Few things in your toolbox are more indispensable than a trusty rotary tool. You can tackle virtually any job with the help of a Dremel, and they’re among the most versatile tools on the planet. In the past, shopping for one was easy, there was only one gig in town: The Dremel. But with more and more manufacturers throwing their hat into the ring, it’s harder to find the best Dremel tool for your collection. Today, we’re going to cover what you’ll need to know to select the best Dremel tool.
Without further ado, we’ll jump right into our top five rotary tools on the market. Each of these tools is a proven workhorse that provides the versatility, power, and precision you need in a rotary tool.
5 Best Rotary Tools Reviewed 2019
1. Milwaukee M12 12V Rotary Tool
We can all agree that shedding the electrical wires of a power tool is a beautiful thing. But, it can come back to bite you when you’re in the middle of the job, and your battery starts to die. Thankfully, Milwaukee’s M12 line provides the power and reliability of a corded tool, without the wire to trip over.
This rotary tool features an impressive motor with up to 32,000 RPM of no-load operation. A variable speed dial allows you to dial in the ideal speed for the project you’re working on. A ⅛” collet fits all accessories with a shank size less than ⅛.” Milwaukee manufactures a few accessories for this rotary tool, but you’ll also be able to make use of any other manufacturer’s bits and accessories, too.
With the M12 line, Milwaukee has engineered a tool that provides 10% more power than traditional cordless rotary tools. Milwaukee also boasts a lifespan of up to ten times that of a traditional rotary tool, thanks in part to its grinder style exhaust ports which help resist clogging and overheating.
Perhaps most impressively, this rotary tool can be fully charged in only a half hour so that you won’t end up with hours of downtime should you run out of battery in the middle of a job.
While the M12 rotary tool doesn’t provide top of the line performance, it certainly gets the job done; cheaper than virtually every other tool on the market, I might add. Plus, Milwaukee offers a five-year warranty, so you’re covered if anything goes wrong.
- Fast charging
- Variable speed
- Great warranty
- Limited accessories from the manufacturer
- Lots of vibration at lower speeds
2. Dremel 4300-5/40
When it comes to rotary tools, one brand is so synonymous with quality that we often refer to all rotary tools by their brand name: Dremel. Dremel is the original rotary tool, and they continue to innovate to provide more useful tools, accessories, and bits than any other manufacturer. The 4300 is one of the crown jewels of the Dremel line, and it’s the most popular rotary tool on the planet. This variable speed, corded rotary tool provides plenty of power, with a motor that tops out at 35,000 RPM. The speed can be conveniently controlled from its own dial which is independent of the on/off switch.
One thing that separates the 4300 from other Dremel tools is the ergonomic design with rubber grips throughout. The 4300 also runs considerably cooler than most other rotary tools.
The new 3-jaw chuck allows for effortless bit changes in a matter of seconds. While some accessories do require the collet that’s included in the kit, most bits can be changed out in just a second or two thanks to this innovative new feature, which is sure to save you time on the job.
While Dremel’s warranty is far from the longest in the business, their tools are widely known for their durability. I know guys who still haven’t replaced their original Dremel’s from the ’80s yet.
- Variable speed motor
- Industry-leading power
- Quieter and cooler than other Dremel’s
- Includes case and 40-piece accessory kit
- Warranty length only two years
3. BLACK+DECKER RTX-B
Looking for a cordless rotary tool that will help you get the job done without breaking the bank? You may want to take a closer look at the RTX-B from BLACK+DECKER. The design is familiar, and it harkens back to the days of the original Dremel Moto-Tool. The RTX-B features an ergonomic grip, Flip-Lock spindle system for easy accessory changes and three adjustable speeds for operation at 12,000, 24,000 or 30,000 RPM.
The collet is universal, allowing you to use accessories and bits from any manufacturer, so while this affordable rotary tool only includes a few accessories out of the box, you’ll have no trouble finding bits for this tool.
While the warranty isn’t as robust as some manufacturers, BLACK+DECKER does offer the same limited 2-year warranty that Dremel offers, so you’ll have some degree of peace of mind knowing that if something goes wrong, you’ll be covered.
