Is any workbench complete without a rotary tool?
You can almost think of these versatile tools as “all-in-ones”. With a few quick twists of the chuck bit, you can switch from drilling to sanding, from sanding to cutting, from cutting to cleaning, and more! They’re the ideal tool for woodworking, metalworking, and almost any DIY project.
Most tools in the workshop are designed with a specific purpose in mind. However, with a rotary tool, you can often complete the vast majority of your project with just a single tool, saving you time, money, and workshop space! All of which typically come at a premium.
Table of Contents
- How to Choose the Best Rotary Tool for You
- The Top Five Best Rotary Tools
- The Final Word
Rotary tools are often nicknamed “dremels” or “dremel tools” because Dremel models are some of the most popular and well-known. However, there are actually a huge number of different rotary tool manufacturers such as DeWalt, Goxawee, and Milwaukee.
What is true, though, is that not all rotary tools are made equal. Some rotary tools boast a wide array of accessories, others are better known for power. The best rotary tool for you depends on what you plan to use it for.
So we’ve rounded up the best rotary tools available, and there’s bound to be one to suit every budget.
How to Choose the Best Rotary Tool for You
Before you can choose your Dremel or another rotary tool, you need to decide on its power, speed, cord (or absence of it), and compatibility with accessories.
The best rotary tools will be able to deliver the right amount of power for the task at hand.
Heavier processes, like cutting or carving tasks, will need more power for you to achieve the desired outcome. However, light jobs such as engraving will need far less power. So power should be a key factor in your decision-making process.
Your rotary tool’s power output is determined by the motor amperes (amps) or the battery voltage (V). A higher power output can turn the motor much faster.
A 1.8-amp corded rotary tool can reach speeds of 35,000 RPM, which is a good speed for heavy-duty tasks that may require more force. At the other end of the scale, a 4V cordless rotary tool will generate much less power and are more suited for light, delicate tasks.
There’s a fine line between power and weight. The more powerful rotary tools are fitted with heavier motors, which can be more strenuous to use for longer periods of time. You can compensate for the weight disadvantage by using a flex shaft attachment, which will be easier on the arms.
On the flip side, a lightweight rotary tool just may not cut it, especially if you’re planning to use your rotary tool for cutting or carving.
In certain circumstances, like drilling a hole, it’s more important to have the right accessory than to have more power. To accurately drill holes, you need to choose a sharp, high-quality drill bit. Your rotary tool’s power merely affects how long it takes you to complete that particular task.
The vast majority of rotary tools offer you a variable speed setting, so you have a lot more control over the tool. With a simple adjustment of the variable speed adjustment knob, you’ll be able to choose the most appropriate speed for your project.
Just like lower power output is suited to lighter tasks, so too, are the lower speed settings. An RPM of 5,000 or below is typically used for softer materials, or for polishing or buffing your material. However, less powerful rotary tools may find it a struggle to reach anything much greater than 28,000 RPM.
Higher RPMs of 35,000 or more are more suited for jobs that require more force, such as sanding or grinding but don’t work too well with softer materials.
It’s worth choosing a rotary tool with a variable speed dial since you will have a greater degree of control. Take some time to consider the tasks you’re likely to need to use your rotary tool for, as rotary tools with a higher RPM often come with a heftier price tag.
You may find that you have existing tools in the workshop that can tackle some of the heavier tasks you have planned for your rotary tool, so can get away with a weaker tool to plug the gap.
Corded or Cordless Rotary Tool
Cordless rotary tools offer several advantages over corded tools. These versatile tools aren’t constrained by the length of the power cord, so you can work wherever you need to. They also allow you to get into tighter spots than a corded tool.
Cordless rotary tools are easy-to-use, so you can literally grab one and take care of a few quick and simple tasks on your project, without having to go on the hunt for a power outlet or an extension cord.
However, cordless rotary tools tend to have much lower power output and consequently, a lower range of speeds. The motor will also start to slow down as the power drains, which means you’ll need to charge your tool to get the most out of it. So if you’re planning to be out and about with your rotary tool, you may need to bring the charger with you and pre-plan where you’re going to plug it in.
