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The first decent power tool I bought was a DeWalt combi drill. It's good but I know contractors always have dedicated tools and it seems other than convenience switching bits, a driver is just better at screws... Less slipping etc... Even accounting for my lack of skill.

What does a proper driver do that a drill doesn't that makes it more effective?

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    Different regions use different terms for tools. I'm not sure what you mean by "combi drill" and "driver", so some examples might be in order. – JPhi1618 Apr 9 at 18:23
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    I'm meaning driver=power screwdriver/impact driver, combi drill=small power drill, often with adjustable torque setting that can take screwdriver bits – Mr. Boy Apr 9 at 19:23
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Impact drivers are much better for screwing. Period. You will lose less heads and as a user you will have to put less weight on it compared to a drill.

This is because impact drivers have more rotational torque but they also bump (tap) the screw at around 30 times a second. The drill might have more rotational power but that is what gives it problems. This power stresses the user to push towards the screw or the screw head to be well made or you will get a slip or head damage.

The impact driver will usually stall before it needs to power through to the point of causing damage or slipping. The tiny taps it commits to allow it an interval to stall on vs. the user hitting a snag with a drill and committing to adding more pressure right before the stall or getting a slip.

For just screwing things in an impact driver wins bigtime in home construction. The drill is needed for drilling but often used for screwing because it is a jack of all trades. Watch any good craftsman do woodwork (kitchen cabinets) and they would never use a drill to secure cabinets together and things like that.

  • If the drill has a clutch on it, it'll help to not strip as well and in some cases is better than an impact. Impact will rip the head right off a screw if the screw won't budge any more but a drill with a clutch set correctly will just stop. – Micah Montoya Apr 9 at 18:51
  • The biggest issue with stripping is not being able to apply a strong, parallel force to a regular drill to keep the bit seated. Sure the clutch will help not strip at extreme forces, but in most cases the bit will slip first, spin and damage the bit or screw head. An impact driver can consistently deliver more force to the screw head with less chance of stripping. If you are breaking screws, you need better screws or you need to pre-drill. – JPhi1618 Apr 9 at 19:00
  • Don't impact drivers have adjustable torque and clutch too? – Mr. Boy Apr 9 at 19:23
  • @Mr.Boy, Not that I have ever seen. An impact driver will only turn a screw slowly when applying torque. It's much easier to stop when you need to/when the screw bottoms out. Micah is right that a clutch can stop a screw from breaking, but in practice, I use the clutch to stop driving the screw when the head bottoms out on the work piece. When the head hits the surface, torque increases a lot and the clutch slips. In other words, I use the clutch as a depth-guard. An impact driver is relatively slow and easy to control so that's not needed. – JPhi1618 Apr 9 at 19:38
  • @Mr.Boy -- some have adjustable torque, but not a clutch exactly. My Dewalt dcf877 has a 3 position switch: fast, not so fast, and "slow with a predisposition to stall out when a screw reaches a certain tightness, and if you stay on the trigger it keeps going a few seconds later". – Aloysius Defenestrate Apr 10 at 1:18

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