HAMMER DRILL vs IMPACT DRIVER What’s the difference and when do you use which?

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THE HAMMER DRILL

WHAT IS A HAMMER DRILL?

Also known as an impact or percussion drill, you can think of the hammer drill as the big, bad drill-boy of your tool kit. The clue is in its name because while it drills, it also simultaneously hammers away at the surface you are drilling into at an incredible speed. How fast is incredibly fast? Hammer drills can run at an rpm more than three times that of an ordinary drill – think 3000 rpm vs 850 rpm!

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WHEN DO YOU USE A HAMMER DRILL?

You need all that strength and speed because a hammer drill is what you turn to if you need to drill into masonry – we’re talking concrete, bricks and anything else that’s incredibly hard. You have to use special concrete or masonry drill bits for this kind of work, your normal drill bits just won’t stand up to the driving/hammering action.

WHAT ELSE CAN YOU USE A HAMMER DRILL FOR?

A hammer drill is an incredibly versatile addition to your toolkit because, in addition to the hammer/drill setting for masonry, it can also be used for normal hammerless drilling into surfaces like wood, metal or plastic. All it takes is the flip of a switch and it behaves like any other drill. Of course in this application you won’t use a masonry drill bit. Instead just pop a standard twist drill bit of your choice into its chuck. Because hammer drills are so powerful, they’re also ideal for tasks requiring some muscle. Set your hammer drill to its standard rotation-only mode and you can use it with sanding drums, wire brushes and polishing pads.

THE IMPACT DRIVER/DRILL

WHAT IS AN IMPACT DRIVER?

It may look like a normal drill, but an impact driver (also known as an impact drill) is specifically designed to drive screws, fasteners and bolts into material like wood. Sure, a normal drill can also be used to drive in screws, but an impact driver delivers 2-3 times more torque than a normal drill – which means it gets the job done much faster, with way less strain to your wrists.

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WHEN DO YOU USE AN IMPACT DRIVER?

Unlike a normal drill, which has a chuck for fitting drill bits, an impact driver has a hexagonal bit holder to take hexagonal-headed screws. It can also be fitted with a bit extension that takes normal screws. With their variable speed settings, impact drivers are much easier to control. They also have a clutch that kicks out when the screw head becomes flush with the surface you are screwing into. So, unlike a normal drill, an impact driver is much less likely to strip screw heads or damage screw surfaces.

Impact drivers are a good buy if you need to fit roofing sheets, do drywall partitioning, or do woodwork that requires a lot of screwing like making and fitting cabinets.

WHAT ELSE CAN YOU USE AN IMPACT DRIVER FOR?

An impact driver really is a task-specific power tool. But in a pinch, you could use it to drill small holes in non-demanding surfaces like soft wood using a standard hex-shank drill bit. For harder wood, you’d need a bit that’s specially rated for use in an impact driver and the end result is likely to be rougher than what you would achieve with a standard drill. Bottom line? The impact driver is a wonderful addition to your tool kit, not a replacement for a standard drill.