What Is A Dremel Rotary Tool Used For, And What Do They Do?

We very briefly touched on what a Dremel is used for, and what they do in this article.

However, we aim to dive into a little more depth in this quick guide.

We’ve given specific examples of tasks a Dremel rotary tool can perform and their limits, to help both DIY’ers, and professionals choose a good Dremel tool for their intended use.

 

What Is A Dremel Rotary Tool Used For, And What Do They Do?

 

Dremel Rotary Tools

What are Dremel rotary tools used for?

Both electric and cordless Dremel rotary tools spin the bit shank secured in the collet or chuck of the tool, to perform different tasks.

With standard accessories and bits equipped, rotary tools are capable of:

  • Cutting Off – with cut off wheels
  • Cutting Into, Shaping, Hollowing etc. – with cutter bits/points
  • Carving – with cutter bits/points
  • Engraving – with engraving points
  • Grinding & Sharpening – with grinding stones
  • Sanding – with sanding bands
  • Polishing/Cleaning – with polishing wheels
  • Drilling (freehand, or when used with a Dremel workstation) – with drill bits

They can work on a range of materials like wood, plastic, metal, glass, stone and even dog nails (see the 7300, or 7300 PT Dremel tool).

Carbide and steel bits are good for the softer materials, whilst tungsten-carbide, and diamond bits, are good for the harder materials.

There are certain Dremel attachments, like the Dremel plunge router attachment (for routing the surface and edges of wood and plastic), that significantly change the type of tasks a Dremel rotary tool can perform when using just the Dremel bits with the tool.

 

What are the limits of the Dremel rotary tool?

Dremel rotary tools should primarily be used as light duty, and small works tools in the house, or on-site.

If that’s your intended use – you’ll find them fantastically versatile and useful tools.

But, if you’re trying to use them for anything heavier or bigger than that, you may encounter issues, and here’s why…

  • The top performing Dremel rotary tool as of February 2017 is the Dremel 4300, and it maxes out at a 1.8 Amp motor. That is very low for a power tool
  • The accessories and bits are small – discs are only around 1.5 inches in diameter, and the bit shanks are usually only around 1/8 or 1/16 inches

Metal is among the hardest and heavy duty materials that you can work on with a Dremel rotary tool.

 

If you are cutting anything thicker than standard bolts and screws in terms of thickness and hardness, you risk:

  • Burning out the motor (and the sound of Dremel at full speed can be very high pitch)
  • Wearing out the discs and bits
  • Taking much longer to do the work than other more high powered and heavy duty tools

As an example, look how quickly two different Dremel rotary tool cut through a standard metal bolt, compared to the thicker metal padlock.

With softer materials like wood and plastic, you should be able to cut thicker and deeper, but you’re still limited by the power of the tools and the small sizes.

 

Where can I read more about the different Dremel rotary tool accessories, and attachments?

You can read comprehensive guides here:

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