Rotary tools can be a versatile addition to your home, garage, workshop, or crafting space. By changing out accessories on the tools, you can use them for a variety of purposes. One rotary tool with a well-equipped accessory supply can cut holds, sand, engrave, polish, and more. But if you’ll be using a tool for refined, frequent, or repetitive work, you’ll need a quality tool that’s built to last.
When choosing a rotary tool, you’ll find both corded and cordless options; most DIYers prefer a cordless tool, which can go anywhere it’s needed, but corded rotary tools often have a little more power. Another consideration is the tool’s speed, which is determined by the rotations per minute made by the tip. Most of these tools have variable speed settings with a maximum of 25,000 to 35,000 rpm, but some are a little faster and others are slower.
Whether your next project warrants a wood carving tool, a glass cutter, or the versatility of a multi-tool, you’ll find an option below to suit your needs.
What is a Rotary Tool?
A rotary tool spins at a high fixed or variable speed, and can be used for detailed work such as cutting, polishing, engraving, and even carving. You can use them with drill bits and there are some accessories available to turn rotary tools into a sort of miniature drill press. There are many accessories and bits, and swapping accessories and attachments is easy and quick.
Most rotary tools fit in the palm of your hand, and the latest cordless rotary tools are highly portable but usually less powerful than any you’d plug in. That will change as batteries and motors keep improving, and one of our top picks was a battery model with impressive performance.
Key Shopping Considerations
Now that you’re familiar with some of the best rotary tools, there are some factors to be kept in mind before making the final purchase. As we’ve highlighted earlier, these tools can be tested in various areas.
When you’re purchasing a rotary tool, you know the aim is to use it intensively. No matter the project, the multi-functional device should come to your aid. Therefore, it stands a good chance of being overworked.
In this light, it is important to check the durability of the device before purchasing it. You want a good return on your investment, so pick a rotary tool made of sturdy materials. At the same time, opt for one which has a proper ventilation system and doesn’t get overheated.
The rotary tools are meant to be used across projects, so versatility becomes a huge factor. Check for the ones with the most accessory bits. At the same time, opt for variants offering greater compatibility and having more attachments.
Thus, you’ll see how these items can be used for intense and precise works, irrespective of which medium you’re dealing with—the more versatile your product, the greater value for the money you receive.
Ease of Use
Since rotary tools are meant to be used for DIY projects, you should consider how easy it is to operate. Choose the options where you get instruction manuals. On top of that, try going for tools that have ergonomic designs and good grips. As a result, you’ll see that you can hold and operate them longer without any fatigue to your hands.
While using the item for a long time, you’ll notice that the noise levels might be bothersome to many. We recommend that you choose carefully because there are variants where the design ensures noise reduction.
Every user wants their investment to be secure, which is why we recommend choosing toolkits that have a warranty period or companies that are bent on customer satisfaction. To that end, damaged parts or even the entire item can be replaced if there are problems.
Rotary Tool Pricing
- Under $30: Rotary tools in this price range are available at excellent value. Products in this price range can either be corded or cordless, but they do not come with any special features or attachments.
- $30-$70: This is the most common price range for rotary tools. Products in this price range typically are very high quality, reliable, and come with a few special features and attachments.
- $70 and up: Rotary tools in this price range are priced at a premium. Products in this price range are typically the highest quality, can be sold as part of a rotary tool kit, feature several special features, and a variety of attachments.
Our Top Picks
The Dremel 3000 Variable Speed Rotary Tool Kit features the power and speed necessary to tackle cutting, grinding, and sharpening tasks around the house, as well as cleaning and engraving for crafters. This rotary tool’s variable speed ranges from 5,000 to 32,000 RPMs for precise control and the 1.2 Amp motor provides plenty of power. The tool is equipped with an EZ Twist nose cap so that you can quickly and easily change accessories, seamlessly moving from job to job.
This comprehensive kit includes everything that you need to get started with sanding, polishing, cutting, engraving, and more. The 28 accessories include a felt polishing wheel, sanding drum, multipurpose cutting bit, diamond wheel point, and engraving cutter. A hard carrying case and an accessory case keeps everything organized and is easy to pack into a cupboard or toolkit for storage. If the accessory you need isn’t included, you can pair this tool with all Dremel accessories and attachments except for the MS400 and PL400 attachments. The tool is backed by a two-year warranty.
Drywall, wood, stone, metal, tile—the DEWALT DW660 Rotary Tool can do it all. With a 5.0-amp, 30,000 rpm motor, the DW660 is the strongest rotary tool available and is perfectly designed for difficult cutwork.
This rotary tool is often used by electricians, plumbers, and other tradespeople who need to cut through different materials quickly, and as a bonus, the thin and compact size is ideal for prolonged use. The tool has very little vibration or sound, so you won’t have that buzzed hand feeling either.
The DEWALT DW660 uses spiral drill bits, like a standard power drill, to seamlessly punch through difficult materials. This rotary tool uses a simple mechanism for changing accessories and comes with both 1/4- and 1/8-inch collets. The power tool only comes with one bit, but can easily use a wide range for reliable cutting. The DW660 has a one-year warranty.
If you’re looking for a high-quality rotary tool, the Black+Decker RTX-B 3 Speed RTX Rotary Tool may be the best product on the market today. This rotary tool includes five accessories, a storage bag, a user guide, and a wrench. It is an extremely efficient and user-friendly option, featuring a patented Flip-Lock spindle lock system for quick and easy accessory changes. This eliminates the need to hold down a button while working.
