When Not to Use an Impact Driver: 6 Specific Cases + Alternatives
You’ve probably heard of the wonderful properties of impact drivers. Impact drivers have become increasingly popular due to their ability to drive screws, bolts, and other fasteners more efficiently and quickly than traditional power drills.
As an electrician, I’ve had the opportunity to use a wide variety of tools in my work, and one of my favorites is the impact driver. This power tool has been incredibly useful for many different types of electrical tasks, especially in time-saving when it comes to loosening stubborn screws and bolts. Whether I am working on an electrical panel or installing new lighting fixtures, the impact driver can make quick work of even the most stubborn fasteners.
However, like any power tool, impact drivers have limitations and specific use cases. In this article, I’ll explore six circumstances where an impact driver should definitely not be used.
What is an Impact Driver?
Before we dive into when not to use an impact driver, let’s briefly discuss what impact drivers are and how they work. An impact driver combines rotational force and percussive blows to drive screws, bolts, or other fasteners into materials such as wood, metal, or concrete. The tool’s hammering mechanism generates a high amount of torque, making it easier to drive fasteners into tough materials.
Can You Use an Impact Driver for Everything?
In short, the answer is no, you cannot use an impact driver for everything. While impact drivers are incredibly useful tools, they are not suitable for every situation. It’s important to assess the specific job you’re working on and choose the right tool for the task.
Impact drivers are great for driving standard screws and bolts into sturdy materials, but they are not suitable for delicate materials, precision fasteners, or situations where you need more control over the amount of torque being applied. By choosing the right tool for the job, you’ll be able to complete the task safely and efficiently without causing any damage to the materials or equipment you’re working with.
When Should You Not Use an Impact Driver?
While impact drivers are versatile power tools, there are certain situations where they’re not the best tool for the job. Here are six circumstances where you should avoid using an impact driver:
1: When Working with Delicate Materials
One of the biggest downsides of an impact driver is that it can be incredibly powerful. While this can be a good thing when you’re trying to loosen a stubborn screw, it can also be a bad thing if you’re working with delicate materials. The high torque output of an impact driver can easily damage delicate materials like thin metal, plastic, or glass. In these situations, it’s best to use a manual screwdriver or a drill with a clutch to avoid damaging the material.
2: When Working in Tight Spaces
Impact drivers are great for driving screws and bolts into materials, but they can be difficult to maneuver in tight spaces. The long body of the tool can make it difficult to get into tight corners or other hard-to-reach areas. In these situations, it’s best to use a manual screwdriver or a shorter drill that can fit into the tight space.
3: When Installing Delicate Screws or Bolts
In addition to damaging delicate materials, an impact driver can also damage delicate screws or bolts. If you’re working with delicate screws or bolts that are easily stripped or damaged, it’s best to use a manual screwdriver or a drill with a clutch. These tools will give you more control over the amount of torque that you’re applying, which will help to prevent damage to the screws or bolts.
4: When Working with Stripped Screws or Bolts
While impact drivers are great at loosening stubborn screws and bolts, they can actually make stripped screws or bolts worse. The high torque output of an impact driver can cause the screw or bolt to become even more stripped or damaged. In these situations, it’s best to use a manual screwdriver or a drill with a clutch to avoid making the problem worse.
5: When Working with Screws or Bolts that Require a Specific Torque Setting
Some screws and bolts require a specific torque setting in order to be properly installed. Using an impact driver in these situations can lead to over-tightening or under-tightening, which can cause problems down the line. If you’re working with screws or bolts that require a specific torque setting, it’s best to use a torque screwdriver or a drill with a clutch to ensure that you’re applying the right amount of force.
6: When Working with Precision Fasteners
Finally, impact drivers are not the best option for working with precision fasteners like those found in electronics or other delicate equipment. These fasteners require a precise amount of torque in order to be properly installed, and using an impact driver can easily damage the equipment. In these situations, it’s best to use a manual screwdriver or a precision screwdriver set to ensure that you’re applying the right amount of force.
Alternatives to Impact Drivers
If you find yourself in one of the situations where an impact driver isn’t the best tool for the job, here are seven alternatives to consider in relation to specific use cases:
|Screwdriver||The classic screwdriver is perfect for light-duty tasks and the assembly of fragile objects. It’s also a great option for tight spaces.|
|Handheld Screwdriver||An easy-to-use tool that’s perfect for light-duty tasks and precision work.|
|Ratcheting Screwdriver||A hand tool that can drive screws in tight spaces. It’s an excellent alternative to an impact driver for light-duty tasks.|
|Manual Impact Driver||Uses a hammer to apply torque to the fastener. It’s a great option for precision work and delicate materials.|
|Hammer Drill||Combines drilling and hammering action to make it easier to drill through tough materials like concrete and masonry.|
|Pneumatic Impact Wrench||Compressed air to generate torque. It’s a great alternative to an impact driver for heavy-duty tasks.|
|Drill Driver||An excellent alternative to an impact driver for delicate materials and precision work.|
While impact drivers are versatile power tools that can handle various fastening tasks, there are certain situations where they’re not the best tool for the job. By considering the circumstances outlined in this article, you can avoid damaging materials or injuring yourself while working. Additionally, by exploring alternative tools to use instead of an impact driver, you can expand your toolkit and become more versatile in your electrical work, DIY projects, or other projects.
Also read: Best Makita drill for home use (a hands-on review)
Can an impact driver be used as a drill?
No, an impact driver is not designed for drilling. It’s designed for driving screws and bolts.
Can an impact driver be used to remove screws?
Yes, an impact driver can be used to remove screws. It can apply a lot of torque, which makes it easier to remove stuck or rusted screws.
Are impact drivers dangerous?
Like any power tool, an impact driver can be dangerous if not used properly. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions and wear appropriate safety gear.
Can an impact driver be used for automotive repair?
Yes, an impact driver is an essential tool for automotive repair. It can easily remove lug nuts and other bolts.
What’s the difference between an impact driver and a drill driver?
An impact driver is designed for driving screws and bolts, while a drill driver is designed for drilling holes and driving screws. An impact driver delivers more torque than a drill driver.