Intro to the Flex Shaft: How, When, and Why You'll Use it for Jewelry Making

19 Dec 2012

All day, every day, we're confronted with decisions. Soup or salad? Diamonds or pearls? Edward or Jacob? Coke or Pepsi? (Make that sweet tea or unsweet?) Flex shaft or Dremel?

That last one can get a group of jewelry-tool fans and jewelry makers in a tizzy faster than diamonds vs. pearls. So far, I'm on Team Dremel--possibly because I already have one, I like to improvise, and I'm trying to save my studio from even more jewelry-making tools--but some folks make a good argument for the flex shaft, and I'm seriously considering the switch. Here's a good intro to using the flex shaft, including how and when you'll use this versatile tool for jewelry-making projects and details about what parts and accessories you'll need to go with it, from the Jewelry Making Daily archives.

 
If you already know which team you're on and have (or are ready to buy) a flex shaft, you'll want to order our jewelry-making tutorial video workshop, Intro to the Flex Shaft. Hosted by metalsmithing expert and jewelry artist Travis Ogden, Intro to the Flex Shaft is over 100 minutes worth of detailed examination of the parts and uses of a flex shaft tool for jewelry making. In seven lessons, you'll learn how to maintain and safely use the flex shaft; how to grind, sand, finish and polish metal jewelry with it; the proper sequence for grinding and sanding; drilling and cutting metal, stone, and wax; and using the flex shaft's specialty accessories. You can also instantly download Intro to the Flex Shaft if you're impatient like me.

So which team are you on, Team Dremel or Team Flex Shaft? I'd love to hear why in the comments below.

About the host: New to Jewelry Making Daily, Travis Ogden has been an independent jewelry artist for over 40 years and holds both a BFA and an MFA. His award-winning, superbly crafted jewelry is currently represented in three Colorado galleries. He taught metalsmithing at the university level for more than 15 years and currently teaches at the Denver School of Metal Arts, which he owns along with Naja Tool and Supply in Denver.


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Comments

on 19 Dec 2012 10:42 AM

Most folks start with a Dremel, and if your usage level is low, you may never need to replace it, but if it becomes an important part of your production the Flexshaft makes a LOT of sense for several reasons. Most important is YOU! The Flexshaft can easily be positioned to place as little stress as possible on your hand and wrist.. Not doing damage to YOU is a very good thing. The second most important point that comes to mind is versatility. The Flexshaft has replacement handles available that allow you to use a wide variety of chuck sizes instantly and even turn the Flexshaft into a mini hammer for surface texturing. And  third - you can maintain and rebuild the Flexshaft. When a Dremel breaks, you throw it away. My current Flex shafts (I own two) are over 15 years old. They get oiled once a year and the motor brushes have been replaced once. You can buy replacement foot pedals and handles they wear out. Essentially you should think of the Flexshaft like a car - you can fix it if it breaks or parts wear out. So while the up front cost is more, most people will never need to replace a Flexshaft!

Karadon wrote
on 20 Jan 2013 12:12 PM

I just recently got into metalsmithing (having done beading for years) , and was lucky enough to have an Oster pet nail grinding tool with variable speed control, which takes Dremel bits.  (I have read that their current models don't.)

Our current dogs hate it, so it was just gathering dust.   Considering how many other tools I had to acquire (and still do!) I'm happy to be able to make good use of it!

KarenJ776 wrote
on 13 May 2013 1:59 PM

I'm a "both" person. I love my Flexshaft (actually, mine is from Grobet) for drilling, polishing, carving and all the other standard work. But I also love my cordless Dremel for cleaning my lampwork beads. I can use it safely in water, with a special diamond tip, and only have to replace the battery about every 2 years with moderate use.