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Home Improvement June 4, 2003  RSS feed

There are many great uses for rotary tools

There are many great uses for rotary tools
Good rotary tools are must-haves for any hobbyist.Good rotary tools are must-haves for any hobbyist.

The concept of a small, easily manipulated rotary tool with changeable bits is a good one, but figuring out just how to use such a tool requires a bit of imagination. The number of accessories available for rotary tools is almost overwhelming.

It's true that rotary tools are versatile and can mimic many rotary power tools, but the real advantage of rotary tools comes from their specialty - their appropriateness for small jobs. For most jobs, if you have a drill, router, engraver, hacksaw, file or polishing wheel, you'd do best to use the real thing. There are situations, however, when a conventional tool just won't work. Sometimes the job is so small that larger tools are clumsy or impossible to use. In these situations a rotary tool really shines.

Bit by bit: What is available?

Many different bits and accessories are available - too many to mention individually. They can, however, be divided into groups.

High-speed cutters: These bits are made of high-speed steel and come in many shapes and sizes. They can be used for shaping and hollowing most metals and wood.

Tungsten carbide cutters: These cutters outlast the high-speed steel variety.

Structured tooth tungsten carbide cutters: Fast-cutting teeth for use on fiberglass, wood, plastic, epoxy and rubber.

Cut-off wheels: Emery wheels for slicing and cutting plastic and metal.

Diamond wheel points: For fine detail work on wood and hard surfaces such as ceramic and glass.

Small engraving cutters: Used for engraving and carving many materials.

Aluminum oxide stones: For sharpening, deburring and general purpose grinding. These stones are available in many shapes.

Silicon carbide grinding stones: Especially for grinding hard steel, ceramics, glass and other hard materials.

Brush accessories: Both bristle and wire brushes are available for cleaning and polishing jewelry and metal surfaces.

High-speed router bits: The most popular router bit shapes are available in small sizes for rotary tools. Router attachments and tables are also available to expand the versatility of this mini-router.

Sanding accessories: Small disks and drums are available to get into those hard to reach places.

Polishing accessories: Rubber and felt polishing wheels and points are available, as are cloth wheels. These are ideal for hard-to-reach places.

What can I do with this stuff?

Think creatively and you can come up with many uses. For example:

+ When you need to cut the copper supply line to your ice maker and you can't do it with a hacksaw or tubing cutter because the line is in a corner and too close to the wall, pull out your rotary tool and install the cutoff wheel.

+ When you are polishing the silver and can't reach down into a hole or groove to bring out the shine, install a polishing point or wheel in the rotary tool.

+ When you need to drill a tiny hole and your 3/8-inch drill chuck won't squeeze down small enough to hold that tiny bit, chuck it up in the rotary tool.

+ When your router won't fit into a tight place but you don't have the budget to buy a compact laminate trimmer for just one small job, pull out the rotary tool and the appropriate bit.

+ When you are removing rust from a metal fitting and your wire brush or wheel won't fit into a tight corner, pop a mini-wire brush into your rotary tool.

+ When you want to sand small rounded areas on wooden projects, plug a drum sander into your tool.

+ When you strip out a screw head and can't get the hacksaw in close enough to cut it off, pull out the tool and either cut the head off the screw or cut a new slot in it to allow you to back the screw out with a screwdriver.

+ When you decide it is finally time to buckle down and learn to do relief carving to spruce up your craft projects, try out your structured tooth carbide cutters.u