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Rotary Tools Buyer's Guide

The type of rotary tool you use depends on the type of work you plan on doing. Smaller, lighter-weight rotary tools are ideal for small scale work, like detail work and craft work. These kind of rotary tools are great for hobbyist and home use. Larger, heavier duty rotary tools are often better for professional work and larger projects, such as cutting drywall, electrical work and metal cutting.


Rotary tools are hand-held power tools that can be used for carving, engraving, etching, cutting, sanding, polishing, routing, grinding, deburring, cleaning and other similar applications. They employ a spinning motion in a fixed position at a high speed to work through various materials, including soft wood, hardwood, tile, stone, soft metals, steel, marble, paneling, laminate, glass, grout, ceramic, drywall and other similar materials. Many people, professionals and hobbyists alike, enjoy using them because they are a handy, all-in-one solution that takes the place of several tools. They can be used in many tasks like remodeling, finish work, construction, tile work, woodworking, flooring, etc. They are available in electric and cordless models. Though similar, rotary tool are different from oscillating multi-tools. Oscillating tools employ a fast back-and-forth movement, while rotary tools use a spinning motion in a fixed position. Rotary tools also tend to cut a bit more roughly because they spin at higher speeds.

Types Of Rotary Tools

Electric Rotary Tools

With electric models, you don't have to worry about run-time while you work. As long as there is a power source (outlet), you can power your rotary tool without problems, and work for as long as you want. Plus, you can take on heavier duty or lengthier projects since you have a constant power source. Corded models are also conveniently lightweight, which decreases user fatigue. One downside of electric rotary tools is that they have somewhat limited access. You can only work as far as the cord will reach. Otherwise you're stuck with having to find available power outlets or running an extension cord to reach certain work areas.

Cordless Rotary Tools

Cordless rotary tools are convenient to use. You can use them anywhere as long as you have a charged battery to power it. Being cordless means they are also portable, which is great for finishing tasks quickly. However, you are limited on the run-time. You can only work as long as your battery is charged. If you forget the charger or didn't charge it before you planned to use it, you're stuck waiting on the battery, which costs you work time. Also, cordless rotary tools tend to be heavier than corded ones, as you have the extra weight of the battery to carry while you work.


Rotations per Minute (RPM):

Measures speed of rotary tool.


Measures the flow of electric charge in an electric rotary tool.


The energy that makes electrical current flow.


Construction material that is used to fill spaces such as masonry joint and ceramic tile spacings.


Accessories that can be used to enable rotary tools to take on a number of tasks.

Cutting Wheel:

For making precise cuts.

Saw Attachments:

For sawing in tight spaces. Works well on wood pieces.

Right Angle Attachment:

For cutting in and around corners and tight spaces.

Tile Cutter:

For making cuts in tile.

Grout Removal Attachment:

For removing grout and other construction materials.

Engraving Cutter:

For engraving and carving.

Sanding Pads:

For sanding materials, like wood.

Before you buy

There are several things to consider before buying a rotary tool. First, figure out what qualities you want. Is portability most important? If that's the case, then a cordless one may be best, as it enables you to work without worrying about always having an electrical outlet within reach, as you would need with a corded one.

Consider the type of work you will be doing. If you're a professional who needs a rotary tool for day-to-day jobs, your needs are probably different from a hobbyist who does occasional projects. An electric one is a good option if you need a constant source of power. A portable one could be somewhat inefficient due to all the battery recharging you would have to do. But if you only need it for occasional home projects, a cordless rotary tool may be the right option.

Ease of use is another factor to consider. Some electric rotary tools may weigh less than portable ones, but you also have to consider that it's corded. That may limit reach and where you can work, as you can only go as far as the cord stretches and you will always need a nearby outlet. A cordless rotary tool might be easier to use because it's not bound by a cord. However, it may weigh a bit more because it's battery powered and carries that extra bit of weight.

Don't forget about attachments. Figure out what kinds of applications you want to use your rotary tool for and then consider what types of attachments you will need. You can buy separate kits of attachments to go with your rotary tool. They often include cutting wheels, sanding pads, engraving equipment, saw attachments, tile cutters, grout removal instruments, etc. If you prefer, you can look for rotary tools that are sold as kits with various attachments. That way, you will have most of what you need all in one place.


Should I opt for an electric or cordless rotary tool?

It depends on how you plan to use it. If you need to work continuously and often on heavy duty, long-term projects, go with an electric rotary tool, since it has a constant power source and will be able to power you through numerous tasks. If you prefer something more portable, a cordless one will work fine. Just be prepared to charge it periodically and know that its capabilities may be limited (run-time, ease of use, etc.) with its limited power source.

What types of applications can a rotary tool be used for?

Depending on the attachments you use with it, a rotary tool can be used for carving, engraving, etching, cutting sanding, polishing, sanding, routing, polishing, grinding, deburring, cleaning and other similar applications. They are great for both professional and hobbyist applications, including remodeling, finish work, construction, tile work, woodworking, flooring, etc.

What kind of projects can I use a rotary tool for?

Rotary tools are ideal for smaller scale projects, such as grout removal, gunk removal, cutting small sections of wood, carving, engraving, and trimming and cutting in tight spaces and corners. They work well in these applications because of their convenient size and efficient power. You could try using larger power tools to do the same types of jobs, but their bulky, larger size makes them more difficult to handle, especially in small spaces. Rotary tools can also be used during parts of larger-scale projects, like remodeling or re-finishing a room. However, they shouldn’t be the only tool you use in these larger-scale applications, as they are typically not powerful enough.

I have more questions!

We'd love to help. Give us a call at 866-597-3850 (Monday - Friday, 8am to 5pm CDT). Or email us at sales@toolbarn.com.