How to Find the Best Rotary Tools

Every home should have a toolbox and every toolbox should have a rotary tool. It’s like the Swiss-army knife of the home improvement world and can be used for pretty much all your DIY needs.

The rotary tool is a real game changer and once you have one you’ll wonder how you ever managed without. They’re small, compact and ideal for doing pretty much any task at hand.

As well as being one of the most versatile tools a person can own, it’s easy to use, easy to store and most importantly, rather than wasting your hard earned cash on several different tools, this one, handheld power tool can cover all your needs from cutting to cleaning.

The rotary tool will become your new best friend and whether you’re working with metal, wood, glass, ceramic or any other material. You can get any job done quickly and with ease. However, it’s worth taking note that these tools tend to be on the smaller side and so are more suited for small scale tasks.

So let’s go through exactly what you need to know to get the most of your rotary tool.

When you’re choosing the right one for you, you’ll want to consider the type of work you need it for, how easy it is to assemble, use, clean and store. Think about the weight and how easy it is to handle, the power and speed should be an important deciding factor and, of course, what additional features are on offer.

What does a Rotary Tool do?

There are plenty of other functions, tools, and features attached to the rotary tool but these are the core features we think you should know about.

Sanding and Carving

Yes, this small device can be used for all your sanding and carving needs. Just make sure that when you get to work, you’re holding the tool so that the sanding drum is facing away from you. Naturally, we would recommend taking safety precautions as you would for any DIY work and it’s certainly worth protecting those eyes before you get started.

Etching and Engraving

The great thing about these tools is that you can control the speed and, for etchings or engravings you’ll probably be wanting something quite speedy.

What makes this so great for etchings is that it effortlessly shapes and creates grooves for most materials covering everything from wood to glass and you can really get in there for the finer details. Naturally using a smaller tool will help your accuracy and the grip will provide more comfort, flexibility, and mobility to ensure a cleaner finish.

This also means that due to its easy grip, it won’t put too much pressure on your product so if for example you’re engraving on a beautiful champagne flute, it won’t crack.

Cutting

Thanks to the high strengths and powerful motors, you can use your new tool to cut through almost any material, hard or soft. However, it’s worth noting that for harder materials you might want to consider a stronger and faster motor to make sure the final result is flawless.

Sharpening

From your kitchen knives to the blade in your lawn mower, you can count on your rotary tool to do the job and leave just the result you need. Like with everything else, you will probably need to consider different sizes depending on what it is you need to sharpen. The great thing is that it’s flexible which means that you can get it at that perfect angle so that it restores the edge of your blade to perfection.

Cleaning/ Polishing

Now that you’ve finished your latest DIY  mission, you probably want to give it that special gleam and luckily for you, it’s just about adjusting the head on your rotary tool and you’re good to go. You can use this feature for glass, metal, stones and the list goes on.

Types of Rotary Tools

Basic

Due to their size and ease, if you’re just looking for something to help you around the house or you’re brand new to the world of home improvement then this is the type of rotary tool you want to consider.

It does all the basics such as cutting, shaping, engraving and smoothing out rough edges. These ones tend to have small motors randing about 1.2 to 1.8 Amps but that will be just fine for the kinds of jobs you’ll be using it for. It will also give you the best control and flexibility, which is ideal if you’re just learning the ropes or need smaller scale work done.

Cut-Out

If you’re a seasoned pro then you will probably be looking for a cut-out rotary which tends to be a little less compact than its basic counterpart. These are better for larger scale tasks and are a popular choice among contractors.

Of course, they also have larger motor ranging from 3 to 5 Amps to allow for heavy duty tasks and dealing with stronger materials (not that the basic can’t do a fine job too, it’s just easier).

Your comfort has still be taken into consideration for this model as it has options for adjustability and comes with a vast array of attachments.

Corded or Cordless

Yes, even in 2019 you can still find electronics with a cord but the question is whether this is the right option for you. Of course, battery operated is becoming more popular, especially as it gives you the mobility and freedom to really get in there. However, for some people battery operated can be more of a pain so we would certainly not dismiss corded tools.

