1. What’s the difference between a standard drill and an impact driver?

A lot. Most people know of the corded or cordless drill as they’re very common and cheap, but not a lot of people know about the perks of an impact driver. Drills can do smooth rotations with their motors and bits, but for harder, more stubborn nuts and mediums, an impact driver takes the cake. An impact driver uses a significantly higher amount of torque to deliver short, powerful bursts of rotation. In other words, it’s a drill on steroids that uses bursts of energy. You can see them in auto-mechanic shops usually in pneumatic form.

2. What’s the difference between a pneumatic impact driver and an electric impact driver?

The key difference is the source of power. A pneumatic driver will use compressed air or gases to power the inner-workings of its design while an electric will rely on a motor and some electrical power source. A corded electric impact driver is relatively close to what its pneumatic cousin offers, but a cordless version is significantly less powerful. An air-powered one will typically last longer because of less moving parts on the inside and no reliance on brushes to conduct electricity.

3. Can I use my impact driver on concrete?

Absolutely! You’d be surprised at some of the mediums you can use an impact driver on. Concrete is especially well suited for the job as it will benefit from the extra torque and force of an impact driver. Make sure to prep the work area and keep an eye on any safety hazards (you’ll definitely want safety goggles for this one). You can find masonry bits at your local hardware store and it’s highly recommended to use them. Using a non-standard masonry bit can damage you and the tool, so its best to utilize bits as directed.

4. What the heck is the difference between an impact driver and an impact wrench?

There’s actually not much difference except in terms of power. Impact drivers average around 1,400 lbs of torque whereas an impact wrench can do upwards of 3,000 lbs. More times than not, an impact driver will do the job just fine. Impact wrenches come in handy for really heavy duty stuff like bolts on tractors and large vehicles. For automotive repairs and maintenance, a standard pneumatic impact driver is more than enough, usually.

5. What kind of job calls for an impact driver?

At the end of the day, an impact driver will work for anything that needs fastening. Screws, bolts, nuts and more are perfect candidates for them and the driver will often speed up the job. You can expect to drive lags through hard, pressure-treated woods much easier than a standard drill and boring holes becomes a breeze. There’s not as much recoil to push against because of the way they are built and work, meaning you won’t need to force things as much as you would have to with a standard drill.

6. 18 volt or 20 volt?

There’s a lot of confusion over what kind of voltage to use with an electrical impact driver, but don’t let the marketing fool you. When a battery is fully charged, the voltage stored is typically higher than that of it at operation. In other words, a “peak performance” battery of 20 volts will operate in practice at around 18 or so. You can test this yourself on various batters you may own, so don’t buy into it if the price is ridiculous. Use trusted brands for the best result and research what you need for the job.

7. So, what about lug nuts?

Most lug nuts will come off/screw on with an impact driver, though you’re going to need the right attachment. Usually, you can find these sockets at your local hardware store and if worse comes to worse, you can order them online. You’ll also need to factor in the kind of lug nuts and what car you’re working with. Generally, impact drivers are rated at the rate output to handle most lug nuts, but something like a semi-truck may be a bit too much. If you plan to do this a lot, it may be better to invest in the impact wrench.

8. What is a hand impact driver?

A manual impact driver is exactly as the name sounds: by hand. These follow the same principle in terms of force-utilization as their older brothers, but you do the grunt work with a hammer and precision. While pushing the driver down and turn, you hit the back of it with your hammer. The burst of force will provide a sort of “shock” burst of pressure to the business end of the driver. This is usually good for something like a rusted nut or bolt that just won’t come off.

9. Can I use an impact driver on dry wall?

Yes, but you want to be careful. Dry wall is very soft compared to other material and if you’re not careful, you could really jack up your work. You’ll need to be careful and really regulate the force you’re using because if not, you’ll drill too deep into the dry wall’s structure and ruin the work that has been done. Impact drivers can be used for anything as long as you’re cautious of the dangers and medium’s durability. Remember, these are much more powerful than a standard drill.