Everything about Rotary Tools – An Essential Guide on How to Use a Rotary Tool
If you ever felt the need to get your hands on a tool that can sand, polish, and carve, you’ve come to the right place. A rotary tool can easily do all the above and much more. This tiny machine will easily fit in your bag along with all the accessories that come with it. Arguably, the rotary tool is the most versatile machine you’ll ever find on the power tools market. Simply attach the desired tip or attachment, and you’re ready to go.
Simultaneously, using a rotary tool can look quite overwhelming, especially if you’re a beginner. In such cases, you first need to learn the ropes of how to use the machine. Hopefully, the following guide will help you understand how rotary tools work. Consequently, you can learn how to use one for your projects and home repairs. With a little bit of practice, you’ll quickly master rotary tool skills to perfection. But first, let’s dive into the basics of using a rotary tool.
What’s a rotary tool?
Arguably, the best definition of a rotary tool is a handheld tool that uses a fast-rotating engine. However, its versatility comes from the spindle that the motor rotates. Users can attach various tips and attachments such as polishing tools, cutting wheels, and sanding bits. This feature makes the rotary tool extremely versatile and easy to use.
Depending on the job you want to do, there are three standard types of rotary tools. If you’re looking for a powerful and heavy-duty rotary tool, you should purchase a die grinder. Still, the most common models are the Dremel-style rotary tools. When precision is of utmost importance, you can always rely on a pencil grinder. These power tools are incredibly tiny and inexpensive and may even work on compressed air.
Perhaps, you may have noticed that some people use the terms rotary tool and Dremel interchangeably. Contrary to popular belief, Dremel is a brand name that dominates the rotary tool market. And while all Dremel products are rotary tools, not all rotary tools are Dremel.
How to choose a rotary tool
Before you start using a rotary tool, you need to choose the most suitable machine for your needs. If you plan on using it on job sites where there is no power source, you’d want to go cordless. On the other hand, a corded rotary tool may deliver higher power output. Of course, you wouldn’t want to spend your money on a low-powered or a heavyweight model, too. That’s why you should take the following specifications into consideration first:
- Corded vs. cordless
Firstly, you’d want to decide whether you want a corded or a cordless unit. Like other power tools, the rotary tool’s corded version provides more power output but is less flexible. On the contrary, a cordless rotary tool is incredibly portable but lasts only as long as its battery life.
While all rotary tools are generally featherweight, you still need to consider the weight of your instrument. After all, you’re going to move it around frequently, and it’s best to bet on a balanced machine.
Another essential specification is engine speed. In most cases, rotary tools come with two-speed settings that can reach up to 20,000 RPM. Still, some models have adjustable speed settings. Without a doubt, the second option is much more preferable as such rotary tools can reach up to 35,000 RPM.
In some way, the spindle works as the “soul” of the rotary tool. It accepts the collet and collet nut, so the user can clamp down various attachments securely.
- Bits and attachments
Finally, don’t forget that you must have a particular bit or attachment for each task. While most rotary tools come with a set of different accessories, you must choose the one that will work best. Of course, you can always buy additional bits separately.
How to protect yourself when using a rotary tool
So far, you may be wondering how you can injure yourself while using such a tiny machine. Well, working with a rotary tool involves the use of various attachments, including some edgy and dangerous ones. That’s why it’s essential to wear safety equipment when using such power tools.
Firstly, you should equip yourself with hand gloves. Hand protection is imperative, so you avoid the excessive friction coming from the produced heat on the wood or metal. In this regard, you must make sure you have proper face protection, too. You can use either safety glasses or a face mask to protect your face and eyes from sparks and dust.
What’s more, a set of earplugs or muffs will help protect your ears from the excessive noise these power tools produce. Since your rotary tool will be working at lightning-fast speeds, you may also need steel-toes shoes. While they aren’t must-have equipment, they may save your feet from falling debris. When cutting wood or metal, larger pieces of material may fall on your feet and toes. In such cases, you should wear closed shoes in the least.
How to set up your rotary tool
Before you put your rotary tool to work, you must prepare and assemble it. In other words, you must choose the right bit or attachment for the task. Simply switch the shaft lock button and remove the collet nut with the collet tool. Choose the correct collet, so it corresponds with the bit you’ll use.
You can proceed by pressing the shaft lock button and twisting the bit until you lock it firmly. Then, you can install the desired attachment and tighten it until you achieve a secure grip. Finally, you can plug the rotary tool and start using it.
How to use a rotary tool
While rotary tools offer an endless range of possibilities, they are exceptional at several particular tasks. Perhaps, you’ve already chosen a rotary tool, but you still have no idea how to use it. Here’s an essential breakdown of how to set up your machine along with specific instructions for each job:
Arguably, the most common use of rotary tools is for grinding. Simply use a grinding attachment, and your rotary tool will quickly become a grinder. That way, you can easily sharpen blades, chainsaws, scissors, and many more. Just grind the cutting edge from the base to the tip until it’s sharp enough.
- Rust removal
As you can imagine, every metal tool starts becoming rusty over time. Luckily, your rotary tool can easily remove rust from any metal surface. All you’ll need is a steel brush and a vise to hold onto your gear. If you plan on working on larger surfaces, you can use an abrasive brush. Just make sure you maintain speed at around 20,000 RPM.
Another use of rotary tools is for cutting and carving. While a rotary tool may not be the best way to cut larger pieces, it’s ideal for small, cramped areas. In this regard, it’s safe to say that such power tools are a must-have for plumbers. You can easily cut metal and plastic in restricted spaces like bathroom and kitchen cabinets, inside walls, and under floors.
If you’re into carving, you can take advantage of your rotary tool by attaching a straight bit. You’ll get the best results for intricate engraving and carving projects on wood and stone without an effort. If you like working with glass, you can use a diamond point wheel or a diamond bit. That way, you’ll work into the material without breaking it.
Even though rotary tools aren’t suitable for heavy-duty tasks, you can still use your machine for drilling. Of course, it’ll work for a smaller project which requires drilling holes in materials like wood, plastic, or drywall.
Another great use of your rotary tool would be to polish or wax. You can add a wire brush, polishing point, or polishing wheel to bring the shine out silverware. What’s more, you can polish and clean jewelry with buffing wheels and a flex-shaft attachment.
Add some jewelry buffing compound and cleaning solution. Just remember that black polishing wheels are more aggressive while pink and red ones are finer. You should also start at the lowest speed and remove the buffing compound without using too much pressure. Let the rotary tool cool down and repeat the procedure until you achieve a satisfactory result. When you’re ready, dip the jewelry in a cleaning solution. After you remove it, simply wipe it with a cloth.
Final Thoughts for Rotary Tool
All in all, it’s safe to say that the rotary tool is the ultimate jack of all trades. When it comes to multifunctional power tools, this one is undoubtedly the most versatile of them all. Also, it’s not that hard to use. Once you master the technique of attaching the desired bit or attachment, you’ll complete every project in no time. Choose a model and a set of extensions that will best fit your needs. Then, you can enjoy multitasking without an effort.