When it comes to the battle of the most useful power tools, the most popular match-up is the drill vs impact driver. If you’re like most people, the cordless drill will automatically come to mind as a contender in the drill spot. But now a new, specialized tool has appeared on the market threatening to upset this match: the hammer drill. For the average home improver, untangling the jargon of cordless drill, hammer drill and impact driver can get a bit sticky. This makes choosing a winner among the three difficult and unclear.
What’s the difference between all three? If you already have a cordless drill, do you really need a hammer drill or an impact driver? Which ones, if any, should you buy?
You’ll find the answers to all these questions and more. Read on to find out how these tools differ, what they do best, and why you might just need a new one.
Drill vs Impact Driver: Meet the Cordless Drill
For years, the reliable cordless drill has been a staple in both home and professional environments. It is by far the most common and vital part of any handyman’s toolbox. Cordless drills are used primarily for drilling holes and driving screws. A typical drill uses a keyless chuck to accommodate round or hex-shank drill bits or screw-driving bits. Cordless drills are prized for their versatility: many can accommodate rotary sanders, hole saws, brushes, or other accessories. But for as versatile as they are, cordless drills are general-use tool. For more specialized functions, you may want a hammer drill or impact driver.
Winning Match: The cordless drill’s sweet spot are low maintenance projects that require drilling holes and driving screws at a steady pace
Drill vs Impact Driver: Meet the Impact Driver
A cordless impact driver is similar to a cordless drill in most respects, but an impact driver has only one intended function: to drive screws. Instead of a keyless chuck, an impact driver has a collet which takes only hex-shanked driver bits.
An impact driver uses a combination of torque and concussive force to drive screws through surfaces. The impact action of the driver kicks in automatically when the twisting action slows. This means an impact driver can drive screws faster and easier than a regular cordless drill, with less chance for wrist strain, injury, or stripped screws. Since they can be less sensitive than a cordless drill, impact drivers are best used when the depth of the screw is not an essential part of the project.
Winning Match: Projects that require driving a lot of screws quickly without worry of the screw’s depth on the surface
A Third Option: Meet the Hammer Drill
A hammer drill is like the drilling counterpart to the impact driver. Where an impact driver is designed only for driving screws, the hammer drill is meant to drill holes. Like the impact driver, the hammer drill uses torque and a series of fast, concussive blows to drive the drill bit further into the drilling surface.
The action of a hammer drill can be compared to a miniature jackhammer. Unlike your typical cordless drill, a hammer drill is best used for heavy-duty projects. With a masonry bit equipped, a hammer drill can put holes in brick, concrete, or mortar with considerable force and speed.
Winning Match: Heavy-duty projects that require drilling holes quickly into sturdy surfaces like brick or concrete
Drill vs Impact Driver: Tips and Important Facts
- Hammer drills are most useful for masonry projects. For woodworking projects, a regular cordless drill is best.
- A hammer drill should never be used for driving screws.
- By the same token, never use an impact driver for drilling of any kind.
- Hammer drills are heavier and larger than most cordless drills. Impact drivers tend to be lightweight and compact.
When choosing the right tool for you, it’s important to keep in mind what kinds of projects you’ll be working on and how often you’ll work on them. If you envision yourself doing a little bit of both drilling and screwdriving for light-weight projects, then the cordless drill may be the tool for you. If you’re working on building a house, then a hammer drill will likely be the most useful. If you’re a home improvement Renaissance person then owning all three will come in handy for the variety of projects you take on.
Now that you know the difference between these tools, it’s time to put your newfound knowledge to the test! Who is your winner in the battle of the drill vs impact driver?
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