The 10 Best Rotary Tools

Updated April 13, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

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We spent 39 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. Is there anything a rotary tool can't do? They're perfect for carving, grinding, polishing, sanding, cutting, power brushing, drilling and, well, just about anything you can think of. How effectively they can do each of these things depends on the power and quality of their motor and other components. We've ranked our selection based on ease of use, durability, and versatility. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best rotary tool on Amazon.

10. Black & Decker RTX-B

Tackle small jobs quickly and easily with the cost-efficient Black & Decker RTX-B. It can help with minor home improvement and crafting tasks, with three RPM settings and an exclusive flip-lock spindle for tool-free accessory changes.
  • won't bog down under load
  • lacks variable speed control
  • comes with few attachments
Model RTX-B
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

9. SE 979

The SE 979 provides the occasional artisan with the precision and ease-of-use of a professional-style, flexible-shaft grinder. While it's not intended for full-time use, its low price makes it a great alternative to the top brand names.
  • includes a mountable bracket
  • uses a standard mechanical chuck
  • foot control is somewhat insensitive
Brand SE
Model 979FSG
Weight 8.2 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

8. Milwaukee M12

The Milwaukee M12 has an impressive amount of power for a cordless, with a long-lasting drivetrain that offers capable cutting from 5,000 to 35,000 RPM. Also, its universal 1/8" collet is compatible with the vast majority of bits on the market.
  • auto-stop prevents overheating
  • surprisingly long battery life
  • not ideal for heavy-duty jobs
Brand Milwaukee
Model 2460-21
Weight 3.8 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

7. Wen 2305

If you want something that can accomplish the odd DIY project around the house, but you don't need commercial-grade durability, the Wen 2305 is probably a good bet. Those on a tight budget will appreciate the extremely affordable price tag.
  • includes flex shaft add-on
  • comes in ac and cordless versions
  • not great at cutting metal
Brand WEN
Model 2305
Weight 3.5 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

6. Hitachi GP10DL

You'll always be forewarned before you run out of juice when using the cordless Hitachi GP10DL because of the built-in low battery indicator light. It also features an integrated LED for better visibility in dark and cramped areas.
  • backed by a lifetime warranty
  • slim handle is easy to hold onto
  • weighs only about one pound
Brand Hitachi
Model GP10DL
Weight 5.1 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. DeWalt DW660

Designed for professional dry wallers and carpenters, the DeWalt DW660 boasts power that you wouldn't expect from its size. It is a highly effective tool for quick cutouts in nearly any type of material, so you can get the job done in the most efficient manner possible.
  • extra-long 10-foot rubber cord
  • durable dust-sealed switch
  • well-balanced and solid construction
Model DW660
Weight 3.5 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Dremel 3000

The medium-duty Dremel 3000 marries an efficient, 1.2-amp motor with a low profile to help make perfect cuts on the most intricate projects. Its slim design allows for multiple grip styles, and the EZ-Twist nose cap makes changing accessories a breeze.
  • variable speeds from 5k to 35k rpm
  • great value for the cost
  • should far outlast its 2-yr warranty
Brand Dremel
Model 3000-2/28
Weight 3.4 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

3. Foredom M.TX

The Foredom M.TX is an industry standard among commercial wood- and metalworkers. Its 1/3 HP motor drives a 39" shaft with enough torque to resist ever bogging down, and its ultra-slim working tip offers incredible dexterity, resulting in the cleanest grinds possible.
  • responsive variable-speed operation
  • reliable solid-state foot pedal
  • designed for overhead installation
Brand Foredom
Model TX 1/3 hp -TXR
Weight 8.4 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. Dremel 8220

The ultra-portable Dremel 8220 is one of the most versatile choices, bringing exceptional reliability to any corner of your home or workspace. It features a slim body that fits in the hand easily, preventing fatigue over long periods.
  • powered by a 12-volt li-ion battery
  • charges fully in just one hour
  • works with all branded accessories
Brand Dremel
Model 8220-1/28
Weight 4.5 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Dremel 4300

The Dremel 4300 is the latest flagship offering from a household name in rotary tools. This particular kit features an extensive range of bits and attachments, adding unmatched functionality to one of the most powerful options available.
  • clip-on light for visibility
  • cooler and quieter than past models
  • ideal for professional shops
Brand Dremel
Model 4300-5/40
Weight 4.8 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

All About Rotary Tools

Many people mistakenly believe that rotary tools and Dremel tools are different, but they are actually one and the same. Over time people have taken to calling nearly any type of rotary tool a Dremel tool in much the same way as any tissue is called a Kleenex. It is representative of a brand that dominated the market for so long, that the brand's name become synonymous with the product.

