This page details rotary tools, spindles and routers. There is a list of other potential spindles on the Upgrade Overview page's Tooling section.
- Air-flow / heat dissipation Several of the brackets below are made of aluminum so as to facilitate the latter.
- Mounting it plumb to the machine Discussion of techniques for doing so on the forums in Aligning DW660 to be perfectly vertical. An interesting technique for this is to use spacers as shown in Re: Bits you use. The professional tool for this is a “spindle square” --- the construction of which is shown in Making a spindle square. Cf. Squaring the Spindle
- Weight Moving to a larger spindle can require that one (re)adjust the machine as noted in Fine Tuning --- Motor Current.
- Wear/Maintenance --- How To Tighten Up A Sloppy Second Hand Dremel --- this may be useful to do on even a brand-new unit. Inexpensive spindles may use brushes in their motors which require replacing. Bearings may need replacing as well: Bosch Colt started squeaking, so I replaced the bearings.
- Dust Collection --- See the Dust Shoe overview page for a list of implementations.
Note: One can use longer bolts in the universal spindle mounts to accommodate larger spindles. Specifics are noted below.
- Rotary Tool --- the prototypical hobbyist tool. Dremel is the most-recognized brand name and widely available. A small hand-held unit intended for small, delicate work.
- Cut-out Tool --- A commercial tool intended to cut drywall, as a class was inaugurated by the RotoZip Spiral Saw.
- Router --- The first powered woodworking tool, it allowed a woodworker to use a collection of small bits to create profiles which used to require either individual hand planes, or a combination plane such as a Stanley 45 which was viewed by most as finicky and difficult to set up. Routers are now available in a number of different sizes, w/ various terms being used to describe a over-lapping ranges of devices.
- Spindle --- the generic term for any device for spinning an Endmill mounted on a machine, it's also used to signify a unit which is intended for being so mounted. Previously, only expensive, high-quality commercial units were available, but spindles suited for hobby-level equipment have become available of late.
One additional concern is how different power ratings are measured. Commercial/Industrial spindles are rated for their sustained output (root mean square, RMS power). Consumer devices such as rotary and cut-out tools and routers are typically rated at their (theoretical) peak horsepower.
100 to 999 Watts
A note on the low-end rotary tools --- pretty much anything w/ at least 100 Watts of power (or 0.8 Amps @ 110VAC) will be workable --- there are probably too many re-badged variants (Sears Craftsman effect) to list them all, unless there is some extra-ordinary reason to warrant a listing (the tools currently listed are shown due to their widespread availability while still being a good value). Depending on one's patience and expectations and materials, one could go much lower (there's a 9-volt DC tool which would probably be quite kid-safe / friendly) if one took light enough cuts.
|Category||Type||Collet size(s)||Power rating (see Note below)||Speed||Power Supply||Weight||Noise rating||Notes||CAD/Mount||Purchase Link / Specific Model|
|Rotary tool||Generic||1/8"||120 Watts (1.0 amps)||8,000 -- 30,000 r.p.m.||120v AC||This is the tool included with the ShapeOko 2||This tool has two different/distinct diameters, so will not mount plumb in the stock mounts --- one can make up the narrower diameter using a suitable size of zip tie around the tool aligned with the lower mount.||Oddly, it's not listed on http://www.altocraft.com, but does show up on eBay regularly: Altocraft 100 Pc Electric Grinder W/ Blow Case|
|Rotary tool||Generic||1/16" and 1/8"||144 Watts (1.2 amps)||8,000 -- 35,000 r.p.m.||110v AC||Great starter tool and will take you further than you might expect. These are prone to working great and then dying all of the sudden.||Spindle Mount||Harbor Freight: Variable Speed Rotary Tool Kit|
|Rotary tool||Brand-name||1/32" -- 1/8"||138 Watts (1.15 amps)||15,000 -- 35,000 r.p.m.||110v AC||IMO, gives you no advantage over the knockoff||Dremel 200 Series Rotary Tool|
|Rotary tool||Brand-name||1/8" (3 smaller sizes, 1/32", 1/16" and 1/8" available)||192 Watts (1.6 amps)||5,000 -- 35,000 r.p.m.||110v AC||1 lb. 7¼ ozs. (660g)||The Dremel 4200 is a new version of the 4000 with new features, but has the same power rating / motor.||Dremel 4000 High Performance Rotary Tool|
