Vacuum-powered rotary tool

New rotary tool from Dremel
Vacuum-powered rotary tool
PO Box 081126
Racine WI 53408
Check with your local hobby shop
for price and availability

Vacuum-powered rotary hand tool (#VRT1); mostly plastic construction; comes with cutting guide and a variety of accessories; requires 110 CFM (or greater) wet/dry shop vacuum

Pros: Good for light work; built-in dust-collection system is excellent; light weight and easy to handle
Cons: You have to listen to your vacuum cleaner while you’re working
The ever-innovative Dremel company has come up with a new wrinkle for their time-honored rotary tool. This one runs off your vacuum cleaner! It’s designed with a socket into which you plug your 1 1/4" vacuum hose. That’s all you do—then you’re ready to go. The unit comes packaged with a cutting guide, which is a screw-on plastic attachment that, when used with a cutting bit, will keep the tool perpendicular to the work and a set distance from it. The guide has air-intake holes built in so the automatic dust-collection system will still work. The tool also comes with a sanding-drum bit, a 1/8"-diameter cutting bit, a 1/8"
burr, and a collet wrench.

The business end of the tool is much like any Dremel rotary tool. It uses standard Dremel collets (a 1/8" collet is supplied) and the bits can be changed by loosening the collet closer, either with your fingers or with the supplied wrench.

I tested the tool using my old Sears shop vac. I don’t know what its CFM (cubic feet/minute) rating is—it wasn’t on the machine and, when looking online, I found that CFM ratings on shop vacuums are not that easy to find. Suffice to say, the more powerful the vacuum, the more powerful the rotary tool. I plugged in the end of the hose—a simple press fit—and turned on the vacuum. Nothing happened. Then I realized I had the on/off ring set to the “off” position. I turned it on and away it went.

The on/off ring can also provide a limited amount of speed control but I didn’t find this to be too useful. In an already low-torque machine, reducing the rotational speed of the tool reduced the torque even further. I put in the little sanding drum and sanded a small piece of pine I had on hand. I quickly found that this is a light-duty machine. Dremel says it’s equivalent to their 4.8V cordless tool. I tried the cutting bit with the cutting guide and found that it worked well in very light material. It’s excellent for foam.

I found that if you overload the tool, it simply stops. No worries—there’s no motor to burn out. Once I found what the tool could do, I was able to develop more of a “touch” for it. From then on, there were few problems. If you are looking for a machine to hog out a lot of material, this one isn’t it. This is made for light sanding, cutting, and sculpting. Within its working parameters, this tool does fine, plus it has the added bonus of built-in dust collection. The vacuum does double duty—running the tool and sucking in the dust. The work that I did during the test was virtually dust free—cool!

I thought that the tool would be clunky to use with the vacuum hose attached to it but it actually wasn’t bad. The tool itself is quite light and the hose doesn’t add that much bulk to it. The biggest drawback I found when using the tool was having to listen to the vacuum all the time.

This tool does what it’s advertised to do. It won’t do everything but if you want a tool that will do light work well and even clean up after itself, this may be the tool for you.


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