I am looking at Foredom tools to use them for finishing work on light welds. I will also be touching up the veining on stamped rods that look like tree limbs. I need a tool that will use a wheel or cutter, and cut veins up to
1/8" thick, but mostly less. The welds I need to dress would amount to 1/4 to 1/2 square inch. Not a lot.
Does anyone have any suggestions as to which unit would be the best for this. They come in all sorts of horsepowers and RPMS. A Makita grinder is
14,000 rpm, and these go up to 18,000.
Should I just bite the bullet, and go for the big one since it has a foot pedal to vary the speed and compensate for different work? Would the smaller ones like 1/6 or 1/8 hp be an invitation to burnout?
What do you think?
Or would a top of the line Dremel be acceptable?
How about replacement tool cost comparisons?
Yah, yah, I know I can find all this out by googling, and reading the Foredom literature I got, but I would like to hear from someone who's been there, done that.
I say this from the perspective of one who has, and uses, three flex shaft machines: Dremel, Foredom, Pfsing.
Yours is a heavy duty operation. The weak point of the Foredom tools (and any other flex shaft machine) is that the flex shaft coupling springs breaks -- twists off. You have to consider torque in addition to top-end speed and a spindly flex shaft seriously limits torque. I don't know the Makita but I assume that it caters to the die-grinder crowd. As such, it will be beefy but the handpieces won't be interchangeable with the Jewelry industry standards (see below). But you rarely go wrong with Makita. The difference between 14,000 and 18,000 RPM is of little significance. You can't really make good use of anything above 10,000 without some kind of coolant. Also, sustained high-speed operation overheats the coupling, the handpiece, the bearings, and leads to premature wear. I've never had a motor burn out. I almost never go full-throttle on my flex shaft machines. Slower speeds with good torque are probably more important than top speed, unless you're planning to do a lot of dentistry.
A flex shaft machine without a foot pedal is almost useless. If you're budget limited, go to the sewing machine store and plug your Dremel into a sewing machine foot pedal. The Dremel has an AC/DC motor so the cheap foot control works just fine. Lot cheaper than Dremel's foot control.
Not merely an invitation, but a guarantee.
Not a chance. Good high-speed performance, but really funky with respect to collets, chucks, etc. A Dremel is what you get if you can't afford to buy a Foredom or other professional grade flex shaft machines.
With Dremel, you're stuck with the Dremel handpiece and chucks and almost nothing worthwhile comes on the used tool or auction market. With Foredom, you have a wide variety of handpieces. You can't use 1/4" tooling with the dremel. Serious limitation. As for bits, burs, saws, grindstones, sanding and polishing discs, etc. As long as you have a good handpiece with a variety of collets, you buy these almost any place other than at a Dremel retailer.
I suggest you consider the following handpieces:
Big collet chuck handpiece for 1/8 to 1/4" tooling. Essential for what you're planning. 1/4" tooling is generally cheaper than equivalent Dremel tooling.
A Jacobs chuck ball bearing hand piece -- good for everything else and high precision.
A quick-change collet chuck if changing bits becomes a bother.
A hammer -- used by diamond setters to set prongs, but you might find it useful.
The nice thing about the Foredom and other top-of-the-line flex shaft machines is that there is an industry standard for the hand pieces. They are interchangeable -- push-pull, click-click. Foredom (and others) make about 20 different kinds of industry-standard handpieces. I've bought junky, burnt-out, flex shaft machines just to get the handpiece.
If you go Foredom, get the 1/4 hp H series at the least. I have one and have done a lot of grinding with it. It does require the H series handpieces, but I have never found that to be a problem. If I were starting over , I would get the 1/3 hp TX series since it has a wider torque band. It uses the standard handpieces, so that might be plus. Foredom is top quality and customer service is excellent.
I also have the 398 series Dremel. It is a big improvement over the previous models, but it is only about 0.15 hp. It does go to 35,000 rpm, which is handy running small carbide burs and dental bits. However, it is not suited for serious grinding.
I don't know anything about the new 400 series Dremel, except it is rated
I've used Dremels, I've used Foredom flex shafts, right now, my preference is for none of the above. Dremels are built to a price, probably won't last in a production environment. Foredom has the advantage of all the different handpieces you can get, I've been using the one that came with it that has a Jacobs chuck on it. Downside is that you have to maintain that flex shaft, regular greasing and such. It's easy to kink the sheath if you're not careful. Used to be I lived where the local hardware store carried Foredom parts, got a deal on the outfit from them, too. Not there anymore, any Foredom parts I need have to come by the big brown truck. What I favor now is the pneumatic mini-die grinders for the small stuff and either a 3" pneumatic cutoff tool or a 4 1/2" angle grinder for the big stuff. I've also been using a band sander that works wonders in tight spots. The mini-die grinders are small enough that they can get into a lot of tight areas, no shaft to kink, more power than any Dremel has in a smaller package and speed can be varied right on the handpiece. They don't use a whole lot of air, just about any cheapie compressor can run one. With extended running, electric motors and flex shafts get quite hot, the pneumatic stuff just gets cooler. My Foredom mini-die grinder can use all the Foredom collets, I've got one HF import that does, too. Very handy if you can get surplus burrs and such.
I have a Foredom that has given good service over the 20 years or so that I've had it. If I didn't have it, I would seriously consider an air operated mini die grinder. Have you considered going the air tool route? Air tools tend to be smaller, lighter and cheaper (once you have the compressor setup) than equivalent electric tools and less restrictive than flexible shaft tools. Might be worth looking into.
My regular die grinder gets more use than my Foredom.
I recently upgraded my original "Type F" Foredom to a "Type CR", (1/10 hp, reversing) with an electronic footswitch. I used the original for 40 years and only had to replace the brushes! Other posters are right, Foredoms are lower power and ALL flexshaft machine springs can kink if you abuse them. But the "Duplex Spring" option helps reduce kinking and allows you to get into tight spots.While the Foredoms are NOT heavy duty machines, they do have a 100% duty cycle and a ton of options (handpieces, drill press fixtures, etc.) and are EXTREMELY tough. I have done some larger work with them but they do really shine on smaller stuff. I have no experience with the air driven types but my thinking is that they lack torque, relying on speed to get the job done.
And my primary application for my Foredom would not accept that speed. I run mine from a Dremel foot pedal, which lets me adjust speed down to a near dead stop.
The application is the tuning of concertina reeds. While some are large enough to be ground (1" green stone, with edge rounded by a diamond dresser) at full speed -- for short bursts, others are so sensitive so I do the final tuning by drawing the stationary stone along the reed, with all variations between those speeds. The high speed has a greater chance of drawing the temper from the spring steel which makes the reeds, thus degrading their characteristics. An air-driven tool would be far too fast for this applicaton.
And I used a flexible-shaft Dremel, before I lucked into the Foredom at an estate sale. I would not go back to the Dremel for this task, given a choice. I have a special handpiece on the Foredom, which offers a few inches of much smaller diameter flexible shaft, and a very small tool handle, making it easier to control the effect on the reed in the tuning fixture.
I purchased two micro die grinders, on sale now for $19.99, apiece, from Harbor Freight. I see something similar listed in some of the major machine tool suppliers for three times that much. I suspect they were built on the same assembly line in China.
Harbor freight also lists a mini die grinder for $14.99
The micro grinders have done everything I've asked of them.