How to Use a Rotary Tool: A Do-It-Yourself Guide

how to use a rotary tool

Last Updated on July 28, 2021

A rotary tool has tons of attachments, which can help you complete a wide array of DIY tasks and projects. It also makes it easier for you to polish, cut, sand, and sharpen various materials in the comfort of your own home. A rotary tool is one of the most flexible power tools and can handle tons of DIY projects. An example of a rotary tool is the Dremel rotary tool.

While a rotary tool is quite effective in producing superb results with different attachments, it works under the same concept. In this guide, we will show you how to use a rotary tool to accomplish different tasks.

Step by Step Guide on How to Use a Rotary Tool

Step 1: Wear Protective Gear for Protection

Start off by wearing high-quality gear that will keep you safe when using your rotary tool to work on a task. Wear safety glasses before you use a rotary tool. A pair of safety glasses will cover your eyes completely and save them from the effects of small wood particles or metal particles.

In some instances, a rotary tool might cause some abrasion on wood and metal surfaces, dispersing small particles into different directions. Wood and metal particles can irritate your eyes and make them feel itchy or sore.

Next, protect your hands by wearing a pair of thick gloves. Attachments found on the tip of rotary tools always rotate at a very high speed. Not to mention, some rotary attachments have a sharp metal edge and can injure you if you slip your hand accidentally. A pair of gloves can help you grip a rotary tool tightly, minimizing slippages. Also, make sure that you wear a pair of high-quality gloves that can withstand intensive tasks easily.

Furthermore, cover your ears with high-quality headphones or earplugs to save them from the high noise levels produced by the rotary tool.

Keep long hair away from the rotary tool. If your hair is hanging, tie it up before you use a rotary tool. Long hair might get stuck on the different parts of the rotary tool.

Step 2: Go Through the Different Parts

Before you start using a rotary tool, you have to get some insight into the different parts of the rotary device.

This makes it easier for you to know how to fit various attachments on different rotary tools while working on projects.

Apart from that, this step helps you know where different parts are located on the rotary tool.

Look for the variable speed dial and the power switch. After that, you have to look for the locking spindle button; this button helps you fix or remove an attachment from the rotary tool.

Press the locking spindle button to check if it is still in good condition. Inspect the collet thoroughly for a few minutes. This makes it easier to determine the shank size that can fit through the collet.

Once you finish inspecting the collet, you have to check if all the bits can fit on the collet or not.

If you plan to use a cordless rotary tool on your projects, you have to look for the battery. Detach it from the main unit, then connect it back to the battery slot.

Step 3: Pick the Right Bit or Attachment for Your Project

To get effective results, you have to pick the right bit or attachment for your project. While bits might have different shapes and tips, the shank size of a bit or of an attachment doesn’t change significantly.

Here are the different types of attachment parts that can help you get effective results while using a rotary tool:

Drill Bits

As the name hints, drill bits effectively perforate holes through various materials (metal, wood, concrete, and plastic). A drill bit can perforate a hole in the drywall and wooden items. The tip of a drill bit always features a unique shape that can perforate holes easily. However, the tip of the bit might differ from one drill bit to another.

If you plan to work on a concrete structure, a diamond bit might be ideal for you. Diamond bits can withstand intensive tasks. Plus, diamond bits are good at puncturing hard surfaces.

Carbide bits are effective in puncturing holes on metal surfaces. If you plan on drilling holes through metallic accessories, carbide bits may be more suitable for you. Carbide bits also feature various designs.

Smoother bits are ideal for plastic material.

You can take a look at a Dremel bit guide to learn about all of the different options available.

Cutting Wheel

As the name hint, this is a sturdy and strong cutting wheel that features an edge, which can cut multiple materials such as metal and wooden furniture. Well, cutting wheels have different capabilities and can handle various materials. For instance, a metal cutting wheel might be made from a stronger material than wood cutting wheels.

Wire Brush

As the name hints, this attachment is a wire brush that is ideal for scraping off paint or rust from different surfaces. A wire brush might have different bristles, depending on its purposes.

Polishing Pads

Polishing pads can make a surface look more attractive by polishing it thoroughly.

Sanding Attachment

A sanding attachment is a disc that features a rough, abrasive, sandpaper-like surface, which is ideal for smoothing out edges and various surfaces.

Grinding Wheels

A grinding attachment has a coarse, abrasive, and rough surface that helps you sharpen different edges. Once the grinding wheel comes into contact with the edge of a tool, it causes some abrasion that makes the edge sharp. You can use this attachment to grind blunt edges and make them sharper than before.

