Do you want to remove rust without using any powerful chemicals? Make a hole in your wall to run cables through? Buff something until you can see your own face in it?
If so, you might be interested in buying a rotary tool. There are a million reasons to own one! With a steady hand and a little practice, you can engrave just about anything you like, plus they’re also great for small tasks like polishing or detailed cutting.
To help you come to a decision, we’ve found some of the very best products on the market and reviewed them. This means that you can spend less time researching and more time on the exciting stuff – the hard part isn’t finding a tool to buy, it’s trying to stop yourself reaching for it after you do.
4 Of The Best Rotary Tools For 2019
In the table below, you’ll find the name of each product we’ll be discussing, as well as its speeds. Every tool in this list has a variable speed, but that’s only a small part of what makes them great. Make sure to read the full reviews before you make a decision!
|WEN 2305 Rotary Tool Kit||8,000 – 30,000 RPM|
|Black & Decker RTX-B 3-Speed RTX Rotary Tool Kit||12,000 or 24,000 or 30,000|
|Dremel 8050-N/18 Micro Rotary Tool Kit||5,000 – 28,000 RPM|
|Dremel 4000-2/30 Rotary Tool Kit (Editor's Pick!)||5,000 – 35,000 RPM|
Now that you’ve gotten an idea as to the quality of the products we recommend, let’s take a closer look at each of them in turn. We’re going to be talking about the strengths and weaknesses that each tool has and finding the person it’s best suited to.
WEN 2305 Rotary Tool Kit – Best Budget Rotary Tool
The WEN 2305 is the perfect rotary tool for beginners. It’s extremely inexpensive, costing less than $20, and as well as the tool itself, it also comes with a 100 piece accessory kit. This makes it an excellent gift for people who are DIY-inclined, especially since the tool itself is so versatile.
Let’s begin by addressing the tool. It weighs just 3.2 pounds and the carry case measures 11.5” long, 7” wide and 3.8” thick. This means that it’s perfect for storing in a garage or under the sink when not in use since it hardly takes up any space at all.
With this rotary tool, you’re in control.
The speed can be changed by twisting the knob on the base – anything between 8000 revolutions per minute (RPM) and 30,000 RPM is possible. This allows you to adapt the speed based on the material you’re using the tool on. Slow speeds for delicate items like glass, fast speeds for sturdier objects like metal.
The spindle (the part which attachments connect to) automatically locks when the trigger isn’t depressed. This means that you can quickly and easily change the bit or attachment without having to worry about whether it’s safe or not.
The accessory kit has just about everything you’ll ever need: alternate bits, sanding discs, polishing pads, mandrels, cutters and grinding stones are all included. There’s even a flexible neck which allows you to gain maximum precision for those intricate jobs – with this attached, you use the attachments like a pen.
Some of the attachments feel a little flimsy and likely won’t last very long (the grinding belts, in particular), but if you’re serious about using this tool, you’ll probably want to invest in some higher end accessories anyway. These will do the job for a little while at least.
“Sure”, you’re probably thinking. “What if it breaks in a week?”
Well, if that happens, you can take advantage of WEN’s one-year warranty. Should anything go wrong (assuming it isn’t your fault), they’ll send you out a replacement so you’re not left out of pocket.
All things considered, this is a great tool for those looking to get into the world of DIY. Whilst some of the accessories are more useful than others, you’ll be able to do the majority of small jobs you encounter with the ones provided.
Its low price makes it an inexpensive yet highly practical gift, and it’s far cheaper than buying several different tools. For less than $20, you can buy one highly versatile tool that does the job of several others, and isn’t that reason enough to buy it?
What We Liked
- Very inexpensive
- Comes with 100 attachments and a flexible neck
- Locking spindle for safer bit changes
What We Didn’t Like
- Some attachments are a tad flimsy
Black & Decker RTX-B 3-Speed RTX Rotary Tool Kit – Best Mid-Budget Rotary Tool
Black & Decker are known for their high-quality products, and the RTX-B rotary tool absolutely falls into this category. It has a number of features which make it the go-to tool for tough or tricky jobs and better still, it’s relatively cheap at around $35.
This product uses Black & Decker’s exclusive spindle locking system to ensure that you can change accessories quickly. This removes the need to hold down a button and makes it easier, whilst taking less time.
It uses a universal collet-style chuck, so no matter what accessories you buy, they’ll fit, which is great news since the accessories this model comes with are noticeably lacking.