Just remember that using a corded rotary tool limits your flexibility so if it’s a long job, being stuck in one place or you’re working outdoors it comes without the freedom to move can be incredibly frustrating too.

On the other hand, once you’ve plugged your corded tool in, you know that it will work reliably and you don’t have to worry about it running out of juice mid-use.

Cordless tools tend to, on average have a power output range of 4.8 to 18 volts compared to corded which ranges from 1 to 5.5 Amps.

Also, the cordless tools ranged from 5,000 to 16,000 RPM and the corded ones can run as high as 35,000 RPM.

Ergonomics

The tool itself is quite compact and can easily fit into your toolbox or a draw, however the bigger the tool, the bulkier it is and more space it takes up, naturally.  While the most attractive feature of a rotary tool is that it can be multi-purpose, that also means there’s a lot of little pieces to keep a hold of too. Most will provide a box to keep the tool heads in but naturally, that’s not a universal promise. Either way, you need extra space to store all the extra accessories that come with the actual tool.

Controls

We’ve already mentioned this a few times but we really can’t emphasize it enough. You can control the speed of the tool with most of them offering up to five options. This is brilliant for making sure that you are in total control of whatever you’re doing.

This is precisely the idea behind providing a choice of speeds as for someone looking to sand or engrave, a higher speed will provide more accuracy and a cleaner finish but if you’re using it to sharpen an object then you might want more control over the movement.

It’s also great how easy it is to change the accessories, simply screw it off when you finish and screw another one on.

Costs

This might seem obvious but this is one of the most significant factors when choosing which rotary kit is right for you.

Firstly, what’s your budget? Is this your first time purchasing a rotary tool? What do you need it for?

As with any product, you’ll pay more for the better-known brands so if you’re not looking to spend a huge amount then it will be worth exploring some of the lesser known brands.

If you’re still unsure then consider what it is you’re getting for your money. Sure, you might be shelling out those extra dollars but you know that you’re paying for quality or a well-known brand and also the higher end price range tends to come with more attachments as well.

On A Budget – Rotary Tools under $50

Tacklife PCG01B 3.7V Li-on Cordless Rotary Tool – Three-Speed with 31-Piece Rotary accessory Kit, USB Charging Cable, Collet Size 3/32-inch(2.3mm)

If you’re just looking for a rotary tool for light and small jobs then the Tacklife is one to consider. It’s cordless which makes it ideal for intricate work and getting in at the right angles. It’s a delight to hold and your hand won’t get tired during those longer jobs either.

You have three speeds that can be adjusted with just one button ranging from 5,000, 10,000 and 15,000rpm. The rotary tool runs on a 3.7V Li-on/0.6Ah battery and the collet size is 3/32”(2.3mm).

With this product, you also get 31 accessories in your kit that can be used for a variety of tasks including, drilling, engraving, sharpening, and carving.

Pros

  • It’s cordless and light which gives it good mobility and makes it easier for more intricate tasks
  • It has a comfortable grip
  • You have three simple speed adjustments
  • It comes with 31 extra pieces that can be easily changed depending on needs

Cons

  • Since it’s cordless, it needs charging so you have to make sure you have enough juice before each use
  • It doesn’t have a lot of power so it’s not for larger projects or heavy duty work
  • It’s not powerful enough for harder materials
  • When it can’t handle a task, the collets fall out

Dremel 100-N/7 Single Speed Rotary Tool Kit with 7 Accessories

Dremel is a name that you’ll hear a lot when it comes to finding the rotary tool for you. This is one of their lower end prices meaning you can purchase the reliable name without shelling out all the dollars.

This one comes with single speed control, 35,000rpm which makes it a decent pick for lighter duties jobs.

This produce is corded but it has a cool-running ball motor for smooth and quiet running. Since it’s also better with smaller jobs, it’s been designed to be light and compact so that it’s comfortable to hold and easy to maneuver.

The device comes with seven accessories that are suited for cutting, drilling, sharpening, sanding, engraving, cleaning, carving and routing. While it does run on a single high speed, this means that it can be used on materials ranging from wood and plastic to metal.

