The proper accessories can mean the difference between using your impact driver once in awhile and using it for everything. Make sure you have what you need to get the most out of your tools!
Bits and Sockets
Without at least 1 bit your impact driver is an expensive paperweight. There are tons to choose from! For general tasks, head to the section on accessory sets just below. For specific jobs or items, use the index above or just browse.
There is a wide variety of accessory sets – from small, 10 piece sets to sprawling 70 piece kits packed with bits. Most sets have at least a small selection of driver bits, a few nut setters, and a few hex drill bits. Larger sets can include SAE and Metric sockets and bit extensions. Make sure you select one that is impact-ready.
For a basic set, we recommend this one from Milwaukee (35 pc). As part of the Shockwave series of bits, they hold up well. In addition to the 3 nutsetters most kits have, this also has 2 socket adapters and 5 hex drill bits, making this one just a bit more versatile than the DeWalt kit below.
A nice alternative set is this 34 pc. DeWALT kit. There is another, slightly larger DeWALT kit that is popular, but it only (!) comes with Philips bits. This smaller one has a much better selection, including Robertson and Torx bits. It also has 3 nut setters, and a bit holder.
Bosch’s inexpensive 30pc kit is a very nice set that you can get at a very good price. No drill bits, but a nice assortment of driver bits in both 1″ and 2″ sizes. Along with 3 nutsetters is a 3/8″ square socket adapter.
Hex Shank Drill Bits
While not it’s primary job, an impact driver can certainly drill holes when needed. If you don’t want the added length of a conversion chuck, then a small set of hex shank bits that will fit the driver’s chuck is a good solution. Since any wobble while drilling is bad, be sure to select high quality bits that fit snug in the chuck.
Irwin is known for their quality, so it’s fitting that we recommend this set of 11 bits as a great starting point. Made from quality high speed steel, there is an excellent variety in this set.
If you just need a few quality bits and don’t want to spend much money, try this 6 piece DeWALT set. There’s no case, but the 6 bits cover the most commonly needed sizes. And since you can commonly find it for around $10, it’s hard to go wrong here.
For something a little different, check out these “Stubby” bits from Milescraft. These are super short bits intended to be used in hard to reach areas. A full-powered impact driver may be a tad much for these bits, but a 12v or a right-angle driver would be perfect.
Spade bits are already hex shafted, although not all of them have the groove to let the quick-release chuck to lock them in place. Note some impact driver manufacturers don’t recommend spade bits with their smaller drivers, but we’ve had good luck with occasional use.
The 10 drill bits included in the Bosch Daredevil Spade bit set have threaded tips to help pull right through the wood. Spur points along the edges help make smoother sides and a cleaner exit hole. Includes an extension.
For a basic set of spades, the DeWALT 6 pc set is good quality and can often be found under $10. Common sizes, in 3/8″ increments from 3/8″ to 1″, this is a solid utility set. Comes in a vinyl pouch.
For a larger set, look to this 17 bit set from Irwin. From 1/4″ all the way to 1-1/2″, and almost everything in between. The paddles are spurred to reduce chip-out, and have a durable cutting edge. As a bonus, they store away in a nice fold-able pouch.
Impact Ready Driver Bits and Holders
While we try to look for chromoly or chrome vanadium alloys in our impact-rated bits, metallurgy is secretive stuff and many manufactureres simply talk about “advanced hardening processes.”
Most impact drivers work best with 2″ bits, as the smaller bits can get lost in the hex-chuck. 1″ bits work fine if you have a bit holder, but we don’t recommend cheap holders for anything but the lightest tasks – if the bits don’t fit very well, there is a tendency to get stuck in the holder.
Look for more individual impact ready bits
For something a little different, check out these magnetic bits from Hitachi. They have a magnet crimped into a ring at the end of the bit, seriously increasing the hold onto a screw. The magnet can slide back and out of the way so you can set the screw below the surface.
Magnetic Bit Holders
While most impact drivers make it easy to change bits, a magnetic tip holder makes it even easier. Quality holders have strong enough magnets to securely hold the screw on the bit, making one-handed or overhead fastening easier to do.
The quick release nut setter is great for all kinds of smaller nuts and bolts, especially when working on engines or vehicles. Note that nut setters don’t work well if the bolt protrudes too far past the nut – you may need a deep well socket in those cases.
DeWALT 5pc Nutsetter
Impact Ready Sockets
Next to driver bits, sockets are probably the most commonly used attachment with an impactor. Impact ready sockets have been around for a long time, as anyone with an impact wrench can testify. With the smaller driver, you will want to find smaller 1/4″ or 3/8″ sockets. And don’t forget the 1/4″ hex-to-square-anvil adapter (these are often found in bit sets)
This set is ideal for impact driver users. The DeWALT 10 pc deep impact set carries a number of smaller 3/8″ drive sockets, in 1/16″ increments from 5/16″ to 3/4″. Additionally, it includes a pair of 1/4″ hex to 3/8″ square drive adapters so you don’t need to get them separately. Comes with a plastic case.
No reason to go overboard. This 37 socket set from Tekton is a great value for what you get. Made from chrome-vanadium steel, they are tough enough to handle impact drivers and wrenches alike. A selection of both 1/2″ and 3/8″ drives, in both SAE and Metric sizes.
