Manual Impact Driver/Wrench – Utimate Guide

Professional contractors, Do-it-Yourself enthusiasts and hobbyists require tools to get their jobs done. There are many tools that can do similar tasks to the point that it can be confusing to determine which tool is right for your task.

The choice of whether to buy an impact driver or an impact wrench is a confusing decision. Both tools are reliable power tools. In most cases, however, you will only need to have one of them.

An impact driver and an impact wrench provide more torque than a torque wrench or standard drill. To make the best choice, you will need to understand the uses of each tool as well as their advantages and disadvantages.

I. Manual Impact Driver vs Manual Impact Wrench

Long before impact wrenches became popular, do-it-yourself enthusiasts and hobbyists have been using the impact wrench or electric drill.

When the impact driver came into the picture, it was noticed that turning bolts with a socket and screwing screws with an impact wrench and/or drill can single-handedly be done by an impact driver.

The impact driver and impact wrench are similar in many ways:

  • They are hand tools for fastening and removing bolts and screws.
  • Both can also fasten and loosen sockets.
  • Both the impact driver and impact wrench can also work with PB Blaster to eject rusted bolts

An impact driver however needs a special adapter to perform fastening and loosening tasks.  With a special adapter, the impact wrench can also be a more powerful impact driver.

The impact driver and impact wrench also different in many ways:

  • Impact drivers are sleek while impact wrenches are bulky and heavy.
  • Impact drivers have lesser power and torque than impact wrenches.
  • Impact drivers use ¼-inch hex drives for screws while impact wrenches use ½-inch square drives for sockets.
  • Impact drivers are best for screws while impact wrenches are best for bolts and nuts.

Comparing an impact driver and impact wrench with the same design and brand, the torque of the impact wrench is up to 6 times more than that of an impact driver.

II. How to Use Manual Impact Driver

Before you start using a manual impact, make sure that you have these accessories ready:

  • Safety goggles. To protect your eyes from any sudden and unexpected strikes.
  • Safety gloves. To protect your hands from a hammer blow.
  • Hammer. Makes it easier to apply force to fasten or loosen nuts, bolts, and screws.

A manual impact driver sets comes in a case together with bits and adaptors.

  • Choose the right bit to use.
  • Install the bit and bit adaptor on the impact driver.
  • With a firm grip, hold the impact driver with your left hand.
  • Position the impact driver on the bolt or screw that needs to be tightened or loosened.
  • Apply a downward force on the impact driver.  Strike the tool with a hammer while at the same time turning in the direction you want the bolt or screw to be turned. (To tighten a bolt or screw turn in a counter-clockwise; to loosen, turn clockwise).
  • Continue applying force while turning the driver until the screw or bolt is fastened or loosened. Stop applying pressure on the tool.
  • Remove the bit from the bit holder or adaptor and secure them in the case.

Always be careful in handling the hammer to ensure you are striking the impact driver and not your hand.

III. Top Rated Manual Hand Impact Driver

1. TEKTON 2905 3/8-Inch Drive Manual Hand Impact Driver Set

The TEKTON 2905 3/8-Inch Drive Manual Hand Impact Driver Set is a small impact driver that comes with a budget price. It is lightweight and portable and comes with a single 3/8 inch drive impact socket.

This impact driver can loosen rusted and frozen screws without causing any damage to the screws. It is also capable of loosening brake caliper screws even when corroded.  It comes with a forward and reverse drive and can steadily loosen screws using the reversible because of its high torque impact.

This impact driver is comfortable and safe to use because of its non-slip handle. It is an ideal impact driver for casual and not too meticulous users of this type of tool.

The TEKTON 2905 3/8-Inch Drive Manual Hand Impact Driver Set includes 3/8-inch drive bit chuck and (4) 5/16-inch hex shank screwdriver bits (5/16-, 3/8-inch flat; #2, #3 Phillips). It comes with a durable and convenient organizer case.

2. 648002 1/2" Dr. Impact Driver Kit

The 648002 1/2" Dr. Impact Driver Kit is ideal to use when you have to break loose rusted or frozen screws without damaging them.  This tool is powered by hammer blows which convert into a high torque impact force.

This tool works on both right and left hand threads. It comes with a chrome-plated knurled handle that comes with a good grip making it safe to use.

It is easy and simple to use. Simply attach the right Phillips or slotted bit and position the tool on the screw. Strike the tool with a ball peen hammer while continuously twisting it in the right direction to fasten or loosen a screw.