Whilst the previous tool we saw prided itself on the wide range of accessories it came with, this one lets the tool speak for itself. It comes with a carry case and just five accessories, although calling them this is stretching the truth a bit. What they really mean is it comes with one sanding drum and five sanding belts, each with a different level of grit.
Sorry, but if you were looking to start engraving right away, you’ll have to purchase an accessory kit first.
On the plus side, this means that the majority of the money you spend goes straight into the tool itself.
This is clear, even from a quick glance at it – it has rubber over-molded grips which minimize wrist and hand fatigue whilst remaining comfortable during extended use.
It also uses a high-torque motor which Black & Decker claims is twice as powerful as their leading competitor’s product. This motor means higher power, which in turn means the job gets done faster and the tool can deal with stubborn material more quickly.
One thing we found peculiar about this rotary tool is that it advertises itself as three speed. To some extent, that’s true – there is a dial with set speeds at 12000, 24000, and 30000 RPM, but actually, the manufacturers are selling themselves short. It’s also possible to turn the dial partway between these settings, making it a variable speed rotary tool and why they failed to mention this is beyond us.
This tool comes with a two-year warranty. Black & Decker products are known for being particularly durable, which is probably why they feel so confident offering this. Nonetheless, it’s nice to know that you won’t have to spend more money if the tool breaks.
We wholeheartedly recommend this tool.
It’s more powerful than lower cost models, and it’s designed with comfort and ease of use in mind. Whilst the accessories it comes with are minimal, they’re enough for light sanding tasks. Take it from us, though, when paired with a good set of accessories, this tool really comes into its own.
Are you thinking to buy a cutting tool? Well, we’ve decided to finally identify the ones that truly deserve your attention. Each machine we tested had its own features to be proud of. Take time to read our guide about the best bench grinder here!
What We Liked
- Very powerful
- Comfortable and easy to use
- Two-year warranty
What We Didn’t Like
- Attachments are minimal and of limited use
Dremel 8050-N/18 Micro Rotary Tool Kit – Best Battery-Powered Rotary Tool
The Dremel 8050-N/18 is a rotary tool that’s a little smaller than the others we’ve seen. It measures just 9.8” long, 6.5” wide and 3.8” deep, making it perfect for use in tight spaces. This unit’s small diameter also makes it a lot easier to use with a pen-style grip – this allows for far more precise use when engraving or cutting and can only be a good thing.
This model is a little slower too. The speed can be changed, but it ranges from 5000 to 28000 RPM. This makes it great for working on delicate materials like glass, but you’ll likely find it takes longer to sand sturdier surfaces.
There is a small LED on the device that offers multiple different functions. Firstly, it can be used to light up an area. The value of this is obvious: smaller spaces are more likely to be dark, and this allows you to work regardless. Secondly, the LED can indicate the speed the tool is running at, and even show you the remaining battery life.
This product comes with a docking station. When powered, the dock constantly charges the battery until it’s full, at which point it stops. This removes the risk of overcharging and ensures that there will be no memory effects over time.
We found that the inclusion of the charger was incredibly useful – we never had to wait for it to charge and it removes the need to buy additional batteries. At 20000 RPM, the battery lasts for about 20 minutes and takes a few hours to charge again.
Along with the tool itself, you also get 18 accessories. These include sanding belts and alternate bits, but you’ll likely want to invest in a set of more, if only because the included attachments don’t allow you to utilize the tool’s full potential.
Given that this product costs around $70, we’d have preferred to see a few more accessories included, and it’s a real shame that the battery can’t be swapped out.
Whilst this product does come with a five-year warranty, as it stands when the battery finally gives in (admittedly, this could take longer than five years), you’ll have to either find a replacement or buy a new rotary tool. Despite this, we heartily recommend this tool thanks to its small frame, aptitude for detailing work and charging station.
What We Liked
- Lower speeds are perfect for delicate work
- Comes with battery charging station
- Five-year warranty
What We Didn’t Like
- Battery isn’t swappable
Dremel 4000-2/30 Rotary Tool Kit – Best Premium Rotary Tool
When most people hear rotary tool, they think Dremel. This is the company that more or less invented them, after all. The 4000-2/30 is an excellent, high-end product that lives up to its company’s legacy and will last a lifetime. It does cost a little more than its competition (it retails for around $75), but we feel that this price is justified, and we’ll explain why.
