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Choosing a flex shaft


#1

I currently have a Dremel with a flexible shaft, but without foot
pedal speed control it’s quite hard to do things like stone setting
or any detailed work with it. So, I’m planning on buying a better
flex shaft. The problem I have is that here (in Finland) all the
goldsmiths seem to think that European made flex shafts are the best

  • while here on Orchid I’ve noticed everyone seems to be using
    Foredom tools without problems.

What I’m looking for is an all-purpose tool which could be used for
stone setting as well as everything else, so I guess I need
something with enough strength even with a small speed. I’ve been
reading my tool catalogues, and there is a Foredom SR -flex shaft
available for a fraction of the price of the European flex shafts,
but can it be used for stone setting or is it a hobbyist tool like my
Dremel?

Leena


#2

Leena,

If you have a variable Dremel, you can buy a foot pedal to use with
it and not spend the additional monies for a new flexshaft. I bought
one for under $20, plugged it in and it works beautifully. I also
spent under $15 for a Rotary Tool Holder to make my life easier. It’s
now attached to my workbench and very handy. One more thing I found
is an inexpensive toolstand (under $40) for the Dremel so I can use
it as a drill press, polisher/lathe or flexshaft holder. If I’d
bought this first, I wouldn’t have needed to buy the holder, but
hindsight is always 20/20, right?

Anyway, a simple Google shopping search will show you the lowest
prices for these. No need to buy yet another expensive tool, like the
Foredom, when some less expensive accessories will turn your Dremel
into a dream machine.

Michele


#3

Hi Leena,

What I'm looking for is an all-purpose tool which could be used
for stone setting as well as everything else, so I guess I need
something with enough strength even with a small speed. I've been
reading my tool catalogues, and there is a Foredom SR -flex shaft
available for a fraction of the price of the European flex shafts,
but can it be used for stone setting or is it a hobbyist tool like
my Dremel? 

The Foredom line of flexshafts are the most popular in the US with
professionals & hobbyists. They are made to exacting standards &
replacement parts are readily available if you need them. There are
also a number of different handpieces available.

There are a number of less expensive brands also available,.However
since the flexshaft is one of the most used power tools in the shop
it’s more economical in the long run to get the best you can afford.

Dave


#4

Similarly, I turned my Dremel into a usable flexshaft with an old
sewing machine footpedal ($12) and a cheap Chinese-made flexshaft
from Ebay ($10). The footpedal will apparently ruin the Dremel in the
long run, as the electronics in it aren’t happy with a variable input
current, but the addition of both the flexshaft and footpedal has
greatly increased the precision I can work and the usability of my
Dremel. The plan is to replace it with a ‘proper’ flexshaft some time
in the future, but it has worked great as an interim solution for
experimenting with stone setting.


#5

I used to use a Dermal too and no control over the speed and lately
I purchase a flexible shaft from Grobet USA and made lot of different
on drilling and other applications, make work lot easy and saving
some money to get a mimi drill press to use with the flexible shaft
for drilling.


#6
What I'm looking for is an all-purpose tool which could be used
for stone setting as well as everything else, so I guess I need
something with enough strength even with a small speed. I've been
reading my tool catalogues, and there is a Foredom SR -flex shaft
available for a fraction of the price of the European flex shafts,
but can it be used for stone setting or is it a hobbyist tool like
my Dremel? 

There are hammer hand pieces for stone setting, and rotary ones for
cutting the seats, polishing, drilling, etc. An SR is a good choice,
the TX probably better. I like the Lucas foot control, but use it
with a Foredom bench speed control as well with my Badeco hammer
handpiece.


#7

I have to say even the S model Foredom I bought in 1979 still works
well today. Call me old fashioned, but I prefer them to micro motors.
Just habit I suspect. Along the way I still own 6 out of 7 flex
shafts I’ve purchased. Some of them see use every time I sit at the
bench.


#8

Leena,

Before you go to that extreme, try this:

I decided to add a foot pedal control to one of my own Dremels.

So I bought an old circa 1950’s sewing machine with a foot pedal
motor control for $5 at a yard sale, so that I can salvage the
control for my own use.

I’m going to rewire one of my shed’s electrical sockets so that the
foot pedal is connected in series with the socket.

Then, I can plug anything in to that particular socket to better
adjust its speed!

Best,
Andrew Jonathan Fine


#9

Exactly Dave

My one piece of advice on flex shaft tools is: Don’t Scrimp Get the
highest-quality, heaviest duty flex shaft tool you can afford, even
if it means starting off with a dinky little Dremel until you have
the money for a good one.

