How to Choose the Right Impact Wrench

More and more households are investing in power tools, as people begin to keenly take repair work and maintenance into their own hands; the power tools market is going from strength to strength, thanks to increased retail interest. But specific tools, like the impact wrench for automotive and construction use, present difficulties to homeowners new to DIY. With so many different types of impact wrench available on the market, it can be difficult to figure out which one you need for your purposes. With that in mind, here are some handy ways in which you can figure which is the right impact wrench for you.

What is an Impact Wrench?

An impact wrench is a power tool which used to loosen particularly tight nuts or bolts, whether lug nuts used to hold wheels onto car axles or large nuts used in construction. The impact wrench is so named for its internal mechanism, which enables it to deliver high torque – making it useful for applications where nuts are, or need to be, impossibly tight for safety and security. The ‘impact’ is made by an internal hammering system, which delivers high-energy blows to the output shaft in quick succession, generating a strong rotational force as a result. Different kinds of impact wrench exist for different purposes; differentiate them using the below criteria.

Think about Size

One of the easiest ways to differentiate impact wrenches is by their size. Impact wrenches are usually advertised as fractions of an inch in size, ranging from ¼ inch to 1 inch. Rather than reflecting the size of the wrench, these measurements reflect the size of the drive anvil, or the part ‘impacted’ by the impact wrench’s hammer. Generally speaking, the size of the wrench corresponds to the size of nut or bolt they can work with – for example, ¼ inch impact wrenches are the smallest of the lot, and generally used for nuts and bolts that measure 10mm or less. ½ inch impact wrenches are the most common in household scenarios, as they can handle the lug nuts used for car wheels. Larger wrenches, up to 1 inch, are used for specialist applications.

What Kind of Power Source?

Impact wrenches are power tools, but can be powered in two chief ways – electricity, or compressed air. With regard to electricity, corded impact wrenches are available, but cordless impact wrenches afford the user the ability to work anywhere without restriction – though due to their battery, can only run for a finite amount of time. Compressed air wrenches can provide significantly more torque, but are more cumbersome as a result.

Body Type

Lastly, impact wrenches have different form factors, which offer different benefits depending on their use. Inline wrenches look like screwdrivers in form, enabling the user to manoeuvre the socket into difficult places. Pistol wrenches are the most common, and enable the user to put more weight into the socket. T-shaped inlines are rarer, and typically used in construction – shaped like piledriving tools, T-shaped inline impact wrenches enable the user to keep full control of the incredibly high torque.