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Impact Driver vs Impact Wrench: Which is Better for You?

Whether you are a DIY enthusiast or a pro-grade contractor, your tools will, no doubt, be the "heart and soul" of your job. However, with the gradual development and advancement of the tools in their potentiality, it sometimes becomes hard to choose a tool that suits your project purpose. It is even harder when you are stuck to pick only one from two similar functioning power tools. One such example is the impact driver vs impact wrench; which is a difficult choice, for a woodcrafter, to decide which one to buy.

For your record, both the impact wrench and driver are reliable power tools used for wrenching purposes. However, in most cases, only one of them should be in your tool chest.

But, why use a power wrenching tool when there are standard wrenches and drills already available in the market? Well, the reason behind is that the traditional drills or wrenches do not offer more torque when compared with an impact wrench or driver. This is only one favourable point, there are many technical benefits of power wrenching tools over the traditional ones. But here, we will discuss and compare the technicalities lying between impact driver and wrench. This will guide you in choosing the better one for your projects. 

Impact Driver vs Impact Wrench

Impact Driver

Impact Driver

This power tool has a wider range of applications in workshop related or home tasks where you need to drive in screws. In this regard, a traditional drill or torque wrench is sufficient to do the job. However, these offer limited torque which may not be enough to meet your project requirements. This is where the need for a versatile power wrenching tool steps in.

Impact driver is the most-sought device preferred by the woodcrafters for their dynamicity and wider applicability in various workshop projects. Though the tool, by its external appearance, resembles a standard drill, its high intensity torque completes the tasks faster and with better efficiency.

Impact driver supports a ¼ inch hex drive and is an ideal option for driving screws into different materials. Moreover, you can manage to convert the driver to ½ inch square drive (as found in an impact wrench) by using an hex bit adaptor for fastening the dedicated hex bit.

Impact drivers utilize a quick-paced tapping to jog along the fastener while also maintaining the screw head (which is to be driven) in position, ensuring that the screw doesn't turn out of its position. The impact driver features a torque limit of about 2,200 inch-pound, based on the type of model you choose. This torque value is just perfect to carry out different household applications. Overall, an impact driver is a perfect choice for the home users and DIY hobbyists. The fundamental purpose of this power device is to nudge bolts and screws into wood or various other material surfaces; which is otherwise a big deal to accomplish using a conventional drill. Other than that, you can make drawers, install blinds or cabinets, chandeliers, or can do any general fixing tasks of your home with the impact driver.

PROS

  • Easy to use: Impact driver is a convenient power tool for the hobbyists and home users. Added to that, the tool offers required intensity of torque to drive bolts while ensuring that they (bolts) do not get dispositioned. This is something which is difficult to achieve through a regular, standard drill.
  • Budget-friendly: Despite being a bit costlier than the conventional drills, the impact drivers are reasonably affordable compared with the impact wrenches. The lowest to highest price approximately ranges from $50 to $150+.
  • Ideal for driving bolts and screws: The ¼ inch hex drive is the primary factor that makes the tool the most relied power device for nudging crews into various materials, including wood, metal, concrete, etc.
  • Handy tool: It is a lightweight power tool and hence easy to handle without getting a frequent fatigue feeling.

CONS

  • Limited torque control: Most models of impact drivers come without a torque control. Consequently, the intensity of torque delivered by that dedicated driver model will be difficult to handle. Plus, it may strip off the bolt head and damage the screwing surface of the workpiece.
  • Not compatible with all bit sizes: The most considerable setback of an impact driver is that it does not support all types of bits. Its locking collet chuck only takes the hex-shanked bits, thereby limiting the driver's applications to many users.

Impact Wrench

Impact Wrench

If you are looking for a powerful wrench, then it is better to go with an impact wrench. This power tool is what most woodcrafters would prefer because of its consistent high torque output.

Though it appears somewhat close to a drill, the former does not deliver consistent high speed rotational power. It rather supplies high torque at low speeds by following a hammering action.

The impact wrench is a bulkier option, however, more powerful compared with an impact driver. Plus, it supports a ½ inch square drive. The fundamental application of a power wrench is to tighten or loosen large bolts, lug nuts, etc.

The torque provided by it is several times greater compared with an impact driver. Based on the model you pick, a torque limit of around 13,000 inch-pound or more can be expected.

This power tool is not a necessary requirement for any DIY enthusiast. This is rather highly demanded by the pro-grade construction workers, mechanics, etc. in the maximum time of their daily work. However, it has other useful applications for general fixing requirements at home, etc. It is a handy power tool to accomplish any heavy duty project. Lastly, you can utilize this device for other light duty maintenance jobs as well, for example; while constructing decks for your garden, replacing wheels of any vehicle, etc. 

PROS

  • Generates high torque: An impact wrench delivers several times greater torque than an impact driver as well as a standard drill. This power tool makes sure to generate sufficient torque to carry out almost any application, at ease.
  • Convenient to use: Unlike an impact driver, an impact wrench is a heavy weight power tool. However, the latter is still easy to handle and use for a prolonged period without much fatigue. It makes bolting and unbolting of large screws effortless and faster, thereby reducing your work time.
  • Perfect for lug nuts and large bolts: An impact driver is versatile in nature; it can be used to nudge screws by using the accurate wrench bit. Plus, it is primarily used to fasten or loosen nuts and screws. This power wrench can handle bits of any size, as per the project requirement. This capability makes the tool an ideal option for managing heavy mechanical projects and more.

CONS

  • Heavy: The ability of the tool to deliver added power and torque makes it a bulkier power device. So, if you are a tenderfoot, then this option won't be suitable for you. The ability to handle its weight will only develop with time and practice. The DIYers generally prefer to go with a compact cum lightweight tool, let it be any. So, the impact wrench won't be a good fit for them.
  • Comparatively costlier: Impact wrenches are relatively costlier if compared with an impact driver. Moreover, since the requirement of a high torque power tool won't be that frequent, except for the heavy duty projects that arrive occasionally, it is better not to waste money buying one that will rarely be used.

Note: The cost of branded impact wrenches may reach up to several hundred dollars. However, if you want to go for a cheaper model, then an impact wrench is easily available under $50.

Verdict

Having an appropriate collection of power tools and others in the toolkit is the biggest asset to any woodworker, construction worker, hobbyists, etc. However, the procedure of choosing the right tools for your toolbox is a harder job to do. So, in such cases, we always recommend picking the one that can fulfill your project requirements. If you generally deal with screwing and unscrewing jobs, then an impact driver is what you need. Its torque delivery is sufficiently more to get most of your tasks done, without a fail. In this case, buying an expensive impact wrench will be just like wasting extra bucks and extra torque (that will go in vain), simply to drive screws. Conversely, if you are a pro-grade automotive garage owner, then your workshop must have a high quality impact wrench in its inventory, for more substantial jobs. In simpler words, an impact driver is more for the DIYers and household users, whereas an impact wrench is a better fit for industrial applications. As such, both the impact driver and wrench are better than each other; the priority keeps varying among the users, based on their project requirements. 

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