The Best Rotary Tools Of 2023: Our Reviews Of Top Flex-Shafts For Any Jewelry Project
10 Minute Read
Let's face it - you can't really call yourself a pro jewelry artist if you don't have one of the best rotary tools as part of your jewelry toolkit. A rotary tool is truly a do-it-all device - it's great for grinding, cutting, carving, polishing, detailing, and sanding. Whatever you need it for, your rotary tool will have you covered without a doubt!
However, actually buying the best rotary tool is another story. We understand how tricky it is to choose a rotary tool, especially if you're a first-time buyer - which is why we wrote this article in the first place! We analyzed some of the best rotary tools currently on the market and we chose to review three of our favorites.
So, read on to see which rotary tools we currently recommend, why we recommend them, and how you can choose the rotary tool that fits your present needs best!
Best on a Budget
Best for Most People
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The Best Rotary Tools: Our 2020 Reviews
Best on a Budget
1.) Ryobi One+ Plus 18 Volt Variable Speed Rotary Tool P460: Best on a BudgetGet it on amazon.com
"The rotary tool that punches above its weight"
The Ryobi One+ Plus 18 Volt Variable Speed Rotary Tool P460 is the rotary tool that punches above its weight. It's very convenient and portable enough to use around your jewelry workshop; and it's also great for those who don't have a dedicated work area - wherever you go and whatever you do, this rotary tool won't let you down! Let's see why.
First of all, the Ryobi One+ Plus 18 Volt Variable Speed Rotary Tool is very budget-friendly. It's perfect for someone who knows its value, as well as for someone purchasing a rotary tool for the first time (a jewelry artist testing the waters). It's ideal for drilling, sanding, shaping or any light-duty jewelry work.
Another advantage of this rotary tool is that it's very user-friendly. You can adjust it however you please - simply use the tool flat on the desktop or you can even hang it on the wall with the wand facing down-just like you can with a full-size flex shaft machine. Other cordless options can be surprisingly hard to handle, since they don't have a stationary base motor.
Also, its compact design allows you to make use of its features quite easily. Namely, it has all the accessories (all 33 of them) placed visibly on top of the tool, which makes them easy to reach for while you're working on your jewelry projects.
The Ryobi One+ Plus 18 Volt Variable Speed Rotary Tool comes with a 3-year warranty.
As much as the Ryobi One+ Plus 18 Volt Variable Speed Rotary Tool is a user-friendly product that does more than expected considering its price, this mostly applies for light-duty jobs. If you're a pro, you might find that this tool can't offer you everything you might need in terms of power and precision.
That's why we suggest that most folks invest in a full-scale flex shaft machine like the Foredom models below. After all, they're the standbys for professionals for good reason! Still, we have to highlight that the Ryobi works pretty well for the basics, especially when you're getting started.
It costs around $70, which is a great value, but it must be noted that it comes without a charger or a battery. If you're interested in having the whole kit, and not just the bare tool, you can purchase all of them for around $100, which is, again, pretty decent.
The tools and its accessories aren't as long-lasting as our other recommendations. It's a lightweight, affordable piece of machinery that's made from a lot of plastic. It's no surprise, then, that it isn't going to last you forever (especially if you're a full-time user).
Best for Most People
2.) Foredom 2230: Best for Most PeopleGet it on amazon.com
"includes the highly-favored SR motor"
The Foredom 2230 is perhaps the most popular flex shaft on the market-and for good reason! It's a powerful, versatile tool that's built for years of frequent use.
While there's a big leap in cost between the Ryobi and this Foredom, we think it's worthwhile for just about everybody. The Foredom 2230 is suitable for both aspiring jewelry artists and those who have been working in the jewelry field for quite some time. It's affordable enough for newcomers to stomach, but it leaves plenty of room to grow. In fact, most folks will be happy enough to stick with this even when they're full-time pros!
The Foredom 2230 is very user-friendly, which is a rarity with professional-grade tools these days. As well as being ergonomic in design, it has both forward and reverse rotation which makes it perfectly suitable and easy to handle for left-handed users. It's very easy to control and there's also a chuck key for tool changes that's easily replaceable. Changing tools is quick, easy, and reliable.
It also includes the highly-favored SR motor (the current standard in the jewelry industry globally) with speed up to 18,000 rpm that is robust and offers powerful performance. There's no comparison between this and something cheaper like the Ryobi-the Foredom is a true workhorse. It stays cool and can run much longer than the competition without running into trouble.
What we absolutely love about this rotary tool is the fact that it comes with practically everything you might need - the overall accessory kit is made up of a 43 pc. assortment. It's in a whole other league of versatility compared to the Ryobi and other competitors.
The motor and speed control have a 2-year limited warranty, which is not the best on the market. As a comparison, our budget pick comes with a 3-year warranty although it's much cheaper. Having said that, you can usually tack on some additional coverage through the Amazon listing.
