Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mailbag: What Dremel Should I Buy?

I've been asked this a lot over the past few years, so last night when Kristy H. asked again on the Epbot FB page I figured I'd better get around to posting an official answer!

Dremels are one of those infinitely versatile tools that you'll find yourself using for everything from drilling to sanding to carving, so I definitely recommend buying one if you're the crafty type.

Mine is a Dremel model 4000, but I'm not a stickler for brand names. (I call them all Dremels, but that's actually just the most popular brand of "rotary tools.") Whatever brand you buy, make sure you get a corded model (for more power), and definitely spring for the "flex shaft" attachment - the smaller bit that screws on to the main body:

The Dremel is kind of heavy, so the flex attachment lets you drill and sand with much greater control. I use it at least half of the times I'm using the Dremel, so it's really worth its weight in gold. (This one retails for about $43, and is just under $29 on Amazon.)

If you purchase a kit then it will probably come with most of the accessories you need: cutting disks, drum sanders, drill bits, etc. (I spotted two Dremel kit options on Amazon - one for $80, and one for $135, and both are about half of the list price.)

If you want to try any wood carving, there's a pack of specialty bits for that - but I actually found mine marketed as pumpkin carving bits around Halloween. The tips look like this:

I have three sizes of these, which are what I used to carve my Harry Potter wand display:

You'll probably also want a pack of super tiny drill bits; I use those all the time for jewelry and finer pieces. Get the small bits online, though; we found they're MUCH cheaper that way versus the local hardware store. You should be able to get a whole pack of various sizes for well under $10 with shipping. (Check Ebay for those; I didn't see anything great on Amazon.)

For Christmas John also got me a Dremel workstation, aka a drill press stand, which is great for projects where you're either drilling a lot of holes, need those holes to be at perfect right angles, or both.

(Retails for about $65, about $40 on Amazon.)

The stand was a life saver when I was making my light-up copper cane, and it was also perfect for drilling my resin penny bracelet, since I needed those holes to be at perfect right angles.

Other than those projects, though, I haven't really used the drill press. It's one of those add-ons that's invaluable for the right project, but otherwise won't get used a whole lot, so I'd hold off on buying one until you find you actually need it.

K, I think that's everything, so I hope it helps, guys! And happy crafting!


  1. After burning out our Dremel brand, my husband and I got a Black & Decker one as a gift. It is quieter (less high pitched whine) and seems to have less pull when you are trying to hold it steady. And all our Dremel brand attachments work with it too. (We even use it with the Dremel drill stand.) Gotta love little rotary tools! =)

  2. Thank you for this! I've been looking to buy a dremel tool for sometime now but I didn't know what to look for or what additional parts to buy.

    That wand display is gorgeous!

  3. Thank you for posting this! My partner has been asking for ages what sort of dremel I want and I've been making him wait until I saw what you used.

    At last, no more sanding nerf guns by hand!

  4. I think the majority of bits do fit universally so it may not matter which rotary tool you get. There's pretty much a tool for whatever you want to do with it.
    My dad gave me his old dremel which I can only use with the flex shaft (don't ask), but it's been the best hand-me-down ever.
    ~erin kristine

  5. I have an older Dremel - model 395 - but I love it. I've been using it a lot lately in work related to building my rockets, and I just bought the drill press stand for it also. I completely agree on the flexishaft - it's SO worth it.

  6. This is my first comment ever but I've been enjoying cake wrecks and epbot for years, thank you!

    Funnily enough I just wrote about My new toy the Dremel 4000 on by blog.

    It's in German, sorry! I just got it a couple of weeks ago - and I only wanted to have it, because you wrote about it, so it's your fault really ;-)

    I built a little table where I attached the drill stand, a tool holder and my additional router table securely. I also have the plunge router attachment, but I am not sure how that will work out. It is probably totally unnecessary. The flex shaft is definitely a must have!

  7. The Dremel 4000 was the first model I had and I absolutely loved it! Unfortunately, the cord was too enticing for the dogs and so my NEXT model was the cordless version (8200, I think?) The batteries last forever (seriously, I packed that thing up for a move in October; pulled it out last night and it worked fine) and it has a good bit of power. But I think I may invest in the workstation next. That thing is awesome!

  8. Thought you might like this:

  9. Hey, that's exactly the same I would recommend. Me and my hubbie have to dremel the 3000 is okay for small crafting projects (this one is mine for cosplay accessiores and jewlery and such things) it is lighter and my tiny hands can hold it better. My husband also has the 4000 you can use it for small things as well as for building big things like decoration for a tree house, trimming big iron tubes and so on.
    Only thing I have to add. If you often change the cutting disks because you have a lot of differnt materials the speedclick wheels are great. They safe a lot of time.

  10. This post is the best! I have a Dremel that I love but I could really use the drill press stand. Somehow I missed ever putting that on a Christmas list. I have an old standing pearl drill that someone gave me but somehow its kind of awkward to use. Thanks again for the post.

  11. Perhaps some savvy marketer will put together an "Epbot kit".

  12. I thought I'd throw in a plug in favor of shopping with your local hardware store though, even if it seems to cost more up-front. When you buy locally, you're keeping storefronts open and thriving, your neighbors employed, etc. Heck, you're even paying taxes locally that in turn fund your roads, schools, etc. That's my two bits. :)

    1. Lady Bud, I've said similar. When I can, I shop local store fronts. (And even more I try to shop the smaller shops more than the big boxes.) For the reasons you mention PLUS when I put the money out, I'd like to be able to take it home with me then. And not wait a week (or three) for delivery.

  13. My dad got me a Foredom, kinda a heavy duty dremel. I love it and use it a lot in my jewelry making, both for drilling holes and polishing. I will look into the drill press though, i think I'd use that a lot, didn't know there was one to fit your rotary tool in.

  14. Great article. Dremels are super useful. I did not know that drill-press holders for Dremels exist; I could definitely use one.

    However, the drilling technique demonstrated in the last photo is extremely unsafe. You should not be holding a work piece while drilling it, especially if it is a small work piece. When the work piece is not firmly secured with clamps or a jig, it is very easy for the drill bit to grab and fling it, likely taking your fingers with it. The grooves in the base of the drill press are attachment points for a vise or clamps - definitely a safer and more secure option than fingers.

    A friend of mine had to go to the hospital to get a deep cut in his finger stitched after an accident with a Dremel. He was fine, but it was a good reminder to be careful, wear necessary personal protective equipment, and observe the proper safety practices every time when using power tools.

  15. I just bought a drill press at a garage sale for $20 today! Perfect (used) condition and a heavy duty one at that! Now I have to figure out what to try it on. :)

  16. I have a super old Dremel--an 800--that I hate to replace because it still works, but I can't find many bits for it anymore. I wonder if the newer bits will fit it. The flex shaft sounds awesome.

  17. Hi there,
    Thanks for the great post, and the suggestion to buy one with a felxible shaft. I found it really useful on my first project, where I had to work on some hard to access edges.


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