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It seems like everyone’s jumping on the Dremel wagon recently, issuing their own versions of the classic do-it-all DIYer’s tool.  Black & Decker’s entry (pictured) is a three-speed model — 12k, 24k, and 30k rpm — with a “universal” collet that accepts “all standard rotary tool accessories” (read: your Dremel stuff).

While the rubber grip looks nice, I’m not sure I’m willing to give up the Dremel’s variable-speed setting — especially when the Black & Decker model runs about $40.  It does, however, ship with a couple of free spring clamps.

What do you think?  Let us know in comments.

Black & Decker 3-Speed RTX Rotary Tool [Black & Decker]
Street Pricing [Google Products]

 

28 Responses to Hot or Not? Black & Decker’s Rotary Tools

  1. Stuey says:

    I’m going to say NOT, but without ever trying this tool. My experiences with Black and Decker are not as fond as those that my father had with their older stuff, so forgive me for being biased.

    In a pinch, I bet that these aren’t substantially better than the $15-20 units you can find at amazon or harbor freight. Since I use my rotary tool often, I stick with Dremel for the speed control and because I trust Bosch a bit more than I’d trust a B&D copycat.

  2. John Laur says:

    I’d be happy if someone finally ships one of these things with secure and accurate attachment options to allow it to be used as a miniature precision router. The plastic threads around the collars of the dremel are complete junk and even though this tool has what looks to be a metal nut, it appears the threads are again plastic underneath.

    The dremel and related tools have their place but when you have to basically freehand everything they loose a great deal of their utility.

  3. Pete Hartman says:

    NOT.

    I had a battery powered Wizard a long while back, it was useless, I gave up and spent the $$ on a real Dremel.

  4. GlennZilla says:

    I have had one for several years now. It was a gift from my girlfriend (now wife).

    I used it to lop off parts from pewter wargaming miniatures and to handle computer case mods. So mostly I just use the cut off wheels and of that it’s great. I have only used it for grinding and wood carving on occasion, but found it to similar to my old dremel.

    There are a couple of misconcpetions about it though. At least my older version has metal threads beneath the plastic “Accessory mounting collar” so I doubt John’s problem would persist. I believe that they do sell a mini router for it.

    I don’t put it though torture so it’s stood up well for me so I haven’t personally had Stuey’s complaint.

    And finally the biggie. the speed is variable. See the wheel in the back near the power cord? That’s the speed wheel. It’s simply numbered 1-10 but I think the manual (I’ve misplaced) gave the rough RPM equivalent for each number.

    Feel free to email me with questions. Glennzilla (at) glennzilla (dot) com

  5. Paul says:

    I’d say NOT, I read stories about case modders who just gave up on these and went with a real Dremel.

  6. Bryan says:

    NOT — I bought one of these on sale at Home Depot, got it home and started working with it. You have no control with the B&D RTX. I went out and bought a Dremel the same day. I still have this thing, but I couldn’t tell you why — it’s worthless.

  7. Buck says:

    I don’t really have an opinion on the tool itself. I do like, however, that the accessory rack for the B&D tools usually has fiberglass reinforced cutoff wheels that work just fine in the Dremel mandrel.

    For some reason, the Dremel brand rack at my local home improvement stores all only have the non-reinforced cutoff wheels, which are really only good for exploding into sharp, fast moving, flesh seeking shrapnel.

  8. eschoendorff says:

    NOT. For $40, just buy a real Dremel. They’ve been doing it longer…

  9. Mel says:

    eschoendorff Says:
    July 5th, 2007 at 8:38 pm

    NOT. For $40, just buy a real Dremel. They’ve been doing it longer…

    SECONDED – I have an old 1-speed Dremel that’s probably close to 30 years old and still going strong

  10. Diddly says:

    NOT – I had one that died within 6-9 months of infrequent use.

  11. Rick says:

    Hot.

    I have had one for a couple years works as good as my fathers Dremel.
    Of course it was free.

  12. Will says:

    I have had one for about a year now. I use it for case modding, a little wood carving and of course sharpening things like the lawnmower blade and shovels. I haven’t had a single problem with it yet (even though I do have a gripe with B&D over their crappy sanders).

    Hot

  13. kythri says:

    Lukewarm?

