6 Best Rotary Tools for the Money (Can Anyone Beat the Dremel?)

A good rotary tool (often referred to as a Dremel tool) is useful for a wide range of projects, from grinding and cutting to crafts and home improvement.

To get the best rotary tool for the money, you should of course be looking for something that’s ergonomically designed, but specific uses will determine the other traits that will work best for you, such as variable speeds, cordless capabilities, and more.

Very few pieces of equipment are as versatile as a rotary tool, which can cut, sand, sharpen, engrave and more. These 6 well-respected rotary tools each have special traits that make them more attractive for each user’s individual preferences.

See also: The Best Oscillating Tool for Ultimate Versatility

Tip:  If you see a couple numbers after a model number separated by a slash (ie: 2/30), this means that the tool includes 2 attachments and 30 accessories.

Our 6 Favorite Rotary Tools

 ProductRPM RangePowerAccessories
best-cordless-rotary-toolDremel 82205,000 - 33,00012V Max28
best-dremel-tool-2Dremel 43005,000 - 35,0001.8 Amps40
dremel-tool-reviewDremel 40005,000 - 35,0001.6 Amps30
dewalt-rotary-tool-reviewDeWalt DW66030,0005.0 Amps3
rtx-b-rotary-reviewBlack+Decker RTX-B12,000 - 30,0002.0 Amps5
best-cheap-rotary-toolWEN 23058,000 - 30,0001.0 Amps100

Rotary Tool Reviews

#1 – Dremel 8220-1/28 12-Volt Max Cordless Rotary Tool

best-cordless-rotary-toolNo surprise that a Dremel tops our list as the brand has an excellent reputation among woodworkers, hobbyists, DIYers, and professionals. Not only is the 8220 cordless the best Dremel tool model in our eyes, it’s the best rotary tool overall.

The life of the craft bench is this Dremel cordless rotary tool. It features a high speed (5,000 – 33,000 RPM), low torque spindle on top of a cordless lithium battery design that recharges in only one hour.

Being cordless sets in in a class by itself, because it allows you to reach into areas or use the tool for a quick side application without having to move the cord around or find a new outlet to plug into.

Dremel 8220 review accessories
Click to enlarge

The assortment of 28 accessory tools and bits that comes inside the hard plastic case make finding side applications a snap, and even more projects are possible because the Dremel 8220 will accept bits and attachments from most major manufacturers.

Being cordless is both the biggest advantage and the worst drawback, because disconnecting from a continuous power source means you only have a limited amount of time to get the job done. No matter what you need a rotary tool for, the Dremel 8220 is definitely one of the best Dremel tool options.

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#2 – Dremel 4300-5/40 Rotary Tool Kit

best-dremel-tool-2This entry by the masters of rotary tools has the most powerful motor in the Dremel line. The variable speeds (5,000 – 35,000 RPM) and electronic feedback ensure quality remains consistent, no matter the task.

A pivot light makes it easier to see when detailing or working in recesses. Meanwhile, the universal three-jaw chuck and included collet system make using any Dremel accessory a snap. Best of all, this kit comes with a wide range of said accessories (40 altogether), so you can get started right away.

Longtime owners of Dremel products will be quick to notice the larger size and power difference. The biggest improvement for many consumers is the addition of separate on/off and speed switches, making it easier to keep your preferred settings. The fact that this tool will fit all of your older Dremel attachments is just icing on the cake.

While you can always rely on Dremel for quality, this tool isn’t perfect. A few owners have reported the motor burning out. Additionally, the attachments use plastic threads, which wear down faster than metal ones.

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#3 – Dremel 4000-2/30 Rotary Tool Kit

dremel-tool-review

One of the most popular rotary tools of all time is the Dremel 4000. It’s still a great tool but the newer Dremels above are just a bit better. The spindle is variable speed and it has a maximum speed of 35,000 RPM, and that means fast, smooth precision etching or tooling.

It features the patented ergonomic Dremel design for extended use on high detail projects. The Dremel 4000-2/30 kit includes a wide assortment of tools and attachments capable of everything from cleaning and engraving to cutting or grinding.

To make things easier, the kit includes a circle cutter and edge gauge. It all comes in a hard plastic case so you can keep the accessories organized, but the kit is small enough that it can easily into a cabinet or under the desk for easy storage.

As far as the design is concerned, the only real complaint with the Dremel 4000 is that the On/Off switch tends to wear quickly, possibly due to heat generated by misuse. Keep in mind that the Dremel 4000 is not intended for industrial applications.

Operating the spindle for extended periods of time will cause this model to get extremely hot. It is designed for light to medium use, such as light precision machining, detail cleaning and buffing, and similar tasks. Attempting to use this model in the wrong way can damage it.

