The versatile cordless drill has always been more popular than the impact driver amongst both professional and DIY users. The driver has always traditionally been a more specialised tool used for fast and reliable driving of screws, and it is gaining in popularity. So to help you decide where they fit into your toolbox, we are putting the two tools head to head.
This is essentially an electric drill with a rechargeable battery pack instead of a trailing cord. It is completely portable, so there is no need for a nearby power source. This portability has made the cordless drill the most popular power tool on the market.
Most cordless drills have a keyless chuck. This makes it a versatile tool as it can take a wide variety of drill bits, screwdriver bits, rotary sanders, brushes etc. Most professionals and DIY enthusiasts will buy one of these as a main-stay of their toolbox.
- Adjustable speed – used in delicate situations
- A slip clutch making variable torque possible
- Versatile – can take a variety of accessories and bits
- Can struggle when driving long screws into harder materials
- Battery pack makes it quite heavy and awkward
- Can strip screws as power is not very controllable
- Chuck can slip and not hold bits securely when in use
Impact drivers are usually smaller and lighter than cordless drills. Instead of a keyless chuck, drivers have a hex chuck system that only accepts bits with a hex shank.
Drivers are designed specifically to drive screws and other fasteners rather than for drilling. The driver adjusts torque automatically with multiple rotational impacts to drive screws with less user effort. This makes it able to drive large fasteners into hard materials with ease.
- Drives screws with little effort and high rotational torque
- Smaller, so easy to use in awkward, confined spaces
- Less risk of stripping threads
- Relatively expensive
- Can be noisier
- Not designed for, and not as effective at drilling
- Limited to hex shank accessories
Do You Need One or Both?
Now that we know what each tool is good at, which should you choose? A cordless drill is excellent for general drilling. It is also good for driving smaller screws into soft materials such as wood, where torque requirements are lower and the driving is easier to control.
Drivers are great for driving screws into harder materials and for larger screws and bolts. The adjustable torque is also good for removing stuck screws and bolts. They can be used to drive more screws faster than a cordless drill.
Most professionals will carry both tools so that each can be used on different types of jobs, and this is definitely the wisest option. Many packaged tool kits come with both tools included.
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