On a typically scorching hot and humid day in Louisiana,
I found myself—yet again—in a brand-new house inside of a brand-new subdivision. If you’ve never been inside of a home before it’s finished, then it is quite an interesting thing to check out, especially if you’re going to have your own home built and are looking for a cabinet maker. However, I most certainly would not recommend hanging out all day in a house without A/C while attempting to install cabinet drawers, doors, and hinges with an aged tool and aged batteries
Perhaps an adapter with the latest batteries would’ve helped me. Oh well, hindsight…
Well, whether it’s on a construction site or in a workshop, there are many things that can cause us frustration, to say the least. Very few people are able to successfully compete with a huge, rusty, or tight bolt.
From beginners to experts, we’ve all spent copious amounts of time attempting to remove a fixing even when it seems impossible to get the right leverage, or perhaps it’s in an awkward position and hard to reach or turn, or perhaps our tool is too loud for the confined space we’re in, which can even cause injury if you aren’t careful. It can be a bit different for a do-it-yourself dabbler, but for businesses in particular, time costs money so it can actually be an expensive and detrimental process.
In the past, I took the same route that many people choose, which is to use their favorite hand tools for jobs they aren’t really the best for, or perhaps even just picking up tools that cost less and hoping for the best—but this just causes them damage and, soon enough, we’re out shopping again for new hand tools—something that occurs far more frequently than should ever be the case.
That being said, there is one great tool solution that has the capability to save not only time, but also money, injuries, damaged tools, and everything that comes with the frustration, but we’re certain that you already know which powered instrument that is—the one tool to rule them all:
The Cordless Impact Wrench.
As a torquing tool (basically, being able to apply power directly to the nut or bolt), it has been especially designed to remove those frustrating bolts and nuts while affixing others to the wall. Whether you’re a professional with a need for it every day or just a hobbyist, this tool can be invaluable to save time and effort on jobs.
Today, we’re going to be covering everything you need to know about this little bad boy—our baby tool—with a particular focus on the cordless models since technology has moved on and enabled us to become like new-born babies—cord-free!
How Does It Work?
As of late, there are two main designs for a cordless impact wrench with some looking a little like a larger screwdriver while others are pistol-shaped. Regardless of design, the mechanical aim is the same; a motor creates energy using a rotating mass which pushes towards the end of the tool where an anvil awaits this force. By creating enough torque to work with even the largest of steels, the mass actually continues moving which makes the device easy to control with little discomfort for the user.
A further note about comfort is that some brands are spending more time these days developing technology related to the vibration or grip itself, which improves comfort, reduces fatigue, and essentially creates an all-around safer tool for extended users. For bolt or nut removal, just like a drill, most cordless impact wrenches can also be reversed.
With this in mind, you might be asking ‘why does it work?’ and this is a good question. However, the torque created by the anvil (the part, not the band, though the band was quite powerful and influential back in the day), motor, and hammer is much larger than we could ever produce with our hands alone and this is why it works so successfully.
By utilizing a charged-up battery, this electrical aspect allows for more control and precise movements than the pneumatic versions do. As you should clearly see, this is imperative when working with bolts because it will allow you to be gentle when its desirable, and strong when it’s definitely needed.
Benefits of Using an Electric Cordless Impact Wrench
After personally living abroad in Asia for several years like many others, one of the main differences I’ve come to notice between some of the cultures there and in the US is how they determine whether or not to buy something. In the US, the balance between the quality of the item and the price point—the value, essentially—is a huge factor for most people, while it is not always the focus in places like China, Vietnam, or even Thailand, where I have a lot of experience living and traveling.
Included with this idea of “quality” is the function of the item: what it can do for us, how it can make our work or lives better, and so on. Whether it’s a new mobile phone, laptop, lawnmower, car, kettle, or equipment for whatever your hobbies may entail, we need to know what value it actually adds to our lives.
Therefore, we’re going to bring you the main benefits of choosing a cordless impact wrench before leading onto some practical advice for buying the tool.
You didn’t know there was so much to learn about impact wrenches, did you?
Cordless – First and foremost, let’s address the obvious: quality, cordless tools are just plain awesome. In years gone by, we were always restricted to a small working radius where the tools had to be plugged in (corded tools) but now, after a quick charge-up, they can be taken around the home, workshop, or construction site within seconds and this saves hassle. If you keep the tool in your trunk, you even have a tool to remove lugs nuts just in case your tire decides to give up (it always happens at the worst times, doesn’t it?).
- Many Uses – As you’ve probably realized already, there are many uses to the cordless impact wrench and it all depends on your needs. While some use it when pottering about the house doing some handiwork, others use it every single day in their line of work. As long as you master the timing of the charge, it can be available whenever you need it.
- Home Use – Although we just discovered the cordless impact wrench has plenty of uses, we can’t move on without talking about its use within the home. At first, you might question whether you actually need the impact wrench but you’ll be surprised at how many times it comes in handy.
As it relates to constructions within the home, the nuts and bolts are normally installed with air-powered impact wrenches so you need to match this to deconstruct and make repairs. As long as you have the budget in place, an impact wrench makes for a great investment straight across the board, both in the short term and in the long-term.
