Power Carving 101: The Best Rotary Tool Options in 2022

There are so MANY rotary tools out there... which makes it hard to make the right purchasing decision. This guide will help you pick the right tool!


In order to find the right tool you need to answer these 3 questions:


1) How big is the project you are working on?

2) How small is the project you are working on?

3) What is your budget?


Keep these three questions in mind as we move forward.


 

Rotary tools for Big Projects

Recommendation 1: Foredom K.5240 Woodcarving Kit


Pros

  • External speed/foot controller

  • Consistent torque at lower speeds & higher speeds

  • Interchangeable hand-pieces & ability for larger 1/4 bits

  • Has the ability to go forward or in reverse

Cons

  • Higher cost compared to other similar units



Larger flex shaft tools like the Foredom have a larger motor, which in turn has more torque to "hog" through the wood. These units are very powerful and can handle small to large projects. The Foredom SR has proven itself over the years to be a workhorse in the toughest of conditions.


If you have the budget for it, then you will not go wrong. You will find many available kits in the Foredom. I recommend the K.5240 Kit


Current Price on Amazon: N/A (price fluctuates)

Current Price on Wood Working Shop's Website: $342.95


Find the Foredom SR on Amazon here
Find the Foredom SR on Wood Working Shop here


 

Recommendation 2: Dremel Fortiflex

Pros

  • External speed/foot controller

  • Consistent torque at lower speeds & higher speeds

  • Best cost/performance value

Cons

  • Doesn't accept 1/4 bits

  • NO interchangeable handpieces like the Foredom

The Fortiflex is a great option if you want the power of the Foredom but can't afford one. The price of the Fortiflex is half of the Foredom SR but does come with some limitations. There is no option for a 1/4 bit which can get a little annoying since this has a big motor like the Foredom.


I have carved many pieces of wood with the Fortiflex and it performs on par with the Foredom.


Current Price on Amazon: $219


Find the Dremel Fortiflex on Amazon here

 

Recommendation 3: VOTOER Budget Flex Shaft



Pros

  • Budget-friendly

  • Cheap to replace


Cons

  • Rip-off of the Foredom

  • Cheaper parts

  • May not last

  • Questionable warranty





The only reason I have this on my recommended list is because of the number of positive reviews. Please keep in mind this is a cheap knock-off of the Foredom. I do not know what the warranty is like or how long this tool will last.


The reviews seem promising, but keep your fingers crossed when going with cheaper imitations tools.


There are many Chinese knock-offs of the Foredom & Dremel Fortiflex that range from $75-$150. If you do go with one of the cheaper tools, do your research.


Current Price on Amazon: $119


Find the VOTOER Flex Shaft Tool on Amazon here

 

Rotary Tools for Medium to Smaller Sized Projects

Smaller, hand-held rotary tools are the most common and widely available. A common example of this is the standard Dremel.


Dremel and other similar brands are marketed as "hand-held rotary" tools but almost all of them have an option for a flex shaft attachment.


This style of rotary tool will be my main recommendation for the general public because of its versatility.


Recommendation 1: Dremel 3000 w Flex Shaft



The Dremel 3000 is a proven workhorse and is one of the most versatile rotary tools out there. There are many kit options available however, I recommend the one with the flex shaft attachment.





Pros

  • Easy to find

  • Versatile

  • A ton of attachments are available

Cons

  • Can lack torque for bigger projects

  • Not necessarily made for hours of extended use


 


Recommendation 2: Dremel 4000 w Flex Shaft





The Dremel 4000 is an upgraded version of the 3000. In most cases, people are preferring the Dremel 4000 over the 3000 because of the new features.






Main Differences between the Dremel 4000 & 3000

  • Electronic Feedback (makes adjustments to deliver consistent speeds)

  • Variable Speed Dial ( The Dremel 3000 has a speed "switch" - This is more efficient)

  • The Dremel 3000 model has a maximum amperage of 1.2, whereas the 4000 model has 1.6 Amps. The newer 4300 has an even higher amperage rating at 1.8 Amps.

