Note: The text here use to be part of my Awesome Big Carving Burs bog entry. I updated it and moved it here, so I could easily refer to it from other places.
Small 1/4″ Die GrinderGoogle “Votoer 260w Die Grinder”
I no longer recommend this tool. Why? Because the On/Off switch broke way to early and I could not repair it. I wanted to open the unit up and bypass the On/Off switch. Replace it with a On/Off cord switch. This was not possible because the On/Off switch is built into the speed switch AND the motor brushes. It is all one neat little unit. That is impossible to bypass or replace.
The 1/4″ shank, 1/4″ diameter head burs run ok in this tool. The 3/8″ diameter head burs are sort of ok. But, you are pushing it. The 1/2″ diameter head burs are to big. This tool does not have enough power to really drive a BIG 1/2″ diameter head bur.
The Votoer 260w … is basically a Chinese knock off of a Dremel with a little drill chuck, rather than a 1/8″ collet chuck. I like it. Works good. It may die any time. Like any cheap tool.
Medium 1/4″ Die GrinderGoogle “Maxman 10.6 Inch Electric Drill Die Grinder”
All of the big 1/4″ shank burs run ok in this tool. For the really big ones you would probably be better off with the large die grinder shown below. It has more horsepower.
When the small 1/4″ die grinder above failed, I replaced it with this tool. It has pros and cons.
On the pro side. It is more powerful that above die grinder. The On/Off and speed switch are completely seperate. Thus you can set a speed and forget it. If the On/Off switch fails then I should be able to replace it or bypass it. It has a big built in fan in the front that keeps the tool cool.
On the con side. It is bigger. The overall size is not a big problem. However, the way it sticks out (flares) out in the front around the fan sucks. See red arrow in above photo. It gets in the way and it may dig into your work and leave some scratches. I minimized this problem (put I did not fit it) by grinding and sanding down the housing as much as possible. Then I covered it with some 1/8″ thick sticky back craft foam. See the photo at the top. I added the white foam in that photo.
Note: This is another cheap Chinese tool. It may die any time. Like any cheap tool.
“Votoer” sells a very similar looking tool. I decided to go with this “Maxman” brand tool after my negative experience with the above “Votoer” tool. But, this probably does not make sense. The tools are obviously the same. Just different colors.
Large 1/4″ Die GrinderGoogle “Makita GD0601 1/4″ Die Grinder”
All of the big 1/4″ shank burs run great in this tool. The 1/2″ diameter head burs are no problem.
I avoided getting one of these tools for a long time. I did not like the price and it looked to big and bulky. Hard to handle.
I finally decided, I could live with out the variable speed. The fixed speed versions of this tool are a lot cheaper than the variable speed one. I almost always run my Dremel like tools at full speed. I only slow them down when burs vibrate and do not run true. Thus, no variable speed is not a problem if the burs run true.
Over time I have really grown to like this tool. At least one of my students agrees with me.
I have found this tool is not to bulky. If I tuck the cord end of the tool under my arm and use hand on the same arm to grab and control the front of the tool. i.e. the tool runs along my forearm.
I like “Makita” brand tools. All the poplar tool brands make a similar tool in the same price range.
“Poplar Woodworking” magazine recommend this Makita tool, in there “Best Die Grinders in 2023” article. It was their first choice in 110 volt die grinders.
In a pinch you could use a hand held drill.
You may be able to run big burs with a 1/4″ shank in a flex shaft tool with a drill chuck hand piece. However, you will probably break the shaft.
You can also get air driven 1/4″ die grinders. They use up way to much air for my tastes! The die grinder and air compressor are way to noisy. My 5 hp air compressor eats to much electricity. If you want to go this route then I suggest you check out Trent Bosch’s recommendations. He as a huge air compressor and uses lots of air tools.
Google “3M Peltor 98 Earmuffs”
You need to use good hearing protection with the above tools. My students and I really like the “3M Peltor 98 Headphones”. They work good and are comfortable. I can still hear my stereo while wearing these, but not the high pitched wine of the tools.
1/4″ Shaft Carving Burs
Here are links to some of my blog posts that recommend carving burs with 1/4″ shafts.
Click here to see all of my Category = “Tools Caving” related blog posts.