would an impact driver fix my problem

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Forum topic by HokieMojo posted 06-14-2010 07:16 PM 2217 views 0 times favorited 32 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2103 posts in 3149 days

06-14-2010 07:16 PM

I’ve been building a lot of shop fixtures and stands lately. Most of these are purely functional in nature and are built out of medium grade ply, 2×4’s and screws. My problem seems to be with the screws. Despite pre-drilling, I’ve been having trouble getting the screws to set all the way without the driver bit coming loose and stripping the screw. I’m just using an ordinary drill.

Would using an impact driver help with this problem? I know one solution is to press harder on the drill, but when driving screws overhead or on a ladder, or just when you are on the 200th screw, it gets tiring. I was thinking about getting this one from craftsman since I’ve already got a battery that will work and I’ve been quite happy with the regular drill. Any advice would be appreciated.":

32 replies so far

View Pete_Jud's profile


424 posts in 3173 days

#1 posted 06-14-2010 07:30 PM

Get square drive screws, they are a lot harder to strip out.

-- Life is to short to own an ugly boat.

View HokieMojo's profile


2103 posts in 3149 days

#2 posted 06-14-2010 07:43 PM

I don’t think they sell square head screws near me. Internet is an option, but other than trying to set the screws in place, the ones I have seem to do the job quite well. If this isn’t what an impact driver is for, what is it for?

View 1yeldud1's profile


301 posts in 2463 days

#3 posted 06-14-2010 08:16 PM

I like to use coated “torq” bits designeed for decks – a little more expensive but with the “spline” drive I have NEVER stripprd one out – unlike phillips and square drive screws !!!

View 1yeldud1's profile


301 posts in 2463 days

#4 posted 06-14-2010 08:16 PM

I like to use coated “torq” bits designeed for decks – a little more expensive but with the “spline” drive I have NEVER stripprd one out – unlike phillips and square drive screws !!!

View JJohnston's profile


1614 posts in 2712 days

#5 posted 06-14-2010 08:27 PM

I agree with the advice to use square drive screws. You haven’t said, but I’m guessing you’re using Phillips (or even slotted) head. If so, your problem isn’t a lack of driving power, so an impact driver won’t help – in fact, it’ll probably make it slip and strip (“cam out”) even faster. The square (and star) drives get a better bite on the screw and so are more resistant to camming out.

I’d not only recommend square drive screws, I’d specifically recommend McFeely’s “Pro max” for building with 2×4s. They have the square drive, plus they’re sized specifically for dimensional lumber. The threaded and unthreaded portions of the screw are the optimum lengths, as is the overall length (for screwing a 2×4 flat to another 2×4, say, they make one 2-7/8” long with an unthreaded shank just over 1-1/2” long). They also have little countersink cutting teeth on the underside of the head so it isn’t necessary to do the separate coutersink operation. And they have a self-drilling point, so it’s really “point and click”. Finally, they have really deep, coarse threads for the best bite in softwoods. I try to keep a supply of all the lengths handy.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View RedShirt013's profile


219 posts in 3082 days

#6 posted 06-14-2010 08:57 PM

You might have checked already, but make sure the bit in your drill is actually a phillips and not a pozi-drive bit, since it shouldn’t be that hard to screw into predrilled 2×4 or plywood

-- Ed

View Julian's profile


880 posts in 2946 days

#7 posted 06-15-2010 01:17 AM

An impact will certainly help out in driving phillips head screws without stripping the head or slipping out as that is what they are designed to do. I use a few different cordless impacts everyday and love them. After you get used to having one around you’ll wonder how you ever got by without one.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View mathom7's profile


69 posts in 2331 days

#8 posted 06-15-2010 05:28 AM

Hokie, you mention limited access to square drive screws, I usually use Kreg screws for pretty much everything. They are self drilling, i usually use a piloting countersink first, but, the best part is that you can find them in most of the big box stores for between $4 and $5 for 100 ct.