It has a variable speed, with a higher range of settings than any other on this list. You can choose from a speed between 5000 and 35000 RPM, so this tool can handle just about anything you throw at it. Additionally, it has a 360° grip zone to provide the maximum, level of control and flexibility during use.
This product comes with a carry case, packed with 190 accessories. As before, some of these will be more useful than others but given the wide range of tools provided, it’s unlikely you’ll need to buy any more.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the things you can expect to find: a high-speed engraving cutter, four cutting wheels and a cutting bit, a grinding wheel, two grinding stones, polishing wheels, a steel brush and a polishing compound.
The carry case measures 13.9” tall, 9.4” wide and 4” deep. It can also be hung on a wall, so if you have a small workspace or do most of your work in a garage, you’re covered.
This model doesn’t rely on a wrench to tighten the attachments – rather, you can tighten them by twisting the nose cap. This removes the chance that you’ll lose a wrench and be unable to use the tool until you find it.
If you’re new to DIY, you might be worried about what speed to use. This product can actually take care of that for you! It uses electronic feedback to vary the speed and power of the attachments so you don’t have to worry about damaging your materials.
Dremel is so confident in the quality and durability of their tool that they’ve provided a five-year warranty on this product. Realistically, you can expect the tool to last a far longer time than this, but five years is a significant amount length of time too – some of us have home appliances that don’t last that long!
All in all, this product justifies its slightly higher cost by providing a fantastic warranty, access to every accessory you’re ever likely to need, and a number of ease of use features. It’s powerful, versatile and most importantly, set to stand the test of time.
If you’re just a hobbyist looking to try out a rotary tool for the first time, this might be a little out of your price range, but for the professional, there really is nothing better.
What We Liked
- Very powerful
- Come with 190 accessories
- Five-year warranty
What We Didn’t Like
- A little too expensive for casual use
How To Pick The Best Rotary Tool For You
DIY is a pretty complicated area. There are so many different specifications, so many things to compare. Thankfully, rotary tools are pretty straightforward – once you know what to look for, choosing the best one for your needs is easy. To help you out, we’ve created a simple guide explaining some of the most important considerations you’ll need to make before spending any money.
Choosing a rotary tool that can vary its speed is very important. If you try and use a high-speed setting on a delicate material like glass, it’s likely to shatter. Try using a lower speed on things like these, and save the higher speeds for removing burrs from metal or polishing things.
Generally, there will be two kinds of variable speed tools. The first allows you to manually set the speed and the second gives you a few choices – essentially a low, medium and high setting. Obviously, the fully variable speed kind is preferable, but if the set speeds are reasonably far apart, they can be just as useful.
Rotary tools are ultra-versatile, but you’ll need a different accessory to do a different job. For example, you can’t engrave something with a sanding belt. The best rotary tool for wood carving might not be the best for metalwork, so it pays to consider this in advance.
The attachments can be as varied as the tools themselves, but to cover most of the work you’ll be doing, consider buying an accessory set.
Which kind ultimately depends on how you plan to use the tool, but given that 100 piece sets sell for under $20, there really isn’t much point in buying individual attachments unless you need some kind of specialist tool.
Each head in the set has its own purpose, and while explaining these is outside of the scope of this article, there’s a useful little guide here which might be useful.
If you’d like a tool with finer control, you should think about buying a flexible neck. These attach to the rotary tool the same way any accessory would, but also allow you to attach another at the end of the neck. This lets you hold it like a pen and provides the most natural grip.
While every product we’ve covered in this article is great in its own way, we found ourselves drawn to one in particular. The Dremel 4000-2/30 Rotary Tool Kit may be a little expensive, but give it a chance and you’ll find it more than justifies the investment.
It’s very powerful, easy to use and its wide range of attachments saves you from having to spend any additional money.
We hope that this article has been helpful to you. With a bit of luck, you might even have learned something along the way, and if so, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment – we’d really appreciate your feedback.
Now that you’ve read the best rotary tool, take time read our other guides. Are you over having to unplug it and look for a new outlet just because the cord isn’t long enough to reach your next destination? It sounds like you need a cordless drill! Read it, right here!
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Dean is a freelance copy-editor from Utah, where he lives with his wife and two daughters. His garden is a place to relax after a stressful day of work, have a beer and play in the pool with his girls.