    I’ve got a real Dremel, and I absolutely love it. I finally decided to buy one at Costco when they had a big kit with all kinds of bits and accessories on sale.

    Wow, it’s an improvement over my old Weller Mini-Shop piece of garbage.

    As far as Black and Decker goes, however, I will say that I do find the AA-powered devices (the pumpkin carver, golf ball polisher, etc.) that this turned me on to (http://toolmonger.com/2007/01/09/reader-find-dremels-alkaline-powered-minimite/) are quite handy.

    I don’t think I’ll be replacing my real Dremel anytime soon, but the cordless devices help out in a lot of places.

  14. Bowen says:

    I had one of their Wizards and even though I only paid $12 for it (clearance at Wally), I felt ripped off. Between the case splitting under the bezel within a week of very light use, the very spongy/unreliable speed selector and the lack of real oomph (even for a battery device) it ended up getting stripped for parts and replaced with a real rotary tool.

    The battery was nice though and now powers a home-brewed LED worklight.

  15. Convictus says:

    Not!

    I own one, and am constantly frustrated by the shape of it. This does not fit many of the external optional Dremel accessories. I have the Dremel drill press, and tabletop router and neither fit this worthless tool. Mine is 3 speed, only 1 is actually really usable. About half way between low and med, is the only speed fast enough to cut, but easy to control. I have made things with it, but prolonged use (2+ hours and I started to melt the bushings and had to shut it down and wait for it to cool down)

    Personally I would find one on close out and use it for destructive purposes, ie jobs you wouldn’t want to murder a good Dremel on.

    I second the metal collar comment though, it is sturdy, not tough.

  16. Sam says:

    I own both the B & D RTX three-speed rotary tool and a variable-speed Dremel, which no longer works. I was never happy with the Dremel, because the brushes tended to wear out quickly and the variable speed “feature” was not an asset — the speed varied even when I didn’t want it to and the tool would cut out at certain positons on the speed control. The slightest load would cause the rotational speed to drop noticeably.

    The RTX in my opinion is a vast improvement over the Dremel tool. Even though it only operates at three discrete speeds, the speeds are well chosen to match most common tasks, and the tool holds the set speeds extremely well, even under varying loads. I’ve had the RTX for over two years and it had never given me any problems. Every Dremel accessory that I have tried has worked with the RTX, including a 24″ flexible shaft attachment.

    Several of previous comments either don’t address the product that is being discussed or provide opinions formed without ever owning or even using the B & D RTX. (It is not a battery powered device and it’s not a “Wizard.”) Not very helpful information, guys.

    • Tom says:

      I would agree with your opinion on both B&D and Dremel. I’ve owned 4 different Dremel moto-tools since the early 70s. One was sold by Sears. None of them lasted very long. Some years ago I bought a B&D RTX3S. I use it a few hours every day, as I repair and restore musical instruments (band instruments), and the B&D has never stopped working. It has outlasted every Dremel moto-tool that I ever owned. Maybe my experience is not typical, but I use the RTX3S every day and it has stood the test of time and frequent use.

  17. BoomGuy says:

    I bought one a few months ago. Not the multispeed version, but
    a single speed version for $15, along with a light dimmer which
    I use to adjust the speed. ( Plan is to find an old sewing machine pedal to convert into a foot speed control . If you do this you cannot have a multiple speed tool. )

    So far it’s worked fairly well, though I don’t push usage time. But considering the amperage is 2A I find it hard to criticize it at the price.

  18. Kurt says:

    Can you really use a light dimmer and not hurt the motor?

  19. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I do think that a light dimmer can be used with a motor such as this one. A typical chandelier may have let’s say 6 75 watt bulbs, which means that a dimmer must be able to handle 450 Watts of power.

    If the motor in the tool is 2A, then the dimmer only needs to handle 240 Watts total. Seeing as how dimmers are typically linear potentiometers, it should work alright. If the motor requires a particular starting voltage, then one only needs to start it up under max voltage and crank it down afterwards. If the motor does get damaged, $15 isn’t too hefty a sacrifice to the whoopsie gods.

  20. A linear pot is a terrible thing to do to a motor. Remember how you’re supposed to unplug your motor-driven appliances when there’s a power failure, so they don’t destroy themselves if power comes back up into a brownout state? With too little voltage, the windings don’t produce much torque, but they draw more amperage, which produces a lot of heat. Since the rotor’s not moving (quickly), there’s less ventilation, and the motor burns out.

