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How to Choose an Impact Driver

If you’re tackling a big job that requires a lot of screws, like putting up a fence or building a deck, an impact driver is essential. While it looks like a drill, an impact driver is meant for one thing: to drive screws quickly and powerfully.

Impact Drivers vs. Drills

The main difference between an impact driver and a drill is how it moves. A drill uses torque to rotate the drill bit or other attachment. You can use it to drill holes, drive screws, buff paint and more. An impact driver uses a combination of rotation and a fast, striking action. It can drive a high volume of long screws, like lag screws, which might stall a cordless drill. To loosen lug nuts and bolts, you’ll need an impact wrench.

An impact driver only accepts hex-shanked bits. This makes it more compact than a drill, allowing you to get into tighter spaces. However, it does limit which attachments you can use, like grinding wheels or standard drill bits.

Features to Look for
Here are some elements to consider when you choose an impact driver. 

Power and torque. The higher the torque, the more workload is transferred from your arm to the tool.
LED lights. Many electric impact drivers come with a light that illuminates the work surface, helpful when working in dimly lit areas.
Battery life. A cordless impact driver will allow you more flexibility to work on outdoor projects. Look for a driver with a lithium-ion battery which holds a charge much longer than traditional batteries.
Specialty attachments. Some impact driver sets come with nut-driving bits for plumbing jobs and lug-nut attachments for changing a tire.

An impact driver is all about the power. The combination of torque and repeated blows is ideal for driving screws into dense surfaces, like metal, brick and hardwood. When working with drywall, light plastic or veneer, stick with a standard drill to avoid damaging the surface.

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