Can You Use an Impact Driver as a Drill?

Impact drivers and standard drills are important power tools we all love to have in a toolbox.

Whenever you are working on a project at home or at a job site, these two tools can sometimes be interchangeable. It is the reason most would ask the question, “can you use an impact driver as a drill?”.

Well, the short answer to this question is YES. It is possible to use an impact driver for drilling, however, there are some limitations you will have to face.

That is what we get to discuss in this guide to help you understand better where an impact driver can be used as a drill.

What is an Impact Driver?

An impact driver is a powerful tool that has generated quite a buzz in the industry. Sometimes it is easy to confuse between an impact driver and a drill. However, the two vary in terms of functionality.

The biggest difference is that an impact driver will have a higher rotational torque. This means with the right drill bits, an impact driver can go through tougher materials faster and easier.

It is also worth noting that an impact driver does not have kickbacks as compared to a drill. Still, you will find its driver bits staying in the screw slots when driving it into the target material.

Important Considerations When Drilling with an Impact Driver

From the description of an impact driver above, it is easy to see why many would want to use it more often over a drill. However, there are a few things you should know about using an impact driver instead of a drill.

  • There is no clutch and has limited speed options
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Most drills being made right now will have a clutch option. That is not something you get with an impact driver. This should be the biggest drawback of an impact driver. As a result, an impact driver might not be ideal for different types of drilling jobs.

Without a clutch, the size of an impact driver is considerably short. This makes it easy to fit it in tight spaces, however, lacking a clutch could make it less ideal for some uses even in tight areas.

If you end up with an impact driver with a clutch, the chances are it will be too expensive for most users. Also, the inclusion of a clutch takes away a few advantages of having a compact impact driver.

Other than lacking a clutch, you will find that the speed options are also limited. It does mean some jobs will take longer to complete. At this point, some would opt to use a conventional drill.

  • The drill bit shank

Before you can decide to use an impact driver for a drilling job, you should always check the drill bit to ensure it has a hexagonal shape shank. The hexagonal shape is important as most impact drills will come with a hexagonal-shaped socket.

We are quick to point out that when making small holes in light gauge steel or soft wood, it is possible to use a standard hex-shank drill bit. This is mostly when the holes have to ¼-inch or less.

If you have to go for larger holes in tougher materials, then use bits rated for an impact drill. If you do not do this, you might end up with snapped or detached bits from the hex shank.

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The standard bits cannot withstand the increased torque amount coming from the impact driver. Take your time to look for the right bits rated for an impact driver.

The benefit of having a hex shaft bit is that it does not slip when drilling through tough materials. The downside is that getting these hex shaft drill bits is hard. There are times you might not find the right bits for an impact driver, making it hard to work with.

Benefits of Drilling with an Impact Driver

Before buying one, some would want to know what more they can get with an impact driver. Below are some of the benefits of drilling with an impact driver.

  • More torque

One thing that stands out for using an impact driver should be its torque. You will experience better torque as compared to a drill. With a higher torque rating, it means that working on those tough jobs just got easier.

If you find that your drill struggles going through some dense material, it is time to get your impact driver out to do the job.

  • Compact tool

One of the most recognized advantages of an impact driver is its size. Since it lacks a clutch, it tends to be compact in comparison to standard drills.

For this reason, working in tight areas just got easier. We also find the best impact drivers being better in terms of ergonomics and balance.

  • No more wrist strains

Another reason you would enjoy an impact driver is that it has zero kickback. This is possible because it uses the impact hammer mechanism.

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As a result, it is easy to keep working on multiple projects the whole day without worrying about the strain on your wrist. The same cannot be said for a standard drill.

  • Versatile tool

Those who own an impact driver love it for being versatile. It is possible to use the same tool for driving screws and drilling too. So, if you need to accomplish these two jobs on a site, there will be no need of switching between different tools.

  • Lightweight

Since an impact driver is compact, we mostly find them to be lightweight. We all know the strain you can get on your arm when drilling for long hours.

With less weight to work with, then we find impact drivers being easy on your arm. You can accomplish a lot more without worrying about straining the arm.

In Summary

At this point, you already know that it is possible to use an impact driver as a drill. But before you can start using it in the place of a drill, first consider using impact driver rated drill bits. Not all drill bits will work great with an impact driver.

Some easily snap because of the immense torque the impact driver generates. Also, always use the appropriate tool for the job. There are situations you might have to stick to a drill rather than an impact driver.

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