You’re ready to secure your fasteners to the new cabinet you’re building. However, what drill do you use? Do you pick up an electric drill, or an impact driver – What’s the difference between the two? If you have no idea on which is the right tool for the job, then we are here to rescue you from confusion.
We put together this guide to impact drivers and cordless drills. By the time you finish this article, you’ll have a clear indication of the right drill to suit your handyman task.
Impact Driver vs. Drill – What’s the Difference?
When comparing traditional cordless drills to impact drivers, the primary difference comes in the torque factor displaced by the machine. Impact drivers offer you a combination of fast-paced rotation strike, as opposed to a traditional drill that offers lower rotational torque.
However, it’s important not to confuse and impact drill with a hammer drill. A hammer drill provides strike from the rear of the drill. This action allows you to power through most materials where an impact driver or traditional drill won’t work, such as concrete surfaces.
Think of a hammer drill as tapping the back of the drill with a hammer while drilling into the surface.
An impact driver achieves this same level of functionality, but it has speeds that equate to approximately 50-release and returns in a single second. Therefore, you don’t get the same bumpy effect as you do with a hammer drill during operation.
You’ll still need to wear ear protection, as an impact driver makes plenty of noise during operation. The primary difference between an impact driver and a traditional drill is the clutch. The impact driver features no-clutch operation, making it easier to fit the drill into tight spaces where a conventional model would struggle.
The clutch-less impact drill also places limits on the types of bits you can use with the machine. When it comes time to select either tool for a job, you’ll need to think about the requirements of the task.
A traditional drill has a refined touch, and it’s more precise at drilling than an impact driver. However, if you’re drilling into sturdy materials, an impact driver has the torque you need to finish the job, such as fitting rock screws.
Impact Drivers Explained
The chances are that you have a traditional drill lying around in your workshop, or you have experience using one in the past. Conventional machines let you drill holes for a multitude of projects. If you’re drilling into your walls to fit a shelf, or through wood panels to build a cabinet, a traditional drill will get you there.
An impact driver only has one purpose, to drive screws. This tool has a specialized gearbox that makes the tool head spin faster than a traditional drill. As a result, you drive screws into fasteners much faster and with greater accuracy than with using a conventional machine.
The DEWALT MAX XR is Consistently rated as the Best Impact Driver
Unlike a traditional drill that requires the use of a chuck to fit new tooltips, an impact driver uses a collet. This collect allows you to fit bits with a hex-shaped end. Impact drivers will drill in the longest and largest screws with ease, where a traditional drill may stall on you.
The impact drill also delivers three to four times more power than when using a traditional machine. While the impact driver has superior power, it’s still easy to manage the toll during operation, without the rotational force of the machine, causing it to jump out of your hands.
The concussive drilling action of the impact driver transfers the power to the head of the screw, not into your wrist or hand. As a result, you can drive in screw accurately, without compromising the safety of your wrist or hand.
Top Selling Impact Drivers
- DCD771 in cordless drill combo kit features 2 speed transmission (0-450 / 0-1500 RPM)
- DCD771 high performance motor of cordless tools combo kit delivers 300 unit watts out (UWO) of power ability completing a wide range of applications
- DCD771 compact, lightweight design of the drill/ impact driver combo kit fits into tight areas
- DCD771 1/2-inch single sleeve ratcheting chuck provides tight bit gripping strength
- DCD771 Ergonomic handle delivers comfort and control
- VERSATILITY: 5 bits for slotted and Phillips fasteners
- EASE OF USE: Easily loosens frozen/rusted screws, nuts or bolts with the hand impact driver
- EFFICIENT: Tightens fasteners without stripping
- DURABILITY: Creates up to 200 foot pounds of torque when struck with a hammer
- FLEXIBILITY: Loosen and tighten Philips and slotted fasteners, as well as drive 3/8-inch sockets.
Last update on 2023-04-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Top Selling Drills
- Dewalt drill has compact and lightweight design that fits into tight areas
- High performance motor of the power drill delivers 300 unit watts out (UWO) of power ability completing a wide range of applications
- High speed transmission of Dewalt 20V drill delivers 2 speeds (0-450 and 1,500 rpm) for a range of fastening and drilling applications
- 1/2-inch single sleeve ratcheting chuck provides tight bit gripping strength
- Ergonomic handle delivers comfort and control. Tool Height-6.5 inch
- LIGHTWEIGHT DRILL AND SCREWDRIVER - Lightweight cordless drill and screwdriver for household tasks
- COMPACT DESIGN - 35% Smaller than previous 12V Drill/Driver models for easy maneuvering
- PRECISE CONTROL - 550 rpm motor with 11-Position clutch prevents over-drilling
- FAST SWITCHING - Keyless chuck makes swapping between bits easy
- LED WORK LIGHT - For working in dark areas
- Lithium Ion Technology and 20V MAX: Lighter, more compact, no memory, longer life
- 11 Position Clutch: Provides precise control for drilling into wood, metal, plastic, and all screwdriving tasks
- Features integrated bit holder under drill handle that includes double ended bit
- Variable Speed: Allows countersinking without damaging material
- Ideal for drilling into wood, metal plastic and all screw driving tasks
Last update on 2023-04-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Is an Impact Driver Worth Purchasing?
