When Not to Use an Impact Driver? 5 Situations

When Not to Use an Impact Driver? 5 Situations

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In the world of construction, impact drivers are of course extremely important tools. Impact drivers have a very special function that includes a hammer and an anvil on the inside, which are used to produce exceptional amounts of force and torque. In case you were wondering what impact drivers are used for, their main uses include fastening concrete screw anchors, driving long screws into metal studs, and driving very long screws into hard pieces of wood.

However, with that being said, an impact driver is not the only tool at your disposal. There are also normal drills and drivers, as well as hammer drills. So, although impact drivers are very useful, they can’t do everything. Let’s talk about a number of situations where an impact driver is probably not your best choice.

1. Non-Hex Shank Bits

Impact drivers are very useful tools indeed, but something that does need to be said about them is that the special mechanism they use for their bits only accepts hex-shaped bits. Therefore, if you are working on any sort of project that requires you to constantly change the type of bit shape you are using, then an impact driver is not your best choice.

Sure, hex-shaped bits are very useful and widespread, but they aren’t the only type of bits out there. If you need to use bits other than hex-shaped fits, you are going to need a normal drill or a hammer drill, as both of these tools can accept many more bit types.

2. Short Screws

OK, so impact drivers are known for being able to insert really long screws and bolts into very hard and dense materials such as hardwood and masonry. The reason for this is of course because impact drivers produce a high amount of torque and impact, which together have the ability to drive very long screws into extremely dense materials.

With that being said, due to all of that torque and power that an impact driver has, combined with a lack of control, if the screws are too short, you risk breaking the screws or stripping them. In other words, if the screw is very short, that massive amount of torque that an impact driver can produce can cause the screw to screw in way too quickly.

Remember that overtightening fastenings can also result in the materials that are being fastened cracking. For instance, if you screw a screw way too hard inside of a piece of relatively soft wood, you might actually crack the wood itself. Don’t use an impact driver to fasten very short screws, particularly into soft materials, something that we’re about to touch on below.

3. Soft Materials

Something else that you need to keep in mind here is that impact drivers just are not well suited for soft materials. Due to all of the torque and force that they put out, they are ideal for hardwood, masonry, metal, and other such materials. However, if there are soft materials involved, particularly softwood, then you probably don’t want to use an impact driver.

This is much for the same reason as we discussed above. The reason is that impact drivers have very limited control, and this makes them relatively imprecise. When it comes to something like softwood, if you insert a screw fastener with a bit too much torque, you can damage that piece of softwood.

If the materials that you are using are delicate, then the tool that you are using to work on that material needs to be equally as delicate. When it comes to soft materials, not only is an impact driver too rough, but it’s also just unnecessary. When drilling or screwing into softwood, then it’s a normal drill/driver that you want to use.

4. Precision Work

Something else that you should not use an impact driver for is any kind of precision work, particularly when there are small pieces of material involved. Yes, impact drivers are very powerful, and they produce a heck of a lot of torque, but with that said, due to that back and forth banging action which they feature, they can be a bit hard to control.

Drilling a straight hole with an impact driver, particularly a very small hole, is going to be nearly impossible, especially if the material that you were working on is very thin and delicate. For a simple comparison, an impact driver is a massive explosion that takes out everything in the vicinity, whereas a normal drill driver is a precision strike without collateral damage. You just can’t do anything overly precise or delicate with an impact driver.

5. Drilling Holes

Another task that an impact driver is not ideal for is drilling holes. Now, impact drivers can technically drill holes, but they’re not built for this. If you need to drill holes, it’s either a hammer drill or a normal drill driver that you need. There are actually a number of reasons why impact drivers are not suited for drilling holes, with one of them being the fact that they only accept hex-shaped bits.

The fact that impact drivers also feature very limited control makes it harder to drill precise holes. Finally, due to the massive amount of power and torque which these tools produce, you might actually over drill a hole and cause it to be too deep. No matter the case or situation, if you’re going to be drilling holes, especially into wood, then it is preferably a normal drill that you want to use.


Remember people, building furniture, making cabinets, making toys, or working on small projects are all things that impact drivers are not suited for. Impact drivers are big and heavy-duty tools designed for extremely dense materials. They just aren’t suited for delicate work of any sort.