Impact Driver Guide

Impact Driver drilling into composite decking

Many people opt for a cordless drill, but an impact driver could be a viable alternative, and more often than not, these tools are much quicker and efficient too.

Not only are they efficient but extremely versatile too thanks to the vast array of bits that come with them, allowing them to tackle a multitude of tasks with great ease.

If you have been used to operating a cordless drill, you may have considered moving over to an impact driver but without the relevant knowledge, may have been deterred from the idea.

In this beginners guide to impact drivers, we are going to look at what these tools are, how they can be used, and the advantages you will notice when putting them to work.

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What Is An Impact Driver?

An impact driver is a tool that is designed to tighten nuts and drive in screws. Many people choose an impact driver over a cordless drill thanks to its higher torque. This essentially means that they will get the job done much faster. They are known for delivering a force that is sudden and extremely strong.

Unlike a cordless drill, which can be bulky, an impact driver is far more lightweight and, therefore, often easier to handle. However, since these tools require a specific bit for their chuck – namely those with a one quarter inch hex shank.

The Main Components Of An Impact Driver

Impact drivers may have a familiar appearance, in that they look very much like a cordless drill, often a little more compact. Getting to know your impact driver will require you to be aware of the main components:

  • The chuck is the part at the tip of the tool where bits are slotted in.
  • Usually, on the back on the tool, you will find the speed selector.
  • At the front of the impact driver, there is a variable speed trigger which is used to operate the tool.
  • The forward and reverse switch allows you to alter the direction of the rotation.

How An Impact Driver Works

If you are not familiar with the concept of the impact driver, it can be easy to imagine that they offer much the same type of operation as a drill, but this could nor be further from the truth. Whilst these tools may look similar and give the same result, they work in very different ways.

Similarly to a drill, an impact driver will exert force to drive in a screw, for example. However, rather than taking advantage of the static rotating power of a drill, an impact driver is a little smarter. This tool will sense when greater torque is required and will react to this accordingly.

When using a drill, the force is created from the shaft and passed on up to the drill bit, giving a continual power and pressure. In contrast, your impact driver uses a different system which involves a spring, a hammer and an anvil.

The shaft is powered by the motor, causing it to turn and as this happens, the spring is compressed more and more tightly, at capacity, it is forcefully released. This action causes the hammer to drive up against the anvil. Of course, the process is extremely rapid, and as such, an impressive force is created.

The Impact Driver – How To Use It

One of the most important things to remember is that an impact driver should never be used to replace a drill – both tools are equally important, and you will benefit from having one of each in your tool kit.

To get the most out of your new tool, we have put together some handy tips on how to use an impact driver. You may be surprised to learn that these tools require a certain amount of knowledge if they’re going to give you the result you are looking for.

  • Begin by choosing the correct bit and inserting it into the chuck – you will notice that unlike their cousins, the drill, these bits slot in rather than needing to be twisted.
  • You will find that there is a switch that can be used to determine the rotation – putting screws in or taking them out. Ensure that this is in the correct position.
  • The impact driver can be operated using just one hand, and you should place the bit onto the head of the screw.
  • At first, it is recommended to start the device slowly so that you can gain control, as the screw starts to drive in, the impacting will commence.
  • Once the screw head reaches the surface, you can release the trigger.

What Are The Uses For An Impact Driver?

There is a common misconception that an impact driver can be used as a replacement for a drill, but as we have already discussed, this is not the case.

An impact driver can accomplish some of the same tasks as a drill, but these are far more limited. However, these tools are perfectly designed to handle longer screws, lag bolts, carriage bolts and concrete screw anchors amongst other things.

Why Use An Impact Driver? The Advantages

There’s little doubt in anyone’s mind that impact drivers are a great bit of kit to add to your toolbox, but without knowing the advantages of these power tools, it might be challenging to see how owning one could bring greater freedom to your DIY and work tasks.

They Are Much Better At Heavy Duty Jobs

There are some jobs that a drill simply cannot handle, but an impact driver might make light work of these. For example, taking the lug nuts off the car wheels is a cinch with one of these tools.

Having an impact driver to hand will ensure that you always have that additional power when it is needed.

They Are Much Quicker

Whilst an impact driver may lack the versatility of a drill, they can lay claim to being much faster, and if you have multiple long screws or bolts to fasten, a drill can take a long time.

Your impact driver is great for time-saving, but this does not mean that the quality of the job will be compromised.

Screws Will Not Be Damaged

One of the significant advantages of the impact driver is that it drives screws in a much more controlled manner. As a result of this, it is far less likely that the screws will become stripped, which can be a common problem when using a drill.

Greater Control And Handling

Using a drill requires you to push to get the torque, but the impact driver will do all the hard work for you, so it is much less of a laborious task than using a drill.

Plus, these tools are often far more lightweight and easy to handle, so getting the job done is a lot more comfortable.

Safe Use Of An Impact Driver

It will come as no surprise that there are hundreds of thousands of accidents and even deaths caused by the improper use of power tools every year. With this in mind, it is crucial that when operating an impact driver, you do so with safety at the forefront of your mind.

  • Impact drivers come with an insulated grip – be sure to hold the tool here and never risk using it if there are potentially wires in the way.
  • Some impact drivers can be very loud, wearing ear defenders will ensure that your hearing is not affected. This is particularly important if you are working with these tools on a regular basis.
  • If you are using an impact driver, using the correct PPE such as goggles, a face mask and gloves are essential in preventing injury or illness.


Impact drivers are powerful tools that create high torque and are used to drive in long screws and bolts.

There is some belief that these devices are a replacement for the drill; however, whilst the two may look similar and can perform some similar tasks, there is a clear difference.

An impact driver has many of the same features as a drill such as a chuck, into which, bits can be fitted.

However, the chuck on an impact driver uses ¼ inch hex shanks as opposed to screw in bits. These tools are also much more lightweight yet provide a lot more power.

Adding one to your tool collection can provide you with the ability to drive in multiple long screws at a much quicker rate and with a higher degree of power.

If you are looking to buy an impact driver, then please feel free to check out my buyer’s guide – What Impact Driver Is Best UK

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Impact Driver Guide

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