- Flip-Lock system for easy accessory changes
- Universal collet accepts any bit
- Warranty length only two years
- Not as comfortable or stable feeling as more expensive tools
4. Dremel 8220-2/28 12V
While I prefer the reliability of corded power tools, there’s something to be said for the ease of use and flexibility of cordless models. The Dremel 8220-2/28 makes a very compelling case for going cordless with your next rotary tool. Just like Dremel’s top-of-the-line corded models, the 8220 features variable speed operation up to 35,000 RPM. A completely redesigned battery system provides 33% longer run time than the original 8220 model.
While not quite as quick-charging as the Milwaukee rotary tool we discussed earlier, you can still have this one charged up in an hour flat. That shouldn’t be a major concern for you, because each of the 8220 kits includes a spare battery. One feature you’re sure to appreciate is the integrated EZ-Twist nose cap wrench that eliminates time-consuming accessory changes, allowing you to change bits and get back to what you were doing in record time.
The 8220 is available in a basic kit with a few accessories, or in larger kits that include tons of bits and accessories for a discounted price. These kits are ideal for anyone who’s buying their first rotary tool and doesn’t already have a library of bits and accessories at their disposal.
- More affordable than other top-of-the-line Dremels
- Includes a second battery
- EZ-Twist nose cap wrench for easy accessory changes
- Only has a two-year warranty
- Mediocre battery life
3. Makita 3706 Rotary Tool
As one of the most well-respected power tool companies in the world, Makita is no stranger to making top-of-the-line products, and that extends to their rotary tool, as well. While this tool may not have the same level of convenience associated with some Dremel models or even the Milwaukee M12, it’s a powerhouse that’s built to last, thanks in part to an impressive venting system that keeps the motor cool while directing dust and debris away from the motor and ball bearings.
This tool provides a high-power 32,000 RPM motor. Unfortunately, it’s not variable speed, so you’re going to be stuck in 5th gear whenever you’re using it. That said, most people find that they’re using the top speed of their rotary tool at all times, so it shouldn’t be a major issue.
The 3706 also includes one of the longest power cords available on a rotary tool. At ten feet, the cord is four feet longer than most competitors, which provides some additional freedom you’d usually need a cordless model to experience. This rotary tool accepts all ⅛” and ¼” bits, so you’ll be able to use a wide variety of bits and accessories regardless of the manufacturer.
One thing you may notice about this model is that it’s as heavy as a brick. While most rotary tools weigh around a pound, the 3706 clocks in at a whopping 2.4 pounds, which can get taxing during longer jobs.
- Impeccable build quality
- Tool-less depth of cut adjustment
- Extra-long power cord
- Only a one-year warranty
- Doesn’t include accessories
The key to picking out the best Dremel tool for your needs is knowing what you’re looking at when you’re comparing tools. There are tons of features out there to look at, some of which are more important than others, and depending on what you’ll be using your rotary tool for, this guide will give you everything you need to pick the best tool.
Here are a couple other Dremel comparison reviews we did:
One of the biggest concerns is how the tool is powered. Corded rotary tools have been around for decades, and their cordless cousins came into the fold shortly after that. Corded tools provide you with consistent power and reliability. As long as you have an outlet, you’re ready to rock.
You’re also tethered to a cord, and you have to deal with the inconvenience of extension cords if you’re working far away from an outlet. If you don’t have an outlet available, you don’t have a rotary tool, either. Meanwhile, cordless tools are great for quick finish work, or when you’re working somewhere where you don’t have access to power.
That said, with a cordless model, you’re at the mercy of the battery life. If you’re using the tool for an extended period, or you forgot to charge it before you got started, you’ll lose valuable time to the charging dock that you could have spent on your project.
Many people reach for a corded rotary tool for major projects, but keep a battery powered one handy as well for smaller projects or projects where power isn’t available.
The power of the motor is another major consideration. Today, even cheap rotary tools are available with powerful, 30,000 RPM or higher motors.
