The Modding Toolbox: A Guide to Rotary Tools

Written by Alex Banks

April 24, 2019 | 22:00

Tags: #flex-shaft #pendant-drill #pendant-motor #rotary-tools #the-modding-toolbox #toolbox

Companies: #dremel #foredom

Accessorise, accessorise, accessorise!

It should come as no surprise that whichever tool you pop for, the accessories you choose are of vital importance. If anything they're perhaps even more crucial than the motor itself since these are the parts that will actually come into contract with your work. A shoddy motor might hurt you down the line, but useless peripherals will get in the way immediately.

The range of options here is frankly ridiculous, so I can't even hope to do an all encompassing guide on it; perhaps it will be worth revisiting this part in the future to test out some different options and see how they perform!

In my experience you get what you pay for with these. I've had el-cheapo tool sets arrive with items before (like with my scroll saw that has a flex shaft connection), and frankly they're terrible. Poor-quality sanding drums will just reduce to dust, rotary burrs will be blunt, screws for cutting disc shafts will strip, and grinding stones will decide that 'they don't feel so good' and disappear at the snap of your fingers.

For cutting discs, I do like the Dremel EZ Click system, even if it's woefully expensive for what they are. The discs themselves have a pretty decent diameter, but the arbour they sit on is very convenient and does prevent them from slipping during use. I use this system where I can even on other branded tools just because it works very well. The reinforced cut off discs last well and cut thicker materials more easily, and you also have options like larger-sized diamond discs for glass and ceramic.

I'll say it right here, right now: I've become a bit of a 3M fanboy of late. 3M produces some fantastic abrasives that really do the job. The purple-coloured ceramic sanding drums are of particular note to me thanks to their durability, and they seem to last much longer than the more generic drums, which helps not only to save time but provides a more even finish. Similarly, their radial bristle discs are very convenient for getting into corners and odd spaces, and you can stack them up to whichever size suits your given application. The 3M Scotchbrite wheels are very effective, but I found they wear out a little quickly given their small size; a larger stack that's put in a drill or similar might be more effective for most tasks, I reckon.

Honestly, the best advice I can give here is to shop around and see what's available for a given task. It's very much the case that whoever makes the most appropriate accessory for one task might not do the same for another. Similarly, in some areas you might be better off buying a larger stock of generics instead of a few branded products; it all depends on the task at hand. If you're able to, experimenting with different suppliers is a great idea, then when the moment comes you'll have the right tool for the job at hand!

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