Roll Your Own Rotary Tool

Rotary tools are great little handheld powerhouses that fill the void between manual tools and larger shop machines. They’re also kind of expensive for what they are, which is essentially a power circuit, a switch, and a high-RPM motor with a tool coupling on the shaft. If your tooling needs are few and you have the resources, why not make your own?

[DIY King 00] built himself a cordless rotary tool for less than $10 out of commonly-available parts. It doesn’t run nearly as fast as commercial rotary tools, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. He made the body out of 2″ diameter PVC and mounted a 12 V, 400 RPM DC motor directly to one of the fiberglass end caps. Tools are chucked into a collet that screws into a coupler on the motor shaft.

For power, [DIY King 00] built a 7.4 V battery pack by wiring two 18650 cells from an old laptop battery in series. It isn’t the full 12 V, but it’s enough power for light-duty work. These 2200 mAh cells should last a while and are rechargeable through the port mounted in the other end cap.

Drill down past the break to see the build video and watch the tool power through plywood, fiberglass, and inch-thick lumber. Once you’ve made your own rotary tool, try your hand at a DIY cordless soldering iron.

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It’s A Wall-Mounted Dremel Workstation!

We’ve all seen Dremel drill presses, but [Tuomas Soikkeli] has created a full-fledged (albeit miniature) workstation using his Dremel as the motor. He has a gnome-sized belt sander with what appear to be skateboard wheels turning the belt, with the Dremel’s toolhead tensioning the belt and turning it as well. There’s a wee table saw, petite lathe, cute router, etc.

The Dremel attaches to the base via the 3/4-to-1/2 threaded end upon which specialized tool ends may be connected, and which DIY add-ons (like this light ring that we published previously) typical connect. Though in truth the threaded end varies in tensile strength from model to model — even the knockoffs have the same end, but is it strong enough to attach to the rig?

We like how [Tuomas] has his rig mounted to the wall. It looks like he has a couple of flexible shaft extenders nearby, allowing the rig to almost serve same role as a shop’s air tools.

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3D-Printed Turbine Rotary Tool Tops 40,000 RPM

For your high speed, low torque needs, few things beat a rotary tool like a Dremel. The electric motor has its limits, though, they generally peak out at 35,000 rpm or so. Plus there’s the dust and the chips to deal with from whatever you’re Dremeling, so why not kill two birds with one stone and build a turbine-driven rotary tool attachment for your shop vac?

Another serious shortcoming of the electric Dremels that is addressed by [johnnyq90]’s 3D-printed turbine is the lack of that dentist’s office whine. His tool provides enough of that sound to trigger an attack of odontophobia as it tops out at 43,000 rpm. The turbine’s stator and rotors are 3D-printed, as is the body, inlet scoop, and adapter for the vacuum line. A shaft from an old rotary tool is reused, but a new one could be turned pretty easily. The video below shows the finished tool in action; there’ll no doubt be objections in the comments to ingesting dust, chips, and incandescent bits of metal, but our feeling is that the turbine will hold up to these challenges pretty well. Until it doesn’t, that is.

We like [johnnyq90]’s design style, which you may recall from his micro Tesla turbine or nitro-powered rotary tool. He sure likes things that spin fast.

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Home Built PCB Mill Reportedly Doesn’t Suck

It’s 2017, and getting a PCB professionally made is cheaper and easier than ever. However, unless you’re lucky enough to be in Shenzhen, you might find it difficult to get them quickly, due to the vagaries of international shipping. Whether you want to iterate quickly on designs, or just have the convenience of speed, it can be useful to be able to make your own PCBs at home. [Timo Birnschein] had just such a desire and set about building a PCB mill that doesn’t suck.

It might sound obvious, but it bears thinking about — if you know you’re incapable of building a good PCB mill in a reasonable period of time, you might save yourself a lot of pain and lost weekends by just ordering PCBs elsewhere. [Timo] was fairly confident however that the build would be able to churn out some usable boards, however, and got to work.

