For the woman (or man) who loves to build, but doesn’t have the arm strength to hammer nails in consistently and efficiently, there is simply no better tool for you than the impact driver. While nails are wonderful (and nail guns are super – but that is another post), when trying to put together wood projects, a good impact driver and star head screws just cannot be beat.
Total disclosure here: I am not a good hammerer. In fact, I am a horrible hammerer. No matter how hard I try to hammer a nail in straight, it always bends. Straighten it, and in a few more hits, it bends again. Often, I end up bending it all the way over and hammering it in on its side. This looks messy, and sometimes, does not hold as well as it should. I don’t know if my arm strength is the problem, because it seems like I keep hitting and hitting and hitting and the nail goes down 1 millimeter. Big nails into hard boards are a veritable nightmare.
PHOTO HERE – NAIL driven in crooked
I have seen great hammerers and marvel as they strike just a few times and the darn nail just goes in like it is supposed to and doesn’t even think of bending. To me, those guys almost have super powers. They should wear a cape with a big “H” on their chests. That is NOT me. So, I first I switched to a corded electric drill and then a battery powered drill. The two different kinds have pluses and minuses. A corded drill is more powerful but the cord is a real pain to work with, especially if you are working outside. The battery powered drill didn’t have that annoying cord to wrestle and stumble over but was really, really heavy. That worked OK for a time – but, I began to have two serious issues. The first was that I had to hold the drill straight and the bit securely in the groove of the screw and press relatively hard for the screw to go all the way in. Again, something about arm strength or lack thereof, I think. It was really hard for me to do with a 3 ½” or 4” screw and I often ended up with a stripped Phillips head screw stuck half-way in the wood. If you have ever done that, you know what a nightmare it is getting that baby out when the head is stripped.
PHOTO STAR HEAD SCREWS
The first fix was to switch to star head screws. Someone at the local hardware store recommended that I use star head screws because they could not be stripped like Phillips head screws. Now, I believe that I could strip one given the right circumstances, but using them is incredibly superior to Phillips head screws and I highly, highly recommend them for all your project. However, the second problem became a genuine issue that almost put a stop to my woodworking projects that required something to be drilled or screwed. That obstacle almost stopped me from doing just about everything I enjoyed doing.
The pad of my thumb became so sore and inflamed that I did not have the strength to tighten or loosen the rotating collar enough to secure the drill or screw bit. In other words, I could not get the chuck tight enough to hold the bit in or, if it was tight enough, I could not get the chuck open to remove the drill bit. It was so bad that I had to eventually get two wrenches and use them to tighten and loosen the chucks. When I was working on a project that required frequent changes, I was sometimes in tears from the pain when trying to do it by hand, and frustrated when I had to resort to the wrenches. Projects took me five times as long and weren’t even fun even more.
PHOTO – WRENCHES ON ROTATING COLLAR
I knew there had to be a solution, so I started looking around for alternatives and that is when I read about impact drivers. After long hours of research on the web, I finally decided on the Makita 18-Volt LXT Lithium-Ion 1/4 in. Cordless Impact Driver. The reviews were great and the price was reasonable.
At first, I couldn’t figure out for sure if these impact drivers could also drill – but I figured just having something that was powerful and could screw would be worth the investment. OMG, the difference was incredible and I started a romance with my new driver. That sounds kinky – but you know what I mean.
To start, the bits slip right in with no tightening required. Thus, I could easily and quickly switch back and forth from drilling to driving – once I figured out that the driver could do both. The instructions say you can even change bits one handed. I haven’t mastered that, though. But, I can quite easily switch from one bit to another with two hands totally pain-free over and over. There are other benefits, as well. The impact driver that I purchased is significantly lighter and smaller than the electric drill. That helps when I am working on big projects for many days, as I don’t get as tired or sore.
PHOTO – DRILL BIT SHOWING HOW TO LOAD IT INTO IMPACT DRIVER
And, man, does it ever do a fantastic job. I don’t have trouble with the longest screws into the hardest wood. I am not sure how it does what it does – according to the lit, it “hammers” in addition to screwing. That is where the impact comes in. And it works fantastically. It is just the right size for me – but every bit (no pun intended) as powerful as the huge drill I had been using. It also has a bright LED light that shines where I am working which really helps me see what I am doing. The LED light is so bright that I used it for a flashlight once and it worked great. (Told you I had a romance going with my impact driver). And the battery recharges fast, so if I forget to charge it at night, it doesn’t take long for it to be ready to use the next day.
After several months using the Makita impact driver, the romance was still going strong. I liked the fact that I could be independent and didn’t have to ask someone else to finish screwing the screw in. I liked that it was small and compact and didn’t tire me out using it for hours at a time. I like that I was no longer in pain when I was putting together projects. I liked it so much, in fact, that I asked for another one just like it at Christmas. Now, I don’t have to switch back and forth between a drill bit and a driver bit, and I can tell you, I am in tall cotton!!!!
PHOTO OF TWO IMPACT DRIVERS
So, for you gals out there that are building – whether it be shelves, tables, compost bins, wooden signs or any other projects, I highly recommend you invest in an impact driver and I highly recommend the …. Major warning, though. If your man sees it, he will become addicted to it, also. Without fail, my hubs will grab my impact driver first, before he uses his large, HEAVY electric drill. And, at Christmas, my brother decided it was time he invest in a new impact driver and took all the relevant data on my little friend. You will not be disappointed with this baby!!!!