Never Strip a Stuck Screw Again!

How many of you have stripped out Philips head screws?  If you work on stuff at all, then you all have and if you say no, you are lying! Well, let me tell you that since getting introduced to the impact driver as a kid, I have not stripped a screw or found a frozen screw that I could not get out yet!

This super cheap but highly effective tool is something that everyone should have but to me, it seems like only about 25% of my friends have one of these.  An impact driver is a screwdriver that turns hammer blows into rotational torque. A good whack of the hammer can create 200 ft/lbs of torque, enough to bust lose the nastiest rusted Honda brake rotor screw or even a screw that some idiot used Loctite red on in an overzealous manner.

The impact of the hammer blow forces the driver bit into the screw and keeps it from jumping out of place and stripping out.  It really works.  I have even gotten screws out that other knuckleheads have stripped! The impact driver has never failed me not even once!

This Craftsman Impact driver has been in my family for years, I think since the 70’s possibly. I remember getting it at the Sears store with my dad because I was stripping the case screws on my Honda XR75 and one of our friend’s dad told us we could get them out with one of these. It cost something like $7 back then and I just looked up that the exact same thing can still be had at your local Sears store for $19.99 with the lifetime Craftsman guarantee!  At this price, there is no excuse for you not to have one.

My Dad’s old claw hammer pictured with our old impact driver is probably almost as old as me and now lives in my toolbox too!  I remember he got it when I was a little kid because our old wood-handled hammer developed a loose head and this was one of the newer once -piece hammers with a fancy cushiony handle!

My impact driver will also work with any 3/8″ square drive so it can be be used to bust stuck bolts, allen heads and anything that can take a 3/8″ drive. This makes it handy at the track where you might not have access to power or compressed air.

So my daughter was working on her boyfriend’s FR-S changing a broken power lock module. The Phillips head screws were super tight and she was starting to strip them out. So it was time to teach her about Impact Drivers! The screws were set in place at the factory using Loctite red.  There would be no way a normal screwdriver would get those out!  The impact driver made short work of them!


  1. Hahaha, so true! I bought my first impact driver because of a rusted Honda brake rotor screw.
    Anyone working on more than 10 y.o. cars should have one of these.

  2. And on Japanese cars, always use a JIS screw driver! It will shock you how easy those pesky “phillipshead”screws come out. And better yet, use this as an every day carry screw driver. Compact JIS screw driver form factor, but it also acts as an impact driver. It’s pretty magical. (and I also have the Craftsman impact driver pictured here, never use it anymore though, packaging looks the same as mine bought in the mid 90s, so it’s probably not from the 70s).

    Vessel Impacta:

    1. I have the same Vessel Impacta and it’s one of my favorite tools. It’s amazing how much of a difference it makes when it come to working with JIS screws. I’d dare say it was life changing when it comes to working on Japanese bikes. No more stripped out carb bowl screws, rusty fastners come out without drilling them out and no more replacing screws with thrashed heads. The JIS drivers also work really well on Phillips too.
      The easiest was to ID a JIS screw head is a small dimple on the head of the screw.

      Also keep an eye out for pozidrive, look for a x stamped across the slots. Although it’s rare to see it in automotive application, if you’ve ever assembled IKEA furniture you’ve worked with pozidrive. Phillips drivers in pozi will eat up the pozi head in a hurry. While JIS screwdrivers are hard to find without going online pozi bits and drivers are pretty common.

      I’ve had a lot of luck getting stubborn screws like rotor screws is a small electric impact with a properly sized driver bit. Push it hard into the screw head so it doesn’t pop out and rattle away, they come out way easier than the old hammer impact especially in tight areas. Also the Milwaukee shockwave and Dewalt maxfit bits are very close to the JIS pattern.

    2. I came here to say this, haha! I have the same impact driver. JIS screwdrives are CRITICAL for working on old Japanese carbs, too.

    3. Thanks, just bought one. I have the Craftsman and love it, I definitely have broken a few bolts though, those rusty JIS M10 seat bolts on Miatas are a pain.

    4. I have the same Craftsman impact driver. Learned about it from wrenching with Dave C. It lives in my portable tool box.

      I also keep Vessel JIS drivers around. Dedicated #1 and #2, and the changeable bit head with all three sizes plus some other stuff. I like the handles with the ball shape, because they’re like a CVT for the screwdriver. Grab the ball for torque, twist the skinny part for speed.

      Hadn’t seen the Impacta. Will definitely be getting one.

    5. x2 … I agree 100%. Vessel Impacta is an awesome tool! I have the #3 which made quick work of my Acura TL rotor screws, piece of cake removing them.
      I have the full set of JIS cross screwdrivers and use the longer #2 all the time. Haven’t touched my old screwdriver since. Also love that the tip is magnetized so it retains ferrous metal screws quite well.
      I can’t recommend the Vessel brand enough and have zero regrets of purchasing these tools. Shipping from Japan was pretty fast from ebay, but they now have US distribution [out of CA?] so delivery should be even quicker now.

  3. Wera makes a really good impact driver of that type, but it’s a properly expensive piece (the set is around $200 online). Works amazingly though.

  4. It’s amazing that not everybody knows about these, even after being around for more than 50 years.

    On another note, always remember to use your cell phone camera in landscape mode. Not portrait mode. Avoids those black bars on the side of the video

  5. Check out the Japanese Vessel impact screwdrivers. They use JIS profile which does not cam out like US spec. I bought several of these now and give them out to my friends. Better than snap on or any other brand, best screwdriver I have ever had.

  6. I live in Quebec where our cars start to rust as soon as they leave the dealer.
    Impact screwdriver never worked for me. I use heat.

  7. In the military I worked on the tank-hauling trailers. Those thing’s “axles” have spacers welded onto them, but also secured with good old phillips screws. You are EXTREMELY lucky if you can remove all of them regularly by hand during maintenance.
    Step 2 always involved the impact screwdriver, and a generous amount of hammering, which usually helped 95% of those stuck fellas to move. Step 3 for the leftover 5% usually involved a grinder.
    I cannot fathom anyone working without the impact driver after that.

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