Rotary tools were first developed by Albert J. Dremel, who went on to found the Dremel Company in 1932. The original rotary tool was called the Dremel Moto-Tool and worked in much the same way as rotary tools today. It rotated a bit at high speeds for sanding, drilling, grinding, cutting, polishing, engraving, and carving. Many current day models are equipped with variable speed control, allowing one to better perform precision jobs. Most rotary tools spin somewhere between 3,000 and 37,000 RPM.

Since their invention, people have found a number of interesting ways to use rotary tools. During the 1940s, the Defense Department used them while creating the atomic bomb. Pedorthists have used them for making shoe inserts, dentists use them when creating dentures, and doctors have found ways to use them in dermal abrasion techniques for the removal of tattoos.

Contractors and home DIYers love rotary tools because they are the Swiss Army knife of a toolbox. They can be used to perform nearly any type of job, and they are small enough to fit in most toolboxes without adding a lot of extra weight. Rotary tools can be divided into two types: standard rotary tools and cut-out tools. Cut-out tools are designed with larger motors as they are meant to cut through heavy-duty building materials. The larger motors tends to make cut-out rotary tools larger and heavier than their standard counterparts.

Common Uses For Rotary Tools

There are dozens of attachments available for rotary tools allowing them to perform a wide range of jobs. Most people use rotary tools for fine detail work because of their small size and ease of control, but their functionality is nearly endless and they can be used on a number of jobs most never considered when purchasing their first one.

Rotary tools excel at removing small areas of rust from metal objects. They sell wire brush attachments and other types of heads specifically designed for rust removal. Make sure to test a small, unnoticeable area first to ensure the attachment does not scratch or damage the metal underneath the rust. A rotary tool is also ideal for polishing unusually shaped objects, such as a faucet or doorknob. Some even use them to polish jewelry.

The extremely high RPM of a rotary tool make them excellent for cutting through metal and wood. They can easily be used to cut off the heads of nails that can't be pried loose, and trim off small areas of base board or molding without having to worry about over cutting. Using a very small etching attachment, a rotary tool can be used to engrave a variety of materials. They make hand engraving a relatively easy job that anybody can master with just a bit of practice.

If one does not have a drill handy, a rotary tool can be used to bore the first hole in anything from metal to wood, before continuing a plunge cut with a jigsaw. By buying a diamond bit attachment, one can also use their rotary tool to cut through glass, or make engravings on it.

What To Know Before And After Using A Rotary Tool

One of the first things to remember when using a rotary tool is to wear proper safety gear. Thick leather or rubber work gloves should be worn to protect the hands from debris and sharp edges. Safety glasses should always be worn as well. The high RPM of a rotary tool can send small particulate flying through the air, which can cause eye injury.

After inserting a bit, it is vital that one checks to make sure the bit is secured. If a bit is not secured, there is potential for it to fly off when in use. To test if the bit is secure, one should try wiggling it and pulling on it. If it wiggles at all, then it is not fully secure and needs to be reinserted. Only remove and insert new bits when the rotary tool is turned off and unplugged.

Those new to using rotary tools should get a feel for one by starting with the lowest speed setting and practicing on spare material. One should never try using a rotary tool for their first time on an important piece of material. You may also want to experiment with different grips to find out what works best for you.

One must use the right kind of bit for the job at hand, so it's important to understand the uses for each type. Using the wrong type of bit can damage the bit, the material, and has the potential to cause injury. The rotary tool's speed should also be set to match the specifications of the bit.

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Last updated on April 13, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

A traveling chef, musician, and student of the English language, Chris can be found promoting facts and perfect copy around the globe, from dense urban centers to remote mountaintops. In his free time he revels in dispelling pseudoscience, while at night he dreams of modern technology, world peace, and the Oxford comma.

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