Dremel has introduced a couple of new “EZ Lock” rotary tool accessories in recent years that allow for tool-free bit/disc/pad changes. The newest EZ-change addition, a sanding mandrel, has quickly become one of my favorites. With the old-style sanding mandrel, you must toil with a small screw before and after swapping in a fresh sanding sleeve, but with this one you just push and pull.
I have been quite pleased with the direction Dremel has been headed. They dominate the rotary tool and accessories market, so they don’t really need to upgrade little things like mandrels, but they have been doing it anyways. Recent models, such as the 3000 and updated 4000 series rotary tools, feature a built-on collet wrench, and it looks like the upcoming Dremel 4200 will feature a new completely tool-free collet-lock mechanism.
How Does it Work?
In case you couldn’t tell from the first photo, the blue sanding drum mandrel is the EZ change mandrel, and the black one is the old-style. First secure the sanding drum mandrel in your rotary tool – which does not have to be Dremel-branded – and pull from below the sanding sleeve to unlock it. Place a fresh sanding sleeve around the mandrel and push it down to lock it in place. Like the old-style mandrel, the new one bulges its rubber core outwards to secure sanding sleeves.
How Well Does it Work?
As far as actually using a sanding drum goes, there does not seem to be any functional differences compared to the traditional style mandrel. I went through about a dozen coarse and fine sanding drums with the new mandrel and cannot tell a difference.
Changing the sanding drum is effort-free, or rather near effort-free, but there is a catch. Sanding drum changes must be done with the mandrel connected to a rotary tool, according to both the mandrel’s usage instructions and the limits of human dexterity. There is no way to comfortably extend and unlock the mandrel by pulling it from opposite ends, unless of course you have the strength to securely grip a polished-smooth 1/8″ mandrel shaft with two fingers.
Should You Buy One?
Do you use a rotary tool sanding drum enough that changing sanding sleeves is a hassle? Then yes, you should definitely buy one. If not, you should still keep it in mind the next time you replenish your accessories supplies. It’s useful to use, but not what I would consider a must-have.
One of the things I like about this mandrel is that it can be used with the same-sized sanding sleeves I stockpiled for use with my old-style mandrel. This means I don’t have to wait until I run out and buy new sanding sleeves.
You can find the new drum sander mandrel (model EZ407SA) for about $7, and for the price it comes with a single sanding sleeve. For comparison, a screw-top replacement mandrel is priced at $4. For the time being, only the 1/2″ sanding drum mandrel has received this EZ-change treatment.
Stuart Deutsch is a tool enthusiast, critic, and collector, and writes more about tools at ToolGuyd.