Do You Need a Drill, a Hammer Drill or an Impact Driver?

Whether you are buying someone a gift or buying tools for yourself for the first time, choosing between a drill, a hammer drill or an impact driver can be confusing if you are unfamiliar with them.  While there are similarities between all three of these tools, they are designed to provide unique functions and it is necessary to learn what those functions are so you can decide if you have a need for the tool.  The information below can help you decide which tool you need.


Drills in some form have been around for decades.  Over the years this hand tool has gone from manual to electric to battery powered, but their function is still the same as it has always been.  Drills are designed to put holes in wood, concrete or metal, depending on the bit you’re using and the power of the drill.  You can use them for starter holes, to insert nails or screws, or you can drill deep holes to place bolts when building decks or homes.

For some added confusion, most drills now come as a combination driver.  Drill/drivers can still drill holes into material, but with a bit change, they can be used to drive in screws and other fasteners into the same materials.  A drill/driver is a great hand tool for home use.

Hammer Drills

Most homeowners may not need a hammer drill, but they are used quite frequently on construction sites.  It has the same appearance of a drill and some hammer drills do have a dual setting that allows them to act as a drill, but it also performs as a hammer drill.  This tool is used primarily to put holes into concrete and masonry.  Inside of the casing, as you are drilling into masonry, the bit is being hit or hammered from behind to drive the bit into the masonry and make a hole.

This tools are often quite loud and they can feel as if you are holding a jackhammer.  The more expensive models have features that make the tool easier and more comfortable to hold as you are working with it.  If you plan on using this for several hours at a time, you may want to opt for a corded version to get the sustained power you need.

Impact Drivers

While they have a similar shape of a drill, the head is usually shorter to allow you to use it in tight spaces.  They use hex-shaped bits to allow them to fulfill their purpose, which is to drive screws into wood, metal or masonry.  An impact driver helps put screws in place much quicker than a drill/driver and they can be used for more heavy duty applications than driver/drivers are made to handle.

Unlike hammer drivers that impact from behind the bit to drive them into masonry, an impact driver rotates the bit and uses concussive blows to drive screws and other fasteners.  The drill does most of the work on this tool and the impact only kicks in when needed.

If you are a do-it-yourself, the impact driver can help you get a lot of jobs done around the house.  Whether you are installing an outlet plate or putting in a new bathroom vanity, this tool will help you do the work much faster than a regular drill or a drill./driver.  For home projects, a hammer drill probably isn’t a tool you would normally use.  However, if you work with masonry, you will need a hammer drill to help you put holes into concrete, brick or other masonry in order to add bolts, screws or other fasteners.

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