Miniature rotary tools are useful for home repair or design projects that require drilling, sanding or grinding in small areas. If you are looking to add a mini rotary tool to your home tool kit but don't want to spend a lot of money, you have a few different options. Low price often means a reduced quality, so determine how heavily you will use the tool before deciding on the best option.
Some mini rotary tools have high prices because their brand names are widely known and respected. However, store brands and lesser-known toolmakers (usually with overseas manufacturing) carry tools with similar specifications but at lower prices. Note that these models may not have the same specifications or longevity as their name-brand counterparts.
Features and Accessories
Many mini rotary tools come in kits that include several bits, adaptors and accessories. Determine which features you actually need before purchasing a full kit. Flex-shaft tools (an extended head on a flexible hose for accessing hard-to-reach areas with your tool) are nice, but if you don't need one, don't pay extra for it. You also don't need a 245-piece kit with grinding and cutoff wheels if you'll only use the tool for small sanding jobs.
If you want the assurance of a name brand but still find the most basic models hard to afford, check the manufacturer's website for deals on factory refurbished units. These units were returned by a customer, then fixed of any flaws and are resold at a discount, but often come with a warranty. If you don't mind a lack of warranty, check your local classifieds for anyone selling their old rotary tool. Just make sure you test the tool and check for all appropriate attachments before making your purchase.
Do Your Research
Many cheap mini rotary tools cost less than their more expensive counterparts because their features are less desirable than other models. A two-speed mini rotary tool will be cheaper than a 5-speed or variable pressure-driven speed tool. Even with the same number of speeds, a motor with less power will be less effective than a high-powered motor. Sometimes the specifications are the same but the part quality is reduced. Compare not only the product specifications, but also user reviews on the product. Not all user reviews are trustworthy, but if you find several that note a certain tool tends to burn out after a month or two of light use, that tool may be poorly made. Read the warranty information carefully before buying--if a company won't stand behind its product for at least a year, stay away.