Ten Tips for Dremels and Rotary Tools

A rotary tool is an essential maker tool. It has so many different bits and attachments, it can be used in a variety of ways. And it can replace many 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 rotary tools have their merits and you should do your research before purchasing one.

Using a rotary tool means much more than turning it on and letting it go. Here are some tips to get the most out of yours when working on projects.

19 thoughts on “Ten Tips for Dremels and Rotary Tools

  1. The best Dremel tool accessory is the large vice – because bringing the work to the vice-mounted tool can be easier than bringing the tool to the work for small work.

  2. Please, a little grammar in the slides: Don’t put the plural “s” in parentheses like it’s hypothetical. “It cuts a bit thicker, but USING (singular subject) two cutoff wheels ADDS (singular verb) stability to the blades and REDUCES (sing.) the number of times you have to change them.

    1. Thanks, but I think this is a difference of style more than grammar. Saying blade(s) is done with the implication that while two blades are being used, they actually come together to form one blade. You know, like Voltron. To delineate this ambiguity I added the parenthetical “s”. I might have to consult my style book, but I’m pretty sure this is ok usage.

    1. Please don’t ever use leather gloves with rotary cutting disks that have teeth, or when using a band saw. They will only turn a minor cut to a disaster.

      1. Fair enough, Nikos! Getting pulled into a blade is a very bad thing. I would say for most small cutters, burrs, stones, brushes, and abrasive wheels that gloves are a good idea.

  3. My favorite Dremel accessory is the adjustable chuck which eliminates changing the different sized collets for each tool bit. It saves time and is great for drill bits too!

    1. Ooh I didn’t know about that one. Not only is it time-consuming to switch collets, but it can also be a PITA to figure out which collet your bit is supposed to fit!

  4. I have found the drum sander to be really nice for trimming dogs toenails, They don’t seem to mind it nearly as much as the cutting nail clippers..

  5. So which instrument should I use that comes with the dremel tool if I am trying to cut the end of empty bullet casing (making bullet jewelry)?Because it is taking awhile trying to use most of the “cutting blades” it seems.

  6. If you’re going to use an angle grinder ensure it has a safety guard, not like the one pictured

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In addition to being an online editor for MAKE Magazine, Michael Colombo works in fabrication, electronics, sound design, music production and performance (Yes. All that.) In the past he has also been a childrens' educator and entertainer, and holds a Masters degree from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program.

View more articles by Michael Colombo