Can you finally cut the cord? Bosch seems to think so….and I tend to agree.
Back in February at the World of Concrete, we got a preview of the brand new Bosch 36v Bulldog Rotary Hammer. They had a very large concrete wall set up for demonstrations, and the 36v Bulldog was the star of the show. We were able to use it in a variety of scenarios, and the most popular one by far was with the dust extraction attachment (connected to a dust extractor) for completely dust-free drilling.
When the demo unit arrived, it became obvious that due to the extremely wide versatility of a SDS Hammer — with the massive amount of bits/attachments that you can use (solid bits, core bits, chisels, scrapers, dust extraction, etc), this was going to be a very extensive testing process to see what the capabilities actually are.
Lucky for us (and you), we have a large patio and brick retaining wall that needs to be removed, so it was the perfect place to run through a lot of testing. Starting out we tried drilling into brick…..which ended up being a joke. The Bosch drills into brick, about the same speed as a normal drill will bore holes into wood. Even when we tried the massive 1-1/8″ 4-cutter bit….there were no hang-ups and it went right through. Interestingly we tried this with the dust collection attachment & ZERO dust escaped! Not only were we surprised with the effectiveness of the bit — but also in the fact that the dust collection attachment stuck to a brick wall! Amazing that it had enough suction (with the surface having recessed mortar joints) to not fall off!
They have a unique “EPC Mode” — Electronic Precision Control. This is specifically designed to easily drill into brick, tile, or stone without “walking” or causing damage. When it is not engaged, 100% of the power is applied. When it is engaged however, the SDS Hammer has a “soft start” where the power begins very slow & ramps up to a max of 70% power. In the testing this proved to be very effective at creating cleaner holes with minimal “blow out” compared to the non-EPC holes.
Like other SDS-Plus Hammers, this has a quick-change keyless chuck. Installing and removing bits takes seconds, and unlike a standard hammer drill (with a ratcheting keyless chuck), the bits do not slip & instead lock in place.
The battery is on a slide-rail system, and installs from the rear. One thing to note (which is a big plus) is the locking design on the battery release button — and more specifically, the accident prevention/safety feature that they built in. Unlike other cordless tools, the Bulldog has a fail-safe which will prevent accidental dropping (of the battery). The release tab (if bumped) only releases the primary position…..at which time it automatically re-engages the secondary position — killing power to the tool, and keeping the battery secure. So when you install it, you will hear 2 “clicks”. The first is the safety tab, the second energizes the tool and you are ready to go.
Using the removable side-handle is a must with larger holes. Normally we use it will all holes, since it allows for much better control & precision when drilling. It rotates 360 degrees, and also has a removable depth rod to help you make repeated uniform depth holes. One added bonus that we found while using it, if you aim it “straight down” under the chuck, even with a large bit installed — the SDS Hammer wont tip forward/fall over. A large bit will make it very “front heavy”, but with the side handle bracing it, the drill will continue to stand upright.
Hammering/Chipping mode is used for chipping, breaking, shaping, and removing concrete/brick/stone/tiles. Popping a scraper blade on will turn your “drill” into a light-duty jackhammer & makes demo work very fast. Add in some self-sharpening chisel bits & you will be able to complete light-demo work — all off of the same battery pack. In order to help you adjust a chisel bit (for example) exactly at the right angle, the “Vario-Lock Positioning” setting allows you to rotate the bit 360 degrees, so you dont have to hold the tool sideways to get the right angle. Once you flip it back to chisel mode, the bit is locked in place and ready to go.
Rotary Hammer Mode is what you will use for drilling holes with solid bits. Keep in mind (like all SDS Hammers), there is a big difference in performance with “max rated” and the sizes you should normally be using with something this size. Although the max size of a solid bit is 1-1/8″, you will have much better results (and faster holes) keeping it roughly half that size or smaller. We demoed it with the max size & then with a 1/2″ bit in the same slab, and the results will speak for themselves. With the large bit, it took close to a minute — where the 1/2″ bit to less than 10 seconds.
Drilling Mode is what we used with the thin wall core bits. Using a 3″ version (max rated), it was able to cleanly bore a hole into a standard hollow block — very quickly. The Bulldog did not slow down, overheat, or stall…..and over and over, the results continued to impress.
When using large bits, binding is always a big concern. This could be with your regular drill hitting a knot in a wood beam — or with your SDS hammer hitting a section of rebar, causing it to rip out of your hands — or worse, hurting you. Bosch has a solution, and in this new Bulldog they have included “Kickback Control”. Basically, the SDS Hammer senses automatically when the bit binds, and kills power to the motor. This instantly stops it (in roughly 1/4 turn), and it will not continue spinning — even if your finger is still pulling in on the trigger. To reset it, just release the trigger and its ready to go again!
Vibration is at a minimum. Although we did use gloves in testing, the vibrations were not very noticeable — and unlike other cordless SDS Hammers (from previous testing/demos), not once did our hands go numb from excessive drilling. The handle having a insulator built in, greatly reduced the feedback into our hands, and was a nice surprise.
Overall this is roughly the same size as the 18v units on the market, as well as the other 36v models. The huge advantage with Bosch though, are the new high-capacity batteries and the rapid charger. The 4.0ah battery can go from completely dead to fully charged in just 30 minutes. Thinking about the new 9.0ah 18v packs on the market — they take literally 6xs as long (3 hours) to recharge! With Bosch including 2 of the 36v batteries in the kit, you literally will be able to work non-stop all day without interruption.
This is a big step-up for Bosch, and the combination of the extended run-times, fast charge times, power levels, safety features, and accessories — make the 36v Bulldog a proven winner.