For a more sustainable future, it’s important to remember the three R’s — Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We’d add to that list to BFC — or Build, Fix, and Create before buying new. An often overlooked tool for maintenance is also known as every hobbyist’s best friend: the rotary tool. In a field dominated by the famous brand Dremel, there are many powerful and versatile options out there for your projects. The best rotary tool handles grinding and cutting projects in wood or stone for home improvement and crafts.
In this article, we present the top options in 7 categories. Choose any one of these tools and you’ll BFC with the best of ’em.
Our Top Picks: Best Rotary Tools
Your project won’t wait. Here’s a quick view of our ranking:
- Best Overall: Dremel 4000-2/30. Providing speed, versatility, and a broad selection of accessories, the Dremel 4000-2/30 is the best handheld rotary tool in our ranking.
- Green Pick: Milwaukee M12TM Rotary Tool Kit. In the past decade, Milwaukee tool brand earned the Call2Recycle’s Leader in Sustainability Award, and the M12TM won “green pick” among the competition.
- Best Cordless: Dremel 8220-1/28 Cordless Rotary Tool. Next-level convenience comes to you from the Dremel 8220-1/28 cordless rotary tool.
- Best for Wood Carving: WEN 2305 Rotary Tool Kit w/ Flex Shaft. Fine and precise woodwork takes the kind of precision provided by the WEN 2305 rotary tool kit with a flex shaft.
- Best Corded: Black & Decker RTX-B Rotary Tool. For reliable performance, choose the Black & Decker RTX-B, our choice for best corded rotary tool.
- Best for Stone Carving: Makita GD0601. A tool robust and reliable enough for stone carving is the Makita GD060.
- Best Accessories: HOLIFE Rotary Tool Kit. The right accessory makes all the difference, and our pick for best rotary tool accessories is the kit from HOLIFE.
1. Dremel 4000-2/30
The best rotary tool overall
Speed: 5,000–35,000 RPM / Length: 6″ / Weight: 1.3 lbs / Accessories: Included / Price: 💰💰💰💰
The Dremel 3200 topped many best rotary tool 2019 rankings, and the Dremel 4000 is no different. Offering lots of power alongside the kind of precision necessary for carving and engraving, the 4000 works well with plastic and thin metal sheets or rods even at the lowest speeds.
The Dremel 4000 also boasts variable speeds spanning 5,000–35,000 RPM, measuring 6″, and weighing 1.3 lbs — light and easy to use.
The 4000 comes complete with the following:
- 2 attachments
- 30 high-quality Dremel accessories.
And it’s all packaged in a plastic storage and accessory case.
In particular, the product excels at woodcarving, filing down exposed screws, rounding edges, and even sanding wood filler.
Some users report Collett-jamming issues, but simple fixes exist online, making this product a safe bet. Don’t miss the airflow system, preventing heat build-up, and the ergonomic 360-degree grip, aiding ease of use.
- Great tactile surface
- Bits are easy to switch out
- Compact, well-packaged set
- Fixable collet jamming issue
- The frame holding the motor and brushes can distort
2. Milwaukee M12TM Rotary Tool Kit
The best eco-friendly rotary tool
Speed: 5,000–32,000 RPM / Length: 9.5″ / Weight: 1.3 lbs / Accessories: Included / Price: 💰💰💰💰
In 2012, the Milwaukee brand won the Call2Recycle’s Leader in Sustainability Award. Their cordless lithium-ion M12TM Rotary tool kit is our green pick for the most sustainable choice.
Sturdy, with that smooth whirring sound we all want from a rotary tool, there’s a variable speed motor, ranging from 5,000–32,000 RPM. It’s a bit longer than others, at 9.5″, but it’s light and easy to use, weighing only 1.3 lbs.
Consumers call the tool “pretty bang’n,” with plenty of cutting power.
Buy the M12TM and get:
- 1/8 inch Collet
The tool accepts a flex shaft attachment, like the Dremel flex.
Rugged with good battery life, the M12TM looks, feels, and performs better than Dremel, consumers say. Be careful not to over-tighten the collet, though.
We’d like to see a hard carrying-case offered with purchase.
- Friendly to use
- Lacks rattle of Dremel at full speed
- Same batteries as quick drills/on-the-go jigsaws
- Soft carrying case
- Lacks easy-to-use on and off switch
3. Dremel 8220-1/28 Cordless Rotary Tool
The best cordless rotary tool
Speed: 5,000–30,000 RPM / Length: 9″ / Weight: 1.6 lbs / Accessories: Included / Price: 💰💰💰
For max maneuverability and versatility: choose cordless. The best cordless rotary is the Dremel 8220. This tool is tough enough to precisely cut hard plastic, metal, concrete, ceramics, and drywall.
The 8220 has a variable speed motor spanning 5,000–30,000 RPM, and among other items included with purchase are the following:
561 multi-purpose cutting bit
541 aluminum oxide grinding wheel
414 felt wheel
There’s also a 401 Mandrel and 402 Mandrel for sanding discs, as well as cutting and polishing wheels.
The tool measures 9″ and weighs 1.6 lbs, with cool-running ball-bearing construction for quiet and smooth operation. There’s also an EZ Twist nose cap for changing bits and accessories, and a separate on and off switch. Check out the 360-degree grip zone.
A lithium-ion battery, 1-hour charger, and carrying case come with the set. Battery life issues happened after an engraving task, but the tool cut down install time on a drywall project.
