Drill Versus Driver – What is the Difference

How to Use a Drill to Drive Screws
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Drill Versus Driver – What is the Difference?

Today we are here to talk about drill and a driver. Both of these tools are things that any handyman should have in their arsenal. While they may sound like similar tools, and in some regard, they are similar, they are quite different. This is very true when it comes to their purpose and function.

If you are an aspiring handyman, handywoman, carpenter, repairman, builder, or any other kind of professional where you are drilling and screwing, you will want to know the difference between a drill and a driver. While they both do the same thing in the long run, the real difference is the power they have and what materials they are designed to work with.

This information is important to know even if you just want to fix some things around your own home. Using a driver for something that a drill could do is more or less a waste of energy, whereas using a drill for something a driver should be used for is going to end in disaster, probably the death of your drill. At any rate, let’s get right to it. What the difference is between a drill and a driver is what we are here to clear up right now.

A Difference In Purpose

One of the biggest differences between these two tools that you need to be aware of is what they are used for. A normal drill is used for drilling holes into wood and other softer materials. The drill can also be used for screwing screws into wood, or even into pre-drilled holes. In other words, the drill is meant mainly for smaller purposes and softer materials. Drills just don’t have the power or force to handle thicker, harder, and denser materials.

On the other hand, a driver is used for drilling holes and screwing big screws into very hard materials. The driver uses a slightly different motion and has quite a bit more power, and is therefore easily able to make its way through concrete, brick, and other kinds of masonry. In other words, a driver is pretty much just a beefed-up drill with added power, one that is intended to handle the hard materials that a normal drill just cannot deal with.

Keep in mind that you should not use a drill like a driver, and you should not use a driver like a drill. Using a driver on soft wood will most likely pulverize and ruin the wood, something you obviously don’t want. On the other hand, using a normal drill to try and get through something like concrete is likely to result in a broken drill bit, a burnt out motor, and big headache for you.

A Difference in Motion

Something else that is important to cover here is that both of these tools have a different motion, which is, in part, why they excel at different tasks. To start, a drill uses pure rotational force to get the job done. The pressure that is applied to the wood you are drilling all comes from you. Therefore, you can dictate exactly how much pressure you are applying to the wood. The most important thing to keep in mind here is that drills just turn, but they do not apply pressure, which is what makes them ideal for softer materials.

On the other hand, a driver, while also using rotation force, also uses impact pressure to get the job done. It moves back and forth, as well as front and back, really fast, thus creating lots of small impacts that chip away at masonry. This front-and-back motion combined with the rotational force is what allows drivers to work their way through hard materials like sheetrock, brick, concrete, and other such materials.

Drill vs. Driver – Other Key Differences

  • Drills can accept various shapes of bits in the chuck, which makes them versatile and ideal for many jobs. Drivers on the other hand can only accept hex bits
  • Drills tend to be a little bigger than drivers, making them harder to fit into tight spaces
  • Drivers are usually quite a bit more expensive than drills due to the increased power and hardware needed for them
  • Drivers don’t need you to apply pressure unlike drills do, thus decreasing user fatigue. However, on the other side of the coin, the driver’s motion can start to hurt the hands after a while
  • Drills are best used for more precise works, whereas drivers are better for bigger jobs where 100% accuracy is not a big concern

Drill vs. Driver – Pros and Cons

Just like with any other tools out there, both the drill and the driver have things they excel at and things they are not so good for. So, let’s quickly talk about the pros and cons of the both the driver and the drill.

Drill – Pros

  • Great for precision work
  • Good for softer materials
  • Always applies constant torque
  • Works with a variety of screw heads and drill bits
  • Can be used with accessories like sanders, and brushes
  • Usually has a clutch for torque adjustment
  • Not too expensive to buy
  • Energy efficient


  • Cannot handle really hard materials
  • Can stall when putting in large fasteners
  • Might strip screws
  • Bits may come loose in the chuck
  • Requires the user to apply a good amount of pressure
  • Not all that much power

Driver – Pros

  • Combination of rotation and concussive blows
  • Can handle really thick and hard materials
  • Applies lots of pressure – less user fatigue
  • Tons of power
  • Can drive big and long screws with minimal effort
  • Not likely to stall or strip screws
  • Has a smaller body – more maneuverable


  • Fairly expensive to purchase
  • Makes a ton of noise
  • Can hurt the hands due to vibration
  • Can only accept hex shaped bits
  • Not ideal for delicate and precise work


As you can see, while both of these tools may look the same, they do work in different ways. All in all, they may be quite similar, but a driver is just way more powerful and adept at working with hard materials.  For further details and reviews on some of the best power drills click here.

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