Best Power Carving Tools: Dremel Fortiflex vs Foredom
Power carving is fundamentally different from your laid-back, hobbyist take on wood carving.
Looking at some sites I’m a bit shocked to see how people fail to properly recognize this simple fact. The wrong rotary tool can absolutely demolish your woodworking project.
In this article, I’ll discuss two brands that in my opinion produce the best power carving tools.
Foredom to me is the champion in professional, heavy duty carpentry tools. Their Foredom K5240 kit is a quality take on power wood carving.
Dremel needs no introduction whatsoever. However, we won’t be looking at their ordinary rotaries like Series 4000 or Series 3000.
For power carving, the only Dremel you want to be focusing on is the Dremel Forti-Flex.
I realize there are other good choices – for example, Wecheer rotary tools, but I’m not that familiar with them. Most of the carpenters I know have been using either Foredom or Dremels.
Before I continue with the comparison, let me elaborate on an important question:
Why do you need these higher end tools and not your average rotary carver? I mean, they’re quite pricy too!
Why regular tools aren’t that great for power carving
In a parallel universe, you’d be able to grab a $50-80 rotary tool and tackle challenging, demanding wood projects like a boss.
Reality is a bit different. Regular tools are lacking in several aspects where the Foredom and Forti-Flex excel.
Motor power: As simple as that. Dremel’s Forti-Flex is 2.5 AMP (or 1/5 hp) vs the usual 1.6 AMP. Foredom clocks at 1/6 hp. You know what less power means.
Less speed: No, more speed doesn’t mean better carving. Quite the opposite – the faster the tool, the more friction generated. You don’t want to burn the wood you’re working on, right?
Most micro-rotaries or standard Dremels have 5000 RPM as their lowest speed. In comparison, power carving tools can start at as low as 400 or 500 RPM. This protects the material you’re practicing your craft on.
More torque: Instead of speed, what you need more of is torque. Smaller carvers simply lack torque.
On the contrary, especially the Foredom operates with outstanding torque in any situation. Steady power carving no matter the speed you choose!
Important additions: Foot pedals allow for hands-free speed control which is indispensable for more challenging projects. Foredom and the Forti-Flex have this built-in, unlike standard rotaries.
In addition, the Foredom for example also allows for both forward or reverse rotation operation. For demanding, more complicated projects this is an incredibly convenient feature that you won’t want to miss out on.
Dremel Fortiflex vs Foredom:
Which is the best power wood carving tool?
As I said, both are amazing gadgets to do some serious woodworking with.
That said, if your budget allows it, I’d go with the Foredom. Two main reasons for that:
First, as I mentioned, the K5240 works in reverse too. This adds versatility to your working process. The Forti-Flex has no support for reverse operation.
Second, the manufacture quality. Foredom have produced the K5240 in a marvelous all metal housing, with all parts produced in the US.
As always, Dremel care about quality and ergonomics too and their rotary is made in Taiwan. But you can’t really beat local production and above all, a tough metal construction.
On the downside, the Foredom definitely generates a bit more dust when working. Both rotary tools are home-friendly, though! You can do power carving in your apartment or house without any problem.
If you’ll be tackling huge amounts of wood, going with the Foredom is a must in my opinion.
If you feel like you’ll be still doing heavy duty work, but a lot of your tasks will deal with a bit more detailing than usual, the Dremel should be fine.
In regards to their other specifications, here’s a quick comparison table:
- Dremel Forti-Flex
Up to 23 000 RPM
- Power cord:
- Noise levels:
- Foredom K5240
Up to 15 000 RPM
- Power cord:
- Noise levels:
Bonus 3-disc DVD with Frank Russell's carving lessons
As a general rule, both brands’ bits and attachments can be used interchangeably. Make sure you check the manual just in case, though.
An important note on Foredom’s reverse rotation mode!
If you decide to switch from forward to reverse (or vice versa), stop the tool for a few seconds before doing so. The manufacturer also recommends this as a measure, as it can mess up with the motor.
As a general rule of thumb, also remember that we’re talking about power carving tools here. If you want to perform any extra fine detailing work, you should consider getting a micromotor tool. There’s plenty of these and luckily, they’re quite cheap.
Dremel’s entry level models will do a pretty good job as a whole. I’ve reviewed the Series 4000 in my guide to several wood carving tools.