The most appealing feature of the best rotary tools is their wide array of accessories. This simple tool can have many, many uses due to the interchangeable accessories. The accessories you need for your rotary tool come down to what you plan to do with it. A rotary tool can be used to cut wood, metal, or even glass if you have the right accessories.
Most rotary tools come with accessories that are familiar to those of us who undertake DIY on a regular basis, like drill bits and sanding drums. However, the world of the rotary tool goes far beyond simple drilling and sanding tasks.
Diamond point wheels and diamond burr bits can be used to carve, etch, or engrave glass. Likewise, carbide bits and cutting wheels can be used to carve, etch, or cut metal.
With the addition of polishing pads or silicon wheels and some polishing compound or wax, a rotary tool can also be used for buffing or polishing. You can even buy sharpening wheels or wire wheel attachments, which can be used to sharpen metals or remove rust from surfaces.
Your choice of rotary tool may hinge upon the variety and availability of rotary tool accessories. Often, it makes more sense to choose a larger rotary tool kit with many attachments, rather than a smaller kit – it gives you plenty of options to make the most out of your rotary tool. Likewise, it’s worth checking the shank size that your tool can accommodate, as you’ll have a better choice of accessories in the long run.
Other Things to Consider
In addition to power, speed, and accessories, it’s worth giving some thought to how long you’re likely to use your rotary tool kit in a single session. Comfort, health, and safety should all factor in your decision-making process especially if you’re planning to use your rotary tool for any prolonged period of time.
The best rotary tools have features like an ergonomic grip or provide you with an optional USB charger to recharge the battery on a cordless rotary tool. These features are worth considering to ensure you get the best rotary tool to fit your needs.
The Top Five Best Rotary Tools
Now that you’ve got an idea of what to look for when you’re buying a new rotary tool, it’s time to take a look at some of the best rotary tools on the market!
There’s a huge amount of information about rotary tools, which can make choosing a suitable power tool challenging. To take out the confusion, our review will give you a flavor of what you get out of the box, additional accessories that may come in useful, user-friendliness, quality, and versatility.
Best Overall: Dremel 3000-2/28 Variable Speed Rotary Tool Kit
- Power: 1.2 amps/120 V
- Speed Range: 5,000-35,000 RPM
- Power source: Corded
- Weight: 1.25 lb
The Dremel 3000-2/28 Variable Speed Rotary Tool Kit has a lower-powered motor at 1.2amps, than some of the other tools in our review, but there’s no trade-off with speed. It can still hit up to 35,000 RPM, which is plenty of power for wood carving.
The much smaller motor on the Dremel 3000 means that it makes for a much lighter rotary tool, so it can be easier to handle, particularly for beginners. It also gives you precise control so you can make careful, accurate cuts for precision work.
This Dremel rotary tool has an ergonomic grip, which is extremely comfortable in your hands. The rubber grip makes it easy to hold and handle the tool.
The Dremel 3000 comes with a huge range of accessories that can be used for polishing, sanding, buffing, cutting, drilling, burring, and much, much more. It can be used with the majority of the standard Dremel tool attachments.
You can also purchase a flex shaft attachment, which gives you even more control over your rotary tool as it’s easier to hold. It’s also lighter, so you can work for longer.
Like many of the other Dremel rotary tools, the Dremel 3000 has a collar that fits over the collet and acts as a wrench. So changing the tool bit is quick and painless, and requires no additional tools.
You’ve got enough power here for cutting and carving wood, as well as working with softer metals. The Dremel 3000 is the best Dremel rotary tool for woodworking and jewelry making. The only downside is that it’s a little underpowered if you planned to use it for heavier work, so you may want to look at some of the higher-powered models within the Dremel brand.
- Compatible with a wide range of Dremel accessories
- No tools needed to change tool bits
- Comfortable for long periods of use
- Lacks power for heavier tasks
Best for Power Users: Dremel 4300 5/40 High-Performance Rotary Tool Kit
- Power: 1.8 amps/120 V
- Speed Range: 5,000-35,000 RPM
- Power source: Corded
- Weight: 1.4 lb
This powerful corded rotary tool includes a 1.8-amp motor and a variable speed between 5,000-35,000 RPM. There’s a whole lot of power packed within this compact power tool and it can cut through steel, wood, and more.