In addition to the included accessories, this rotary tool can be used with any standard rotary tool accessories. It has a high torque motor and variable speeds to maximize efficiency and the number of projects you can work on with this tool. The three different speed options, including 12,000 RPM, 24,000 RPM, and 30,000 RPM, can be easily changed with the push of a simple button. It can be used for a wide variety of projects, including woodworking, engraving, cleaning vintage furniture, polishing, and more.
One downside of the Black+Decker RTX-B 3 Speed RTX Rotary Tool is the flip-lock mechanism. Make sure to read your instruction manual properly. Otherwise, the mechanism has been known to break if not handled correctly.
This electrically powered rotary tool is suitable for any kind of project. Not only is it very affordable but it also has a whopping 349 pieces of accessory. These accessories effectively confer it with the title of one of the most versatile rotary tools available at the moment. You can use it for a wide range of purposes, from grinding to polishing, milling, brushing, metal surface cleaning, de-rusting, deburring, and so on.
The Meterk 349pcs Multi-Functional Rotary Tool Kit comes with three different-sized collets with diameters of 1.6mm, 2.4mm and 3.2mm. Besides, this device has an unmatched powerful motor that performs very well. This motor propels the device to rotating speeds well above 30,000. Hence, there is gainsaying that this machine will get your work done fast.
Furthermore, The Meterk 349pcs Multi-Functional Rotary Tool Kit is very easy to use. It is lightweight enough to allow you to keep working continuously for a long period with feeling any pain in your wrist or fatigue in any part of your body.
Packed with over 100 accessories, this is the perfect rotary drill kit for those just starting out. An onboard spindle lock makes bit changes a breeze, while the variable speed motor provides 8,000 to 30,000 RPM. A useful flex shaft is included to aid in precision and detailing work.
You’ll be hard pressed to find another rotary tool this quiet and inexpensive. The overall quality is great for the price, and users love the combination of flex shaft and variable speed control. As an added bonus, the tool is compatible with Dremel bits and accessories.
This isn’t a Dremel and while good for short jobs, it lacks the staying power and a few have reported it can overheat quickly on tougher tasks. Some users have also reported receiving their’s with a bent shaft. Neither issue is very common and may have been from defective batches.
How We Tested
I’m John. I own a 120-plus-year-old house and am stubborn enough to DIY as much as I can. That means I’m familiar with a lot of tools and my experience helps me figure out what’s worthwhile and what’s a gimmick. I’ve spent decades building and fixing, from cars in the driveway, to plumbing in the basement, and recently a glass tile backsplash in the kitchen. I hope my experienced do-it-yourselfer perspective is helpful for you when you’re trying to choose between the vast array of options out there.
To find the strengths of each of our assembled products, we tested in two phases. First, we tried some close-up work like carving a design into a piece of wood and sanding down the edges of a plank. We also used the rotary tools to polish up some tarnished metal and de-burr (grinding smooth) the edges of a newly cut piece of sheet metal. We switched from the mandrels and polishing pads to a spiral cutting bit and traced and cut out an “E” from a 3/8″ piece of birch plywood. The 3/8″ thickness and different orientation of the layers was a tougher challenge than something lighter, like lauan, which all of these tools would easily power through. A soft wood-like pine would also be a less difficult task, though the challenge there is to find the right speed for the tool so you don’t scorch your work with an overheated bit.
For the second phase of our test, we cut circles out of the same piece of birch plywood, etched designs into glass, and drilled into cinder blocks. With the right bits, some tests, such as drilling into cinder blocks, were surprisingly easy. You may have trouble getting through mortar or cement, but something like old brick is softer than you’d think. These tasks, from the small stuff to the big challenges tested the full range of these tools power and ease-of-handling. For continuous cutting, like our “E,” your best bet is a corded model to avoid abusing batteries or running out of a charge before you finish the task. We found a surprising amount of similarity in design and performance among several of the tools, as well as stand out showings from our winners.
Rotary tools are a staple of woodworking and hobby craft, but you might not be aware of just how useful these tools are. The following points are those often asked by those new to rotary tools.
What Are Some Common Rotary Tool Uses?
A highly versatile tool, rotary drills are used in a wide range of trades and hobbies. They excel for precision work and can perform tasks from drilling to sanding and even cutting or polishing. You can use these tools on a variety of materials, such as wood, plastic, acrylic, and drywall.
What Are Some Common Rotary Tool Accessories?
There is a wide range of accessories available that allow rotary tools to perform almost any task. Here are some of the most popular ones:
- Buffing/Polishing Bits – By adding a touch of wax or polish to these bits before use, you can make metal surfaces shine.
Carbide Bits – These bits are perfect for etching and carving.
- Carbide Metal Cutting Wheel – By adding a little cutting oil to a small metal surface, you can quickly cut through using this attachment.
- Drill Bits – A number of fine-gauge drill bits are available and are most often used for drilling windows or wire access holes in plastic model kits.
- Sanding Drums – While attached, these can both sand surfaces and carve bevels.
- Sharpening Wheel – This attachment turns your rotary tool into a highly effective tool sharpener.
- Wire Wheel – Use this attachment to remove rust from metal surfaces.
Rotary Tool vs Oscillating Tool – What’s the Difference?
While these two tools seem very similar on the surface, their functions tend to set them apart in the professional world.
- Rotary tools employ a circular motion that makes them perfect for precision work and softer materials.
- Oscillating tools, conversely, function through a back-and-forth movement and shine best when used for heavy-duty industrial work.