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May 29, 2017

ManMade Essential Toolbox: How to Assemble the Perfect Set of Driver Bits

Here's our pick for the best impact driver bits. With this collection, you'll never be at a loss for the right bit for the job. 

Best impact driver bits

When is a drill not a drill? When it's a driver, used for securing hardware into material, rather than simply boring a hole into it. If you're anything like us, your cordless drill gets pressed into service much more often as a way to drive or remove fasteners than making holes with twist bits. And to get the most out of this versatile tool, you've gotta have the right bit for the job. Here's how to build a complete set of the best impact driver bits to allow you to take on any task.

 

Best impact driver bits

Quick-Change Slotted and Phillips Head

Your standard screwdriver bits that make quick work of standard screwdriving tasks.

Get a five pack in each size, and keep them on every tool and in every tool box and drawer you've got. 

For sizes, look for:

  • Slotted #1, #2, #3
  • Phillips/cross-slot #1, #2, #3

Unless you're messy with electronics and circuit boards or extra big jobs, your #2 Phillips will see the most action, so get a whole bunch of these and store them in the little bit-holders on your tools. It's also useful to be sure to get quick-change hex drivers, which are longer and have the little notch on the end. This allows you to insert it into a variety of tools, including traditional slip chucks, and the quick connect collets found on impact drivers, lightweight Li-Ion driver tools, etc. 

I also really like having a set of long driver bits featuring 6" shanks. These allow you to remove, adjust, replace harder to reach hardware like you would with a standard screwdriver. $5 well spent to me. 

Recommended Impact Driver Bits (Slotted/Phillips)

 

hex insert and Allen impact driver bits

Hex Insert Bits or Allen Drivers

Turns your cordless drill or driver into a powered Allen wrench or hex key. Look for sets in both standard and metric sizes, either as standard 1" insert bits (designed to use in an adapter) or longer quick change bits.

  • Standard: 5/64, 3/32, 7/64, 1/8, 9/64, 5/32, 1/4, 7/32, 3/16" 
  • Metric: 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6 mm

You'll never assemble a piece of IKEA furniture without these again.

Best Impact Driver Bits - Hex Insert or Allen Drivers

 

Hex head bolt and nut driver bits

Hex Head Bolt + Nut Drivers

These feature standard 1/4" hex shanks attached to exterior hexagonal drivers, used for bolds, hex-head lag screws, etc. Basically, this turns your drill into a powered socket wrench, and these things are lovely. I recently used mine to drive large lag screws into walls studs to hang some heavy duty shelves designed for serious weight, and I didn't have drill a single pilot hole or rachet anything. 

They can also be used to drive nuts for mechanical operations. Good stuff.

         Sizes: 1/4, 5/16, 3/8, 7/16, 1/2"

Another way to go about this would be to get a 1/4" socket adapter for your drill and use your socket wrench set.

Recommended: 

 

Torx and Star driver bits

Torx or Star Driver

This are the newest style driver heads, and they're awesome for high torque tools like impact drivers and modern Li Ion drills. Many outdoor screws feature Torx heads, and I find they're increasingly common on machine and power tool parts, which are factory assembled with high powered tools. For example, I recently changed the blades on my thickness planer, and the only way I could loosen the factory-tightened Torx screw without banging up my hand was with my right-angle driver and a Torx bit.

If you buy a box of decking screws, they'll likely throw in a free driver bit, but having a dedicated set of quick-change bits will save you when the need pops up. 

Recommended Torx/Star Driver Bits

 

quick change impact driver bits

 

Which Impact Driver Bits Should You Buy?

I've assembled a collection of these bits over the years piece by piece. If I were starting over:

1. I'd probably buy one of these collections designed for use in impact drivers.

 

Presumably, the impact driver part means they're designed from "impact strength" steel intended for high torque and hammering action. I have no idea if that's actually true, but it seems worth a dollar or two more to me. 

2. I'd supplement that with a longer slotted and Phillips driver set for tough to reach tasks: 

 

3. I'd get a dedicated hex nut driver set in common sizes:

 

4. And I'd get a packet of 2" quick change #2 and #3 Phillips and slotted bits to store on my drill and drivers bit-keepers: 

 

Have fun. Go make stuff.

 

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Vestal on Jun 01, 2015:

The "perfect set of driver bits" is a complete myth.  Anytime a complete set of bits (as determined by the individual) is gathered a portal to another deminsion (similar to but slightly different from the dryer portal) opens and one or two bits of your perfect set are lost and gone forever.


 


It is always best to leave at least one empty spot in any set of driver bits.  You may have to, and it is perfectly acceptable, build an additional set to have all of the bits you need but ALWAYS leave an empty spot in any given set.  Somehow this keeps the portal from opening.


 


You may be able to fool the portal with a mixed set, i.e. screw driver bits mixed with nut driver bits but this is not guaranteed.


Alison Bowling on May 31, 2015:

I really needed this post, I keep losing all my tools in my mini-toolbox for all my DIY projects to a son who I'm certain is growing up to be an engineer, but he frequently leaves everything in places where they end up rusted or in the lawnmower, and I always seem to be making trips back to the store because I'm missing a much needed tool.  Thank you for making it a lot easier on me by adding these driver bits.


Chris on May 31, 2015:

Great overview of DIY drill bits ... may have to pick a few new sets!


citricsugar on May 29, 2015:

Highly recommend having a set of Robertson (square-head) bits. It's impossible to use the wrong size bit so the screw heads are harder to strip which makes them awesome for temporary structures (theatre sets, temp supports and braces, collapsible sawhorses, what have you...) and anything where you might find yourself needing to remove and install the same screws over and over again. Or when working with someone who's not so hot with the drill and liable to make the 'drum roll' sound every other screw.... The unsavvy will strip a Philips fast and use wrong size most of the time.