Can You Use An Impact Driver As A Drill?

September 18, 2022

Using drill bit on the impact driver.

If you want to jumpstart your woodworking career and are just building up your arsenal of woodworking tools, you’ll get surprised upon learning that the prices of woodworking tools are costly. So, you might want to maximize your budget by buying only the necessary tools to kickstart your woodworking career. You might be asking likewise whether you can skip the drill and instead buy an impact driver. You might be asking too whether you can use the impact driver as if it were a drill. 

Regarding the latter question, the answer is—Yes, you can use the impact driver to drill holes on wood, plastic, and other materials. However, you will only find limited options of hexagonal shank drill bits, though this sector appears to be increasingly growing day by day. Moreover, drilling using an impact driver is a poor choice because of the limited available speed compared to the cordless drills.

Why Should You Drill Using an Impact Driver?

The impact driver, as mentioned above, is not engineered for drilling holes. As such, it may not be appropriate for use in drilling holes. Besides, they would fail to grip accessories as firmly as a drill chuck would do. You can likewise only find a limited range of accessories for drilling holes using the impact driver. Experts, however, would suggest that it will be best to purchase a dedicated drill set for drilling purposes if you have the money. 

  • Nonetheless, you can use an impact driver in some instances to drill holes. For example, if you’ve been driving fasteners for several hours and only need to drill some holes now and then, you’ll find it convenient to drill holes using the impact driver. Furthermore, you can swap bits quickly and switch between different applications within seconds. 
  • Plus, if you need to drill on tight spaces, you will find the impact driver a better tool. The impact driver is more compact than the drill, sans the drill chuck and bulky gearbox. Additionally, you can perform tasks with the impact driver that you can only do using an angle drill. 
  • You can drill pilot holes likewise with the impact driver using the appropriate bit without having to utilize another tool. Thus, in the above instances, you will find the impact driver more convenient in drilling holes.  

What are the Appropriate Drill Bits for Impact Drivers?

You will indeed need special bits to actualize your desire to use the impact driver to drill holes. A unique hex shank impact-rated bit will do the trick for you. With this bit, you can start driving screws, and you can likewise drill. Remember that you can only use the impact driver using a 1/4″ hex shank accessory. 

However, this doesn’t mean that all hex shank drill bits will be suited for use with these accessories. To be safe, you should search for drill bits that are labeled with Impact Rated. These impact-rated bits are shorter than the traditional drill bits. Nevertheless, they would not shatter when used with impact drivers because they are more durable. They also can resist the impact of repetitious hammer blows when the impact mechanism starts to kick in.

The finish of the impact screwdriver features a black color to dark grey finish. Thus, you can easily differentiate the impact screwdrivers from drill bits. But with drill bits, you may get confused because HSS-R drill bits have primarily black finishes.

Things You Must Be Know of Before You Start Using an Impact Driver for Drilling

The conventional drill should be your primary choice when drilling. Yet, as mentioned above, there are instances when using an impact driver is a good option. Yet, before you engage in drilling holes using the impact driver, it will be best to be mindful of the following factors:

Drill Bit Shank

Before drilling, you should check whether the drill bit comes with a hexagonal shank. You will need the hex shank when drilling holes. This is because most impact drivers only come with a hex-shaped socket that can only accommodate hex shank bits. 

The use of the hex shank bit is advantageous because it doesn’t slip nor get damaged when using them. Yet, you will find it hard to find hex shaft drill bits. Moreover, you will often not find the right drill bit size for your impact driver.

Impact Rated Drill

When you utilize the impact driver to drill holes, it will be best to use the impact bits engineered to work with your impact driver. Thus, you will have a whole bit range to allow you to use them for the different drilling needs you want to accomplish. 

You will find that the standard bits aren’t engineered for impact driver’s use. They bend under increased stress (torque) that the tool delivers. Moreover, they may break, given the high-impact force supplied by the device. Thus, it is best to use the appropriate impact-rated drill bits when using an impact driver.

Limited Speed Options and No Clutch

You will find the impact driver without a clutch option. The absence of this feature is a downside for most drill types. But with the impact driver, this absence can be an advantage. You will notice that impact drivers, sans a clutch, are shorter, allowing you to use them in tighter spaces. Nevertheless, you will also find impact drivers with clutch. Yet, they are more costly. 

Aside from the no-clutch factor, you also get restricted by limited speed options when using impact drivers. Thus, you will use more time to drill holes compared to the use of the standard drills.  

Advantages of Drilling Using an Impact Driver

There are succinct advantages concomitant with the use of the impact driver when drilling. Some of these apparent advantages include the following:

Less Switching

You can utilize the impact driver for driving screws and drilling. Thus, its use allows for more versatility. You will not need to switch between the drill and the impact driver when working. This enables you to save on effort and time. 

Allows for Quick Release

The impact driver allows for quickly releasing the bit because it features a quick-release system. Thus, with its use, you can quickly change bits. Besides, you will consume less time when changing bits compared to the cordless drills. 

This quick-release feature will speed up your work, allowing for better efficiency. Thus, you can accomplish more with less time. You can also prepare for different jobs by just making the needed bits available by your side.


The impact driver is compact. It is also lightweight. Thus, you can use it longer without tiring or straining your hands. Moreover, with less strain in your hands, you can accomplish more. 

Better Torque

The impact driver, of course, doesn’t work like the conventional drill designed for drilling holes. But they also offer higher torque. Thus, they are better when drilling on dense material because of the added torque.

Compact Design

The most apparent advantage of using the impact driver is that it is compact. Thus, with the impact driver’s use, you can readily access tighter spaces than the conventional drills. Moreover, it got an ergonomic design. Plus, it offers better balance compared to traditional drills. 

It is Easy on Your Wrist

The impact driver comes with almost no kickback. This is because it features an impact hammer mechanism internally. Thus, if you are looking for a workout for your wrist, hand, and arm, you will get more with the drill.

Disadvantages of Using an Impact Driver

The use of impact drivers is not without any disadvantages, and here are some apparent disadvantages concomitant with its use:

Less Precision

One downside of its use is that you can’t use it to make precision holes. Since the hex shank drill bit more often doesn’t fit precisely with the inside of the driver’s hex socket, you will find the drill a bit wobbly, primarily if you did not engage in predrilling. So, you need to predrill the holes to lessen this wobbling effect.

Limited Hex Shank Bit Options and Speed Options

Other disadvantages of using the impact driver include the limited options for hex shank drill bits. You might also find it hard to find the right size for your impact driver. Plus, you got limited speed options with impact drivers.


As mentioned above, the impact drill was conceived to drive screws and fasteners. It is born of the need to have a tool that could quickly drive screws and fasteners to speed up the working process of woodworkers and mechanics. Yet, tools evolve, and the impact driver is also evolving fast. Hence, you will find many accessories now in the market that could enable you to use the impact driver to drill holes. These accessories further expand the use of the impact driver, allowing its users to drill and drive screws without needing to change bits more often. 

Yet, despite the innovations of the impact drivers and the availability of more accessories, it is still better to have a dedicated conventional drill that you can use for drilling holes. The impact drill can only do as much in drilling holes, but their different designs make them not suitable for heavy drilling workloads. 

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