The 648002 1/2" Dr. Impact Driver Kit comes with two slotted and two Phillips chrome vanadium steel bits organized in a Vinyl storage pouch.  This dependable and strong impact driver set comes with an affordable price.

3. Capri Tools Premium Impact Driver Set

The Capri Tools Premium Impact Driver Set turns hammer strikes into a powerful force to tighten or loosen unruly bolts and nuts. It works in both directions – to the right to tighten and to the left to loosen.

This impact driver comes with an all-steel shaft design construction. It features a double-layered hand protection prevent injury while striking the hammer. Its ergonomic and slip-resistant handle offers a firm grip.

This tool works with 1/2 inch bits and hex drive sockets. With the help of the included adapter, this tool also works with 5/16 inch hex bits.

The Capri Tools Premium Impact Driver Set includes the impact driver, 1/2 to 5/16 in. hex adapter (4) slotted bits and (4) Phillips bits. It is ideal to use when replacing calipers because the fasteners need extra force to properly tighten and loosen screws and bolts.

4. Stanley Proto J7099A 13 Piece 3/8" Drive Hand Impact Driver Set

The Stanley Proto J7099A 13 Piece 3/8" Drive Hand Impact Driver Set is a 13-piece driver set which includes an impact driver, 10 bits, 2 bit holders and a plastic blow molded box. It is designed to easily loosen hard-to-remove nuts and bolts.

This impact driver comes with a heavy-duty spring for more torque when the hammer strikes the tool. Its TorquePlus design allows the easy and quick engagement of the socket to the fastener flats instead of the corners of the fasteners.

This tool comes with two directions: clockwise to release or loosen fasteners and counter-clockwise to tighten fasteners.

The Stanley Proto J7099A 13 Piece 3/8" Drive Hand Impact Driver Set is a bit pricey but it comes with the Stanley Proto quality. This tool is ideal to loosen stuck bolts and screws around your house and also to repair the brakes of most cars.

5. ARES 70006-3/8-Inch Drive Manual Reversible Impact Driver

The ARES 70006-3/8-Inch Drive Manual Reversible Impact Driver set includes (1) 3/8 inch  chrome-plated and corrosion-resistant manual impact driver, (1) 3/8 inch drive bit chuck (2) flat bits and (2) Phillips bits organized in a storage case.

This tool works well with impact sockets, bolts, nuts and all fasteners. It is powered by striking a hammer at the top of the tool turning the drive tang 20 degrees in the direction you positioned the tool.

This impact driver features a non-slip knurled grip for a firm grasp while working with the tool for safety. It is ideal to use to use in loosening frozen or rusted screws without causing any damage.

The bits included in the ARES 70006-3/8-Inch Drive Manual Reversible Impact Driver set are made from S2 high alloy steel making them durable and tough enough to handle even the most stubborn bolts, screws and nuts.

IV. Question and Answer Manual Impact Wrench

To maximize the use of your impact driver you need to be familiar with its features..

What is the main function of a manual impact driver?

The main function of a manual impact driver is to loosen rusty, frozen or over-tightened nuts and screws. This tool also functions to tighten heavy-duty bolts and nuts. It can also tighten and loosen longer screws such as lag screws. 

How does a manual impact driver work?

To get the manual impact driver to work, a sharp hammer smash must hit the top of the impact driver to deliver a shock-torque impulse. This will then allow the impact driver to turn in the direction of loosening (to the right) or tightening (to the left) screws, nuts or bolts.

What is the Difference Between a 1/2 and 1/4 Impact Driver?

The main difference between a ½- inch and ¼- inch impact driver lies in the drives.

A ½-inch impact driver has a square driver and can only use 1/2 -inch square shaft bits.  A ¼-inch impact driver on the other hand comes with a hex drive that can only use ¼-inch bits.

Some manual impact drivers though come with adapters to allow ½-inch square shaft bits to fit into a ¼-inch impact driver and vice-versa.

V. Conclusion

Manual impact drivers do not make use of the latest in technology yet they come with many great qualities. Since they are powered by your strength in striking a hammer and not by batteries or electricity, you can use them anytime, cost-free.

The TEKTON 2905 3/8-Inch Drive Manual Hand Impact Driver Set is the best manual impact driver is this group. It is lightweight, easy to handle, and comes with a non-slip handle.

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