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How an Impact Driver Works
Whether you don’t know the first thing about power tools, or are a DIY wizard, there’s always more to learn. In this article we have summarized for your convenience everything there is to know about impact drivers – an essential tool in construction, carpentry, DIY, and more. Keep reading to learn what they are, how they work, and how to use them.
So What’s an Impact Driver, Exactly?
An impact driver is a type of handheld, cordless power tool. They’re very similar in appearance to power drills, but the purpose, function, and mechanics of these two types of tool are quite different. Although power drills are more commonly in garages and toolboxes, there are some things an impact driver can do that a regular drill simply can’t.
For this reason, an impact driver is an essential tool in its own right. The difference between a regular power drill and an impact driver is that (as the name suggests) an impact driver delivers a powerful impact on whatever it is you’re working on.
This force – significantly stronger than what a regular drill provides – is used both for fastening and unfastening stubborn screws and bolts. Interesting – but where does the extra power come from?
How Does an Impact Driver Work Properly ?
Impact drivers get their high power output – and their name – from their ingenious working mechanism. From a theoretical point of view, impact drivers do two things: One, they convert a vertical, downward motion into a sudden but powerful turning motion.
Two, instead of releasing energy continuously, they alternate between storing energy and releasing it in bursts. This means that while the power input similar to that of a drill, the output is twice as powerful (but taking twice as long).
The way this works is by adding a spring and weight mechanism between the motor and the driver (the “business end” of the tool). As the motor rotates the driver’s shaft, energy is stored in a powerful spring. For every full rotation of the shaft, the spring makes one half of a rotation.
Upon completing a full rotation, the stored energy is released: the spring pushes a round, rotating weight downwards towards the driver with great force, rotating it simultaneously.
The end result is that each turn of the driver exerts twice energy that went into it. Of course, this energy doesn’t come from nowhere – it’s the stored energy from when the driver isn’t rotating.
This means that the bit of an impact driver rotates twice as slowly as that of a power drill, but it still rotates pretty darn fast: about 50 times a second, which gives impact drivers their characteristic ‘rat-tat-tat’ sound. And of course, it’s what makes them the ultimate fastening and unfastening tool.
How to Use an Impact Driver
Using an impact driver is simple. In fact, the whole idea behind an impact driver is that it works for you, making your life a little easier. You’d use an impact driver in much the same way you would a drill: Simply insert your driver bit into the screw and squeeze the trigger.
Like all power drills, impact drivers have a directional switch right above the trigger, for easy switching between forward (clockwise) and reverse (counter-clockwise) motion.
One difference between drills and impact drivers is in the bits. Impact drivers only use hexagonal, hardy and resistant driver bits, but inserting them into the driver is very easy. Simply pull the collet (a cylindrical sleeve near the end of the driver) back, drop the bit into the slot, and release the collet. Put on your safety goggles, and you’re good to go!
Pros and Cons of Impact Drivers see below:
- Provide tremendous concussive force (impact).
- Useful for loosening stubborn screws.
- Also great for driving screws into hard, resistant materials.
- Added power and torque take most of the strain off your hand and wrist.
- Not ideal for drilling holes (although you can, but you’ll need special hexagonal shank drill bits).
Essentially a hybrid between a hammer and a screwdriver, an impact driver is an ingenious – and endlessly useful – power tool. If you habitually fasten and unfasten screws, you’ll definitely want to invest in an impact driver.
Your work will go faster, your wrists will thank you, and you can forget about breaking your back over stuck screws. Whether you’re in construction, woodworking, or just an avid DIY-er, an impact driver is a must-have tool.
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