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Impact Driver 101: When to Use an Impact Driver

Pro tips on choosing between an impact driver and a drill/driver for your next home improvement project.

In this video, This Old House contributor Mark Clement explains the difference between a cordless drill/driver and an impact driver. Unlike the wide versatility of a cordless drill—which is primarily used to fasten or tighten in nuts, bolts and screws—an impact driver contains a different mechanism to drive the bit, so it can only use bits with a hex shank.

Built to work on large fasteners, an impact driver is both more compact and delivers more torque, but those advantages come at a cost: It's more expensive and considerably louder than a drill/driver.

Learn how to:

  • Differentiate between a cordless drill/driver and an impact driver.
  • Understand the bit-driving mechanism.
  • Evaluate whether an impact driver is right for your project.