What Is a Dremel?

The Dremel is a hand-held rotary tool that is small enough to use for many model and hobby tasks yet powerful and versatile enough to belong in the tool box of professional carpenter's and mechanics.


The body of the the Dremel is made of plastic and it can be easily wielded with one hand, making it easy to use in cramped spaces.

The Dremel is the brainchild of Alfred Dremel, of Racine, Wisconsin. While the Dremel Company was founded in 1932, it wasn't until 1945 that the now familiar Dremel Moto-Tool was brought to market. Today, the Dremel Company is a subsidiary of the Robert Bosch Tool Company, and has been since it was purchased in 1993.

Currently available just about anywhere that power tools are sold, the Dremel was originally, and for several decades more, used mainly by model makers and similar hobbyists. With the advent of the housing boom in the late 1990s and the surge in mass market home improvement retailers, Dremel's sales launched into a new stratosphere and made the Dremel a near-household name.


The function of the Dremel is simple. A motor in the body of the tool spins a collet, which has a bit or accessory attached to it. The simplicity of the Dremel provides its versatility and popularity. Depending on the bit or accessory chosen, the Dremel can function as a grinder, polisher, drill, saw, planer, sander, sharpener, engraver or router.


Currently, the Dremel line is split between corded and cordless tools. The corded branch ranges from a small, single speed tool all the way up to larger commercial models, with the original Dremel still in production. The corded branch features some smaller tools, with battery power ranging from 4.8 to 10.8 volts. There are also three specialty cordless Dremel tools: a Pumpkin Carving Tool complete with orange finish and templates for the pumpkins; a Golf Cleaning Tool for clubs and soft spike shoes; and a Pet Nail Grooming Tool offering a painless way to clean your pet's nails.


The Dremel offers a number of attachments and bases to convert the tool into a specialized instrument, more than 150 of them according to the Dremel Company. These range from attachments for sharpening lawn mower blades to mini-planers to mini-jig saws to a flexible shaft that allows the bit to be used in places to narrow too fit the Dremel. The bases can turn the Dremel into a mini-router or drill press and there is one for removing grout from tiled surfaces.

Dremel makes a large selection of bits to accompany the tool. There are a variety of different router style bits including tile cutting and grout removal bits. There are even mini-circular saw blades. Engravers have an assortment of engraving bits at their disposal, and there are various drilling and spiral cutting bits as well. Buffing and polishing bits are also available as are sanding and grinding discs and drums.


Recently, with the expiration of the patent on the Fein Multi-Master, Dremel has introduced a new tool to the line up, the Dremel Multi-Max. Similar to the Fein, the Multi-Max is an oscillating tool that uses a head that moves forward and backward to accomplish some of the same tasks as the standard Dremel, but requiring more space to operate. The Multi-Max appears to be targeted at the Dremel user who would like to speed up things on larger scale projects. While not as versatile as the standard Dremel rotary tool, the Multi-Max should make in-roads not just in Fein sales, but in sales of the Dremel Moto-Tool as well.

About the Author

Vance Holloman is a residential contractor and freelance writer living in Atlanta. Much of his writing centers on the expertise he has gained from two decades in the construction industry. His work has appeared in newspapers, magazines and numerous online sites, including eHow.com and "Auburn Plainsman." Holloman has a Master's degree in business from the University of Maryland.