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Tool Feature: Cordless Impact Drivers

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Your drill buying decision
Impact driver size compared
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The quick-connect chuck on an impact
driver (foreground) reduces the tool's
size, but limits you to 1/4" hex-shank
drilling and driving bits.

Your drill buying decision

Although an impact driver probably should not be the first cordless tool you buy, a 10.8- or 12-volt model definitely has a place in a woodworking shop, especially for building anything with screws. Its power-to-weight ratio proves second to none, and the slower chuck rotation in impact mode, compared to 18-volt models, provides unparalleled finesse when driving screws to precise depth. But for day-in and day-out drilling duties, we still prefer a standard drill, cordless or electric.

If you build outdoor projects, such as arbors, pergolas, or decks, where you drive a lot of long screws or lag bolts, opt for an 18-volt impact driver. You'll appreciate its added power, and once you become familiar with using it, you can even use it in your shop.

Our advice: When the batteries start to fail on your current cordless drill, consider buying an impact driver with batteries compatible with your old drill. For the cost of the new impacter--about the same as a cordless drill--you'll have both drilling precision and raw power for your shop. You can also buy a cordless impact driver without batteries for about 40 percent less. Or if you'd like to add a new drill as well as an impacter, get a kit that includes both tools with two batteries and a charger. These typically cost about $30 to $50 more than a single drill or driver kit.



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