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Construction companies have used jackhammers for years to breakthrough concrete and asphalt.

While you may think of it as a modern invention, it came before sliced bread, paper clips and tea bags. When you’ve got a project like a new driveway or walking path to do, it’s time to consider jackhammer rental. But it’s a tool with a fascinating history.

Who Invented The Jackhammer?

Pneumatic tools (powered by compressed air) began appearing in the 1840s, typically in connection with the mining industry. The first “jackhammer” was the percussion drill developed in 1849 by Jonathon Couch. The first true, functional jackhammer with the chisel-shaped head was invented by Englishman William Mcreavy, who promptly sold the patent to Charles Brady King of Detroit, Michigan.

King was a remarkable man whose many skills and successes included engineering and early automobiles. At the historic World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, he unveiled the jackhammer as part of the exhibit for the Russel Wheel and Foundry Company where he worked. Its purpose then was mostly as a pneumatic hammer for driving in rivets or caulking in metal fabrication, but the award-winning demonstration caught the attention of industrialists.

How It Works

Jackhammer rental

A jackhammer operates smashing away at something until it breaks. The jackhammer is basically a combination of hammer and chisel that breaks up hard surfaces. Jackhammers typically use compressed air at about 10 times atmospheric pressure levels that passes through high-pressure hoses to drive the hardened jackhammer head against its target. When the head rebounds, it trips a valve that reverses position to allow another burst of compressed air driving the head again. This process is automatic so that the jackhammer continues smashing away, typically as fast as 25 times per second.


The jackhammer became popular with mining companies as it provided considerable advantages over manual or even bulky hydraulic hammers. Compressed air could be obtained right at the worksite at a very low cost and transported safely and simply in portable tanks to where it was needed. Mining and later construction companies came to rely on the jackhammer for breaking ground.


One of the drawbacks of the jackhammer is the noise. The old jackhammers especially made considerable noise. Modern jackhammers tend to create a consistent noise of 100 decibels at two yards, which is enough to cause permanent hearing damage. Always wear hearing protection.

Contractors and DIYers can find jackhammers and a variety of other pneumatic tools at One Stop Rental. We’ve been serving the Cincinnati area for more than 20 years. Our knowledgeable staff will help you find the right tools for your next project. Call or stop by one of our locations to explore the quality equipment we provide.