Location – In a perfect world, we could use an air compressor and pneumatic impact wrench combo whenever the occasion calls buuuuut…..we all know that in reality, our world is short of perfect! In your home and on some constructions sites, you’re going to be limited for space and this is where the cordless impact wrench comes in handy. By having this compact unit or even a small combo it, you can carry it around and pull it out whenever necessary.
Accessories – Finally, the majority of impact wrenches will come as standard with four different fittings. This being said, you can still buy a range of accessories for your tool. For example, if you need to get into the tiny gaps between different engine parts in a vehicle, you can attach it to a line wrench. Not only will this make your service more efficient, it will prevent you from getting oil all over your arms from having to reach down.
Cordless Impact Wrench Buying Guide
With the basics now covered, what do you need to look for when buying your first impact model?
Ultimately, there are some important considerations to make and it starts with your current tool box. If you already have cordless tools, you might want to look at impact wrenches from the same brand because the charger packs should be universal. Furthermore, we also urge you to consider your needs before we get started.
With the absolute ridiculous number of tools now available in a myriad of different price ranges and from an increasing number of different manufacturers, there’s no reason to choose an impact wrench just because somebody you know ‘has one’ or it’s the most well-known or expensive brand. Instead, think about your needs and then match these to a tool rather than making sacrifices by working the other way around.
A great example of a value-priced but largely unknown impact wrench brand is OEMTools, which we recently reviewed here. It’s worth noting that there are many other options out there, so don’t just limit yourself to one or two!
- Shape – As we saw previously, there are two main design types with impact wrenches; the large screwdriver (inline) and a pistol-shaped tool. While the inline models are an option, you’re far more likely to see the pistol-shaped wrenches from brands such as DeWalt, Milwaukee, Black + Decker, and Ingersoll.
In addition to the shape, you also need to know about the socket size because these are all designed to work with different types of nuts and bolts. If you’re working within a tight space, then perhaps you’re a mechanic with a need for a small impact tool on a regular basis so you’re probably better off having an extra inline model lying around because a pistol-type wrench might be too bulky.
On the flip side, the more ergonomic grip comes from pistol-shaped wrenches and this allows comfort for your hands even if you’re using the wrench for a sustained period of time. In fact, some manufacturers allow you to affix a side grip which brings your weight into play and allows for greater leverage. If you have ample space and aren’t too restricted, a pistol-type wrench will be the most common choice.
- Durability – If you’re looking for a tool that’ll last the test of time even when used on a daily basis, look out for all-metal designs in addition to those that utilize high-strength plastic.
With these materials, you aren’t going to see much damage if dropped and banged and, let’s face it, this is always going to happen. No matter how much we promise to care for the tool, accidents happen and we’re likely to drop it somewhere along the line.
Elsewhere, you could even look for a cordlessimpact wrench that has a brushless motor because these have fewer moving parts on the outside and inside. Therefore, when dropped or even just used over a long period of time, you shouldn’t see components breaking down (or at least not at the rate some models offer!).
With fewer parts to worry about, maintenance also becomes easier. Again, it’s all about making your life easier, or even your business more efficient, if this is the main reason behind your purchase.
- Comfort – When it comes to using an impact wrench, the fact we’re even considering using this tool suggests that we may be about to complete a big or challenging task; this isn’t really the tool we use for a couple of seconds before then putting away again—unless, of course, you are just in need of an occasional, awesome way of changing your tire on the side of the road.
Instead, it suggests we have a big project on our hands so we need something that’s going to be comfortable for our…well, hands.
(image) Nowadays, manufacturers have invested heavily on anti-vibration features alongside ergonomic grips to reduce strains and pains after sustained use. However, you also have a role to play in this because you shouldn’t be choosing a tool that has far more power than you’ll ever need. Instead, go for a tool that covers everything you need and you don’t have to suffer through the extra vibrations.
- Torque – Finally, here at the end, perhaps we’ve saved the most important consideration for last, you need to know how much torque each unit generates before choosing a cordless impact wrench that meets your needs.
The very best impact wrenches on the market have an adjustable torque setting so this versatility could be important if your projects are likely to vary somewhat. With just one torque setting available, you could be limited somewhat. In addition to this, setting the torque to the lowest amount required will save battery and make the tool more efficient.
Summary – Compared to practically most other tools in the market, cordless impact wrenches are highly specialized yet versatile in their role.
Even in the construction industry, smaller screws are much more common than large nuts and bolts. For a unique and specialized job, you need a specialized tool and this can be obtained with a cordless impact wrench. Not only will you save time and money, you save energy and effort on your part.
At home, this gives you more time to spend with your family or doing jobs you enjoy (like gardening!). At work, it gives your workforce an efficient tool to speed up and allow for more work to be done in a single day. Also, it keeps them happy because they don’t have to hurt their hands trying to do it manually.
As long as you pay attention to everything we’ve provided here today and you consider your needs at every stage in the process, there’s no reason why you can’t find your ideal tool this year, which will last for many years to come!