|Rotary tool - high-end||Brand-name||240 Watts (2.0 amps)||12,000/24,000/30,000 r.p.m.||110v AC||better than a Dremel is the Black & Decker 3 Speed RTX Rotary Tool, RTX-B||Black & Decker 3 Speed Rotary Tool RTX-B|
|Rotary tool - high-end||Brand-name||6 high concentrically steel collets, 1/32-, 1/16-, 5/64-, 3/3-2, 7/64-, 1/8-inch||100 Watts (1/8 hp)||5,000--20,000 r.p.m.||110--120v AC||1.3 pounds, 9 inches long||Proxxon 38481 IB/E Professional Rotary Tool Dust Shoe for Proxxon Mount Other Proxxon IB/E users? And an example job||Thingiverse:proxxon_mount||Amazon|
|Cut-Out Tool||Brand-name||1/8" and 1/4"||600 Watts (5.0 amps)||30,000 r.p.m.||110v AC||3.2 lbs.||The DW660 - great upgrade from the dremel knockoff, allows you to use a router speed controller with some success, also gets you into the 1/4" shank game!||DW660 Available from ShapeOko.com Upgrades page. Will also work w/ 75mm bolts in the universal mount.||Dewalt DW660 Cut-Out Tool|
|Spindle||O.E.M. (China)||ER11 Collet (3.175mm)||600 Watts (5.0 amps)||3000--12000 r.p.m.||24-110V DC (7.8A)||||Includes Spindle Mount Bracket||Air cooled 600W Spindle motor|
|Spindle||800 Watts (1 HP)||, ||3D Printable 65mm Spindle Mount||Possibly equivalent to the GMT/UGRA CNC?|
|Spindle||GMT/UGRA CNC||ER11 Collet||800 Watts (1 HP)||6000--24000 r.p.m.||220V 3 Phase (Inverter Output Voltage)||3KG||||GMT Air Cooled CNC Spindle|
|Cut-Out Tool||Brand-name||1/8" and 1/4"||480 Watts (4 amps)||30,000 r.p.m.||110v AC||Rotozip RZ2000 - 52
Used successfully on Tony's ShapeOko #1894F.
|RotoZip SCS 01 Mounting Brackets|
|Cut-Out Tool||Generic||1/8" and 1/4"||420 Watts (3.5 amps)||28,000 r.p.m.||110v AC||Harbor Freight clone HF cutout tool is cutting alum plate like a champ.
After I took some measurements on accuracy it was less than desirable. Going to slow it down when i get a dust shoe to keep the shop clean of alum chips. I love the HF spindle though.
|Harbor Freight: Electric Cutout Tool|
|Compact Router||Brand-name||1/4" (other sizes available from Precise Bits)||840 Watts (7.0 amps)||16,000 -- 27,000 r.p.m.||110v AC||4.1 lbs. (including base)||The DWP611 - better choice than the DW660, I think it's a tad bit quieter, but seems to be more robust, with less plastic and more metal.||CAD files for mount. http://www.contraptor.org/mini-cnc-dewalt-router-mount Alternate version using aluminum angle on contraptor.org with Sketchup files]. Bracket designed using OpenSCAD, source and .stl for 3D printing.||Dewalt DWP611 1-1/4 HP Max Torque Variable Speed Compact Router with LEDs|
|Compact Router||Generic||6mm + 8 mm (3.175mm (1/8) collar adapter available separately for 12 euros)||850 Watts||11,500 -- 32.000 r.p.m.||230V AC / 50Hz||CauCau 850w||Diameter : 44mm
Diameter total: 70mm Length: 270 mm aluminium spindle mount available separately
|Universal Router / CNC Spindle = CauCau 850 W (eBay UK)|
|Compact Router||Brand-name||1/4" 1/8" collet (adapter)s which fit with some filing Astro Pneumatic Tool Co 200-283 Slot 1/4-1/8-Inch Collet Reducer Note that a custom 1/8" collet is not available at this time, and doesn't seem likely to become available in the future.||700 Watts||10,000 -- 30,000 r.p.m.||240v AC||1.4kg (3 lbs.)||The Makita RT0700CX - seems to be similar in kind to the DWP611. Same sort of aluminium housing and speed control, but without the two LEDs underneath. The European model would seem to be RT0701CX.||* CAD files for mount||RT0700CX - Roumer 6.35mm|
|Trim Router||Generic||1/4" (MLCS steel adapter bushing 1/8" or Elaire Corporation Reducing Collets)||400 Watts (3.4 amps)||26,000 r.p.m.||110v AC||Re: Treating spindles as a consumable||Harbor Freight (HF) Trim Router --- details on using the stock mount w/ strapping (thread now includes .svg file for a mount and dust shoe). Alternately, one can use the stock mount by using longer bolts 70--75mm.||Harbor Freight: 1/4" Trim Router|