This 13 pc SAE Ingersoll Rand set is made from super strong chrome-molybdenum steel. Combined with a durable finish and easy-to-read laser etched labels, this is a high quality 1/2″ drive set. Includes a sturdy plastic storage case. Metric available.
Conversion Chuck Adapters
Instead of buying a complete set of hex-shank drill bits, (and then replacements when the evenetually break – who hasn’t broken a bit?) another option is a conversion chuck. These fit into the 1/4″ chuck of the impact driver and convert it to a regular drill. This is a great way to go for those who have a large set of nice drill bits and plan on frequently using the driver as a drill. Like the hex-bits, a snug fit from a quality adapter is needed to ensure as little wobble as possible.
If you don’t want to defeat the purpose of your quick-change chuck by having to stop and use a chuck-key, try Hitachi’s keyless chuck. It lets you lock in drill bits up to 3/8″ dia. by hand and is made of light composite material, reinforced with fibers to make it tough without adding weight.
Neiko has a strong yet inexpensive keyed conversion chuck. While not as flashy as the keyless models, it is much cheaper and stands up to an impact driver’s power. As an extra bonus, it comes with 1/2″ adapter so you can use it with an impact wrench, too.
DeWALT also offers a keyless adapter chuck for impact driver use. It is less expensive than the Hitachi, but it gets mixed reviews. We include it here for thoroughness.
Because of the relatively frail gearing mechanisms, there isn’t a general right-angle attachment that should be used with an impact driver. Most are rated no more than 100 in-lbs, making them almost too weak for a good drill.
If you need to get into super-tight spaces with an impact driver, look into one of the actual right angle impact drivers. They are built specifically to handle the higher torques. If you only need one occasionally, the Craftsman Nextec is one of the cheapest and a decent quality tool.
Socket / Square Anvil Adapters
A socket (or square anvil) adapter is needed if you want to use sockets with your driver. They work in reverse, too. If you’ve got an impact wrench with a 1/2″square anvil, use a 1/2-Inch Square by 1/4-Inch Hex Adapter and you can start using the small bits and nut drivers that are more easily found in this size. Just be careful – cordless impact wrenches have a ton or power.
Even if you have a kit with one of these in it, it may be a good idea to pick up another one or two. This simple socket adapter converts your 1/4″ hex into a 3/8″ square drive for sockets. There isn’t a lot to these, but you want one that’s strong enough for impact drivers and precise. It’s pretty cheap, too.
DeWalt also has 1/2″ and 1/4″
For turning an impact wrench into an impact driver, this adapter from Miwaukee is perfect. Since you are working with an impact wrench, the torques are much higher – you need something rugged. And while there are cheaper ones out there, none are as durable and tough as this little guy.
This is a nice impact adapter/reducer set from Neiko. While you can’t use this directly with an impact driver (you need a hex adapter first), if you’ve got an impact wrench – or heck, and kind of manual socket wrench – you will find this useful at some point. With 8 pieces (4 reducers, 4 enlargement adapters) it should cover any mismatch you might have.
General Tool Accessories
If you have a cordless impact driver, a cordless drill, or a cordless flashlight, you will need some of these items. While you usually find these items as park of a kit, if something breaks, gets lost, or if you pick up a bare tool at a tag sale, you may find yourself looking for replacement batteries, chargers, or other stuff.
Many brand new models of drivers now come with a belt clip – but not all. Clips are invaluable if you are climbing ladders or have to drag tools around a site.
DeWALT: DC825, DC827, DCF826
Milwaukee: 2650-20, 2650-21, 2650-22
Makita: BTD142, BTD142HW
You would think this would be a no brainer, but many impact drivers still don’t have a bit holder. Depending on the brand, you probably can add one on the opposite side of the belt clip.
Batteries and Chargers
While much better than the Ni-Cad, Li-ion batteries can go bad, too. Or maybe someone ‘borrowed’ a battery that never made it home. Whatever the reason, sometimes you need to bite the bullet and buy a new battery or charger.
Some, like DeWALT, offer multi-voltage chargers so you can use it to charge either 12 or 18 volt batteries. If you have a traveling workshop, or just want the flexibility, you can even get automotive chargers that plug into your truck’s cigarette lighter.
There are so many batteries and chargers to choose from, we could make a whole site devoted just to that! So instead of listing everything out, we provided links to where you can find the info you need on the manufacturers’ sites.
|Bosch||Batteries and Chargers|
|Craftsman||Batteries and Chargers|
|DeWALT||Batteries and Chargers|
|Hitachi||Batteries and Chargers|
|Makita||Batteries and Chargers|
|Milwaukee||Batteries and Chargers|
|Porter-Cable||Batteries and Chargers|
|Ryobi||Batteries and Chargers|
These items don’t fit into any of the other categories but can be handy to have (or to give as gifts…)
This little gizmo is an impact clutch tip holder from DeWALT. When you turn it to the ON position, it limits the torque of your impact driver, allowing you to drive more delicate items. When you need the full power, turn it to OFF and it’s just a bit holder.