This one is ideal if you’re looking for a tool that can help you with light duty woodwork.

Pros

  • Dremel is a reliable name for power tools
  • The high speed means you don’t have to apply too much pressure to stay in control
  • Comfortable and light grip
  • It can be used on a wide range of materials and its multifunction accessories mean you can complete one job with just one tool

Cons

  • There’s only one speed
  • It can be noisy
  • Can’t be used for heavy-duty projects
  • Has a shorter life span that the more expensive products

Rotary Tool Kit Variable Speed with Flex shaft, 80 Accessories, 3 Attachments and Carrying Case, Multi-functional

This one comes with a case for storing the 80 accessories and 3 attachments that come with the rotary tool.

The TackLife is multi-functional and versatile with an adjustable rotation that ranges from 10,000 rpm to 3,200 rpm so you can adjust it accordingly. There’s also a spindle lock which makes changing the ‘bits’ quick and easy.

Again, this one is corded but thanks to the rubber grip, it’s super comfortable to hold which helps when you need to apply more pressure or use it for longer periods.

You can use this one for cutting, sanding, drilling, engraving, grinding, polishing and carving and with all the extra attachments, you can certainly find just what you’re looking for.

Pros

  • It’s versatile and easy to use
  • There is a wireless option
  • It comes in a handy box to help you keep all the extra parts in order
  • It comes with a contents list so that you can familiarize yourself with all the accessories

Cons

  • Some users complained that it randomly stopped working after a couple of hours
  • The accessories don’t always stay in place
  • It’s not flexible so getting certain angles is almost impossible
  • If you use the wireless option, it’s less powerful

Mid Range – Rotary Tools under $100

DEWALT DW660 Cut-Out 5 Amp 30,000 RPM Rotary Tool with 1/8-Inch and 1/4-Inch Collets

Another compact design and with extra accessories that you can easily change between. This rotary too has the most powerful motor for a cut-out tool which means it’s ideal for anyone from someone who enjoys home improvement projects to your professional, electricians, contractors and carpenters.

It runs smoothly and it might be small but it’s mighty and reliable for all your needs. It was designed for quick cutouts but you’ll be surprised just how many other jobs you’ll be able to use it for too,

It has a 30,000rpm, 5 amp motor so there’s no wonder it has so much power but also thanks to its dust sealed switch, that helps keep dust out, it tends to last longer too.

Pros

  • It’s very powerful so works smoothly
  • Easy to change the bits and collets
  • It’s perfect for drywall cut-outs
  • While the power button is on the side, when you turn it on another button on the top becomes available too which makes turning it off easier and safer

Cons

  • It has just one speed and it’s fast so you need a lot more control
  • It’s very powerful meaning that you have to be careful not to apply too much pressure
  • If you’re using it for sanding, it can create quite a bit of mess due to flying dust
  • It takes some getting used to, it’s hard to control at first and takes some practice

NoCry 10/125 Professional Rotary Tool Kit with Heavy Duty 170W/1.4A Electric Motor, Universal 3-Jaw Chuck, 10 Attachments & 125 Accessories

Yes, there are a lot of accessories in this rotary tool kit but that just means there’s more you can get done. Among the attachments, you’ll find bits for carving, engraving, cutting, grinding, sharpening, cleaning, polishing, sanding and drilling so really an all-rounder.

In terms of what you’ll get in the package, it’s certainly good value for its money. The motor is powerful, we’re looking at 8,000 to 35, 000 rpm and a cord length of 1.8 meters which gives you some space to move while you’re working.

The kit comes with spares so don’t worry if you wear out any parts while you’re working. Also, no worries over what materials this tool is good for because it pretty much covers all grounds from plastic and wood to steel and stone. 

Pros

  • They’ve added in extra parts to make sure that you can get double the amount of use out of this rotary tool
  • Really good value for the price
  • Comes with a great variety of accessories meaning just the one kit can help with a multitude of jobs
  • It’s comfortable to handle and has adjustable speeds

Cons

  • It can be quite loud
  • The shaft isn’t always completely steady
  • People on Amazon have complained that they’ve received incomplete sets
  • It can heat up

Dremel 4000-2/30 120-Volt Variable Speed Rotary Tool Kit – Corded

Another Dremel product which means it’s compatible with all Dremel accessories and attachments but this set also comes with 30 accessories and two attachments.

