Cordless vs Corded Dremel: Which is Best for You?

a dremel cutting metal

Image credit: Jette Carr, Cannon Air Force Base

Rotary tools are one of the handiest things to have in the workshop. For very small jobs, they are a combination cutter, polisher, etcher and even a drill. For such a handy little tool, the obvious question is whether you want one powered by wall power or a battery.

The choice really just comes down to whether you want lots of consistent power, or whether you want the freedom to move offered by a cordless battery. There is no clear winner in this, except for the one that delivers what you really need when you need it.

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Dremel 8220-1/28 12-Volt Max Cordless Rotary Tool...
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Dremel 100-N/7 Single Speed Rotary Tool Kit with 7...
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Dremel 100-N/7 Single Speed Rotary Tool Kit with 7...
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Our Favorite Cordless Pick
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Dremel 8220-1/28 12-Volt Max Cordless Rotary Tool...
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Dremel 8220-1/28 12-Volt Max Cordless Rotary Tool...
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Our Favorite Corded Model
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Dremel 100-N/7 Single Speed Rotary Tool Kit with 7...
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Dremel 100-N/7 Single Speed Rotary Tool Kit with 7...
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Tethered power

Small doesn’t mean soft. That is, your big job punching holes in vinyl siding might require less overall power than a close-in, small job drilling a hole through glass. You can get through vinyl pretty easily with almost every bit on the market. To get through glass, however, you need a carbide bit and a lot of consistent power.

a corded dremel

Image credit: Charles & Hudson, Flickr

That’s where a Dremel with a power cord shows its value. Doing consistent work on hard surfaces can drain a battery quickly, and leave you waiting for it to recharge before you can get back to work. This is especially true if you do all your work at a static bench with easy access to wall current.

One great thing about Dremels is that they all come with some way to govern speed, so consistent access to strong current complements the entire range of Dremel accessories. If you need to polish silverware, you can dial down the power and pop on a buffing head.

The only real downside to a corded Dremel is the cord itself. If you like to take your tools to where the work is, you need to make sure you’ve got enough extension cord to connect to power. Also, that cord can get in the way when you’re working, so if you have to get at the same thing from multiple angles, you have to account for where the power cord is all the time. Sometimes, it’ll just get in the way.

Freedom of movement

Not everyone spends hours upon hours working with a Dremel. A lot of people just need to haul it out for a few minutes to sharpen a pair of scissors or polish silverware or even cut the head off a nail. For these folks, the advantage of consistent access to power isn’t all that big a deal.

For them, the ability to maneuver the Dremel head more easily might be more important. That’s where the cordless Dremel really shows its value. It is just simply more versatile in how you can use it.

a cordless dremel

Image credit: Horst74, Wikimedia

Freed from the confines of wall current, you can take it anywhere where you live and more easily position it so that the bit is just where you want it. This also means that it’s easier to use if you need to climb a ladder or get into some hard-to-fit space.

It does come with the limitation that batteries can wear down pretty quickly the harder and longer you use them. If you have a lot of work to do with your Dremel, it’s probably going to mean portioning the work out around charging times.

A few final words

Dremel rotary tools are great, versatile additions to any home tool inventory. They come with what seems like an inexhaustible range of bits that allow you to do everything from drill to etch to polish to cut.

The two basic models of Dremel are those that get their power from power cords plugged into wall power those cordless models with batteries. Both kinds have their advantages, and the right one for you depends on what you need it for.

Corded Dremels are more powerful and because it plugs into wall current offers it consistently. If you do all of your work at a bench with lots of outlets, it’s an excellent option. That set-up maximizes the tremendous pluses of a rotary tool by giving maximum power to a highly mobile tool that you can use with one hand. Just make sure that while working that you account for the location of the cord.

If you don’t have a workbench or just take your tools to the work, a cordless Dremel is an excellent option for you. It is more nimble and light enough to take anywhere, including to work at heights or in tight spaces. Just make sure that you stay aware of how much juice your battery has, because once it runs out you’re done until you can get a charge.

As with any hand-held power tool that cuts or grinds, safety is an issue with either kind. Make sure you wear goggles to keep metal shards and dust from your eyes.

About the Author Adam Harris

Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!