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[PowerTool] Flexible shaft

Dear all, I have just about come to the point where my hand
made trinkets will allow me enough cash to buy a flexi-shaft
motor. This is quite exciting, BUT which one gives the greatest
personal satisfaction of use, and will also be reliable, just in
case I do get in too deep to escape…aarrghh, too late, I am far
adrift on a sea of creativity and metal filings to return

Any recommendations will be deeply considered,


rob williams

Hey Rob, I bought a flex shaft “kit” It is a foredom cc model
and the kit came with the flex shaft motor, hand piece, foot
pedal, a hook to hang it from and some attachments. It’s been
great for me and it seems like the kit was around $180 from
s’west. I know folks who have used dremel tools which they got
from Home Depot for considerably less. I use mine all the time.
I feel like I’m just beginning to learn what all it can do. In
fact, I ought to put a question to the forum about suggestions
for just that!

Have a blast!

Susan Embler
Dallas, Texas

My personal recommendation would be the old reliable Foredom.
The machine itself is a workhorse, but the true working end is
the handpiece. You will probably find that you want a variety of
handpieces to truly versatile with the flex shaft. The standard
#30 handpiece works great and has versatility, but is a bit of a
handfull when getting “delicate”. The #7 is a the best handpiece
for delicate work, but also requires a delicate hand when using
it. The bits are held in by light friction, so a heavy hand where
the cutting tool might “bind” is a for sure no-no and a life
shortener for the collet that holds the cutter. This handpiece
also will require periodic maintenance. Removing the sheath and
coating the inner workings with a light coat of Vaseline works
for me. The drawback to this handpiece is its delicacy and it is
limited to only 3/32" shank bits. Since 3/32" bits seem to be
the standard, you may find this is the one for you. I have used
one for years with no complaints. I just have to be careful.
Right now my main handpiece is the #8. This handpiece is not
quite as delicate as the #7, but it has bearings and doesn’t
require the maintenance of the #7. It also has a tighter grip of
the burrs and different collets are available for different size
burr shanks. Plus it’s less expensive than the #7. Whichever
handpiece you decide on, I highly recommend getting the duplex
spring attachment. This makes the flex shaft truly flexible and
easier to handle. If you decide on a Foredom, I would suggest
buying from Foredom. Different tool houses offer different
packages, but going directly to Foredom you will get to know the
entire line and all accessories and replacement parts available.
Plus if you have a problem, their repair department is available
instead of going through some supplier without waiting the extra
time of forwarding back and forth.


I would reccomend Fordom as they have a very reliable unit,
available almost everywhere (compepitave pricing) and I have
personal experience. Avoid Farro handpieces as they are of a new
design and expensive to repair. The quick-change handpiece w/the
duplex spring is a very handy & versetile unit. Hope this helps.

Rob, I would recommend a “Foredom” flex-shaft motor. Runs
smooth, well built, lasts a long time, ect. Have had mine for
many years now and not a bit of problem! good prices on lots of
equipment see “Bombay Bazar” Box770727 Lakewood, Ohio.
phone:216-521-6548 or 800-678-8450. later, MTR

PS I have no connection with this company (or any other I may
recommend) other than being a satisfied customer.

Dear Rob, As always the buy the best you can afford. I found
Fordom to be the best brand, but I just purchased a brand called
buffalo for my home work shop. Not wanting to spend for a fordom
it was a good value for a second workshop. I also found it was
cheaper at Tripps Inc in Socorro N.M. (after I paid 150.00) If
you need the Phone # I can look it up monday. BTW, it was
135.00 complete from tripps. Janine in Redding, CA.

You will probably get as many replies as their are Orchid
members! However, if it is any help, I have a Frei and Borel
Auto Torque-flex. It has a beefy motor, and is good on the slow
speeds as well as the high.

Good luck on your search. You will love your flex shaft. It’s
the one tool I couldn’t live without.

Karen Christians
416 Main St.
Woburn, MA 01801


Current Artwork:

Hi Rob,

You’ll enjoy using a flex shaft after you get it; you’ll wonder
how you ever got along without one. From your address it looks as
though you may be located down under. If that’s the case some of
this info may not be of any value.

Some things to consider when selecting a general purpose flex
shaft are: the top speed, horsepower, torque (especially at low
speeds), the number of different hand pieces available for it &
it’s repairability (repair part availability). In the US there
are 2 main mfgrs of flex shafts, Foredom & Pfingst. Both make
several models & their hand pieces are generally interchangeable
between brands. There are also some import brands that are knock
offs of these 2. You won’t go wrong with either brand. There are
several mfgrs of hand pieces also. Generally speaking unless
specifically indicated, all mfgrs hand pieces will work with any
flexshaft power unit.

Generally all flex shaft motors will provide sufficient power
when running at close to full speed. The real test of a power
unit is at low speed, does it provide enough power to do the job
when running slow. The Foredom model ‘R’ has a feedback loop
built in that provides for full power at slow speed. It’s speed
range is listed at 0- 20,000 rpm.

