Impact Driver VS Hammer Drill: Can You Interchange Them?

Have you ever wondered if you can use one type of tool to substitute another? This may sound far-fetched, but often people will attempt to use one tool and extend its functions to the role of another tool to test its versatility. However, can this method be beneficial to those just trying to create a DIY project or some repairs in their house? In particular, the tools we will be talking about are the impact driver and the hammer drill. 

The impact driver and a hammer drill are two different tools that have two other purposes. However, it’s not uncommon to hear, “can you use an impact driver as a hammer drill?” It seems like a simple enough question. Unfortunately, the apt answer to this question is not as plain and straightforward as it may seem. After all, experimentation led humanity to discover some of the greatest inventions that we use to this very day, such as the screen you are using to view this right now.

For this article, we will be talking all about the impact driver and how it can fill the role of the hammer drill. We will also be talking about the ease and convenience you can expect when attempting this substitution. But first, let us define the two featured tools and save the details in the following sections.


impact drivers
Photo credits: KHM Megatools Corp.

It’s a simple question, but many people find themselves asking what an impact driver does. If you’ve ever found yourself trying to drive a screw with a drill and getting nowhere, you may have realized that what you really need is an impact driver. Impact drivers are more powerful than drills and are explicitly designed to drive screws. They do this using punch-and-strike action, which provides much more power than any drill on the market. And because they have so many special features, impact drivers come in handy for almost every job around the house or on your car.

⚒️ What is an impact driver?

An impact driver is a drill that uses a hammering action to drive screws. You can use it for drilling and driving screws in wood, metal, or plastic. Impact drivers are more powerful than regular drills. This is why you often see them in construction, automotive repair, and other industries where high power output is essential. Also, an impact driver has several essential features: gearbox, clutch (or torque control), and a brushless motor.

⚒️ What to expect from an impact driver?

When comparing impact drivers to regular drivers, there are many advantages. Impact drivers are more powerful than regular drivers because they use a type of energy called kinetic energy. The power that you get out of an impact driver is like having three times more torque than you would have with a drill bit. This makes it easier to drive screws into wood and other materials without damaging them or stripping the heads off your screws.

Another edge of utilizing an impact driver is that it’s more efficient than using a standard drill/driver when driving screws into hard surfaces like metal and concrete. This means that less energy is lost in friction during use. This also makes them safer for working near electricity since there’s less risk of shock or injury from static electricity build-up due to friction between surfaces.

⚒️ Versatility of an impact driver

It’s natural to interpret the impact driver as just another tool, but it actually represents a paradigm shift in power tools. The impact driver is a highly efficient and valuable tool for driving large screws and bolts quickly. And this makes it ideal for use in tight spaces. It’s also very easy to use, even for someone with no prior experience working with power tools.


Photo credits: Zhejiang Kangsheng Tools

If you’ve ever attempted to drill a hole into concrete, brick, or stone, you know that it can be challenging work. It’s easier to drill through wood and other softer materials because the drill bit doesn’t encounter any resistance as it spins. A “hammer” action is what makes this job possible, and that’s where the hammer drill comes into play.

⚒️ Hammer drill – Rotary hammer

A hammer drill has a similar idea as a rotary hammer, but they differ in the mechanism. At the same time, a hammer drill is a power tool that is also common for drilling through hard materials such as concrete.

The first part of the tool’s name comes from the fact that most models include a rotating chuck that you can use to hammer into any material as well as rotate it. This feature allows you to use the same tool for both drilling and chiseling tasks, making it more versatile than other types of drills.

⚒️ Hammer drill – Jackhammer

A hammer drill can perform like a jackhammer. Hammer drills have a design to drill through concrete, brick, and stone, but they don’t work as well on softer materials such as wood. The secret sauce in this model is its ability to switch between the two modes: regular drilling and jackhammering. This makes it ideal for demolition work, which requires drilling into hard surfaces while also needing to remove large chunks of material at once by impacting them with sufficient force (a feat only achievable with brute force).

⚒️ Hammer drill – Piston

Hammer drills are very similar to drills but have a piston that makes immediate impacts on the bit. The hammer mechanism is general for drilling and chiseling materials like concrete, brick, stone, and metal. Hammer drills have become very popular because they have many uses. They are generally for drilling holes in concrete blocks or bricks without having to remove them first. In addition, hammer drills can also be used for chiseling holes in masonry walls, floors, or sidewalks if you are remodeling your home or building something new.


As its name suggests, a hammer drill is like a 2-in-1 tool. It is a hammer and a drill at the same time. But how does this powerful tool actually works? For what purpose must you use a hammer drill? To find out, let’s check the following list below.

⚒️ Hammering action

As mentioned, hammer drills are often used in the same way as jackhammers. They use a rotating chisel bit or drill bit with an attached hammer to break up concrete and other hard materials. The hammering action of these drills causes them to vibrate, which helps break down even more material than would otherwise be possible using only their rotation.

Hammer drills may also be used to drill holes into concrete, brick, and other hard materials because they can drill holes in harder substances than traditional rotary hammers that do not have this feature built into them.

⚒️ For demolition

In some countries, the term “rotary hammer” is used to describe what North Americans refer to as “demolition hammers,” which are tools designed not for drilling but for chiseling. Hammer drills pound the drill bit up and down while it spins. Also, these drills use a piston to make quick impacts on the drill bit. The piston is powered and operated by an electric motor and has a spring that keeps it in place while the drill bit spins.

⚒️ For drilling

A regular drill has a rotating action, which is the same as the hammering action on a hammer drill. The chuck of both drills bites into whatever you’re drilling through, and then you spin it around to make holes as deep as you need them to be. There are many variations on this design that make them more efficient or easier to use in certain situations. Some have long handles for reaching into tight spaces, and some have adjustable speeds for different materials.