Like the Dremel 3000, the Dremel 4300 comes with an astounding number of Dremel accessories that can be used for cutting, sanding, grinding, carving, and engraving.
As with most rotary tools in Dremel’s range, the Dremel 4300 makes use of Dremel’s “EZ Lock” system, which means you can swap your tools in and out without needing an extra tool to do so. As a result, changing tool bits is a total breeze.
The Dremel 4300 comes in a hard plastic storage case, so you can store all of the accessories safely and keep them close at hand when you’re working.
The Dremel 4300 rotary tool is an extremely powerful tool, which can be used with most Dremel attachments. Its slim, ergonomic body design and pivot light ensure it’s comfortable to use for extended periods of time. This rotary tool is a great all-rounder and offers a little more power than its cousin the Dremel 3000.
- Plenty of power in a compact package
- Detachable work light to illuminate your work clearly
- Wide range of Dremel attachments and accessories
- Heavier than the Dremel 3000
Best Cordless: Milwaukee Portable and Cordless M12TM Rotary Tool Kit
- Power: 0 amps/ 12V
- Speed Range: 5,000-32,000 RPM
- Power source: Cordless (battery and charger)
- Weight: 4lb
There are times when you may have a need for a cordless rotary tool. These tools are particularly helpful when you need to get into a tight spot, or need to cut or sand some material on the go.
The Milwaukee M12TM cordless rotary tool is highly portable and comes with a battery and a 30-minute charger, which makes it easy to recharge your tool. Milwaukee has produced its own brand of M12 batteries, which can generate speeds between 5,000-32,000 RPM.
Although the Milwaukee is a cordless rotary tool, it has plenty of power to cope with most tasks, including cutting through steel with ease.
It comes with 5 cutting wheels, a wrench, and a mandrel. The Milwaukee M12TM’s 1/8″ collet can accept shank accessories ranging in size from 1/32″ to 1/8″, so you’ll find it compatible with a wide range of accessories.
It’s a versatile rotary tool that works well for cutting, sanding, grinding, and polishing. For a cordless rotary tool, the Milwaukee M12TM impressed us with its slower start, which meant the tool didn’t jolt when switched on.
If you need a portable rotary solution, the Milwaukee M12TM is worth a look. It has a decent amount of power for a cordless tool and is highly compatible with a range of accessories, so you’ll get plenty of functionality for the price tag.
- Cordless & portable
- Powerful cordless rotary tool
- Compatible with a wide range of accessories, with shank size 1/32″-1/8″
- Only comes with 5 cut-off wheels as standard
- The plastic collar can vibrate loose
WEN 2305 Rotary Tool Kit
- Power: 1.0 amp/120V
- Speed Range: 8,000-30,000 RPM
- Power: Corded
- Weight: 3.6lb
WEN is a well-known tool brand, with a reputation for producing affordable, well-functioning tools. The WEN 2305 rotary tool is one of WEN’s range and comes with an 80-piece accessory set. The WEN rotary tool is designed for cutting, polishing, shaping, drilling, and burr removal.
It features a lightweight flex shaft for precision work, but with a 1.0 amp motor, the WEN 2305 rotary tool is underpowered in comparison to the other models reviewed.
The tool lacks a guard for the cut-off wheel, which is a serious omission as far as safety features go. While the WEN rotary tool comes with a lot of accessories, they aren’t as good quality as some of the accessories that came as standard with the other tools reviewed. In particular, the supplied wheels can be brittle and of poor quality, leading to several breakages during cutting.
- 80 different accessories included (this is the biggest reason to choose a WEN vs Dremel rotary tool)
- Lacks safety features
- Some poor-quality accessories included
- Lacks power
Goxawee Rotary Tool Kit
- Power: 1.3 amps/110 V
- Speed Range: 8,000-30,000 RPM
- Power source: Corded
- Weight: 3.31 lb
The Goxawee Rotary Tool Kit is one of the most affordable rotary tools in our review, and certainly, the best value for money as it comes with over 100 attachments and accessories –it’s got everything you can think of and more! In the box, you’ll find cut-off wheels, polishing wheels, sanding discs, and grinding stones.
Changing tool bits couldn’t be easier as this rotary tool uses a 3-jaw universal chuck, which means you can change accessories on this rotary machine tool freely. It’s highly compatible with a wide range of accessories, as you can fit any tool bit with a 1/64″ to 1/8″ shank.
