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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.

Stuart Deutsch

When I am not testing and reviewing new tools, I am working on robotics, electronics, woodworking, and other types of projects.

I am also interested in microscopy, the physical sciences, and new technologies.

I write more about tools and workshop topics over at ToolGuyd.com.


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Comments

  1. Looks promising. I got a set of the new quick-change cutoff wheels and I wasn’t impressed. The quick-change tool post is spring loaded, so it tends to give unless you move the tool perfectly in plane with the cutting disk. The new wheels are also ridiculously overpriced.

    1. With cutting wheels, quick-change or otherwise, you’re really not supposed to move the tool in any direction but in the cutting plane. Cutting wheels tend to shatter if they are flexed at high speeds.

      I will agree about the cost, but the quick-change wheels also seem to last a little longer than fiber-reinforced discs. Maybe it’s my imagination trying to further justify the higher price, it’s hard to say. Bulk packs of replacement discs are somewhat pricey, but I wouldn’t say outrageously so.

  2. mrmarkjackson says:

    I’ve recently bought one of these for old jobs around the house, recently I reshaped an old skateboard which edges were freyed, it done a great job and is very powerful tool to work with!

  3. ariroark says:

    My main reservation on the EZ lock line – and yes, there are more than one- is the cost vs. the design.The EZ Lock starter kits which basically run about 30 dollars have the new post and Drum and a few modified dremel branded products in an assortment, or for 16 bucks an EZ lock mandrel and 1 EZ lock item – like a cloth polishing wheel, cut off wheel or sanding band. The springs in the EZ lock tooling loose their temper if the tool is run at too high a speed, if one doesn’t align the mandrel with the project so that it doesn’t deviate from an almost perfect perpendicular line to the surface, and if used at the correct speed and angle, it still wears out far before the manufacturer says it should last !
    The entire line of Dremel branded rotary accessories are overpriced .I can buy Fourney and even Harbour Freight accessories at a fraction of what Dremel asks.Many of the accessories that are branded are manufactured for Dremel by 3M – so I generally save quite a bit buying either direct from 3M or a vendor. In my opinion the most time saving product isn’t the EZ lock line but the universal chuck.It It saves the time of changing a collet, nut or anything requiring set up wherein you would have to remove the collar, then nut ( if using the flexshaft like hand piece) the lubricating and reassembling the tool and simply- finally- attaching the 4486 universal chuck. It is supposed to last at least a year according to Dremel’s reps but I have a handful from the past 12 months ! Point being if one uses their Dremel daily – as I do for gold and silversmithing , and for any other task I can quickly add a bit , bur or wheel of some sort into the UChuck, from home repair to woodwork,to inventing – the cost of the accessories quickly adds up into the hundreds of dollars within a very short period of time.
    The EZ lock system hasn’t truly caught on as it has been marketed for at least 8 years that I am certain of.Slowly Dremel has increased their offerings that are compatible with the EZ lock system – but for real time and money savings I think the original style accessories are not only available in bulk from any number of alternative manufacturers, but far cheaper too.A good example is the diamond wheel- Dremel wants at least 16 bucks for the 1 1/2″ and around 12 dollars for the smaller one, which isn’t a sintered wheel , in fact i don’t believe the larger size is sintered either- so both are just coated with industrial diamond particles. As such they wear off , rapidly, when used with regularity. The average life in my situation is about two weeks, if that. So to purchase enough of the single branded wheels I need for a month would cost upwards of 40 dollars. Tallied over a year, that’s a lot of money. I can go to harbour freight and buy a 6 or 8 pack for 4 dollars or less with a coupon ! They are all of similar quality ( though you MUST inspect each package and each disc in it to make sure the coating isn’t just on the edge, but at least 3mm (towards the center of the disc ) from the edge, but also that the diamond particles are evenly distributed. Even the Fourney brand must be checked, but theirs are far more reasonable than Dremel’s. A sintered non Dremel brand wheel lasts 6 months because new diamond material is exposed as it wears until it’s completely worn out.the cost for the sintered wheels runs about 15 dollars for a size in between the 2 Dremel offers and is available in a continuous or split wheels which allow for faster removal of materials and less stray debris hitting one’s face ( easily remedied by slipping an intact clear film cannister over the rotary tool’s post and cutting a window out to allow the work to connect to the bit or wheel in use for a given task)!
    So EZ Lock mandrel or drums can only be used with Dremel brand accessory bits, wheels and a very limited number of accessories as the knock -offs haven’t yet surfaced ( give China a minute to catch up !). The universal chuck ( #4486) is by far the better buy, saves more time in the long run, isn’t susceptible to the spring wire heating up with over speed use of the rotary tool and becoming useless ( as it’s much more frustrating to try and change the spring than to just go buy another), and any maker’s bits, burs and wheels can be used in the Dremel tool- no matter what model(s) you may own, even those accessories designed only for use with a foot pedal fit in the UChuck and there is no need to change collets from 3/32″ to 1/8″ or other sizes of shanks ( some accessories should not be used in the consumer line of Dremel rotary tools particularly those with 1/4″ shanks or larger). For my time and money the EZ lock system is a marketing gimmick when the steel universal chuck – at 10 dollars – will outlast and is far more versatile than the EZ Lock line.So all you Dremel/Rotary tool users should weigh your options before thinking EZ lock represents a real savings: it costs more to operate, doesn’t last as long as even Dremel branded options, and the less than a minute you may save changing a sanding band doesn’t rationalize the big picture.The real savings would be all of us getting Dremel to coat the universal chuck with a 3M ceramic coating to extend the life of the housing in which the 3 brass jaws are contained – humidity is it’s worst enemy and without a coating of light machine oil rust will set in if you area lapidary or use water to cool any cutting or grinding bits..