Yes, You Need a Cordless Impact Driver
These compact, high-torque tools leave cordless drills in the dust for most any drilling or driving application
In this tool review, builder and designer Michael Maines assesses the current crop of cordless impact drivers. These versatile tools can be used for everything from light-duty work (installing switch plates) to heavy-duty applications (driving screws through sill plates). He outlines features available on cordless drivers, and a series of illustrations shows how a cordless impact driver gets its work done.
<p>I picked up my first cordless impact driver a few years ago. I had gotten into the habit of using two cordless drills for many carpentry and cabi-netry tasks: one to drill, one to drive. For reasons that escape me now—maybe the batteries had died, maybe a friend had bor-rowed my drills—I grabbed a coworker’s 18v DeWalt impact driver. It seemed awfullysmall even with the large battery hanging off the handle. As I recall, the task involved driving a bunch of 3-in. screws into framing lumber, and I didn’t see how that little drill would be up to the job. But when the impact mechanism kicked in, the screws melted into the wood like a hot knife into butter.</p>
<p>I’ve worked with several other impact drivers since then, and I spent a considerable amount of time trying out a broad sampling of drivers for this guide. All the impact drivers I’ve worked with blow ordinary drills away from a performance standpoint, but there are key features that set great drivers apart from good ones.</p>
<p>These drivers aren’t ordinary, although they can be</p>
<p>An impact driver allows you to apply a far greater amount of torque to a fastener or drill bit than any cordless drill-driver…