement, brick and other hard work pieces.

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