About two months ago, I started ajob in a building with lots of heavy timber - timber I had to run pipe through. Remembering a product demo I had seen at a suppliers' open house, I took a chance. I bought a new kind of tool, and a new kind of bit.
The tool was a cordless "impact driver." Not to be confused with a hammer drill, in this tool, all the 'impact' is in the direction the bit is spinning. The power in even a small tool is impressive; my 9.6 impact easily outperformed my 14.4 drill. More importantly, there is absolutely NO twisting felt in your wrist. The tool will not yank itself out of your hand.
Later, I used it for driving screws; again, with excellent results.
Then, today I tried my 'unibit' in it, for opening a hole in sheet metal. Again, the improvement over any drill was amazing.
My four drills get used less and less theses days. If you have not picked up an impact driver .... get one for Christmas.
I have to admit I see more trades useing these every day....but have yet to try one yet. The tin knockers and black iron guys seem to be useing them quite a lot on my current jobsite.
Maybe I should give one a try, I'm one of those guys who loves tools and gadgets too much and also spends too much on them. But...having the correct tool (like a control punch K.O. with keyway) can often save a lot of time. Plus makes the powers that be impressed with you occasionally.
I absolutely love mine. I only use my regular drill anymore for small jobs where its too hard to control the torque and shear off screw heads. For anything else the impact drill is the tool I use.
I drove a thousand deck screws this summer and even the cheap Ryobi branded one that I've got did fantastic. for drilling larger holes or with larger bits they are fantastic too, much less stress on your wrist and arm as they just hammer their way around.
They are fantastically loud though. I wouldn't do much of anything with one without some hearing protection.
Really, this is the first "new" tool that I've really embraced in a long time and I've never regretted buying it as opposed to a new regular drill. Mine just has the speed connection for attaching bits, and the best drill bits are still the traditional kind, but I've added an adaptor and that works great too.
I think this really could be the end of the drill as we know it. Impact drivers seem to be superior in every way. I have only owned a cheap 12v Black & Decker model (the battery charger died though) but even that was better than my 14.4 Bosch.
There are about 40 guys where I work and about half are using impact drivers...they've really caught on.
I know of a few guys who use an adapter that allows them to use sockets in their driver, and get this...they use a socket to drive the draw stud for their knock-out cutters. Apparently you can hold a 4 & 11/16 box in one hand and, using the impact driver, knock out a hole to 1" with the other hand.
I know what I'm buying for myself...once I recover from the Great Christmas Financial Meltdown.
The screen guys were using one of those 14.4v Ryobis here and I played with it. Quite a gadget. It shot 3/8" tapcons into concrete like drilling into wood. It is as small as my 9v Makita. The guy said he has taken off lugnuts with it
The impact drivers I am speaking of are battery powered, and resemble cordless drills in appearance. The most obvious difference is that the 'chuck' is usually a small collar, that will only accept a 1/4" hex shank.
In operation, they act like a drill ... spinning the bit quickly ... until resistance is encountered. Then, an internal mechanism takes over. A rapid series of little 'hammer blows' are applied to the rotation of the bit, allowing the bit to rotate a little with each blow. In use, these impacts sound more like a ratchet than anything else. Little or no torque is felt in the handle.
Virtually every maker of cordless tools has a model. Milwaukee even has a 'super size' model, intended for use with their 'selfeed' large diameter forstener bits. Some even have a handy LED light in the nose.