Learning to use a flex shaft - or rather trying to!

Dear all,

I recently purchased a Foredom SR flex shaft with a H.20 handpiece,
which I intend to use initially basically for sanding, polishing,
drilling, deburring… The flex shaft came with very
littleeven for the acessories included in the kit. I
understand this is a tool most learn to use in a classroom setting,
or at least working with someone who knows how to use it. I don’t
have that option, because of my location in this big wideworld - I
can drive one hour and see a lion in the wild, but buysheet metal,
for example? Not so much…

So, I’ll have to learn the hard way And I would really appreciateit
if you could point me to good resources on how to use thiswonderful
tool, and how to match the accessory to the task at hand.

I’m sure there are good videos around on the web, but internet
overhere is painfully slow, and watching a video is
practicallyimpossible. Any other options that you know of?

Also, quick question: the ceramic purple abrasives for sanding fall
off the mandrel and I’m sure I’m using the correct mandrel. Is there
a trick for using them that Foredom decided to keep under wraps in
the ridiculously small leaflet I got?

Thanks in advance for any pointers you can send this newbie but
very eager aspiring metalsmith

(currently just person who loves to workwith metal…). Regards from
southern Africa,


I recently purchased a Foredom SR flex shaft with a H.20
handpiece, which I intend to use initially basically for sanding,
polishing, drilling, deburring 

Google everything you can find about Andy Cooperman. He has written a
series recently for Art Jewelry, and they are very helpful. If he has
the time he may respond to your post, because he is on this forum. He
is a great teacher.



It really isn’t necessary to take a class in using the flex shaft
machine, especially since lions don’t offer any. OK, minor joke! You
could pay round trip travel expenses to bring in an instructor of
your choice (OK, being silly here).You can learn to use yours by
yourself. Just make sure that any time you use the tool, you protect
your eyes and your lungs. Check each mandrel for ‘true’ (no wobble),
by running it very slowly in the machine and discarding if it

There are two wonderful books available specifically dealing with
the flex shaft. I can’t praise “Making the Most of Your Flex-shaft
by Karen Christians highly enough. It’s the most thorough and
informative book out there for using the flex shaft. It de-mystifies
this indispensable tool, descended from those used by dentists, that
we in the jewelry arena use in so many ways.

There is also a second book, written by Harold O’Connor, “Flexible Shaft Machine ”. This is an older book (the very first one
that attempted to summarize the use of the flex shaft), with much
about using the tool, but especially focussed on unique
uses for the many wheels, drill bits, burs, etc. that can be used
with the flex shaft.

With both of these books in your library, you will have very few
questions left about using your flex shaft. Don’t get just one of
them, get both. There is no overlapping of in these
books and you won’t regret it. If you have to restrict yourself to
buying just one initially, go with “Making the Most of Your Flex-shaft” (sorry Harold). Get Harold’s book later down the line, when
you have the bucks/whatever.

Here are the URLs for these books on Amazon.com:

Safety Caveat: As is my usual tack, I strongly urge you to use a
face shield (I do), or at the least a pair of safety glasses when
using a rotary tool like a flex shaft. And when using a grinding
and/or polishing wheel in the tool, make certain to draw the dust
away from you with a good ventilation system. The dust coming off
grinding WILL ABSOLUTELY end up in your nose, sinuses, throat and
lungs, if you don’t suck it up with a machine designed to do just
that. This is necessary when working with metal, metal from metal
clay, metal clay greenware, wood, stones, shells, etc.

If, after reading the books above, you still have questions about
using your flexshaft, you can certainly ask them here. There have
been many threads Re: flex shaft use on Orchid, so you can check the
archives. Also, I would bet that Foredom has a tech person who can
answer your questions, too.

As far as the ceramic abrasives, you don’t say whether you’re
talking about the drums or the flat discs. If the drums, then you
need to thoroughly tighten the screw in the end of the mandrel.

Hope this is useful,
Linda Kaye-Moses

Carlo, do the mandrels for those purple things have a little screw
on the top? If they have, you push the sleeve onto the mandrel, and
then tighten the screw - this makes the rubber mandrel get fatter,
and hold the item in place. Otherwise, not sure what their is to say.
If you have a reversible motor, you can set the foredom to rotate
left or right; bear in mind that most drill bits only cut in one
direction, so your motor needs to go the right way, although it
isn’t as important for grinding bits. Also, if you’ve got a hammering
handpiece, they can only be used in one direction. Wear eye
protection, make sure any drill bits you use are sharp, and hold
everything steady.

Jamie Hall

Don’t forget that Ganoksin’s first book by Karen Christens was on the
flexshaft. It dealt with not only using it but on the machines care
and feeding.


The flex shaft came with very little even for the
accessories included in the kit. I understand this is a tool most
learn to use in a classroom setting, or at least working with
someone who knows how to use it. I don't have that option 

Carla, do not despair, Karen Christians has written “Making the Most
of Your Flex-shaft”, available thru amazon.



carla - use google advanced to go to

that will connect you to over 9,000 sites for Foredom products,
reports, comments and other info - just be aware that some hand
pieces duplicate what another will do - the most versatile hand
pieces for me (besides the #30) has been the one that bends in the
middle and the one with adjustable collet. i don’t have the numbers
handy, they’re upstairs and i’m not, but the sites will have
pictures, numbers, and functions. the next handy item is the
clamp-on adjustable pole/holder to keep the flexshaft accessible and
out of the way.

good luck -
think more now, regret less latter.