|Carving Tool||Generic||1/8" and 3/16"||15,000 -- 20,000 r.p.m.||110v AC||The Chinese Foredom knockoff - This is a pretty good little spindle. For the most part you can only get to 3/16" shank, which isn't really an advantage over 1/8" because the bits are so hard to find, but what it does get you is "off-site" power. It uses a flexible wand connected to an AC motor. The motor turns between 15-20k RPM. I used one of these for about 6 months before it died. You can see it in my phone dock video (see list of videos below). The foredom knockoff is to-date my favorite choice *IF* I could get it with a 1/4" collett. It's good enough that I've contemplating buying a non-knockoff foredom handpiece just to see if it's any better, but at $355 I'm not sure that's ever going to happen. Because of what EJ was talking about (mounting the majority of the weight) off the machine, gives some great advantages. One that wasn't mentioned is the fact that the tool itself is closer to the z-axis, creating less of a lever arm.|
|DC Spindle||Generic||180 Watts||15,000 -- 20,000 r.p.m.||48v||This is ninja quiet!||The 180w DC spindle (48v) - And IMO does a nice job with simple engraving features, but is SERIOUSLY lacking in the power category. Don't plan to cut much (or anything) with this. I don't do PCB engraving, but imagine this thing would be great.|
|DC Spindle||Generic||1/4" ER-11||300 Watts (6.25 amps)||r.p.m.||48v||The 300w DC spindle (48v) - This is the second quietest spindle on the list. It's still lacking in power compared to even the knockoff dremel, but can manage to cut through most woods & plastics if treated nicely (1/32" (0.79375 mm) depth pass). It also has a 1/4" ER-11 collett option, but IMO is worthless because of the lack of power. Blog post about it here.|
|Palm Router||brand-name||1/4" (Other sizes available from Precise Bits)||672 Watts (5.6 amps)||16,000 -- 35,000 r.p.m.||110v||3.3 lbs.||The Bosch Colt - This thing is a MONSTER! It's loud as hell, and weighs more than any of the others (excepting the heaver Dewalt DWP611), and is pretty big, but it can really tear some stuff up. Cat saw it run first hand on one of my prototype machines when he was in Chicago last month and could attest to it's sheer power. I used a 1/4" 2 flute Onsrud bit and tore through a piece of maple at 1/4" depth pass without the Colt even flinching. Discussion in the forums here. European model is GKF-600. Notable features include:
||K2CNC Bosch Colt Router Mount||Stewart-MacDonald Luthier Tools|
|Mini spindle||generic||ER20||800 Watts (7.27 amps)||6,000--24,000 r.p.m.||110v||The next one on my list is the 800w water cooled VFD. At $271, it's pricey, but this one runs off 110v, so the need for a 220v drop isn't required. The 220v versions are about the same price, but most people don't have 220v available and would have to pay an electrician to get it installed.||ali-express|
1KW and over
|Category||Type||Collet size(s)||Power rating (see Note below)||Speed||Power Supply||Weight||Noise rating||Notes||CAD||Purchase Link / Specific Model|
|Mini spindle||generic||ER11 and 3.175mm (1/8"), 4mm and 6mm collets||1500 Watts (13.63 amps)||19,200--24,000 r.p.m.||DC --- requires VFD||~6kg||Chinese spindle (the 2nd best thing I've done for my Shapeoko more details in Spindle 1.5 KW 220V 400Hz + Huanyang Inverter (HY01D523B)|
|Mini spindle||Fräs-Spindel Kress 1050Watt 230V 5000-25000 rpm.||ER11 and 3.175mm (1/8"), 4mm and 6mm collets||1050 Watt||5000 - 25000 1/min||230 V||1.7 kg||Re: Zerblatt's build||43mm||Sorotec|
Note: Watt ratings converted to amps using Volts / Watts / Amps Converter on http://www.supercircuits.com.
List of Videos
Collets and Adapters
There are some vendors which make collets for specific machines as listed above.
There are also industry standard forms which some machines use allowing for a certain level of interchangeability.
In addition, it is possible to use adapters to allow a collet to hold a bit which otherwise would not fit:
- Trend CLT/SLV/3263 Collet sleeve 3.2mm to 6.35mm (eBay UK)
- MLCS steel adapter bushing 1/8" --- steel with a single slot (for the 1/8" size)
- Lee Valley Bushing Adapters
- Elaire Corporation Reducing Collets
- Stewart-MacDonald Adapter Collet --- brass with 4 slots
- IMService Sleeve-Adaptor 1/4 to 1/8
- STUBBY ER Collet Chuck ER-11 Manual Collet Chucks --- 1/2" or 5/8" shank which provides an ER-11 collet suitable for small bits.
Some machines may share collet designs. Noted instance(s) of compatibility:
It's also possible to directly control a spindle using the electronics: Spindle Control.
Single-speed spindles can also be controlled using a router speed control as noted in Less Power on the Dewalt DW660 page.
- K2CNC CNC Spindle Router Mounts --- Products include: Porter Cable 892, 7518 CNC Router Mounts, Hitachi Router Mount, Bosch 1617EVS and Colt Router Mounts.