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How to drill with a cordless impact driver

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Impact drivers can be used to drill holes Although cordless impact drivers are primarily designed for inserting and removing screws, you can also use them to drill holes, providing you use the correct drill bit.

When selecting a drill bit to use in your cordless impact driver, you should consider the following:

The advantages and disadvantages

ADVANTAGES   DISADVANTAGES
Advantages and disadvantages
  • There’s no need to swap to using a cordless drill when you want to drill holes
  • Impact drivers usually have more compact designs compared with standard drills, which makes them better suited to tighter spaces
  • Impact drivers are typically lighter than cordless drills, which can be extremely beneficial when using the tool for long periods of time or holding it above head height
  • You will need to purchase drill bits with hexagonal shanks or use an adaptor
  • The range of impact drill bits is still fairly limited

Drill bit shank

Cordless impact drivers have a 1/4 inch chuck Cordless impact drivers have ¼ inch hexagonal quick-release chucks. This means that if you want to drill holes, you need to use a drill bit with a hexagonal shank of the same diameter.
Front view of a hexagonal and straight shank bits Nowadays, you can purchase drill bits with hex shanks, but they are not as common as drill bits with round (straight) shanks.

Traditionally, screwdriver bits were the only bits to have hexagonal shanks, while drill bits all had straight shanks.

Grey hexagon with a double ended arrow across the centre The diameter of a hex shank is measured across the flats.

Impact bits

Impact screwdriver bit and an impact drill bit When using a cordless impact driver, it is recommended that you use ‘impact bits’ – which are screwdriver and drill bits that are specially-designed to withstand the constant hammering of the impact driver’s mechanism.
regular drill bits may not be strong enough and break off or shatter Although impact drivers can produce a higher level of torque than most drill drivers, the range of impact drill bits available is fairly limited.

If there isn’t an impact drill bit available to suit your drilling application, then you can use a regular drill bit, providing it has a 1/4 inch hex shank. However, you should bear in mind that regular drill bits may not be strong enough to cope with the impact and could wear down or shatter easily.