How to Choose the Right Rotary Tool for You

Rotary tools have more than a dozen uses, from carving wood to drilling holes, repairing drywall, etching glass and even sharpening lawn mower blades.

Some people call a rotary tool a Dremel, but Dremel is actually a brand. The appropriate term is rotary tool.

There’s no question that you want need a rotary tool in your workshop, but you may not know which model to choose or where to start your search.

When weighing your options, keep the following points in mind:


There are two main types of rotary tools available on the market today: cut out and basic. The main difference between the two is the size of the motor. Cut out rotary tools typically have bigger motors.


Power is an important consideration when buying any tool. Power ranges from 1-5.5 amps for electric models and 4.8V-18V for battery-powered models.

How much power do you need? That depends on what you’ll be using the tool for and for how long. If you plan to use the tool for long periods of time, a higher voltage may be required.

Attachments and Bit Size

Rotary tools come with different attachments, which is what makes the tool so versatile. Each brand has its own set of attachments, and some models come with dozens of them.

Consider the types of attachments that are available, so you can ensure you have the right one for the job.

Some attachments that may be included in a rotary tool kit include:

  • Grinding stones
  • Cutters
  • Drum sanders
  • Sanding discs
  • Drill bits
  • Mandrels
  • Cut-off wheels

Blue Roof Designs explains all of the things you can do with these attachments.

You can even cut tile with a rotary tool (watch below).

In most cases, bits are interchangeable as long as the shank is the same size. The tool’s chuck or collet is what determines the size of the bit shank. Some collets and chucks can be adapted for smaller bit shanks, but you generally cannot adapt them to fit larger shanks.

a measuring tape


Speed is just as important as power when choosing a rotary tool. Speed is typically variable and will depend on the type of rotary tool.

According to Home Depot:

  • Cordless models have speeds of 5,000 to 15,000 rpm
  • Corded models have speeds of 5,000 to 35,000 rpm

The wider the speed range, the more versatile the tool. Many people prefer corded models because the broad speed range allows you to tackle tougher jobs and fine detail work with ease.

Comfort and Weight

A lightweight tool that’s comfortable can usually be used for long periods of time without having to worry about fatigue or pain.

When choosing a rotary tool, take a look at the product description to find its weight. The lighter the tool, the easier to use. Corded models are usually lighter because they don’t come equipped with a battery, which can add a significant amount of weight.

In the comfort department, you want to look for a tool that’s ergonomically designed with a soft grip. A soft rubbery grip will also prevent accidental slips and give you more control when working on projects.

Cord or Cordless

Rotary tools can be corded electric or battery-operated (cordless). There are advantages and disadvantages to both types.

Corded models come with the advantage of being lighter in weight and more powerful. The only drawback is that your movement is restricted by the length of the cord. Extension cords can give you some more freedom.

Cordless rotary tools provide you with the freedom to work anywhere you want – even outdoors. But these tools are usually less powerful and a little heavier than their corded counterparts. When the battery runs out, you’re out of luck (unless you have a spare).

The cord vs cordless debate is more of a personal issue, but generally speaking: corded will give you more power while cordless will give you more freedom.

Quality and Reputation

Naturally, you want a rotary tool that’s high quality and will give you plenty of use. One way to determine the quality of a tool is to check out user reviews. Another way is to research the brand.

Online reviews from real customers can help you determine whether the rotary tool is well-made, or will last only a few months. Be wary of overly positive reviews, and check to make sure that the comments come from actual buyers. The same rule should be applied to overly negative reviews.

If you plan to us e your rotary tool often, this is by far the most important consideration. It may cost more to purchase a high quality rotary tool, but it’s a worthwhile investment to get a tool that can withstand heavy use.

Rotary tools make a great addition to any workshop, but choosing the right one can be a challenge. Keep the above points in mind to find a tool that can handle the task at hand without causing you frustration or falling apart in the process.