Dremel vs. Drill: Which to Choose?

Dremel vs. Drill: Which to Choose?

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If you want to learn about tools, two power tools that you should definitely know all about are Dremels and drills. These are both extremely popular tools but are also quite different.

Today, we’re going to figure out what both Dremels and drills are, what makes them similar, what makes them different, and which one is best used for a specific task. Let’s help you choose between the two.

Drills and Dremels: The Basics

Before we start talking about the similarities shared and the differences between Dremels and drills, let’s first figure out what they both are.

What Is a Drill?

Drill A drill is a relatively small and lightweight handheld power tool that can be either battery-powered or corded. A drill is a tool that somewhat looks like a handgun, and features a chuck at the front where a drill bit can be attached.

The main purpose of a drill, and therefore a drill bit, is to create holes in a variety of materials. Depending on the specific drill bit, this tool can be used to drill holes into wood, plastic, masonry, metal, and many other materials.

This tool is most commonly used in woodworking but is also used in other professions. The second main purpose of a drill is to drive screws and fasteners into hard materials, either with or without a pilot hole having been drilled first.

In order to drill holes into hard materials, and to drive screws into hard materials, drills tend to have a good bit of power. Here we are talking specifically about handheld drills, although there are also hammer drills, rotary hammer drills, drill presses, and more.

What Is a Dremel?

Dremel What needs to be made clear here right off the bat is that Dremel is actually a brand name of tools, not a tool itself. However, when people say Dremel, they are usually thinking of the Dremel rotary tool. A Dremel is a very small handheld tool that can be either battery-powered or corded.

A Dremel rotary tool features a chuck at the front that can be affixed with a wide variety of bits for many different purposes. It can be used for cutting, sanding, polishing, grinding, engraving, etching, and more.

One of the defining features of a Dremel, and really all rotary tools, is that they move at up to 35,000 rotations per minute.

Similarities of Drills and Dremels

Now that we know what both Dremels and drills are, let’s figure out what makes them similar.

1. They’re Power Tools

One similarity shared by both tools is that they are both power tools. Both the drill and the Dremel can be either battery-powered or corded.

2. They’re Lightweight and Portable

Another defining feature of both tools is that they are both relatively lightweight and portable. These are by no means stationary tools.

3. They Can Be Used One-Handed

Both the drill and the Dremel are so lightweight and ergonomically designed that they can both be used one-handed. This one-handed functionality makes both of these tools very user-friendly. They both work pretty well in tight spaces too.

4. They Spin

Although how the drill and the Dremel spin are different, the fact that they both spin very quickly is the same. Both tools can achieve very high rotational speeds to serve specific purposes.

5. They Can Both Drill Holes

Although a Dremel really isn’t primarily designed to drill holes, there are bits that can do so. A drill is designed to drill holes. Therefore, technically speaking, both can be used to make holes.

6. They’re Common in Woodworking

Although both Dremels and drills can be used in a wide variety of industries and for many purposes, both are generally most commonly used for woodworking. While drills make holes, Dremels can cut intricate shapes in wood.

7. They May Both Have Adjustable Speeds

The other similarity that drills and Dremels may share is that they may have adjustable speeds. That said, there are some Dremels and drills out there that don’t have adjustable speed.

Dremel in Use

Differences Between Drills and Dremels

Now that we know what makes drills and drills similar, let’s figure out what makes them different from each other.

1. Size and Weight

One of the main differences between these two tools is that your average power drill is going to be much larger and heavier than your average Dremel rotary tool. Your average power drill, and 9.6 Volt drill, are going to weigh somewhere around 3.5 pounds.

That said, a larger 18 Volt power drill may weigh up to 10 pounds. This is especially the case if the battery is involved. Although a power drill can be used one-handed, they do tend to be much larger and chunkier than Dremels, which can cause the user to fatigue faster.

A Dremel by comparison, your average model, is going to weigh somewhere around one pound. They’re just much smaller, lighter, and easier to use one-handed. Due to this difference in size, they’re also better for tight spaces.

2. Output Force Direction

One of the biggest and most fundamental differences between the drill and the Dremel is the way in which they power the bit to spin. With a drill, the drive shaft is parallel to the bit or shank. In other words, the drive shaft faces front to back and so does the moving bit.

On the other hand, with a Dremel, the driveshaft and the moving bit are perpendicular to each other. This means that the drive shaft faces left to right inside of the tool, and the bit that spins faces front to back. This difference in output force direction then leads to the following difference that we’re about to discuss.

3. Speed and Torque

Due to the orientation of the drive shaft compared to the spinning bit, there are also certain differences in torque and speed between these two tools.

Due to the way in which the driveshaft and bit of the drill are oriented, it moves at up to 1500 RPM. This is not all that fast, but drills do have a lot of torque and power. This is so they can move through very hard materials with ease. A drill is more about power than it is about speed.

A Dremel rotary tool, on the other hand, is more about speed than it is power. Due to the orientation of the bit and the drive shaft, a Dremel rotary tool can move at a whopping 35,000 RPM. However, a Dremel rotary tool does not have nearly as much torque or power as a drill has.

4. Main Purposes

A drill has two main purposes. The first main purpose is to drill holes into hard materials such as wood, metal, masonry, and more. The second purpose is to drive fasteners into these same materials, and by fasteners, we are generally referring to screws. Drills come with drill bits for drilling and bits for driving screws.

Dremels on the other hand do not really excel at drilling holes or inserting fasteners. However, Dremel rotary tools do come with a wide variety of bits designed for many purposes. A Dremel can come with bits for engraving, etching, inlaying, polishing, sanding, grinding, and cutting. These bits are also a little more versatile in terms of the various materials that can be worked with.

5. Brand Name vs. Tool

We’ve already mentioned this once, but be aware that a Dremel is technically a brand name and a drill is a tool. The Dremel brand name makes more than just a rotary tool, although the rotary tool is usually what people are referring to when they say Dremel.

Drill vs. Dremel: Which of the Two Should You Use?

If your goal is to drill a hole into a piece of wood, plastic, metal, or anything else of the sort, then it is a drill that you need. A drill is also what you would use to drive screws into wood and other such materials.

On the other hand, if you need a great multi-use tool, a rotary tool to be specific, then it is the Dremel that you need.

A Dremel rotary tool has the ability to cut, polish, sand, grind, inlay, engrave, and more. As you can see, these are two totally different tools with very different purposes.

Can a Dremel Be Used as a Drill?

While you might be able to drill small holes with Dremels, it’s really not what they’re designed for. A Dremel can only drill a very small hole, and it won’t be able to do so into very hard and dense materials.

Do You Need a Dremel If You Have a Drill?

Yes, even if you have a drill, you will still need a Dremel. A drill is designed for drilling holes and inserting fasteners, but cannot really sand, grind, polish, cut, etch, or any of those other tasks that the Dremel is designed for.


You should now have all of the relevant information you need to make an informed decision between a drill and a Dremel.

How Do Dremels Compare with Other Tools?

See how Dremels (rotary tools) compare with: angle grinders | die grinders | oscillating multi-tools | routers