A rotary tool is essential for many makers. It has so many different bits and attachments, it can be used in a variety of ways, and replaces other tools in small-scale situations.
In this article I’m focusing on the Dremel specifically because it’s the dominant rotary tool in the market, and also because it’s what I’ve owned and used for several years. However, other similar tools have their own merits and you should do your research before purchasing one.
Using a rotary tool means much than turning it on and letting her go. Here are some tips to get the most out of yours when working on projects.
So Many Attachments
I can't give you advice here except make you aware: there are a host of attachments for Dremel. Whether it's the drill press for handmade PCBs, or the flexible shaft for tight spaces, take a look and choose what's best for you.
Roll your own Battery Pack
Many battery packs from Dremels are just packaged 1.2V NiCd batteries. If your pack stops charging, take it apart and fix it yourself. There are tutorials online.
Wear Eye Protection
Pieces go flying when using rotary tools. This is especially true with cut-off wheels-- sparks shower and the wheels can spontaneously disintegrate. Protect those eyes!
Know your Bits
It can be daunting to look through the plethora of bits in your kit before deciding which one to use. Do some research and figure out which is best for your application.
Double Up your Cut-Off Wheels
It cuts a bit thicker, but using two cut off wheels add stability to the blade(s) and reduce the amount of time you have to switch them.
The Mighty Diamond Bit
This won't come with your standard kit, but the diamond bit is very useful. Use it to cut glass, ceramic, or even engrave.
Small Tools for Small Jobs
A rotary tool is great for detail work, but it's no titan. In this case, if you need to cut through a large amount of metal, an angle grinder is the better choice.
Watch your Speed
It's tempting to turn it up to ten and go at it-- resist this urge. Dremels can spin up to 37,000 RPM. If your plastic starts melting or your wood starts smoking, dial down the speed.
When possible, brace the tool with a free finger or thumb. This ensures that you work more safely and helps with the accuracy of your work.
Don't Force it
As in many cases, let the tool do the work. Putting pressure on it could lead to a rougher cut and even damage the tool itself.