This one also has an adjustable speed ranging from 5,000 rpm to 35,000 rpm which you can later on an easy to use dial.

It’s corded but with six feet of the chord, you have plenty of freedom to move while working. It also has a 360-degree grip zone to help you stay in control no matter what angle you’re working at.

It’s considered the best performing and most versatile of Dremel rotary tools.

Pros

  • It’s compatible with all Dremel accessories so you’re really just expanding your collection
  • It’s good for DIY projects around the house
  • It’s ergonomic and easy to use
  • It’s lower power means that you can work more accurately

Cons

  • It’s not really suited to industrial level work
  • It’s on the noisy side
  • You need to be careful not to use too much force as you won’t get the desired result
  • It can get quite warm when used for an extended period.

Dremel 8220-1/28 12-Volt Max Cordless Rotary Tool

This is a cordless tool running on 12 volts of Lithium-Ion Battery Power so you’re not limited by a cord which allows more versatility when using it. Charge time is around an hour.

It has an ‘EZ twist’ which is exactly what it sounds like, it’s a quick nose cap wrench to twist to change between accessories quickly. As the mid-range Dremel, you can use all Dremel accessories on this tool.

For maximum efficiency and ease, you can vary the speed from 5,000 rpm to 33,000 rpm and there’s a separate on-off switch to help with precision.

Pros

  • It’s compact and light so you can get into tighter angles for a longer endurance
  • It only takes about an hour to charge
  • The motor is designed for the more demanding jobs
  • There’s a simple EZ twist collet lock which means you won’t need a wrench to alter accessories

Cons

  • The battery life doesn’t last very long, around an hour
  • The chargers have negative reviews for either charging slowly or malfunctioning
  • It slows down under pressure
  • Some claim the collets didn’t fit the tool

High End – Rotary Tools over $150

Dremel 4000-6/50-FF High-Performance Rotary Tool Kit

Pros

  • Just as powerful as the corded version
  • It comes with a charger
  • It’s mobile, versatile and will be great for a wide range of tasks
  • The battery stays charged when it’s not being used

Cons

  • It’s a bit bulky and heavy compared to the corded version
  • The chargers have poor reviews
  • The battery life averages at an hour
  • It only comes with one battery

Dremel 4300-9/64 High-Performance Rotary Tool Kit with Universal 3-Jaw Chuck, 9 Attachments and 64 Accessories

You have a 72-inch chord here and it comes with a rotating Pivot Light to optimize your line of sight. This version of the Dremel rotary tool allows too-less and collect-less accessories to be used to thanks to the inclusion of the three jaw chuck.

This version has the most powerful motor and you can adjust the speed from 5,000 rpm to 35,000 rpm.

It uses a cool-running ball bearing construction which allows for a smoother and quieter tool

You get three jaw chucks, nine attachments and 64 accessories which can be used for carving, engraving, cutting, scraping, cleaning, polishing, finding, shaping and sanding.

Pros

  • Fits the widest range of Dremel accessories
  • It has been redesigned to not overheat and run quietly
  • Its ergonomic design provides a comfortable 360-degree grip so it’s easy to use no matter what angle and for however long you need
  • You can change all Dremel accessories without needing a wrench

Cons

  • It can vibrate so it takes some time getting used to before getting a steady hold
  • The box it comes in doesn’t support the weight of everything inside
  • Some reported missing pieces

See more Rotary Tool reviews and comparisons here:

Conclusion

We hope that all of this information has been helpful to you in deciding which rotary tool will be the most useful to you.  We’ve covered what you will want to consider when making your choice and listed the best ones on the market for whatever your price range might be.

All this information should help you decide on a rotary tool that suits your budget and needs. Just don’t forget to really think about what you hope to get out of your rotary tool and which accessories will be fitting to get that job done.

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