Drilling With Impact Drivers
Even though impact drivers were originally developed for driving screws, there are plenty of accessories designed for drilling with them.
Why Would You Drill With An Impact Driver?
Impact drivers were not originally designed for drilling holes, and in many ways it shows. They can't grip onto accessories as tightly as a drill chuck, the range of accessories they can be used with is much more limited. On top of that their powerful impact mechanism can cause many accessories to disintegrate prematurely. A dedicated drill will generally be a more favourable choice for most drilling situations. However, this does mean that you have to have a dedicated drill of some sort with you.
If you're using an impact driver to drive fasteners all day long and just need to drill a couple of holes every now and then (e.g to prevent splitting at the ends of boards) you'll find it a lot easier to carry a few additional drill bits with you than to carry a whole separate tool, especially when you’re working at height. Another advantage of using an impact driver is that you can swap out bits extremely quickly, meaning you can switch between applications in a matter of seconds. Being smaller, an impact driver will able to get into tighter spaces. Even the most powerful impact drivers are compact tools, without the added bulk of gearboxes and drill chucks. With an impact driver you can accomplish tasks you might otherwise need an angle drill for by drilling with an impact driver.
You can drill pilot holes with your impact driver, with the right drill bit. This is a much faster and more convenient alternative to carrying a separate drill with you. You just need the right drill bits first.
Which Drill Bits Can I Use With Impact Drivers?
Not all hex shank drill bits are suitable for impact drivers; you can find many flat drill bits with hex shanks but most of them weren’t designed for drilling with impact drivers and doing so may cause them to shatter. The safest course of action is to look for drill bits which are specifically labelled as Impact Rated, so you can avoid drill bits shattering. Drill bits that are impact rated are often shorter than conventional drill bits but they are much more durable and are designed to survive the stress of repeated hammer blows, while you are drilling, should the impact mechanism kick in.
While any drill bit with a 1/4" hex shank will fit into an impact driver, unless they are impact rated they are prone to shattering. Impact screwdriver bits usually have a dark grey to black coloured finish which helps to quickly identify them, but this isn’t always the case with drill bits (and many standard HSS-R drill bits have a black finish even if they aren’t impact rated) so it can take a bit more searching to find them amongst the huge variety of drill bits on the market.