Power Rotary Tools

Rotary tools spin a specialized tip at variable speeds, fast enough to cut through steel but also gentle enough to carve soft wood sculptures. Since these tools use many different attachments, they often come in rotary tool kits which include additional tips, templates, and a battery pack for cordless use. These are used by professionals in many trades, including handymen, jewelers, and artists.

What is a rotary tool?

Rotary tools are handheld tools similar to a drill that often have the option of being cordless. Various accessories can be attached to the tip of the tool and, when turned on, the tip rotates. The tips help the user in completing tasks like sanding and engraving, depending on the specific bit. While some rotary tools only have one speed, many models can operate at variable speeds.

What types of rotary tool bits are there?

There are many accessories that are included in rotary tool kits or that can be bought separately. Depending on the type of project and the strength of the material, certain attachments are preferable. Listed below are some tasks and the tips needed.

  • Sanding: A cylinder, or drum, covered with sandpaper fits onto the tool. As it rotates, the sandpaper spins, thus sanding the surface. It is easy to replace the sandpaper on the drum when needed.
  • Carving and engraving: Either diamond drill tips or high-speed Dremel tips are used, depending on the type of material. When carving surfaces like aluminum, steel, and glass, the diamond tips are recommended, but the high-speed Dremel bits are better for more delicate substances like wood or clay. These come in a variety of tip shapes from pointy to circular.
  • Polishing: Tips with a felt covering can polishing surfaces without ruining an object's surface. The felt can then be replaced when worn down.
  • Grinding and sharpening: These bits are made of silicon carbide and aluminum oxide. They can be orange or a combination of blue, green, and pink. Both types work on ceramic and glass surfaces, but only the blue/green and pink tips are used for grinding aluminum. Orange bits grind and sharpen steel.
What is a rotary flex shaft?

Larger rotary tool kits can include a flex shaft, a long flexible cord that fits onto the tip of the tool. The cord does not rotate on the outside. Instead, the movement is carried through the middle and out the other end of the tool where the tip attachments fit. This end can be held like a pen and offers more flexibility and control when working in tight spaces or with intricate designs.

What is a cutting wheel?

For cutting materials with a rotary tool, a mandrel attaches onto the end of the tool. Then, a cutting wheel hooks onto the mandrel. This is a disc that is in a plane perpendicular to the rest of the tool and resembles a saw blade when the tool is rotating. Working at variable speeds, it can cut through anything from wood to metal, depending on its composition.