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#4 – DeWalt DW660 Cut-Out Rotary Tool

dewalt-rotary-tool-reviewThis 5 amp rotary tool specializes in cutting and provides 30,000 RPM for superior cutting power in a slim, easy-to-hold design. The dust-sealed turn-on/bump-off switch makes turning the tool off easier without exposing the switch to dust and debris. A 1/4 inch and 1/8 inch collet comes with the tool, as well as a drywall cutting bit.

Perhaps the best tool for cutting drywall, the DW660 also works well on wood, acrylic, and plastic. Consumers love the compatibility with Dremel accessories, and the speed allows this tool to compete with the RotoZip, Dremel tools, and other cutting tools.

The biggest issue with this tool is the chuck. Several users have reported their chuck locking, making it impossible to change bits. Whether DeWalt plans to address this issue is unknown.

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#5 – Black+Decker RTX-B 3-Speed Rotary Tool

rtx-b-rotary-reviewFor a little less speed (up to 30,000 RPM) and similar torque, Black & Decker’s RTX-B Rotary is one of the best Dremel tool alternatives. It has an ergonomic design as well, and a unique loading system that makes changing bits and accessories a snap.

The best feature, though, is that this unit provides even more cutting power than many Dremel tools which cost more. That extra torque means faster sharpening and cutting, and easier sanding or buffing.

Many users actually prefer a rotary tool over their bench grinder or angle grinder for more precise sharpening of tools or lawnmower blades.

The RTX-B is designed to accept all major styles of attachments, but the kit is sadly lacking in starter pieces. A narrow sample of accessories is included, but you will need to increase the variety quickly.

While the carrying bag does not diminish the tool itself, it is a big departure from a protective hard case. The best advice is to purchase a small tool box and use the removable tray for storing your small accessories.

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#6 – WEN 2305 Rotary Tool Kit w/ Flex Shaft

best-cheap-rotary-toolPacked with over 100 accessories, this is the perfect rotary drill kit for those just starting out. An onboard spindle lock makes bit changes a breeze, while the variable speed motor provides 8,000 to 30,000 RPM. A useful flex shaft is included to aid in precision and detailing work.

You’ll be hard pressed to find another rotary tool this quiet and inexpensive. The overall quality is great for the price, and users love the combination of flex shaft and variable speed control. As an added bonus, the tool is compatible with Dremel bits and accessories.

This isn’t a Dremel and while good for short jobs, it lacks the staying power and a few have reported it can overheat quickly on tougher tasks. Some users have also reported receiving their’s with a bent shaft. Neither issue is very common and may have been from defective batches.

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FAQs

Rotary tools are a staple of woodworking and hobby craft, but you might not be aware of just how useful these tools are. The following points are those often asked by those new to rotary tools.

What Are Some Common Rotary Tool Uses?

A highly versatile tool, rotary drills are used in a wide range of trades and hobbies. They excel for precision work and can perform tasks from drilling to sanding and even cutting or polishing. You can use these tools on a variety of materials, such as wood, plastic, acrylic, and drywall.

What Are Some Common Rotary Tool Accessories?

There is a wide range of accessories available that allow rotary tools to perform almost any task. Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Buffing/Polishing Bits – By adding a touch of wax or polish to these bits before use, you can make metal surfaces shine.
  • Carbide Bits – These bits are perfect for etching and carving.
  • Carbide Metal Cutting Wheel – By adding a little cutting oil to a small metal surface, you can quickly cut through using this attachment.
  • Drill Bits – A number of fine-gauge drill bits are available and are most often used for drilling windows or wire access holes in plastic model kits.
  • Sanding Drums – While attached, these can both sand surfaces and carve bevels.
  • Sharpening Wheel – This attachment turns your rotary tool into a highly effective tool sharpener.
  • Wire Wheel – Use this attachment to remove rust from metal surfaces.

Rotary Tool vs Oscillating Tool – What’s the Difference?

While these two tools seem very similar on the surface, their functions tend to set them apart in the professional world.

  • Rotary tools employ a circular motion that makes them perfect for precision work and softer materials.
  • Oscillating tools, conversely, function through a back-and-forth movement and shine best when used for heavy-duty industrial work.

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2 thoughts on “6 Best Rotary Tools for the Money (Can Anyone Beat the Dremel?)”

  1. I’m trying to choose between the corded vs cordless Dremel. Do you know what I can expect for run time on the cordless?

    • It really depends on what you’re doing. If using for continuous use like grinding/sanding, the battery might only last for about 30 minutes. But if you’re using it for off and on cutting, a charge may last for hours. The price of the cordless Dremel 8220 is dropping so the cord vs cordless decision is harder than it was a couple years ago.

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