Equally as important as the power unit is the hand piece. That’s
the part you’ll be in intimate contact with for many hours. It
should feel comfortable in your hand for long periods of time, be
vibration free, run true (no wobble of the installed bits) &
provide for quick & easy bit changes. There are several types of
hand pieces for holding rotary bits. The most basic is the key
operated Jacob’s chuck similar to the ones used on many drill
presses. It can accommodate any diameter bit from size 0-5/32
inch (4 mm). The collet type hand piece has several different
size (usually 1/32 - 5/32 in) changeable collets that hold the
bit. The quick change hand piece has a lever that is operated to
open & close the collet. Generally the collet will only
accommodate 3/32 in. diameter tool bits.

Each type has some advantages & disadvantages. The Jacob’s chuck
will accommodate the widest range of tool sizes & there are
specialized tools made by other mfgrs (Allset, Koil Kutter, etc.)
that attach to the Jacob’s chuck hand piece. The disadvantage of
the Jacob’s chuck is the time it takes to loosen & tighten the
chuck when changing bits. If many bit changes are required this
time can add up.

With the collet type, the bit tends to run more true than with
the Jacob’s chuck. Disadvantages: you’re limited to bits that fit
the collet currently installed. A wrench is also required to
tighten/loosen the collet. The collet must be changed to
accommodate a different diameter bit. Again, time required for
bit changes can add up.

The quick change has a lever that is operated to open/close the
collet for bit changes. Some hand pieces allow opening/closing
the collet before the flex shaft has come to a complete stop. The
advantage of the quick change is the time saved when making bit
changes. The disadvantage is the collet is usually limited to
3/32 in diameter bits. This is not all bad, since the majority of
bits, burrs, etc. are furnished with 3/32 in diameter shanks.
There are adapters available that go from 3/32 to other sizes.

If you only get 1 hand piece, go with the Jacob’s chuck type (
Foredom #30 or equal). If you can afford a 2nd one, I’d also get
a quick change.

One nice thing about Foredom, Pfingst & equivalent flex shafts;
The hand pieces can be removed & installed from the flex shaft
with out the use of any tools. The hand piece is pulled off &
pushed on the flex shaft. They’re retained on the flex shaft by a
spring loaded ball riding in a grove in the flex shaft.

I use a Foredom ‘R’, # 30, a quick change & a hammer hand piece
in my shop.

Hope this helps.


Hi Rob,

Steve is right about Faro equipment. They make dental lab
equipment too. They are made in Italy and they remind me of
Ferrari automobiles, They go like hell, but you better have a
mechanic in the trunk!:slight_smile: I once had a Faro model trimmer that
needed repair. It took 4 months to make its way from the U.S.
to Italy and back and when I got it, it still wasn’t right, and
took another 3 mos. to fix. Some alternatives to a Foredom are:

1.) Pfingst of Germany makes high quality burrs but they also
make or have made for them, flex shaft machines. Pfingst is big
time good stuff.

2.) There are flex shaft attachments that fit on the Baldor or
Redwing polishing lathes. I don’t know where the come from but
I have seen them used in European Dental Labs. You might try to
contact Baldor or Redwing.

3.) Dental engine/arm/ handpieces with the old fashioned belt
driven handpiece are out there. Many labs have switched to air
turbine, or electric micro motor set-ups. Look through the
yellow pages for a seller of used dental equipment. The brands
to look for are Emesco, Wells, or Buffalo. Foredom makes or
made them but they seem to be more a hobbyist type engine/arm
with bushings not ball bearings like the others. These machines
are either 1/10 or 1/8 hp and depending on the engine/pulley
size combination can reach speeds of 45,000 rpm’s.(God only
knows why!) They run off a foot pedal and a good one will be
able to run at a slow enough speed that you can actually watch
the rotation of the cutter. They are 3/32" collets and have
superb concentricity. Be sure that the actual handpiece is
Wells, Emesco, or Buffalo. They are ball bearing, fit the
hand(not too skinny), and their least expensive handpiece is
groups better than the others out there. They also remain cool
after long continuous use! Remember that in a dental lab there
is no filing or setting etc. The crowns are waxed cast and
finished, some have porcelain applied that is then ground to
exact shape with the handpiece. I would suspect that they are
used anywhere from twice to 4 times as much in a dental lab than
they are in jewelry operation. They are the backbone of the
industry. Maintenance? Two drops of oil in the oiler reservoir
on the motor on Dec 30 every year, and 2 drops in each of the
pulley oil holes on Dec 30 and June 30. Wipe it down once in
awhile and change the drive belt when it frays. That’s it! Oh,
the belts cost less than $9.00 and usually last 18 mos. or so
with constant use. Handpiece repair is super fast turn around
and not too bad as far as $ goes. One thing to watch out for is
the short or piccolo or bantam arm. They are conveniently
short, but at the price of increased belt wear AND appear to
cause loss of concentricity at high speed.

4.) Electric micro-motors are nice. I had a Volvere brand for
15 yrs. and it was very serviceable. I am now using a Ney micro
motor and I like it better. A great piece of equipment for
about $800.