Fix-It Chick: Rotary tool versatile in home repair

The rotary tool was invented in 1932 by Albert J Dremel. These versatile handheld power tools, commonly referred to as Dremel tools, are indispensable to hobbyists and homeowners alike. Standard drills operate at low speed with high torque, but rotary tools operate at very high speed with low torque. Rotary tools turn their bits up to 35,000 times per minute while power drills operate at a speed of 2,800 revolutions per minute. The high speed of a rotary tool allows it to easily cut bolts, etch glass and remove grout, while the size of the tool makes it perfect for detailed and delicate work. Knowing the basics of a rotary tool can help unlock its potential.

• Consider purchasing a better quality tool. Inexpensive rotary tools lack the speed and durability of higher priced tools. A single speed Dremel brand rotary tool operates at a set rate of 35,000 RPMS. Less expensive tools may have a lower maximum speed. Most projects can be accomplished with a single-speed tool. Dual-speed and variable-speed tools offer the versatility to work with a wide range of materials and utilize the full line of accessories.

• Safety first. Wear eye protection and read the owner’s manual before operating any power tool. Hold a rotary tool like a pencil for detailed work or grip it full handed for more aggressive projects. Regardless of the project, always use a light touch with a rotary tool. Allow the speed of the tool to do the work. Make several passes back and forth over the work surface to accomplish tasks. Never press down or apply pressure when using the tool.

• Cut metal using fiber-reinforced cutoff wheels at a high speed. Lightly touch the metal and move the blade back and forth slowly. Sparks should be expected. If there is smoke or discoloration, lower the speed of the tool.

• Grind or sand almost anything using grinding stones, abrasive points or sanding discs.

• Use carbide bits to drill, cut or carve metal, porcelain or ceramic.

• When working with plastics and soft metals, use a lower speed to avoid damage. High speeds will melt plastic.

• Use a low speed for wire brush applications and hold the brush at an angle for optimal performance.

• Clean rotary tools with compressed air after each use.

— Have a question? Email Linda Cottin at