How to Properly and Safely Use Rotary Tools (Step by Step Guide 2020)

Rotary tools are the new Swiss Army Knives. 

Yes, you heard us right! This is what most people use to call them because of their versatility. 

But it would be useless to have one if you don’t know how to use it safely. 

Don’t you worry about that! Because luckily today, we will be guiding you on how to properly and safely use your rotary tool.

How to use rotary tools

Basics Before You Get Started 

You must have seen a rotary tool while working in a workshop or in a metal shop. It is a popular alternative to large and cumbersome tools due to its speed, power, compact size and versatility. 

Once you learn the basics and use your rotary tool on few DIY activities, you’ll surely recognize its worth and adaptability. 

So, before jumping into how to use a rotary tool, let’s discuss some basics:

Choose your rotary tool 

First, you need to choose your rotary tool. We’d recommend you to get the one which will help you in all kinds of projects, instead of buying the expensive one that will end up lying useless in your garage. 

Moreover, following are the options of rotary tools that you can go for:

Corded Rotary Tools

They are powerful long-lasting rotary tools. If you’re a professional or work in a workshop or work for long hours, then these drills won’t get tired and will help you as long as you want. 

Cordless Rotary Tools 

They are compact, portable, mobile and easy to use. Moreover, they can handle small jobs efficiently. 

Basic Rotary Tools 

If you’re a hobbyist or a DIYer then these ones will be best for you as they offer great control and flexibility. 

Cut-Out Rotary Tools

Mostly, these rotary tools are corded and are great for heavy duty jobs because of their powerful motor. 

Rotary Tools with Fixed Speed 

They are cheap and easy to use. Great for light duty tasks around the house and for trimming your dog’s nails. 

Rotary Tools with Variable Speed 

These rotary tools will allow you to perform a variety of tasks from grinding to detail sanding to cutting. 

Read the users’ guide that comes with your rotary tool 

how to use rotary tools

All the rotary tools come with an owner’s manual. We’d highly recommend you to go through it thoroughly before using your tool for the first time. This will help you to get familiar with the controls and switches.

That said, most of the people don’t follow the directions and end up breaking the tool. Also, if you already have a rotary tool and bought a new model, read its manual too as your new model may be different from the previous one that you have. 

Wear safety gear while working with a rotary tool 

Safety should be your first priority. Always wear the right gear when using the rotary tool. Some of the safety equipment is listed below which you should wear before working with the tool:

Hand gloves

They will protect you from the heat of your device which is caused due to the friction between tool and the material. Not only this, they will also keep your hands safe from debris and sharp edges.

Safety glasses 

These will protect your eyes from the debris and dust being blown around. Moreover, they’ll allow clear visibility and you should wear them while grinding, polishing and cutting metals. 

Ear plugs 

They will help your ears from the noise pollution that some rotary tools may produce. 

Face mask 

Don’t forget to wear a face mask, as it will protect you from fine particles and debris from wood. 

In addition to this, you should keep your work area clean and don’t use your rotary tool in rain or near flammable chemicals or near kids. 

Practice installing bits into your rotary tool 

Chuck or collet is the place where the bit goes. Though, it is technical to install the bit and many people often break the chuck while changing the bits. We’d recommend you to insert the bit and tighten it so that the bit is secured. 

Following are some things that you should keep in mind:

  • Practice installing the bits when your rotary tool is unplugged. 
  • Some models come with the collet system while others come with the chuck system for changing the bits. We’d say that go for the one which you feel is easy in handling. Moreover, there are also rotary tools available in the market with EZ nose capped wrench for quick and easy bit change. 
  • These bit changing systems also come in various sizes for different sized accessories and attachments.

Use correct bit for the specific task

Always use the right bit for the job – you should use the appropriate bit attachment based on the type of material you’ll be working with.

Don’t know which bit will go with which task? 

Then first, let’s discuss it!

For Carving and Engraving

If you’re planning to do some detail carving or engraving with your rotary tool, then use high speed cutters, structured tooth carbide cutters, engraving cutters, tungsten carbide cutters or diamond wheel points.

For Routing

When using a rotary tool as a router, then use only routing bits which include straight bits, groove bits, keyhole bits, and corner bits. 

For drilling 

If you’re going to do small drilling around the house, then use the drilling bits with your rotary tool

For Cutting 

You can use cutting wheels, fiber reinforced disks, or ceramic disks with your rotary tool for cutting metal, wood, or plastic.

For Sanding and Sharpening 

If you want to sharpen or sand metals, woods or plastics, then make sure that you are using the sanding bits that are in good shape. Furthermore, you can use sanding bands, flap wheels, shaping wheels, sanding discs, or finishing and detail abrasive brushes for this purpose. 

For Grinding 

If you’re doing grinding then attach grinding stones, grinding wheels, chain saw sharpening stones, abrasive wheels, abrasive points, or carbide bits to your rotary tool. Moreover, you can use cylindrical or triangular tips for round grinds.

However, these bits come along with some tools while in some cases you have to purchase them separately.

For Cleaning and Polishing 

If you want to clean the things or want to take off the old paint from your metal furniture, then use rubber polishing points, cloth or felt polishing wheels, or polishing brushes with your rotary tool. 

Clean your rotary tool after every use

Cleaning your rotary tool is quite important as it’s essential for the life of the drill. If you don’t want your drill to get choked then frequently use compressed air to clean out drill’s air vents. Moreover, wipe the drill with cloth after every use. 

In addition to this, after using the rotary tool remove the bit, clean it and put it back in case. Also, consult the manual for major cleaning before disassembling the drill.

How to Use Rotary Tools? 

Let’s take a quick look on how you can use your rotary tool. 

How to cut materials with a rotary tool? 

These portable rotary tools can cut anything from wood to glass to metal. 

First, you need to firmly secure the material you want to cut. Then attach the appropriate bit to your rotary tool and turn on the drill to high power if you’re cutting metal, or to low power in case of plastic. Now, gently touch your rotary tool to the material and cut it. 

Don’t press too hard while cutting and for larger cuts use an oscillating saw. 

How to grind with a rotary tool? 

Grinding isn’t a problem for your rotary tool. All you need to do is attach the appropriate grinding stone to the shaft. Then turn on your tool and start with low speed as you don’t want to overheat the material. Now, gently hold the drill against the material you want to grind. 

How you can polish or clean the metals with a rotary tool? 

With the help of a rotary tool you can clean into the tight spaces and polish the rusty metals. Just insert the appropriate bit. Then rub some polishing or cleaning liquid on the surface of the material and turn on the tool at very low speed. Now, run it in circular motion against the polishing or cleaning liquid.

How can you do sanding or sharpening with a rotary tool? 

You can also sharpen and sand the materials with a rotary tool. All you need to do is install the right sanding drum or sandpaper bit into your drill. Then switch on the tool at lower settings if you’re working with wood or plastic, or at higher settings if you’re working with metal or any hard material. Now run the rotary tool against the material. 

Wrapping Things Up…

Now you probably know how to properly and safely use your rotary tool. Just follow the steps which we discussed earlier and don’t forget to read the users’ manual before you start. 

Hope you have found this article useful. If you think we missed something, do let us know in the comments.

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