⚒️ Impact mechanism

The hammer drill has an impact mechanism built-in that allows you to drill into materials that would be difficult with just a regular drill. The piston slams down on the bit and spins it at high speeds, which allows it to bore into concrete and stone. The main distinction between a regular drill and a hammer drill is that the hammer drills have a piston that makes quick impacts on the bit, while regular drills simply rotate at a slow pace.


The impact driver’s design is to drive fasteners, while a hammer drill creates concrete or masonry surfaces. Impact drivers have no clutch and are not for the kind of continuous heavy-duty work. Unless you have one of those long-handled impact drivers, which will allow you to get further away from the surface being drilled so that it doesn’t kick back at you with full force.

⚒️ Can you use them interchangeably?

The quick answer is no. It would aid if you didn’t use an impact driver as a hammer drill. Unless you want the inconvenience and difficulty, you will experience trying to use a tool that works entirely differently from the other. While both tools are usually to drive fasteners, they each have different purposes. Impact drivers are designed for driving screws into materials like wood or drywall, while hammer drills are used to create holes in concrete, masonry, and other hard surfaces.

To make sure you get the most out of your new tool purchase and avoid any hassle later on down the road: make sure you’re buying the right tool for the job! Before making the purchase, you will have to know what you need: is it to drive screws into holes or make the holes that the screws can be driven into? If you have yet to drill holes, then you should go for a hammer drill or other types of drills, for that matter. 

⚒️ Emphasizing the purpose

Impact drivers are designed to drive fasteners, while the hammer drill is used to create holes. They both have these unique features that make them useful in different situations.

An impact driver is a fastener driving tool that uses torque and rotation to drive screws into various materials. It’s not for drilling holes because it doesn’t generate enough force or use enough speed to create a big gap to fit your hand through it (which would be extremely dangerous).

On the other hand, a hammer drill uses percussion blows (rather than rotational torque) on its bit tip to generate enough force for drilling through dense materials like concrete or brick walls. Most hammer drills can only be used for drilling holes in drywall. This is because they can’t generate enough power when used on hard surfaces like concrete or brick walls without overheating very quickly!

⚒️ What will happen if you use them incorrectly?

There is no way in which you could use the two tools interchangeably. An impact driver is not designed to hammer, nor is it designed to drill. Its purpose is solely to drive fasteners quickly and efficiently.

Meanwhile, the same also goes for the hammer drill, as you cannot effectively use it to fill the impact driver’s role as a fastener. A hammer drill moves way too fast to effectively drive screws into other materials. Doing so can either misplace the screw or the material to break.

A good analogy would be trying to cut an apple but choosing to use a knife or a chainsaw to do the job. Of course, most people would pick the knife because it is safe and can exert the appropriate force to cut the apple without any other issues. However, if you choose a chainsaw, you should expect the chopping board to be cut in half. Often, less becomes more if the job is best suited for a tool that exerts less force than the other option.

⚒️ Major differences

As mentioned, there are many differences between an impact driver and a hammer drill. First, let’s start with the basics. 

An impact driver usually drives fasteners and rivets such as screws into wood or metal. While a hammer drill is for creating holes in concrete, masonry, and other materials using a chisel bit that strikes the material at a high rate of speed (typically around 3000 to 5000 RPM). While you could use an impact driver on drywall (with its low-speed setting), it would not be effective because it can’t produce enough torque or speed needed for drilling through concrete or masonry materials.

The next significant difference between these two tools lies in their power source: An electric motor vs. pneumatic pressure from compressed air fed through hoses connected directly onto each tool’s body. Or an air compressor connected via air hose connections located underneath both ends of either tool’s handle grip area closest toward where one might hold onto them when using them. Just like behind, where you would hold onto one end while holding onto another end.

Impact Driver vs. Hammer Drill: Which Tool Must You Use?

If you’re considering purchasing a new power tool, you may notice that some have labels as “impact drivers” while others have “hammer drills”. What’s the difference between these two options? How do they compete against each other? And how can you make sure you get the best bang for your buck?

Let’s start by talking about what each type of drill does. Impact drivers and hammer drills have one main thing in common: they deliver torque to screwdrivers or nails. They both use rotational force to drive screws into wood, metal, and concrete. The main difference is how fast they can deliver that rotational force.

Hammer drills can deliver a lot more torque than impact drivers. But at a slower speed, which means less time spent on any one task. This makes them ideal when you need to sink a lot of screws into dense materials like bricks or concrete blocks but don’t have much patience (or time) in between each task.

Impact drivers tend to have a smaller size and are more lightweight than hammer drills. This makes them easier to handle when working overhead or in tight spaces like crawl spaces or attics where there isn’t much room in-between.


For the average DIYer, an impact driver and hammer drill are tools you’ll use regularly. The good news is that both devices have come down in price over the years and can be available for about $100 each.

The dissimilarity between an impact driver and a hammer drill is that an impact driver is to drive screws into hard materials like wood. While a hammer drill’s purpose is to break through concrete or masonry.

If you’re looking to buy one of these tools, we recommend looking at your budget first. If you want to spend more money, you’ll be able to get better quality. And if you don’t have much money at all, there are still options available that will fit your budget.


Each of the two tools has its place in hardware work, but they are in no way interchangeable. You are better off buying both if you intend to use them rather than breaking some hardware attempting to fit one’s role into another.

So, if you want to use an impact driver as a hammer drill, the answer is no. But if you’re searching for a new tool to add to your collection, you might consider getting both. They both have their place in the shop, and they can work together nicely with a little bit of creativity.

If you have an impact driver and you want to drill into concrete, check the next blog to know how to do it. Just click here!

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