Corded models typically have more power than cordless ones. Depending on the tasks you’ll be using your rotary tool for, you may be able to get away with a lower powered option. If you plan on tackling heavy-duty tasks, or if you’re going to be using your tool for longer jobs, you’ll want to reach for a rotary tool that offers 3.0+ amps and a 30,000+ RPM motor.
These days, most rotary tools accept accessories and bits from other manufacturers, as well. This comes in handy when you buy a rotary tool from a brand other than Dremel because most other manufacturers don’t make nearly as many rotary accessories as Dremel does.
That said, while other models do play nicely with other brand’s accessories, there’s something to be said for the company that produces tools, as well as a full line of accessories.
If you plan on getting tons of accessories and pushing the envelope of what kind of projects your rotary tool is capable of, you’ll want to give serious consideration to Dremel products, especially if you’re looking to use your new rotary tool as a router.
While rotary tools are small, using them for longer projects can be very taxing on your hands — some of the best rotary tools available feature ergonomic designs that reduce stress during longer periods of operation, making them ideal for tackling big projects.
Originally, you’d change bits using a tiny wrench, and the process took about 30 seconds or so at best. Many of today’s rotary tools feature easy to change bit systems that allow you to change bits in a quarter of the time.
While this shouldn’t be a make or break feature for you, rotary tools with easy change bit systems are indeed easier to use and help you save time.
One of the most notorious killers of rotary tools is a clogged motor. As you work, debris and dust can get trapped in the motor, which will bog it down and eventually kill it.
If you’re looking for a cheap rotary tool, don’t expect much in the way of thoughtful ventilation placed throughout the front of the tool. But, if you’re looking to purchase a higher-end model that’s built to last, look for one with well-designed ventilation that’s designed to preserve the life of the tool.
Another feature to look for if you’re looking for a rotary tool that will stand the test of time are user serviceable parts, like replaceable motor brushes. Replaceable motor brushes can extend the life of the device by up to five times.
Tools with replaceable brushes should be replaced every 40-50 hours of use, and they should both be replaced at the same time to ensure reliable operation.
Q: Do I have to get a Dremel?
A: Years ago, the answer was a resounding ‘yes.’ Today, many of the best power tool manufacturers make high-quality rotary tools. You may find that you prefer the rotary tool from a certain manufacturer better than Dremel. While Dremel remains the industry standard, you’ll want to check out brands like Milwaukee, BLACK+DECKER, Hitachi, DeWalt, and more.
Q: Do I need to buy accessories from the same manufacturer as the tool itself?
A: You can almost always use any accessories from any manufacturer with your rotary tool. Some tools have some quirks, and only accept specific accessories or shaft sizes. For the most part, you’ll be able to use any manufacturer’s bits and accessories.
Q: Why do I need a rotary tool?
A: If you’re like me, you’ll quickly find a thousand uses for your new rotary tool. While some tools perform certain jobs better than others, a quality rotary tool is virtually indispensable for small jobs, detail work, and light cutting, routing or engraving.
Whether you’re working with wood, metal, ceramic, or any other material, there’s thousands of uses for a rotary tool. Plus, with so many accessories available, there are always new projects you can use your rotary tool for.
Q: Can’t I just buy a cheap one from Amazon?
A: Of course you can, but whether or not you should do that may be a different story. There are tons of rotary tools available from unknown manufacturers. Many include tons of bits and accessories and cost a fraction of what you’d pay from a more reputable brand. That said, these tools are usually of mediocre quality and often come with little to no warranty and poor customer service.
We’ve covered five of the most impressive, hard-working and reliable rotary tools on the market, but which is the best Dremel tool? Overall, that honor goes to the Dremel 4300 series. This top-of-the-line model from Dremel is packed with industry-leading features like replaceable motor brushes, an ergonomic grip, and an EZ-Lock bit changing system.
With Dremel’s seemingly endless catalog of available accessories, you’ll also be able to find the right bit for the job regardless of what you’re using the tool for. While the 4300 series is our favorite, there’s some great cordless option as well. If you’re looking for a cordless model, take a closer look at the Dremel 8200 series and the Milwaukee M12. Both these tools are powerful, reliable, and can tackle most anything you can throw at them.
What Dremel tool is your top pick? Sound off in the comments.