Rotary Tool Buying Guide
The rotary tool that you choose will depend on many different factors including how you will be using it. Because of the versatility and capabilities of this handy tool, you may find that the rotary tool is the most used tool in your tool box. Rotary tools are good tools for beginners to learn with since they are so small and easy to handle.
Many different tradesmen use a rotary tool every day. These include carpenters, construction workers and experienced crafters too. Depending on the model, there may be a large assortment of accessories and attachments. These can number in the hundreds for some models. These top rated rotary tools have plenty of features that make them a good addition to your toolbox. All of them feature plenty of rpm capability, lithium-ion batteries and light weights making them an easy to handle tool for any jobsite.
Below is a buyer’s guide that will provide even more information about rotary tools. This information will help you decide which rotary tool is the best for your needs. Armed with the right knowledge, you will find that sorting through the numerous styles and models will be much easier and make much more sense than before you read the guide.
What is a Rotary Tool?
There are many benefits to have a rotary tool. They offer capabilities that powerless hand tools can’t match. Rotary tools tend to be better than hand tools in:
- Speed – One of the biggest draws to a rotary tool is the speed that it gives the user when completing jobs. All rotary tools have adjustable speed controls that allow you to control whether you are using slow speed for a job that needs accuracy or faster speeds for simple, easy jobs.
- Quality – When using a rotary tool you want to make sure that you have accurate cuts which reduce the need for a lot of finishing and sanding after the cut. Rotary tools in general, make smoother and straighter cuts that are typically a lot m ore geometrically accurate than hand held tools are.
- Durability – Rotary tools in the beginning had a real problem with durability because of the continuous vibration that the tool has during use. This continual vibration can break down the components of the rotary tool’s exterior. The newer models were constructed to handle this constant vibration and pounding and were also better at handling heat and humidity. The wireless technology available today has eliminated the durability problem that rotary tools used to experience making them even more valuable.
- Affordability – There was a time where rotary tools were considered more of a luxury to have on hand but the prices have dropped making it easy for every construction company to have one or more on hand. They are also affordable for do it yourself-ers and crafters too.
Types of Rotary Tools
There are two kinds of rotary tools:
- Basic rotary tools
- Cut out tools
The basic rotary tool is often used at home and work environment because it is such a convenient size. There is a larger version that is a good choice for difficult jobs. The larger sized rotary tools do not offer as many accessories as the smaller, basic rotary tool does but it still has a lot of important uses.
Basic Rotary Tool – You will find that the basic rotary tool is perfect for detail work including cutting, smoothing, engraving and shaping. The motors are smaller on the basic rotary tool which give it much more flexibility and control.
Cut Out Tools – the larger motor size of these rotary tools makes the whole tool heavier and a little bit more cumbersome to handle. They are often used in professional situations like cutting drywall and are popular on construction sites. They usually have motors that provide between 3-5 amps and are built to cut through many different kinds of materials.
Which is Better- Corded or Cordless?
If you don’t specifically need the portability of a cordless rotary tool you are much better off with a corded one. The unlimited power supply of a corded model is a popular reason to prefer the cord, since you will not need to worry about running out of battery juice in the middle of a project. Corded rotary tools are also lighter than cordless ones because there is no battery pack to worry about.
Whether you choose a corded or cordless rotary tool the general rule of thumb will be that a model with more power can be expected to weigh more than one that has less, and they will also be a little larger. The lighter and smaller the rotary tool is, the more control and maneuverability you will have when working with it.
In general a cordless rotary tool can range from 4.8 volts to 18 volts and a corded one can be expected to have motors that range from 1 amp to 5.5 amps. If you are using the rotary too for long periods of time and using it often, you are better off getting a higher powered model to withstand the increased usage.
Rotary Tool Bit Size
Rotary tools usually handle two sizes of bit shanks. If it has a larger chuck size it will a more versatile tool since it can be adjusted to handle the smaller shank size. The standard sizes of shanks that most rotary tools use are ¼” and 1/8”. A rotary tool that has a ¼” bit shank can be adjusted to fit the 1/8” size so as long as you get the ¼” you have some flexibility. Even though most hold those two standard sizes, other sizes are available as well if you need them.
Popular Rotary Tool Attachments
Bits will usually be interchangeable from one rotary tool to another due to the shank size being the same but you may find that with attachments, they will be made for a specific model or type. Accessories and attachments may or may not come with certain models depending on their size and intended usage. Knowing what you will need the rotary tool for before you purchase will ensure that you get the right one with the right accessories and attachments.
- High speed cutter – These come in many different shapes and sizes and are constructed from high-speed steel. They are used for shaping and hollowing most types of wood and metals as well.
- Burr – Another name for a burr is a rotary file. These are small cutters used by rotary tools and can spin at several thousand rpms.
- Tungsten Carbide Cutter – These are cutters that are made from a much more durable material than the traditional steel cutters and outlast them as well. If you are doing a lot of cutting work you may want to look for these tungsten carbide cutters.
- Structured tooth tungsten carbide cutter – These cutters have teeth that cut through fiberglass, wood, plastic, epoxy and rubber.
- Cut Off Wheels – These emery wheels slice and cut through plastic and metal.
- Diamond wheel points – These are used for fine detailed work on wood, ceramic and glass
- Flex shaft – This is an attachment that is usually preferred by crafters and hobbyists as well. This attachment is very much like a pen that attaches to the rotary tool with a flexible cord. You will have the same precision and ease of use with the flex shaft as you would with a pen or pencil.
- Small engraving cutter – These engravers are great for carving and engraving many different kinds of materials.
- Aluminum Oxide Stones – These stones are used for sharpening, grinding and deburring and are available in many different shapes.
- Silicon Carbide Grinding Stones – These stones are used for grinding down hard surfaces such as steel ceramics glass and many other materials as well.
- Brush – The brush attachment is used for cleaning and polishing metal surfaces and jewelry as well. They come in bristle style and wire varieties also.
- Sanding Accessories – These small disks and drums get into the hard to reach areas and sand them down.
- Polishing Accessories – These polishing wheels and points are also intended for the hard to reach areas and are made of cloth, rubber and felt.
Other Uses for Rotary Tools
There are many uses for rotary tools in both commercial and residential settings. They are used in crafting, carpentry, construction, and other things as well. Some of the other uses for rotary tools include:
- Polishing coins and silver
- Trimming copper pipe, fiberglass, plastic and wood
- Removing the rough edges on materials that have just been cut
- Removing rust from metal
- Precisely carving wood
- Cutting decorative edges on small pieces of wood
Safety Tips for Rotary Tools
Always be certain to follow the basic safety rules that are present whenever you are working with a power tool of any kind regardless of the size of the rotary tool. Safety practices such as wearing goggles can prevent tiny shards of metal or other materials from ending up in your eyes during the processes. Don’t use too much force when using the different attachments and don’t forget to unplug the rotary tool before you change out any attachments.
There are many different attachments, accessories and purposes that a rotary tool can handle. It is a very popular tool that has a lot of jobs whether it is used for a crafter, a construction worker or a home owner that uses it for repairs around the house.
These top rated rotary tools are household and work site favorites due to the speed in which they allow jobs to be accomplished. With the information we have provided for you here, you can make a confident and well informed choice as to the right rotary tool for you.
Take a look at the three top rated choices we’ve provided here. They are from reputable companies, have a lot of features and all include warranties as well. Any one of them would be a great addition to your tool box.