The build is meant to be accessible to the average hacker who wants one. The laser cut & 3D printed parts are readily available these days thanks to online services that can manufacture for those who don’t have the machines at home. [Timo] uses a rotary multitool for a spindle, a common choice for a budget CNC build.

With the hardware complete, [Timo] has spent time working on optimising the software side of things. Through careful optimisation of the G-Code, [Timo] has been able to improve performance and reduce stress on the tooling. It’s not enough to just build a good mill — you’ve got to have your G-Code squared away as well.

Overall, the results speak for themselves. The boards don’t suck; the mill can do traces down to 8 mil, and even drill the holes. We’d love to have one on the workbench when busting out some quick prototypes. For another take on the home-built PCB mill, why not check out this snap-together version?

Nitro Powered Rotary Tool

We really don’t know if the world needs it but we’re sure glad [johnnyq90] took the time to build one. We’re talking about a nitro powered rotary tool. Based on a Kyosho GX-12 nitro engine, commonly used in R/C cars, [johnnyq90] machines almost all other parts in his shop to make a really cool ‘Nitro-Dremel’. But success didn’t come at the first try.

The first prototype was made using a COX 049 engine but the lack of proper lubrication cause damage to the crankshaft. Because of this setback, [johnnyq90] swaps it out with a O.S Max 10 Aero engine he had lying around in the shop. That didn’t work out so well as the engine was quite hard to start. On the third try he finally decided to use the 2.1 cc Kyosho GX-12 engine to power up his 20.000 rpm tool. As noisy as one would expect and, from the videos it seems quite powerful too as it easily pierces through an aluminium block, cuts steel like a breeze, and breezes through other less demanding feats.

But [johnnyq90] is no stranger to nitro engines nor to Hackaday. In the past he built, among other things, a nitro powered cordless drill and showed impressive feats of machining in a micro version of a Tesla turbine. We wonder what’s next…. a nitro powered tattoo gun perhaps?

In the 20 minute video after the break, we enjoy watching the construction of the ‘Nitro-Dremel’, as well as other parts from two previously failed prototypes:

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The Mother Of All Paper Cuts

A Dremel is a fantastically handy tool to have around the workbench, but there is one glaring and obvious downside: you will always run out of cut-off discs. if you’re trying to break into a fancy snap-fit enclosure that has been inexplicably glued together, you’ll invariably need to run down to the hardware store to shell out some cash for a tiny tube of cut-off disks.

[KB9RLW] has the answer to this problem. He’s cutting wood and plastic with paper discs spinning at 35,000 RPM.

The paper used for this application is just a piece of junk mail or heavy, probably glossy card stock. After poking a hole in this piece of paper, tracing a circle with a homemade compass, and cutting out the cutting disk with a pair of scissors, this cut-off disc is easily mounted in the standard Dremel mandrel.

The test cut [KB9RLW] shows us is on a plastic wall wart that’s a glued together, snap-fit mess. The paper cut-off wheel makes short work of this nigh-impenetrable brick of plastic, revealing the electronic goodies inside. This cut-off wheel will also cut through small bits of wood, like a bit of molding.

After cutting halfway through the wooden molding, the paper disc quickly disintegrates — this is the same behavior we last year when this trick was being used on a table saw. But any home should get more than enough junk mail for a steady supply of paper Dremel cut-off discs. While this new attachment for your fancy rotary tool won’t last very long, it is a very expedient way to get into bits of electronics without paying Dremel several cents for a cut-off disc.

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3D Printer Transforms To CNC

Superficially, it is easy to think about converting a 3D printer into a CNC machine. After all, they both do essentially the same thing. They move a tool around in three dimensions. Reducing this to practice, however, is a problem. A CNC tool probably weighs more than a typical hotend. In addition, cutting into solid material generates a lot of torque.

[Thomas Sanladerer] knew all this, but wanted to try a conversion anyway. He had a few printers to pick from, and he chose a very sturdy MendelMax 3. He wasn’t sure he’d wind up with a practical machine, but he wanted to do it for the educational value, at least. The result, as you can see in the video below, exceeded his expectations.

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