Impact drivers may not have the same versatility as a traditional drill, but they still deserve a place in your tool chest. If you’re having problems getting through materials using your conventional machine, then an impact driver can help you punch through.
The compact design of impact drivers allows you to get them into corners and tight spaces where a conventional drill can’t reach.
Can I Use an Impact Driver to Remove Lug Nuts?
Technically, this situation isn’t a problem for an impact driver. However, the forces involved with removing lug nuts will test the power output of your driver, and it may burn it out. If your lug nuts are on tight, then the driver may strip its gearbox instead of removing the lug.
Black & Decker is another popular make of Drills & Drivers
Can I Replace my Traditional Drill with an Impact Driver?
No, you can’t. Sometimes, the high-powered impact drill is overkill. If you’re drilling into sensitive materials, the brute force of an impact driver might tear your work to pieces. Impact drills don’t have the same versatility as traditional drills, and they have a slipper clutch that allows for precise control of the power in your hands.
When is it Best to Use a Cordless Impact Driver?
If you’re working with soft materials like wood, then you need the lighter touch of a traditional drill. However, if you’re drilling into harder surfaces like masonry or concrete, then the extra power on offer with an impact driver makes it your tool of choice.
You’ll also need to check the grade of tooltips you’re using with your impact driver. Some models may use cheaper materials for the tooltips, resulting in your stripping the head.
Impact Driver Vs. Traditional Drill
Anyone taking a glance at a traditional drill and an impact driver, won’t be able to tell the difference between the machines. However, a conventional drill includes a clutch, so the body of the tool is generally longer than an impact driver.
A conventional drill also features a clutch where you can adjust the drill speed to your application. An impact driver doesn’t have a clutch or multi-speed operation. Most drills feature a tool head that either requires loosening with a chuck or your hands. An impact driver features a collet that only fits hex-shaped tool bits.
The hex-shape of the bits allows them to withstand the forces of the impact driver while it’s in action. Impact drivers have higher torque motors, delivering power in short bursts. A traditional drill allows you to utilize the machine for longer drilling times.
The Kobalt Cordless Brushless is rated as the best cordless drill
The Pros & Cons of Impact Drivers & Traditional Drills
When comparing impact drivers against traditional drills, it’s a prudent strategy to make a list of pros and cons. Look through this list of benefits and disadvantages of each of these power tools to find out which one is right for your application.
- Multi-purpose action for a variety of applications.
- This tool is the best choice for jobs that require accuracy and precision.
- The tool-head allows for fitment of a variety of drills and components like hole-saws.
- The machine provides you with a constant torque displacement.
- Control the torque output using a slipper clutch.
- It is easy to strip the threads and heads of screws.
- The machine stalls when fitting long screws.
- Bits may come loose in the chuck, requiring tightening after every operation.
- The feedback from the machine to your hands is intense.
Impact Driver Pros
- Plenty of power and torque for drilling into hard surfaces.
- The machine drives in long screws with little effort.
- An impact driver can help you remove stripped screws.
- The small body allows you to maneuver it in tight spaces.
- There is less impact on the wrist and arm than a traditional drill.
- There is less chance of stripping screws than with a traditional drill.
Impact Drivers Cons
- Too much torque for delicate jobs that require precision.
- Expensive to purchase.
- Louder than a conventional drill.
- Only permits fitment of hex-headed bits.
Both traditional drills and impact drivers have a place in your tool chest. Determining which one to use for your next project depends on the work. If you’re drilling into soft materials like wood, then a conventional drill will suffice.
However, if you need to punch through tougher materials like concrete, an impact driver is your best bet. If you only have the budget for one machine, we suggest you go with a conventional drill. A traditional drill offers more versatility than an impact driver.
In Closing – Which Tool Suits Your Next Project?
By now, you should understand the difference between the two machines. However, which one will you choose for your next handyman project?
Conventional cordless drills are ideal for drilling holes in materials and securing small fasteners. If you need to screw in large fasteners, then you’ll need the more powerful touch of an impact driver. Impact drivers make short work of long and thick screws.
If you need precision in your next project, then we recommend you use a traditional power drill. With a conventional machine, you get more control and higher accuracy. However, if you need power, then an impact driver is the top choice for your next project.