(Note: There’s nothing wrong with Dremels. I have a couple and use
them often for light stuff. But for most of my work I rely on my
Foredom with a selection of handpieces. It’s just easier and more
comfortable for most things to have that power and that quality at
hand. Polishing, for example, works so much better with the Foredom
than the Dremel – assuming I’m not using a polishing lathe.)

But get quality and power. A good flex shaft tool will last for
decades.

My only regret about my Foredom is that I got the second-most
powerful motor they offered. If I had it to do again I’d spend the
extra money.

RC


#10

I found a flex shaft at Harbor Freight for $44.99 and for an
additional $9.99 I bought an extended service plan. If the flex
shaft fails, I just take it back and get another one. I didn’t like
the Dremel and found the flex shaft attachment not very flexible.
This one works for me.

Barbara


#11

Hi Gang,

I decided to add a foot pedal control to one of my own Dremels. So
I bought an old circa 1950's sewing machine with a foot pedal motor
control for $5 at a yard sale, so that I can salvage the control
for my own use. 

FWIW

Look in the yellow pages for a store/shop that sells &/or repairs
sewing machines. They usually have foot controls available for a very
reasonable cost.

Dave


#12

FWIW

If youre doing work with a flexshaft that requires fine & close
control of the handpiece & the standard handpiece seems a little
stiff, you might consider replacing the standard outer sheath with a
neoprene one. The neoprene is more flexible & makes it easier to
control the handpiece.

The neoprene sheath is shown on page 296, item L, # 117-556 in Rio
Grande’s 2010 tool catalog.

I’ve been using one for several years with no problems.

Dave


#13

Leena - why not just get a foot pedal control for your Dremel? They
run $50 here, and can turn a simple on/off model into an adjustable
speed Dremel. You just plug your Dremel into the foot pedal, plug the
foot pedal into the outlet. Easy-peasy.

Susan “Sam” Kaffine
Sterling Bliss


#14

Thank you, all, for great tips. Unfortunately, my Dremel is the
wireless kind, so I can’t attach a foot pedal to it. I’m not going
to throw my Dremel away, even if I buy a new tool, Dremel is
excellent for drilling holes and many other things, just not for
stone setting.

I’m starting to think I’ll go for the Foredom SR kit they’re
offering in my catalogue, and maybe buy a handpiece that can fit any
size drill bits, since I have a million dental drills and bits that
I’ve been able to use with the Dremel. I’m going to start my business
small, and I’m not expecting the flex shaft to last a lifetime, not
that I would mind if it did :). Anything with a foot pedal would
really be an improvement to my current situation, anyways…


#15

Hi Leena… I have 2 Dremels on my bench. One is mounted in
the Dremel drill press. The other is fit with a flex shaft. You
cannot go wrong with the SR kit. The #30 handpiece that comes with
it should do everything you want and fit all of your bits as it has a
Jacobs style chuck. There are a lot of accessories and parts
available.

Good Luck…Bob


#16

Hi Leena,

I'm starting to think I'll go for the Foredom SR kit they're
offering in my catalogue, and maybe buy a handpiece that can fit
any size drill bits, since I have a million dental drills and bits
that I've been able to use with the Dremel. I'm going to start my
business small, and I'm not expecting the flex shaft to last a
lifetime, not that I would mind if it did :). Anything with a foot
pedal would really be an improvement to my current situation,
anyways... 

If you check your catalog I think you’ll find the SR probably comes
with a # 30 handpiece.

The # 30 has a Jacobs chuck that can hold any drill bit up to 5/32".
That will accommodate most flexshaft tools used in the jewelry
trade.

Dave


#17

Hello,

I have both Foredom and Ottflex flex shaft machines, use them
everyday at the bench, and have them hooked up to Lucas
rheostats/foot pedals. As with previous advice, get a good machine,
you’ll never be sorry.

Linda Kaye-Moses


#18

obviously england has great flex shafts, you said finland right,
yes the high end english flex shaft will do the trick, we have many
people from england on this forum, the english of course did high
end jewelry decades and centuries before U.S., the russians, and
chinese, and japanese, and french all have their own, do you see
their jewelry lacking???, don’t buy crap machines made in china to
garbage U.S. specs, by the way, the chinese are known for their
great steel chisels, just not when they come from wallmart or
homegoods, dave


#19
If youre doing work with a flexshaft that requires fine & close
control of the handpiece & the standard handpiece seems a little
stiff, you might consider replacing the standard outer sheath with
a neoprene one. The neoprene is more flexible & makes it easier to
control the handpiece. 

Dave, you are SO right. I HIGHLY recommend this sheath! You’ll never
be happy with a regular one after you try it. It’s a cheap, easy
upgrade you should all consider.

Allan


#20

I like the TX foredom for all around work with a really good heavy
foot pedal.

Russ
The Jewelry CAD Institute