This rotary tool works well for crafts, woodwork, and metalwork, so it’s a truly versatile tool. It comfortably handles stone, glass, and metal engraving, as well as cutting and carving wood.
The Goxawee Rotary Tool Kit comes with a flex shaft attachment, which makes this rotary tool ideal for extended periods of use as well as for delicate engraving jobs. By holding the flex shaft like a pencil, you’ll find you have a great deal of control so you can fine-tune your work.
It has a decent motor size at 1.3 amps and can generate variable speeds between 8,000-30,000 RPM, so it’s a good starter tool. However, it’s noticeably less powerful than some of the other rotary tools in our review, particularly when you’re trying to cut harder materials like steel.
Still, it’s a great beginner’s tool if you’re not looking to spend too much initially.
The Goxawee Rotary Tool Kit is the ideal budget-friendly starter rotary tool. It comes with over 100 attachments and accessories, so new users will be able to get up and running quickly, without the frustration of needing to buy new tool bits to suit their needs.
- Very budget-friendly
- Over 100 accessories and attachments
- Compatible with a wide range of accessories, offering better versatility
- Extra replacement brushes included
- Less powerful than other rotary tools
- Short power cord, but the flex shaft can compensate
Although the WEN 2305 rotary tool has a comparable price point to the Goxawee, it just doesn’t hold up as well. Not only does the Goxawee come with more accessories, but it’s also a lot more powerful.
DeWalt Rotary Saw (DW660)
- Power: 5 amps/120 V
- Speed Range: 30,000 RPM
- Power source: Corded
- Weight: 3.5 lb
The DeWalt Rotary Saw (DW660) delivers heavy-duty, corded power. With a 5-amp motor, it’s more powerful than the average rotary tool, so it can handle a huge variety of materials. Not only can the DeWalt Rotary Saw cut through thick drywall, tiles, and plywood, making it a serious contender for DIY projects, but it can even cut through up to 1.5″ of birch wood.
One downside of the DeWalt Rotary Saw is that it doesn’t offer variable speed. Instead, you’ll get a fixed, nonadjustable 30,000 RPMs. This corded rotary tool is highly accurate and makes easy work of cutting.
The DeWalt Rotary Saw is an extremely user-friendly tool that allows adjustable depths of cut and also comes with several safety features, including a sealed motor and switch to reduce dust infiltration. For quick and easy tool shutdown, there’s a bump-off switch.
Changing tool bits is a breeze with the tool-less blade changes. It might take a little practice to ensure the mechanism doesn’t jam when you use it.
While this tool is adept at cutting materials, it really is limited to pure cutting. The DeWalt Rotary Saw doesn’t come with any additional tool bits, and it can’t cope with sanding, grinding, or polishing – tasks that are typical of a standard rotary tool. Alternatively, check out our recommended reciprocating saws.
If you’re looking for a heavy-duty cutter, then the DeWalt Rotary Saw is a good rotary tool for you. This powerful corded rotary machine tool can easily and accurately cut through a wide variety of materials, such as plywood, birch wood, or ceramic tiles, making it a DIYer’s best friend. But if you need a tool that can also handle engraving, carving, sanding, drilling, and polishing, you might want to take a look at the other models in our review.
- Powerful and accurate
- Copes with a wide variety of materials including birch wood, drywall, plywood, Plexiglass, and cement board
- Quick and easy tool bit changes
- Adjustable depth gauge
- Doesn’t come with any additional tool bits
- Cannot carve, grind, sand or polish
The Final Word
A rotary tool is a must-have on any well-equipped workbench. This versatile tool allows you to cut, grind, shape, polish, and drill a wide variety of materials, ensuring that you can complete most projects conveniently and professionally.
Our review looked at a number of rotary tools produced by a variety of different manufacturers. The best rotary tool for all-around functionality and user-friendliness is the Dremel 4300 5/40, with its cousin the Dremel 3000 coming in a close second. For at the best cheap dremel, you can’t go wrong with the Goxawee Rotary Tool Kit, and if portability is a must-have for you, then take a look at the Milwaukee M12TM.
Whatever your needs, you’re sure to find a great rotary tool within your budget.