    Pulse-width modulation is the best way to effect speed control of an electric motor. During the on-time, full voltage is applied to the windings, so you get plenty of torque for not a lot of amps, and correspondingly little resistive heating. During the off-time, there’s no torque but also no heat.

    On the plus side, I believe most modern dimmers are PWM, though I have no direct experience there so I’ll defer to someone more experienced.

  21. K McGregor says:

    I’ve owned 2 in South Korea and they both caught fire. Is it something in the Asian air? The second unit I owned was shown in a classroom. I was teaching about hobbies to Korean English students, and 30 minutes of on/off use a student says this is getting hot. He dropped it on the floor, flames came out the sides. The class was wondering is this common of all Black and Decker tools?
    That is possible, considering that with was similiar to what happened to the first Black and Decker I owned.
    Maybe I should buy another tool in Seoul and make a video for Youtube? The rotary tool that if your not careful will give you a very bad hand job. Where is the quality?

  22. machine is smarter than men says:

    To the fellow in Korea,

    Are you using the appropriate RTX for the Korea AC standard ?

    .

  23. Simon says:

    I had the UK version. It was AC powered, full variable speed and my experience is similar to the Korean chap:

    First off, it was unusable at high speed. The bearings were so poor it vibrated and whined very loudly above half setting. It also got VERY hot indeed, and would smell of melting/burning plastic after about 20 minutes use (this is from new but it definitely got worse over time). Finally it failed twice, and then got binned.

    The first time it just slowed and stopped. On inspection a capacitor had physically snapped off the motor control board and was rattling around in the back of the case. It didn’t look otherwise damaged so was re-soldered in place. I took the opportunity to clean it thoroughly and oil the bearings (proper gear oil, not WD40 or 3-in-1). Shortly after that it began slowing up, and eventually caught fire in my hands, which was not pleasant!

    I bought a Proxxon instead, which is great, but I worry that the motor is similar (they’re both DC with electronic pulse-width varispeed). It’s too early to tell if it will last, but the build quality is nice, and it’s MUCH quieter.

    There was one really good thing about the B+D though: the lever spindle-lock and the shape of the hand grip at the front were both great. The Proxxon has a pin for spindle lock, and it’s hard to avoid pushing it in accidentally. The B+D arrangement works as a very effective safety interlock too, and I got used to it with quick tool changes. the Proxxon has a Jacobs-style chuck though, rather than a collet, which makes tool changes easier (and you can hold a wide range of drill sizes too),

    So full marks to B+D for styling, but a lot less for build quality!

  24. John Montgomery says:

    HOT. Have the three speed and it runs circles around the old Dremel I had. If you want great speed adjustment find an old sewing machine and take the foot control. Plug in rotary tool and go to work.

  25. Art says:

    Dremel went to college with my daughter years ago, she still has it and I got a Foredom, best of the lot of rotary tools. I have a tungsten electrode grinder that uses the motor part of the RTX and a special head for grinding welding electrodes. I bought another RTX to back-up the one on the grinder when I saw Black and Decker, China, but hundreds and hundreds of electrodes later it still runs like the day I got it, the other brand new RTX just sits in the toolbox and occasionally does a little grinding in tight spots. I paid $34 for it if I remember right, I’ve seen them as low as $30.

    Art

  26. Hans says:

    I had a dremel and could not find it one day so I bought this B&D RTX3s at the hardware store down the street. Since then I have found the Dremel and wore it out in another year or so. It has been about 15 years an it’s still going strong. I am BRUTAL with these things. I use them mostly on steel.I use it at least 5 to 8 hrs a week. I have had the B&D apart many times in that 15 years and modified it to be continuously varible from about 800 rpms to 30,000 rpms. The bearing has been bad for the last 5 years and it’s annoying but it just still keeps going. If I could change the bearing on it I would not even think about getting a new one. In my opinion it is way better than the Dremel that I had. Far far more durable, rugged, heavy duty. I just wish I could get that damn bearing off so I could put a new one on.

    HOT

  27. johnny may says:

    have used one daily to hang drywall for the last year,toughest cut-out tool I ever owned!

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