Imagine walking down the aisle of your favorite hardware store. You’re looking for a power tool that can fasten those long screws for your current project. You’re new to woodworking, so you’re unsure if you should just get a regular cordless drill or if it’s better to buy an impact driver because one of your friends told you to. Or is it better to get both?

And because you’re new to woodworking, you’re wondering what even is an impact driver? Does it function like a standard drill, or does it offer something new? Is it more powerful than standard drills and hammer drills?

In this article, we’ll take a look at what an impact driver is, what it does, and whether it’s the perfect tool for your project. We’re also going to compare and contrast it with standard drills so you can decide whether it’s the right tool to buy. Check out our handy guide to impact drivers below.

Makita XDT131 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Brushless Cordless Impact Driver Kit (3.0Ah)
  • BL Brushless motor delivers 1, 500 inches pounds Of max torque
  • Variable speed (0 3, 400 RPM & 0 3, 600 IPM) for a wide range of fastening applications
  • The BL Brushless motor eliminates carbon brushes, enabling the BL motor to run cooler and more efficiently for longer life
  • Efficient BL Brushless motor is electronically controlled to optimize battery energy use for up to 50 percentage longer run time per charge
  • The electronically controlled BL Brushless motor efficiently uses energy to match torque and RPM to the changing demands of the application
PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX Impact Driver Kit (PCCK647LB)
  • BRUSHLESS MOTOR: Delivers 50% more runtime than brushed model.
  • PERFORMANCE: Provides 2,700 MAX RPMs and 1,400 in-lbs of max torque for large fastening applications.
  • ERGONOMIC DESIGN: 14% shorter in length than previous model and quick change chuck for one-handed easy bit changes.
  • INCLUDES: PCC647 Impact Driver, (2) PCC680L 20V MAX* Lithium Ion Batteries, (1) PCC699L Charger, (1) Screwdriving Bit.
  • PART OF THE PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX* SYSTEM: Battery works with all Porter-Cable 20V MAX* lithium ion products.
BLACK+DECKER 20V MAX Impact Driver Kit (BDCI20C)
  • High Performance Transmission delivers 1375 in-lbs of max torque
  • Quick Release 1/4" Hex Chuck
  • Compact & Lightweight for ease of use
  • Maximum initial battery voltage measured without a workload is 20 volts and nominal voltage is 18
  • Included Components: (1) BDCI202, (1) 20v Max Battery, (1) Charger, (1) Screwdriving bit
CRAFTSMAN V20 Impact Driver Kit, Cordless (CMCF810C1)
  • Part of the V20 cordless system
  • Brushless motors provide up to 30% more runtime and improved durability
  • 1/4in.Cordless impact driver delivers 1, 500 inlbs of torque for driving larger fasteners
  • Quick release chuck for easy1-handed bit changes
  • Max 2, 800 RPM and 3, 500 ipms for quick fastening applications
SKIL 20V 1/4 Inch Hex Cordless Impact Driver, Includes 2.0Ah PWRCore 20 Lithium Battery and Charger - ID572702
  • EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO GET STARTED—Cordless impact driver set comes with a PWR Core 20 2. 0Ah Lithium Battery and 20V Charger.
  • TORQUE FOR TOUGH TASKS—This 20V Impact Driver is ideal for heavy-duty work like driving large fasteners through dense wood.
  • Longer run time & battery life—the PWR Core 20 Lithium battery has an innovative temperature management system to keep the battery cool and powering on through your project.
  • Easy bit changes/4 inch hex collet makes for quick changes, wasting no time.
  • VARIABLE SPEED CONTROL—Precise start with full control for a variety of tasks.
Ryobi P1870 18V Lithium Ion Battery Powered 1/4 Inch 1,500 Inch Pound Impact Driver Kit (P234 Impact Driver, P102 18V Battery and P119 Charger Included)
  • P236 IMPACT DRIVER: With multiple useful features like a notched rubber grip mold for comfort and a keyless, tool-free bit changing system, the P236 is a powerful piece of hardware that will dish out up to 1,500 inch pounds of torque for as long as your Ryobi One+ batteries will keep it charged
  • MAGTRAY: Keep fasteners or bits stored safely on this impact driver’s magnetic tray, located conveniently at its base. With its help, you’ll be able to work with both hands on the driver, switching applications in a flash as needed
  • P119 CHARGER: This compact charger fits over the top of your lithium ion or NiCad batteries to keep them charged for a variety of tasks around the home
  • P102 BATTERY: This compact battery will provide you with plenty of energy while minimizing the working weight of your tool so you can work with greater precision
  • ONE+ COMPATIBLE: This tool will work with the Ryobi One+ suite of batteries. Compatible models include the P100, P102, P103, P104, P105, P107, and P108
GALAX PRO 20 V Lithium Ion 1/4" Hex Cordless Impact Driver with LED Work Light, 6 Pieces Screwdriver Bits, Variable Speed (0-2800 RPM)- 1.3 Ah Battery and Charger Included
  • 20V Max battery: The Cordless driver comes with a 1.3 Ah Lithium Ion battery and a charger for extended run time; Indicator on the the front of the battery to display how many power left for less downtime on the job
  • Variable speed trigger: Variable speed switch adjust speed by the amount of trigger depression; The trigger switch(0 and 2800 RPM) allows to control your own drilling speed which perfects for what you are setting up for
  • Tool-less bits change: With this special chuck, you can easily and quickly remove bits from the tool by simply pulling back on the collet; Insert the bits into the collet; No tools necessary
  • Ergonomic handle design and convenience: Soft rubber handle provides a comfortable grip for being breezily operated in one hand, includes a belt hook attached to the base of the tool lets you hold on to fasteners and bits that you may need to attach to the tool while you’re high up on a ladder
  • What you get: 1*GALAX PRO 95307 impact driver, 1* 1.3 Ah battery, 1* charger,1* belt clip, 6* screwdriver bits, 1* user Manual

Power Drill

A Makita power drill. Photo by Eugen Str on Unsplash.

A drill is a handheld power tool equipped with a motor that spins a detachable drill bit. It can be used to drive fasteners into a workpiece, but its primary role is to bore holes through different materials, including wood, plastic, and some metals. A power drill is made up of a trigger, a chuck, a forward and reverse button, and a power source. 

Corded power drills are plugged into an electrical outlet, while cordless drills are powered by lithium-ion batteries. In general, corded drills pack more power than cordless ones. They are also lighter than cordless drills because they don’t have batteries attached to them. 

If you want a tool that you can bring anywhere and not have to worry if the jobsite has an electrical socket or not, then a cordless power drill is ideal for you. Cordless power drills are convenient, but they are, by nature, heavy thanks to the additional weight of the lithium-ion battery. You also need to make sure that your battery is fully charged before you head out for work, or you have a spare one in your toolbox in case you run out of juice.

Power drills use a simple rotary motion to bore a hole through a piece of wood, plastic, or metal. Let’s contrast its motion with that produced by impact drivers below to know the difference between the two power tools.

Looking for a cordless drill that is perfect for your workshop and fits your budget? Then check out our review of the 5 best cordless drills available online.

Impact Driver

A Makita impact driver. Image by Jean van der Meulen from Pixabay

If your task is to drive fasteners into the wood and other materials, then an impact driver is your tool of choice. Impact drivers, unlike drills, are not designed to bore holes into wood, plastic, or metal. These power tools are designed to drive screws and tighten/loosen nuts, and they only accommodate bits and drivers with a 1/4″ hex shank.

Notice the difference in the shape of the shanks of the bits below?