SUMMARY: If you are cutting metal with a rotary tool you NEED this.
When it comes to computer modding there are few tools more often used than the rotary tool. Its versatility is incredible, from cutting to sanding and even engraving; the tool is useful for a huge number of tasks. Today I’m having a look at the Dremel 400XPR which is supposedly one of the best units on the market right now. I’m also having a look at Dremel’s new EZ-LOCK cutting wheel system. So onto the review.
On the front of the box it shows the “Big” pieces that come with the tool, in this case the flex shaft, sharpener, and circle-cutting tool.
On the back of the box it shows all of the small bits that come with it (cutting wheels, sanding drums, etc.)
All the pieces of the Dremel come in this gray and blue carry case.
The two side cases that hold the accessories can be removed in case you want to carry them around without the main case.
The two cases contain a wide range of accessories, but not a significant quantity of any of them.
Upon opening the case you will find the tool itself and depending on the version you have a number of add-ons as well. Also notice the huge quantity of spaces for the add-ons. You can basically purchase all of the add-ons for the Dremel and they will all fit in this case, which is an excellent feature.
Included in this version (the most basic) are the tool, the flex shaft, circle cutter, sharpener attachment, straight edge guide, and several manuals/guides.
Looking at the accessories we’ll start with the circle cutter. It consists of a mount for the tool and a small metal spike mounted to a slider so you can change the hole diameter.
The flex shaft is a large flexible metal shaft that connects to the tool and gives you a smaller, more precise tool to do detail work.
The straight edge guide is fairly self-explanatory.
Finally there is the sharpener tool that allows you to use a grinding wheel to sharpen blades.
The tool itself is very compact with rubber grips and a comfortable curving design.
On the top of the tool are the on/off switch (on the left) and the speed control dial (on the right).
Thankfully I already own a rotary tool, a Mastercraft-brand (not the Maximum), so I have something to compare the 400XPR to.
I tested the XPR on steel, Plexiglas and wood, two common and one not so common thing that you will encounter while modding a computer case. I only really tested cutting performance, since that is the only job that really puts a large amount of stress on these tools.
As far as performance, the XPR and Mastercraft were on par with each other in all tests – they both seemed to have identical power. But I actually preferred the Mastercraft, to my surprise. This is because the design of the Mastercraft is big, bulky and non-ergonomic; its size allowed me to put my hand far back from the motor, so I felt less of its heat when doing tough jobs like cutting steel. And this is important because the motors in these tools can heat up to the point of burning your hands when cutting tough material.
On the other hand, if I were doing precision work on softer material I would choose the XPR because its design allows you precise control over the tool.
Again I didn’t notice big difference here but the Dremel obviously seemed to be of higher quality than the Mastercraft, although the difference between the two wasn’t huge.
The XPR is a great tool for many jobs, but unless you are buying it so you can use it with accessories, such as the Dremel Jigsaw attachment, I would suggest buying a cheap-o one instead. I got the Mastercraft for $50 CAD on sale and came with a lot more goodies than the Dremel.
On the other hand the Dremel is more comfortable and precise, so if you want to use it for engraving etc, it is probably the better choice. But remember – no rotary tool can take the place of a larger more specialized tool such as a jigsaw.
The EZ-Lock system consists of a special mandrel and a special set of cut-off wheels; these wheels are designed to last twice as long as fiber-reinforced wheels.
The wheels look very similar to regular fiber wheels, but these are far from ordinary.
This is what the mandrel looks like mounted to the tool. To change wheels, simply pull down on the brownish piece, rotate the wheel 90 degrees, pull it off, and then do the same thing backwards to mount the new wheel.
Dremel’s EZ-Lock system is the best and most useful add-on for cutting metal with a rotary tool that I have ever seen. Not only are changing discs tool-free and quick, but the discs absolutely REFUSE to break. Those of you who have checked out my system build guide will notice the holes that were cut in the case to allow cables to be routed; that entire job was done with 1 disc 🙂
If you are cutting metal with a rotary tool, you NEED this. Not only do the disks last forever but when they do break, it takes a whole 5 seconds to put another one on!