You would have better success driving the screws you have in using the impact driver. I can’t speak for anyone else but it like the feedback from my torque driver over the feedback from driving screws with a drill. I know when the screw is starting to seat and can increase my pressure if needed or feather the trigger.

If I was in your situation, I would buy new screws first. $4 investment now, then you can wait until you see an impact driver on sale somewhere you like.

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2136 posts in 2529 days

#9 posted 06-15-2010 06:33 AM

As already mentioned, Kreg supplies a good selection of square head screws which will not strip like philips screw heads. An impact driver would help as it is designed to handle the situation in which you describe. Some cordless drills will come with a free driver, which is how I ended up with mine. For construction style projects, that is my driving tool of choice. Only caveat with them is that it can twist the head completely off of a drywall or other weak screw if it gets stuck in the wood. I only have had this happen once, but it can happen.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View PurpLev's profile


8523 posts in 3069 days

#10 posted 06-15-2010 07:06 AM

yes an impact driver will help. to put things in perspective – using my dewalt impact driver I can drive 4” drywall screws into hardwood without pre drilling, and without stripping the philips screw head. now – this is just to illustrate how effective an impact driver is – I would not recommend doing that as it will split the wood and have too much tension.

another option is to use square head screws, but from the sound of it – at least to me – it sounds like you’re not pre drilling the holes large enough, or you are trying to drive the screw through both parts. it really only needs to be driven through the back part, as the front part’s hole should be large enough for the screw to pass through freely. not only will this make driving easier, but will also ensure a tight joint.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Michael J's profile

Michael J

103 posts in 2628 days

#11 posted 06-15-2010 07:44 AM

I have a Milwaukee tool impact driver that I’ve been using in place of my Milwaukee cordless drill on the recommendation of a friend of mine and I have to say that it’s definitely made a difference. The only problem I’ve encountered is with MDF and pocket screws. You need to be very careful and go slow so you don’t over torque the screws. You just need to slow the speed down a bit, but you can get the hang of it very quickly.

-- Mike Minneapolis, MN

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 3411 days

#12 posted 06-15-2010 07:47 AM

I have a Craftsman 19 volt impact and I swear, it’s probably the most favored tool in my shop. Now they have come out with these Lithium Ion impacts…smaller and lighter…you can’t go wrong! Oh , I’ve recently driven 27 4” lagbolts into my deck and only needed to change the battery on the last one. Go buy an impact…you’ll love it!

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View lilredweldingrod's profile


2495 posts in 2527 days

#13 posted 06-15-2010 07:51 AM

I have the Makita drill and impact driver, 18 volt ion batteries. I don’t know how I got along without them. And as JJohnston said, McFeely’s is the way to go for fasteners. This combination will be hard to beat. Rand

View rimfire7891's profile


123 posts in 2323 days

#14 posted 06-15-2010 08:13 AM

An impact driver will make a big difference driving screws into construction grade ply and 2x lumber.
Less splitting, less breaking screws ,less cam out, less weight, less hassle. You will wonder how you did without it.
Have used square drive screws for years, that is the standard in Canada. The philips and torx head look better in some applications,however the square drive will cam out, it does it less with an impact driver. I find it way better to use a 6” long drive bit if you have the room, than a 2’‘one, way better control of the screw. Yellow zinc deck screws are cheap,less that $3.00 lb bulk, unless you need extra corrosion protection of coated.

Thanks jb

-- Playing with wood and metal for the last 50 years, driving and building Land Cruisers for the last 40. Experience is what you get when you don't know what you are doing.

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 2479 days

#15 posted 06-15-2010 08:19 AM

Square drive screws are good and are commonly available most anywhere. They carry them at most home centers. Also, try, not only pre-drilling, but using a countersink bit. All that said, I have a Hitachi impact driver that I love and use often. It definitely is a plus when driving longer screws. For shorter screws, under 2 inches, it mostly would just cause the screws to strip out rather than to drive them deeper so you would then have a completely different problem. Either way, a countersink would help with the problem.

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

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