3.) Foredom Deluxe Jeweler's Kit 2220 SR: Best OverallGet it on amazon.com
"costs much more than the other products we've reviewed, but if you want a top-notch rotary tool, it's totally worth it"
The Foredom Deluxe Jeweler's Kit 2220 SR is highly customizable and suitable even for the most specific and challenging applications. And yes, it costs more than the other products we've reviewed, but if you want a top-notch rotary tool, it's totally worth it for dedicated and ambitious professionals. With its handy foot control and expanded accessory pack, we think it's the best choice for full-time pros.
Everything we like on the Foredom above carries over to this Deluxe Kit: it includes the same powerful SR series motor, it's user-friendly, and it's built to last.
The biggest difference between this Foredom Deluxe Jeweler's Kit 2220 SR and our "best for everybody" pick is that this one comes with a truly vast array of accessories. It includes everything a jewelry artist could wish for. There are CW polishing wheels, jewelers burs, platinum white compound, mounted brushes mandrels, engraving burs, ceramic purple sanding bands, and so on. There's also flexible shaft grease included for maintenance.
In this sense it's even more versatile than our second model pick, as it offers a much more customized approach in handling your job and covers a vast area of specific applications.
The biggest change from the model we've recommended above is that the Deluxe Jeweler's Kit also has a foot-operated speed control system. The foot-operated speed control offers much greater stability and ease of use. If you're spending hours a day working with your tool, you'll soon wonder how you ever worked without it. It's not essential for beginners or even some more casual, experienced users, but it's a gamechanger for pros.
The Foredom Deluxe Jeweler's Kit 2220 SR comes with a limited two-year warranty on both the motor and the foot control, however, there's only a 90-day warranty on the handpiece. Again, additional coverage is usually available through Amazon.
If you're on the lookout for an affordable rotary tool, consider purchasing The Ryobi One+ Plus 18 Volt Variable Speed Rotary Tool P460. We can assure you that it's the only budget tool worth buying in this category. Just be aware of its limitations.
If you want the very best and you don't mind making a big investment, opt for The Foredom Deluxe Jeweler's Kit 2220 SR. Not only do you get a high-quality rotary tool, but you also get a great accessory kit that equips you for practically any project under the sun. Its foot control also provides a major step up for professionals who want to eliminate any fiddling in their workflow.
With that being said, we consider both the Foredom 2230 and the Foredom Deluxe Jeweler's Kit 2220 SR to be highly adequate for professionals who want to take full advantage of their features. If you don't have so much flexibility in your budget, the Foredom 2230 might be a good option to consider instead of the Deluxe Kit, as it's a nice compromise between versatility and affordability.
How To Choose the Best Rotary Tool
If you enjoyed our reviews of the best rotary tools but you're still undecided, continue reading to learn what factors to consider before you commit.
How Much Are You Planning on Spending?
"We advise that you spend an extra buck or two"
You can find rotary tools on the market for as cheap as $50, but if you really want to invest in a high-quality product, we advise that you spend an extra buck or two. For example, paying around $300 for the Foredom 2230 is our suggestion to most folks. It's not way too much to spend on a rotary tool, if it's a tool that you can count on and will use frequently in the years to come. In fact, it's rather affordable when you consider the cost of many other jewelry-making tools.
What Main Features Does the Rotary Tool Need to Have?
"Acknowledging your needs is the first step towards deciding on the rotary tool you'll end up buying"
What features matter to you most? Is it the motor? The accessory kit? Or the overall rotary tool design? Maybe the speed control system? Acknowledging your needs is the first step towards deciding on the rotary tool you'll end up buying.
Focus on what you think is the most important criteria for you and choose accordingly. If you're the sort of person who likes to make or modify their own attachments, you might not care about buying something with a big accessory kit. On the other hand, if you want your flex shaft to handle any project right out of the box-without any mods, it's probably worth buying a kit that comes with everything but the kitchen sink.
"If you get confused or unsure about what you currently want, think about what you need instead"
While we've mostly recommended complete kits here, many jewelers will also put together their own rotary tool in sections. Before you commit to buying a complete set, make sure you know whether you actually need everything that's included.
You'll also want to make sure you look at a complete list of everything that's included with your new rotary tool. Check the included accessories and make sure you know whether you'll need to add anything else on when you buy. For example, if a foot control is important to you, you'll want to choose a kit that includes one, or check the cost of buying one separately. You should also check for compatibility between your new tool and any of the accessories you intend to use with it.
Read carefully who sells what and what comes alone and what comes in a package containing everything. If you get confused or unsure about what you currently WANT think about what you NEED instead.
We really hope that our reviews and buying guide will help you choose the right rotary tool to add to your existing jewelry-making toolkit.
If you want to learn more about the products, their prices, and in-depth specifications, just follow the title links!
And in case you're interested in reading more, feel free to check out the other jewelry-making tools we recommend. Happy tool hunting!
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