How to Use an Impact Driver? A Beginner Guide

People who learn how to fix frames and work with wood usually always use a cordless drill. A cordless drill is the first piece of power tool that most people buy and also, it is very versatile. But when it comes to driving screws into wood, nothing beats an impact driver.

Many people picked up quite a few hobbies while staying at home this year. It was a perfect year for those who wanted to learn a skill or two but never got the time. Among other things, carpentering and baking were the top choices. And when people who start any kind of woodwork, they usually pick up a power drill as their starting tool.

Although power drills are very versatile, yet, you might want to think of investing in an impact driver. This is the second power tool people usually buy when they start to understand its importance.

How to Use an Impact Driver

As we mentioned before, impact drivers are specifically designed to drive screws in wood. But they do so with more power thanks to the concussive force. That is why you do not have to put a lot of force behind an impact driver. But when you are using the drill for the same job, you have to apply force to the screw to drive it in the wood.

If you are using an impact driver, you will need the following things:

Hex Shank Bits

The bits that the drill accepts are a bit different than the bits of an impact driver. While a drill will accept most kinds of bits designed for a drill. There are numerous types of round and hex shank bits available to be installed in a drill. While an impact driver only uses hex shank bits of 0.25-inch thickness.


Now batteries matter a lot when it comes to cordless drills and impact drivers. If you have a smaller and weaker battery, chances are your drill and impact driver both will stall before driving the screw deep into the wood. This is because it does not have enough power behind it to push through.

If you want to really drive those large screws through thick wooden timber, you need a powerful battery. You need at least a 4 Ah battery or higher for the job. Otherwise, even though an impact driver has more torque it will still not be able to drive a screw at low power.

Also, a larger battery means more capacity. You will not have to charge it over and over again for use.

Now that we have the basic things down, let us find out how to use an impact driver.

1) First Step – Load a Fully Charged Battery on the Impact Driver

This is easy, just load a charged battery on to your impact driver. The impact driver can be loaded with a battery just like a cordless drill. They are almost identical in the way in which you attach a battery on them. So this should not be difficult at all.

Once you attach the battery, it will clamp on and will be tightly attached to the impact driver. To take it out again, you will need to press the release and the battery will slide out easily.

2) Second Step – Attach the Hex Bit of Your Choice

This one depends totally upon what you are going to screw into the wood. There is a variety of screws available in the market. Which one do you need will depend on the nature of the job. But basically, there is a slotted screw head and Phillips screw. There are other screw heads too but these two are used the most.

So choose the hex shank bit for the job and then slide it inside the head then pull the collet forward. This will attach the bit to the impact driver. To detach it, you repeat the process and the bit can be easily removed.

3) Third Step – Fasten Screw in the Wood and Drive it down

Now if you are new at using the impact driver, you would like to take it slow. Firstly you would like to take the screw of your choice that you want to drive in the wood and place it over the bit. If you have a slotted screw then place it over the slotted head of the bit. Then slowly press it on the wood and press the button which will push the screw down the wood.

After the screw has penetrated the wood a bit, you then slowly apply force to direct the screw inside the wood. Due to the concussive force, the screw goes inside the wood easily. Let the impact driver do the work instead of you doing it.

4) Fourth Step – Take out a Screw of the Wood

Impact drivers work both ways, you can use it to take out a screw of the wood as well put in one. So just take the impact driver, turn the setting to reverse, and place it on the screw head. Press the button and pull the tool away from you as the screw starts to come out of the wood.

This also requires minimum effort thanks to the concussive force and the extra torque in the impact driver.

Additional Tips

  • While it is true that the impact drivers are used to drive in screws, you can use these as drills as well. Although, we do not recommend that because they are designed for a specific job. But in case of an emergency, you could definitely do that.
  • While you need to apply a lot of force on a drill to drive in screws, the impact driver does not need that. Just slowly push the screw in to guide it inside the wood. Let the impact driver do its job.
  • Always use a powerful battery if the job is going to be tough. If you are driving a screw in a weak or thin wood, you don’t need tons of battery. But if you are going to be using this for a lot of projects, a powerful battery will save you time to charge it over and over again.


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