First introduced and patented by Albert Dremel in the early 1930s, the original Dremel Moto-tool was a revolutionary multi-function unit that remains in high demand even today. The Moto-tool rotates at a variable (though usually very high) RPM. It contains a bit that slides into a chuck that holds it in place.
In short, it’s a handheld, high-RPM, portable, multi-functional drill press. By changing and adding the appropriate bit, the Dremel can perform tasks that include grinding, drilling, sanding, routing, sharpening, carving, and cleaning. The myriad bits give these tools their flexibility and functionality and are what make them such a coveted tool to the professional and home DIYers alike. It’s like MacGyver’s Swiss Army knife for your toolbox!
In fact, the Dremel has reached such a legendary status that ANY rotary tool is now commonly referred to as a Dremel, regardless of the brand name…right up there with Kleenex, Band-Aid, and Velcro.
But there are a lot of other rotary tools out there…and we’ve set out to find the best!
What type of rotary tool buyer are you?
Like any tool buying guide, there are a lot of variables to consider—price, performance, power, portability, frequency/type of use, and many others. This review will focus on three different types of rotary tools—best overall corded, best overall cordless, and the most economical. The only category not covered is that of single-use rotary tools (normally used in drywall cutting applications).
3 Best Rotary Tools – Comparison
|WEN 2305 Rotary|
Let’s see who makes the cut for our best rotary tools.
The Best Corded Rotary Tools – Review
1. Dremel 4000-2/30 Rotary Toolkit
Surprise! The first tool on our list should be a Dremel. This tool features a 1.6-amp motor and variable speeds from 5,000–30,000 RPM. It comes with a 30-piece attachment kit (standard) with an optional flexible shaft and 160-piece accessory kit.
The collet accepts bit shanks from 1/32” to 1/8” (by 32nd), and changing a bit is a snap with their EX Twist Nose Cap system. It comes with a six-foot cord but no work light.
- Ease of bit changes
- Excellent all-around rotary tool at a good price for professionals and DIYers alike
- Lightweight, which makes it easier to use
- No worklight
- Motor isn’t powerful enough for tough/heavier jobs
- Some users had issues with the power switch failing almost instantly
2. Kawasaki 840589 Rotary Toolkit
The Kawasaki gets sandwiched in between two more well-known Dremel models, but don’t let that fool you, this is one well put-together tool that will serve the pro and DIY homeowner alike.
It comes with a 1.0-amp motor that generates between 8–30,000 RPM no-load speeds. The kit features a well-designed case that keeps all of your (standard) attachments conveniently and efficiently stored. Similar thought was put into the ergonomically comfortable grip—easy extended use.
- Nice packaging case, efficient storage of bits/attachments
- Exceptional bang for your buck, it’s the perfect combination of price/performance
- Comfortable grip makes prolonged handling easy on the user
- Motor was underpowered a bit—makes some jobs slow-going
- Some users had problems with the included bits (sheared at the shank, creating a dangerous situation)
3. The Dremel 4300-2/40 Rotary Toolkit
Surprise (no surprise, really). The last model in the corded section is also a Dremel. This tool features a more robust 1.8-amp motor and variable speeds from 5,000–30,000 RPM like its model 4000-2 cousin. That extra beef in the motor doubles the weight of this model (relative to the 4000-2).
It also comes with a 40-piece attachment kit (standard) with an optional flexible shaft, and 160-piece accessory kit.
The collet accepts bit shanks from 1/32” to 1/8” (again, by 32nds), but changing a bit is a little different—it uses a 3-jaw chuck. It comes with a six-foot cord as well as a worklight.
- Much more powerful motor lets the user tackle more challenging projects
- Excellent all-around rotary tool at a good price for professionals and DIYers alike
- Comes with a worklight
- More powerful motor makes this tool heavier
- Some users had issues with the tool failing in under a month (purchase protection plans of up to four years cost only a few dollars)
Cutting the Cord
For users who don’t require or demand a powerful motor, unlimited use time, and higher RPM limits, a cordless rotary too is a good choice. The downsides to a cordless tool are that they’re a little heavier, need recharging, and aren’t as powerful. But if you need a rotary tool only occasionally, or outside, or for quick jobs, check out these excellent cordless rotary choices.
4. Hitachi GP10DL Cordless 12-Volt Peak
Hitachi has produced a quality cordless tool that serves the pro and hobbyist alike. It has a powerful 1.5-amp-hour (1.5 Ah) lithium-ion battery that is both lightweight (just over a pound) and provides steady power.
A soft grip handle makes for comfortable use, even for long periods. The low-battery light gives users a visual indicator of the remaining battery life. Rapid recharging (40 min). Bright LED light helps users in cramped dark places to make steady and accurate cuts. Hitachi also covers their tools very well.
- Lightweight and powerful, quality battery life and function
- Super-fast recharge time (just 40 minutes)
- Excellent warranty for both the battery and the tool itself—this purchase comes with peace of mind
- Included attachments were quite insufficient—you’ll probably will need to purchase an aftermarket accessory kit to achieve full utility
- Some users experienced initial quality issues with the motor
- Longevity concerns
5. Milwaukee 2460-21 M12 12-Volt Rotary Toolkit
The familiar red color of Milwaukee tools is known to just about any professional on a job site. Long noted for making high quality tools that cater to the professional, Milwaukee has done it again with their 12-volt rotary tool.