Basically, the Dremel 4000 is a step up from the 3000. If you have the budget, I would recommend the 4000. If you are an overachiever, The Dremel 4300 is extremely nice as well!


 

Dremel 3000 w flex-shaft attachment kit - Price on Amazon: $99


Dremel 4000 w flex-shaft attachment kit - Price on Amazon: $125


Dremel 4300 w flex-shaft attachment kit - Price on Amazon: $197


 

Budget Dremel Knock-Off


While I do recommend Dremel tools for their warranty and customer service, there are many budget brands that start at $18 and go up to $50 on Amazon. There are many to choose from so I will recommend the one from my research.


Budget Recommendation: ApexForge



Pros

  • Budget-friendly

  • Cheap to replace


Cons

  • Rip-off of the Dremel

  • Cheaper parts

  • May not last

  • Questionable warranty



This rotary tool will fit the bill if you are on a budget. These tools are usually made in the same factories with different colors and names. This one seems to be more of an established brand so they might actually stay in business which would give you better coverage of a warranty.


Current price on Amazon: $46.72


Find the ApexForge Rotary Tool on amazon here

 
How Big is Your Carving or Hobby Space?

Many people are limited by the space they can craft in. For this section, I will recommend the two rotary tools below. These rotary tools are unique because the motor is built inside the handpiece.


Recommendation 1: Dremel Stylo



I have used the Dremel Stylo+ for years and I love it! This little thing is a powerhouse and will perform well if you keep your demands reasonable. To see a video demonstration of this tool click here




Pros

  • Budget-friendly

  • Great performance

  • Versatile if you keep your demands reasonable


Cons

  • None!


Current price on Amazon: $39.97


Find the Dremel Stylo+ on Amazon here
 

Recommendation 2: Marathon 111 Micromotor




Pros

  • Included Foot Controller

  • Up to 35,000 RPMs

  • Low Vibration

  • Compact design

Cons

  • Complaints of handpiece not working

  • Not usable with every bit size


The Marathon 111 is a great little rotary tool for detail work because of the low vibration and ease of use. I had to get my handpiece replaced when I first got mine in because my bit would not stay locked in. Other than this problem It has been great.


MANY companies buy these units and put their own brand name on them. I recommend finding the cheapest place to buy.


Current price on Amazon: N/A - Varies on the seller


Find the Marathon 111 Micromotor on Amazon here

 

Battery Operated Rotary Tools:

Recommendation 1: Dremel 8260



This is the world's first SMART Rotary Tool with built-in Bluetooth and an app. Don't let all this tech fool you... This is a POWERHOUSE of a tool outperforming the corded Dremel 4300!


Pros

  • Can control from a smartphone via Bluetooth

  • 2x longer battery life than Dremel 8220

  • 20% higher power vs Dremel’s most powerful corded tool the 4300

  • Brushless motor (This extends the life of the tool)

Cons

  • A lot of people do not like the smart feature

  • The price might be out of some folk's budget

I made a comprehensive video testing this tool... It BLEW my mind! View the video on YouTube here


Current price at Home Depot: $169.00


Find the Dremel 8260 at Home Depot here

 


Other Worthy Mentions for Battery Operated Rotary Tools:



Recommendation 2: Dremel Lite 7760





This is a great budget rotary tool for someone who needs an inexpensive option for light-duty use.


Find the 7760 on Amazon here







Recommendation 3: Dremel 8220




While not as powerful as the Dremel 8260, this still packs some torque to handle heavy task's around the house.


Find the 8220 on amazon here






 

After going through this blog post you probably have more clarity. So, let me ask you these 3 questions again:


1) How big is the project you are working on?

2) How small is the project you are working on?

3) What is your budget?


When looking for a rotary tool, find the one that SERVES your purpose the BEST. The most expensive option may not be the best option for the application you are performing.


Leave a comment below on which rotary tool you use or the one you are thinking about getting.


There is a complete video to go with this blog post, watch it below:


"HowToWoodCarve participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites. HowToWoodCarve currently holds affiliation with Dremel. HowToWoodCarve currently holds an affiliation with Amazon.


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