Ever buy a tool that you have been wanting and been even happier with the result than you had even hoped to be? When you use a tool for the first time and think “where have you been all my life?”, you need to stop and appreciate it.
That was my first thought the first time I used a cordless impact tool. The ease with which one of these can drive a fastener is a true revelation. The screw runs at more speed and with less torque than it would if you were using he cordless drill to do the same job. And it does it while weighing about half as much. The combination of these factors means that spending a day running fasteners with an impact will leave you much fresher when evening comes.
Of course there are a couple of trade offs to make. The first is that the tool is designed to take driver bits. this means that if you want to use it as a drill you will need to use the bits that have hex shanks on them, which is an added expense.
The other thing is the noise. These darn little drills make a lot (a lot!) of noise. This can make for a long day, especially if you are inside. Which counteracts some of the advantages noted above. If you are comfortable doing so, or can learn to be, ear protection would definitely be a good idea. Of course if you are working with any of the extremely noisy tools used in woodworking you should be well aware of the need for hearing protection already.
The way that I came to own one of these drill/impact combo sets was the way that probably most do. At least most of us that have been using a cordless drill for a while. I had been aware of these kits for a while but had a perfectly useable Ni-cad drill that I had been using for years. Then came a day when it was obvious that my old tried and true set was on its last legs and I was going to need to replace it.
So began the search for a replacement. Though I had never actually had my hands on an impact driver, reading reviews quickly made it obvious how useful one could be. I immediately widened my search to include combo sets. Then I widened it again when it became obvious that lithium was the greatest new thing since, well, Ni-cad.
After a while, reading reviews and running out and actually getting my hands on tools, I had narrowed my search to a couple of options. An affordable one (that I miss timed the specials on) and the more expensive Makita set that I eventually purchased.
I say eventually because I did have to spend a while overcoming the sticker shock that the price label on the lithium impact combination sets had on them. Still after one mis-step involving metal vs. plastic chucks, I was the proud owner of a couple of new drills. The Drill motor even had a setting for hammer drill, which has been another revelation it works so well.
As I mentioned above, after using the impact tool I wondered how I had put off this purchase for so long.
If you are looking for a new drill and are on the fence at all – don’t be. I am virtually certain that you will be as happy with a combo it as I have been.