This tool comes with a powerful 1.5-Ah motor that generates up to 32,000 RPM no-load speed that beats most of its competing devices by about 10%. Lightweight and powerful at just over one pound, the Milwaukee is perfect for any homeowner or contractor. The 2460-21 differs slightly from the 2460-20 as it comes with an accessory kit and a storage bag (with a slightly higher price tag). The modest accessory kit will require a bit of an upgrade to achieve full utility, however, you can be sure that this durable tool will meet the needs of anyone needing a rotary tool.
- Exceptional durability—long lasting makes it perfect for contractors and homeowners alike
- Powerful motor
- Storage bag
- Accessory kit requires an upgrade
- One of the pricier of the cordless models reviewed
- No worklight
6. Dremel 8220-2/28 12-Volt Max Cordless Rotary
Dremel also makes a fine, high quality cordless tool—something that surprises absolutely no one. Legendary Dremel quality without the cord. The strong and powerful motor delivers 1.5-Ah of battery life to power through your toughest jobs. This rotary tool is made for the professional contractor but is useful to the avid DIYer as well.
The kit comes complete with a fast, one-hour battery charger, the complete 160-piece Dremel Attachments Kit, and an extra battery—which means that downtime associated with cordless tools is now a thing of the past. Another handy feature is the Dremel quick-connect collet, making bit changes a breeze.
Like with any good, high-quality tool, you get what you pay for. The steep price tag for this product reflects the Dremel name and its reputation for producing the highest-quality rotary tools you can buy. This model is no exception.
- Two batteries with the fast one hour charging station
- Includes the comprehensive attachment kit
- High-quality construction, Dremel reliability
- Some users had problems with battery charging/lifetimes
7. DEKO Cordless Three-Speed Rotary Tool Kit
The Deko is a wonderful little tool for the hobbyist who’s looking for a quality tool without the bells and whistles you might get from a contractor’s tool. The 3.6 V battery won’t blow you away and the three settings (5, 10, and 15,000 RPM) may not be to your liking, but the Deko does come with some innovative features that many occasional users will find beneficial.
For starters, charging happens through a micro USB port, not a dedicated battery charger. The same cords that charge most phones and electronic devices will also charge this rotary tool—handy for the occasional user who may lose or forget where they stored the charger.
It comes with a modest bit assortment (24 pieces) and accepts aftermarket bits with a 3/32” collet size. The comfortable grip makes it suitable for a variety of users.
- Perfect for hobbyist or occasional user
- USB charging options (much greater flexibility)
- Comfortable grip
- 3.6 V just isn’t that powerful
- Limited accessories included and limited accessory capabilities (3/32”)
- Only three speeds (and quite low at that)
Rotary Tools on a Budget
There are plenty of options if you don’t have a need for a professional-grade tool that comes with hundreds of attachments or a motor that could power your car. In fact, many of us need a rotary tool for occasional use—sharpening utensils and/or scissors, polishing silver, or grinding an exposed nail. For those of us that don’t work with a rotary tool every day, there are many quality tools available that won’t break the bank.
8. WEN 2305 Rotary Toolkit with Flex Shaft
The WEN rotary tool offers the user a high-quality tool on a no-frills budget. It comes with a quiet, powerful motor that provides your typical 8–30,000 no-load RPM, easily enough power to get even tougher jobs done quickly and easily.
The WEN also comes with some higher-budget features like a 100-piece accessory kit as well as a flexible shaft—no other bargain-based rotary tool even comes close to matching that. An easily locked spindle collet makes for easy bit changes. However, some users experienced problems with the quality of the accessory kit, so it’s probably better to invest in a more dependable kit.
- The only budget rotary tool with a flexible shaft
- Excellent accessory kit (100 pieces)
- Fast, easy bit changes with a spindle lock
- Accessory kit quality varies
- Some users had initial quality control issues
9. Genesis GRT2103-40 VS Rotary Tool
A bare-bones, no-frills tool for the occasional DIY pro who wants to have a rotary tool in his chest without breaking the bank. The Genesis is an inexpensive unit, to be sure, but not cheap. The price includes a 40-piece accessory kit, and the variable-speed motor runs from 8–30,000 RPM.
Some customers had problems with initial quality and with wobbling collects.
- Inexpensive—great for an introductory tool
- Solid motor
- Good price/performance ratio
- Warranty is solid
10. SPTA 110V 190W Variable-Speed Rotary Tool
For the home DIYer, the SPTA provides a quality item at a reasonable price that even includes a decent accessory kit. It features a quiet, powerful motor with no-load speeds of 10,000 rpm to 3,7000 RPM, a higher low-end speed than almost any other brand. It comes with five set speed settings and a 15-piece accessory kit including diamond-tipped burrs and several cutting tools.
- Satisfies the needs of the home DIY pro
- Quiet and powerful motor
- High low-end speed (10,000 RPM)
- You’ll still need an aftermarket accessory kit
- Five speeds
- Some users had problems with the bearings (wobble), preventing a straight cut
And the Winners are…
Among corded rotary tools, our favorite was the Dremel 4000-2/30 excellent quality, affordable, and a very good tool. If you’re a DIYer looking to get a cordless version, we highly recommend the Hitachi. However, if you’re a professional—you’ll be better off with Milwaukee. And last but not least, our winner in the budget category was clearly the WEN.