- Wide-ranging speed control
- Good on hard music wire/wood shaping
- Great for sanding/polishing metal cabinet
- Battery adds a lot of weight.
- Some wish for a broader array of accessories.
4. WEN 2305 Rotary Tool Kit w/ Flex Shaft
The best rotary tool for wood carving
Speed: 8,000–30,000 RPM / Length: 7″ / Weight: 3.6 lbs / Accessories: Included / Price: 💰
Cutting, engraving, grinding, and sanding wood takes power and precision. The best rotary tool for wood carving is the corded WEN 2305 kit with a flex shaft.
The tool has a variable speed motor that starts a bit higher than the rest at 8,000 RPM, topping out at 30,000 RPM. The device is versatile and suitable for more than just woodwork, like modifying the quick-release plate on a camera, or removing rust from metal objects.
Included with purchase:
- 80-piece kit
- A storage and carrying case
- 3.5 ft flex shaft extension
There’s also a 1/8″ and 3/32″ collet.
Shorter than other tools in our ranking and a little heavier than average, at 3.6 lbs, the fitting for the changeable bits does tend to wear out. It’s easily replaceable, though, from most hardware stores.
The flex shaft is excellent to work with, however, providing precise control on hardwood as well as all-around functionality expected from the best rotary tool.
- Better MSRP than Dremel
- Side access to replace motor brushes
- Used to cut dog nails, screws, and sharpen knives
- Vibrates at low speed
- Flex shaft prone to break
5. Black+Decker RTX-B Rotary Tool
The best corded rotary tool
Speed: 12,000, 24,000, 30,000 RPM / Length: 9″ / Weight: 1 lbs / Accessories: Included / Price: 💰💰
Skip the hassle of charging and replacing batteries, choose a corded rotary tool instead. Your best choice is the RTX-B from Black+Decker.
With a 3-speed motor starting at 12,000 RPM and reaching 30,000 RPM, the tool comes with 5 accessories.
Ergonomic and powerful, the RTX-B is capable of fine adjustments. It runs vibration-free, especially when compared to Dremel. There’s also a flip-lock spindle to make changing accessories quick and easy. It also offers a universal collet, accepting all standard rotary tool accessories.
Buy the tool and get the following:
- A wrench
- Durable storage bag
- High-torque motor
There’s also an ergonomic rubber over-molded grip, minimizing fatigue.
The RTX-B works well for a broad range of tasks, like removing rust and corrosion as well as cutting drywall, but also polishing a necklace or engraving glass.
Some users suggest picking up a keyless chuck for additional ease of use and a wider variety of drill bits and shank sizes other than ⅛”. Many recommend the Dremel 4486 MultiPro Keyless Chuck.
- Easy to use the flip-lock switch
- Lock switch functions as a safety
- Fully compatible with Dremel attachments
- Additional keyless chuck recommended
- The mandrel is challenging to work with
6. Makita GD0601
The best rotary tool for stone carving
Speed: 25,000 RPM / Length: 14″ / Weight: 3.7 lbs / Accessories: 1/4″ Collet / Price: 💰💰💰
The best rotary tool for stone caring is the tough and sturdy Makita GD0601. Coming complete with a ¼” die grinder, the GD0601 runs on a fixed speed motor. But at 25,000 RPM, there’s enough power for most tasks. Some users say the tool cuts through stone “like butter.”
Measuring the 14″ and weighing 3.7 lbs, the GD0601 also accommodates a broad range of accessories, including:
- 3-inch cut-off wheels
- Grinding stones
- Sanding drums
You can add to that list wire brushes, flap wheels, and burr bits.
The 1/4-inch collet is the only accessory included with purchase, however. Don’t miss the solid and durable aluminum housing, or the vent slots directing exhaust air away from the user.
- Runs quiet
- More torque than smaller counterparts
- Cuts through mild steel quick and easy
- Not variable speed
- Some bits bend or break at 25,000 RPM
7. HOLIFE Rotary Tool Kit
The best rotary tool kit
Speed: 8,000–30,000 RPM / Length: 11.7″ / Weight: 3.5 lbs / Accessories: Included / Price: 💰💰
The right accessory can make or break a rotary tool, so our choice for best rotary tool accessories is the HOLIFE kit. With a 6-speed motor ranging from 8,000 to 30,0000 RPM, the HOLIFE comes in an astounding 120 piece set. The tool is 11.7″ long and weighs 3.5 lbs.
The set includes the following:
- 4 attachments
- 116 accessories
- Carrying Case
- Flexible shaft attachment
All combined, this makes the HOLIFE exceptionally versatile for jobs like cutting glass, stone, aluminum, and steel. Some have even used the HOLIFE on a dollhouse kit — that’s delicate work!
Otherwise, there’s a 130W pure copper motor and a replaceable carbon brush to extend motor life. The ergonomic rubberized design adds comfort and improves grip.
- Takes Dremel attachments
- Suitable for detailed wood carving
- Easy-to-follow instructions for beginner
- Heats up quick
- Carrying case could be bigger
For this guide on rotary tools, our team spent 5 hours researching the most popular options from over 35 brands and manufacturers big and small. We then read about fifty user reviews (both positive and negative) to discover what shoppers thought about each tool. After comparing this data, we narrowed our list down to the top 7 rotary tools on the market. You can count on this research to guide you to a mindful purchasing decision.
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