What is an Impact Driver and What Do You Use It For?
You may have noticed a wide selection of tools at the hardware store the last time you were there. You may have thought all drills were the same until you asked what is an impact driver?
The short answer is that it combines the features of both a traditional and hammer drill in a way that maximizes its power and efficiency. In many ways, it’s more of an indispensable tool to have in your workshop.
How Is an Impact Driver Different from a Regular Drill?
A traditional drill directs its power into the material with which you are working. It provides a great deal of control and precision for this task.
It’s an excellent option for drilling holes or removing smaller hardware. For tougher jobs, it lacks the necessary force to get the project done, especially if you’re trying to loosen stubborn screws and bolts.
In these cases, a regular drill borders on dangerous if you lose control of it. That’s where an impact driver comes into play.
You may wonder why you should use an impact driver. This tool approaches these tasks from a different angle—literally!
How Does an Impact Driver Work?
You’re probably asking what is an impact drill? The difference between an impact drill vs impact driver is the terminology.
The latter is the correct term for this useful tool even though they share some of the same functionality. Both can place and remove screws, albeit, in different ways.
An impact driver applies a sideways or perpendicular force behind it. That gives it more torque and more power.
It also means less effort on your part because of the impact. That’s where it shares the concept of a hammer drill to put extra “muscle” into it.
The tool has a different mechanism for doing it which consists of a T-shaped anvil, impact mass and a compression spring. The varying speeds of these components harness the power and increase the torque.
It is the thing you should reach for if you have a bolt that won’t move. It’s safer to operate than a traditional drill because it’s less likely to slip.
Your next question is probably when to use an impact driver. It’s an excellent tool for woodworking projects and general DIY tasks and construction.
As far as what do you use an impact driver for, you’ll find it’ll work great with securing fasteners, especially if you have a lot to do. It makes quick work of adding or removing screws and bolts.
What Are the Pros and Cons of an Impact Driver?
Knowing the benefits and downsides can help you make a more informed decision about whether you should buy one for your shop. Our answer to that question is a resounding yes, especially if you do a lot of DIY projects.
Tools often boil down to the go-to or nice-to-have variety. If you’re still wondering what is an impact driver, let’s give you the full rundown starting with its best features.
One of the main advantages of using an impact driver is its lighter weight. Combined with its powerful mechanism, that puts it in the dealmaker column.
Also, it won’t strip the screw heads, so you won’t find yourself in that position of having to remove one that you can’t loosen. You’ll also have the added force behind you if you do run into this scenario.
The difference in the torque between a traditional drill and an impact driver is night and day. You can turn on the impact when you need it so that you’re in control.
This tool has a compact profile, making it ideal to use in tight areas. You’ll still have the leverage behind you with the impact driver regardless of the small space.
The Bad and the Ugly
We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out a few things that make affect your decision when thinking about what is an impact driver. It has a hexagonal shank rather than the keyless chuck of a regular drill.
That means that your bits are not interchangeable. The impact driver will need its own set which can up the costs, depending on what you typically use.
The added torque is both a good and bad thing. On the positive side, you have that extra power. On the downside, it can overdo it if you’re not careful.
For more delicate hardware, you’re better off using a drill rather than this tool to avoid the risk of breaking them. An impact driver isn’t a replacement for it but instead an adjunct to what you already have.
The noise is about the same as running a regular drill. However, it will get considerably louder if you use the impact.
But, of course, you’re using ear protection along with your safety glasses, right?
Is an Impact Driver Right for You?
Whether an impact driver is a good choice rests on the type of work that you typically do. If you don’t do a lot of DIY projects, renting one might offer a better option.
However, it’s a great tool to have around if you do a lot of assembly or installation. Woodworkers and contractors find them a must-have addition to their shops.
Perhaps considering how you view such tasks may steer you in the right direction. If putting things together frustrates you easily, you may find that an impact driver is priceless even if you don’t use it very often.
Sometimes, it’s just a matter of getting the right information. Let’s go over what you need to know about buying one including the features and specs to consider.
What Should You Look for When Buying an Impact Driver?
You can expect to pay anywhere from around $100 to well over $400 for a professional grade model. You’ll find them sold alone or as part of a combo kit with a battery and charger.
You’ll also see them with a cordless drill too which is a great option if you’re in the market for both tools. Look for products with interchangeable batteries for the best value.
Voltage varies between 9.6 through 20 with the latter most common. You’ll find both corded and cordless models.
You’ll also have several options for batteries with alkaline, NiCad and lithium ion the most popular. We’d recommend picking up an extra one or two to have charged and ready to go to keep the work flowing.
The specs you’ll see will speak to the power of the device with figures with impacts per minute, maximum torque and load speed. Also, pay attention to the hex size, especially if you’re going to get some extra bits too.
Reputable manufacturers of these tools include:
Now you have the information you need for deciding what is an impact driver.
We hoped that we’ve answered your question if you’ve ever wondered what is an impact driver. It’s a welcome addition to the workshop that offers a wider range of applications.
It can easily become your go-to tool for tough jobs when nothing else seems to work. You’ll likely find that it pays for itself quickly in the amount of time and effort that you’ll save.