I’m just getting started out as a technician and I’ve just bought an air hammer. What are the most common and useful air hammer bits that I should buy?
This is a great question because a lot of technicians miss out on the abundant opportunities you have with an air hammer since they aren’t aware of all the options they have with bits.
The first bit to start out with is a flat chisel, which is straight with a sharpened point. These are used for all normal chisel cutting applications, such as splitting a nut. It’s also beneficial to have an extended-length flat chisel to get access into tight areas, and we know how they really pack things together in today’s vehicles.
Next on the list is a drift punch, which is just a round bit with a flat end, designed for driving out pins and other standard driving or punching applications. Also useful is a hammer bit, which has a larger round end similar to the heavy end of a ball peen hammer. They are designed for, as you guessed, hammering applications and really come in handy.
A tapered punch bit is another really good one to have. Its use is similar to the standard drift punch, but its narrow tip allows you to use it on smaller pins and they can be easier to center on larger items.
Exhaust work is something we all get into, and there are a few bits that work great for this. A muffler cutter bit works to remove any exhaust or tail pipe. The design of the bit allows it to sit flat on an exhaust pipe and push against the edge of the other, driving it off with relative ease and very little damage to the pipe so it can be reinstalled. Think of it this way for clarity: any pipe or muffler that you slide over another pipe can be easily driven off, even years later using a muffler cutter.
There are two other exhaust bits that are just as useful too: an inside cutter and an outside cutter. Their shape is either convex or concave with a sharpened tip and cutting wedge so you can easily slice through an inner or outer pipe for removal. Inevitably it happens, you replace a muffler, for example, and a year later the center pipe rusts out. These bits would allow you to cut the center pipe out from the inside of the muffler with no damage or distortion to the muffler pipe.
There’s no reason, especially as a new tech, to get buried in tool bills, and the bits we talked about here will give you a great start and go a long way to getting the most use out of your air hammer. Definitely worth noting, a nice accessory is a quick-change bit retainer. It operates similar to an air hose fitting and you can have your bits swapped out in an instant.
When you’re ready to build your collection from here, a ball joint/tie rod separator bit is great, especially if you find yourself doing a lot of front end or suspension work.
Needle scaler bits are another really cool option and will knock rust and scale away from anything; if you live in the Rust Belt they have almost endless use.
All of these bits represent only a fraction of what you can get, and there are many special bits for body and panel work, engine work such as valve guide removal, and even roll pin bits, and you can build your collection over time as your career progresses.
As a final note, don’t forget safety glasses and hearing protection, and you’ll always be able to find the air hammer bits and the PPE you need, in stock on your local tool truck. TS