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15 Smart Uses for a Rotary Tool (For Household Projects)

man using rotary tool grinder


Rotary tools are one of the most versatile tools around. They can transform to fit just about any task imaginable. You’ve probably used them for several tasks previously. Maybe you’ve drilled holes with one or you’ve used one to carve your name into something. But no matter what you’ve used a rotary tool for in the past, you’ve almost certainly never used one to its full potential.

These tools can be used in so many different ways that they seem almost infinitely adaptable. While you can certainly come up with many more uses, we’ve gathered 15 of our favorites to get your imagination rolling.divider 4

The 15 Smartest Uses for a Rotary Tool

1. Grinding

Grinders, whether bench mounted or handheld, are generally too large for precision work. Luckily, there are many different grinding bits available for your rotary tool. They come in various shapes and sizes, allowing you to perform precise grinding work that’s not really possible with any other tool. You can hold the rotary tool by hand for complete control, or you can mount it and turn it into a miniature tabletop grinder for more stability.

2. Sharpening Chainsaw Chains

man using chainsaw to cut down tree
Photo Credit: Artikom jumpamoon, Shutterstock

As you’ll find out, rotary tools are great for sharpening many items, including chainsaw blades. You can get a chainsaw blade sharpening attachment that makes it easy and quick to resharpen your chainsaw and get it razor-sharp for a faster and more efficient cutting process.

3. Polishing

If you get the right polishing bit, you can polish just about anything with your rotary tool. Try polishing rocks using a rock polishing compound to give them a shine like you’ve never seen before. You can also polish jewelry to keep it looking as bright as the day it was first made.

4. Cutting Drywall

Using a keyhole saw on drywall
Photo Credit: Medvedeva Oxana, Shutterstock

Rotary tools are one of the greatest drywall tools of all time. Before rotary tools, you had to use razor blades and stab saws to cut out your drywall for items like electrical receptacles and holes for lights. But with a rotary tool, you can save so much time. What used to take quite a while to mark and cut by hand takes just a few seconds to cut out with the help of a rotary tool and a cutting bit.

5. Carving Wood

Wood carving was traditionally done by hand. You can still do it this way, but why not use modern technology to your advantage? A good rotary tool equipped with the proper bit will give you precise control over a very fast method of carving wood. Once you master the rotary tool for wood carving, you’ll be able to work much faster than anyone could ever hope to manage by hand.

6. Cutting Through Metal

woodworket cutting a metal
Photo Credit: Anna Shvets, Pexels

There are many ways for you to cut through metal. Tools like angle grinders, hack saws, and cutoff wheels are all valid. But none of them is as versatile and compact as a rotary tool. Simply insert a cutoff wheel into a rotary tool and you’ve got an efficient way to cut through any type of metal with a tiny tool that fits in your hand and acts as a one tool fits all solution to almost any problem.

7. Carving Pumpkins

To be fair, this use is only viable for one part of the year for most people; near Halloween. But if you get into the creepy spirit and enjoy carving up pumpkins to set on the front porch, then you can use your rotary tool to take your carvings to another level. Patterns that seem difficult to complete by hand are a breeze with a little bit of high-powered help that your rotary tool can easily offer.

8. Sharpening Knives

Whetstone Knife Sharpening, 2015-(01)
Photo Credit: Whetstone Knife Sharpening, 2015-(01), Didriks, Wikimedia Commons CC 2.0 Generic

Pretty much everyone uses knives. The more you use a knife, the duller it will become. Sure, you can use a knife sharpener to sharpen it back up, but why not use your rotary tool? It’s a quick way of bringing that blade to like-new condition, and you can even use your rotary tool to polish the entire knife afterward to give it that reflective shine.

9. Sharpening Drill Bits

From standard drill bits to paddle bore bits for wood, you can sharpen pretty much any kind of drill bit using your rotary tool. Granted, some types of drill bits are harder to sharpen than others, but you can bring almost any old, dull drill bit back to life with a few minutes of work using your rotary tool.

10. Cutting Out Tile

Crack tile
Image Credit: Picabay

We mentioned how you can use a rotary tool to cut out drywall, but drywall is a soft material that’s not hard to cut. What about something harder, like tile? Well, you might be surprised to find out that you can use your rotary tool to cut tile in much the same way you’d use it on drywall. You’ll need to get the right bit, but once properly equipped, your rotary tool will offer you one of the most precise methods of cutting tile there is.

11. Fixing Stripped Screw Heads

Have you encountered a screw with a stripped head that was only getting worse the more you tried to remove it? Well, your rotary tool can fix that too. You’ll just need a tiny cutoff wheel bit. Use it to cut a straight line across the top of the screw head, acting as a new hold for a flathead screwdriver.

12. Engraving in Metal or Wood

With the proper bit, you can engrave in metal with a rotary tool. This allows you to make all sorts of different artwork, including some very intricate designs. Of course, all of this will work in wood as well, just proving how versatile the rotary tool really is.

13. Intricate Sanding

Hand With Sandpaper Sanding the Deck Railing
Image Credit: TheOldBarnDoor, Shutterstock

For most jobs, you can complete your sanding with sandpaper or an electric sander. But on some occasions, you need a more precise way of sanding, which a rotary tool can provide. You’ll find a variety of different sanding bits available for rotary tools, offering many new ways for you to sand more precisely than ever before.

14. Rust Removal

If you’ve got old metal items with rust hiding their true beauty, your rotary tool offers a way to bring those items back to life again. You can easily polish the rust right off thanks to the high speeds that rotary tools turn at.

15. Etching Glass

Rotary Sander
Image Credit: BLGKV, Shutterstock

If you find the right bit, you can use a rotary tool on just about any type of material. You can even use it to etch glass, making a beautiful custom work of art out of any glass container.

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Remember, there is no such thing as wrong or right when it comes to the ways you use your rotary tool. As long as you’re using common sense and being safe, you can use it in any way you can imagine. These 15 smart uses are just the tip of the iceberg. See how many different projects your rotary tool can help you complete. It’s a jack of all trades, allowing you to get many tools worth of use from a single device.

Featured Image Credit: Lubo Ivanko, Shutterstock


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