Router Bits

Router bits are attachments, which are effective in engraving and carving wooden accessories.

Step 4: Connect the Bit to the Rotary Tool

Once you pick the right bit for your project, you have to connect it to your rotary tool. Untighten the lock mechanism found on the chuck before you connect the bit to the rotary tool. The diameter of the collet will become wide, offering you enough space to place the shank.

After that, insert it into the rotary tool, then secure it in one position. Place the bit in a central position so that it can move freely. Also, do not insert the whole length into the rotary tool. If you do this, the bit might not be quite effective in performing different tasks.

Step 5: Adjust Other Settings

If you are working with a cordless rotary tool, you have to check whether the battery has enough charge or not. If the battery doesn’t have enough power, charge it before you begin your project.

On the other hand, if you are working with a corded rotary tool, you have to look for a power source outlet close to your working space. If the power source outlet is far from your working space, connect an extension cord to the power outlet. After that, connect the power cord to the extension cord, then move the rotary tool to your working space.

Since rotary tools come with multiple settings, you have to adjust the settings based on the material you plan to work on. Examples of such settings include the variable speed options, which let you choose the most suitable speed for different surfaces.

Adjust the speed of the rotary tool, depending on the task that you are planning to perform. For instance, if you want to drill holes on a material like wood, select a low-speed option. If you plan to sand or cut through surfaces with your rotary tool, choose a medium speed RPM option. A high-speed option might be ideal for you if you plan to carve and engrave different materials such as glass and wood.

Step 6: Place Your Workpiece on a Stable Surface

To prevent injuries, set up the workpiece on a stable working surface. For instance, you can clamp it to a sturdy working surface to minimize movements and get effective results.

Place the workpiece at a strategic spot to protect your working surface. If you place it at a bad spot, the bit might cut or pierce the working surface.

After that, hold the trigger button and press it to power the rotary tool.

What Can You Do With a Rotary Tool?

A rotary tool can be used in lots of different DIY tasks. Here are some Dremel uses and how to complete specific DIY tasks with your rotary tool.

Cutting With a Rotary Tool

While rotary tools can help you cut multiple materials, they are not effective in making huge cuts. If you want to make huge cuts on various materials, a more powerful tool might be ideal for cutting such items.

However, before you begin the cutting process, you have to determine the section or area you want to cut and then mark it using a pen or pencil. It improves your accuracy and precision, making it easier to get the desired outcome. To get effective results, you have to use the most appropriate attachment for the cutting project.

Engraving and Carving a Wooden Surface

If you plan to carve a wooden item, you have to start off by marking the sections and points you want to carve. For example, if you are planning to carve out an attractive design on a wooden surface, you have to sketch the design directly onto the wooden surface with a pencil.

Afterwards, grasp the rotary tool with your fingers, using the same technique that you always use while writing or drawing. Place the tip of the bit on the wooden surface, then move it along the pencil lines as you apply some light pressure on the surface.

To get superb results, you have to carve a wooden surface using the slowest speed settings. Make sure that you change the speed settings before you begin the carving process.

Sanding a Wooden Surface

Well, sanding wooden accessories with a rotary tool is an easy task. However, you have to choose the right sanding attachment, depending on the surface you are working on. For example, coarse sanding drums are ideal for hard materials that have an uneven surface. On the other hand, soft sanding drums are suitable for smooth surfaces that just require a little polishing.

Polishing

Polishing is an easy task that can be completed within a short period. However, you have to use a low-speed setting when you begin the polishing procedure. Also, make sure that you apply some wax to the surface that you want to polish. This makes it easier for you to polish various accessories using a Dremel tool. Increase the speed gradually as you are polishing the surface to get superb results.

Use Your Rotary Tool

While using a rotary tool might look challenging, you can use it in different projects. Rotary tools can also make it easier for you to work on hard to reach sections of different items. You just have to choose a suitable bit or attachment, depending on the task you want to work on. After a short time, you will get familiar will all the bits.

If you plan to use a corded rotary tool, you have to plug it into a power source before working on projects. On the other hand, if you have a cordless Dremel tool, you often have to charge the battery.

Additional Resources

1 thought on “How to Use a Rotary Tool: A Do-It-Yourself Guide”

  1. I use a rotary Dremel tool daily as part of my business I am In the process of making cue stick holders and cue cases for pool cues

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