Internachi certified professional inspector
A Small Tool With a Big Impact
I recently added an impact driver to my toolkit to go with the existing power drill I own. Though an impact driver and a power drill look similar and perform overlapping functions, both have their place in a workshop. Think of it like a ball-peen hammer vs a sledgehammer: they both perform the same basic function, but both have their specific uses. While an impact driver appears to be just a tiny power drill, in many ways it is the superior and more powerful choice when installing screws.
So, What’s the Difference?
The basic answer is that the drill is used for precision and the impact driver is used for raw power. Of course, this seems very counterintuitive just by looking at the size of each tool but it’s true. The reason is that an impact driver delivers bursts of torque many times a second while a standard drill delivers a constant force, without stopping or pulsing.
Why I Love My Newest Tool
The best feature of an impact driver is that is far easier to drive screws into place. I went back at some screws that would not budge using either a screwdriver or power drill and they were fixed with ease. It’s also very easy to switch bits and are simple to lock into place, making it much quicker to use with jobs that have different bit sizes (in other words most of them!). The compact size makes it easier to easy to fit in tight corners, which made my recent DIY work far easier.
Then Why Keep the Power Drill?
The obvious answer is that it’s great as a backup in case the impact driver battery runs out or otherwise needs maintenance. The real answer is that an impact driver simply can’t perform some functions well. The most obvious is drilling a pilot hole. While they can technically be used for drilling the far better choice is….. a drill. As well, it is either all or nothing with no variable settings when precision is needed. A good example would be when installing drywall screws, as they need to be set properly without being pushed right through the wall.
Should You Get an Impact Driver?
The answer to this is a common one: it depends. If you are just doing an occasional assembly of furniture or other minor jobs, the power drill will be more than adequate. If, however, you are a bit of a DIYer (or play one on TV) you will find immense benefits in adding an impact driver to your arsenal. I was skeptical that it would be worth the cost but to be it has quickly become one of my go to tools, both around the home and out in the field doing home inspections.