Flex Shaft Options for Jewelry Making

The flex shaft is designed to assist with drilling, cutting, carving, and polishing jewelry. Learn about the basic options and attachments for this tool.

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The flex shaft is a motorized machine designed to assist with drilling, cutting, carving, and polishing jewelry. This article will familiarize novice jewelers with basic options and attachments for this versatile tool.

The Parts of a Flex Shaft

flex shaftThe flex shaft includes a motor, a flexible shaft that connects the hand piece to the motor, and a foot pedal to control the speed of the motor.

The hand piece has a jawed chuck to hold very small attachments like drill bits, burrsdiscs, and brushes. The flex shaft tools are placed in the chuck, which is then tightened with a chuck key.

Pressing on the foot pedal (similar to a sewing machine pedal) controls how fast the bits, burrs, discs, and brushes spin.

You can purchase the motor, flexible shaft, hand piece, and foot pedal all in one kit. Many kits also include various tool attachments. This is the ideal way to get started. After you have the basics, you can purchase additional attachments and even different hand pieces.

Flex Shaft Manufacturers


Foredom is one of the top manufacturers of flex shafts, kits, and attachments. It's the most commonly used flex shaft among bench jewelers. You can purchase the kits as well as individual pieces from the Foredom website. Amazon and Rio Grande also offer Foredom flex shaft kits.

Choose an SR motor, one of the most powerful ones which will go forward and in reverse. It operates at 1/6 horsepower at 18,000 rpms and 115 volts. Foredom measures their horsepower in maximum efficiency, not in maximum output (like Dremel). If Foredom measured in max output, their flex shaft's horsepower would be the equivalent of 1/4 horsepower. That's a big motor.

There are different hand pieces available for the flex shaft. The most popular and most versatile hand piece is the Foredom H.30. It can accommodate small and large attachments to perform light or heavy work. The Foredom H.20 is also a common choice, but it uses smaller attachments than the 30 and is geared towards lighter bench work.


Dremel is also a well-know manufacturer of flex shafts. They offer kits on their website as well as individual pieces. You can find the Dremel for sale on Amazon.

The 9100 Fortiflex is Dremel's most powerful motor. It operates at 1/5 horsepower at 23,000 rpms.


Attachments are available from Rio Grande, Amazon, and Otto Frei.

Drill bits are used for drilling holes and piercing metal.

Drill Bits

Burrs are used for cutting, carving, and setting gemstones.


Polishing wheels, polishing discs, brushes, and sanding drums are sometimes mounted on mandrels and then positioned in the flex shaft hand piece. They are used to polish and finish the jewelry.

silicon polishing discs
Drum sanding wheels
Mandrels, drums, wheel, and brushes

Flex Shaft Recommendations

PhotoNameTop Reviews on Amazon
SE Flex Shaft...image SE Flex Shaft Grinder Set

"I have several handheld motor tools (mostly Dremel) that work very well for many light applications. They all suffer from one limitation, however - prolonged use for grinding or cutting, especially with metal, would result in the motor housing becoming uncomfortably hot. I've never had one actually fail, but they do sometimes reach a high enough temperature that I feel obligated to let them cool down in the middle of a job. Also they are fairly heavy to hold for long periods of time when trying to do precision work.

I didn't want to spend a ton of money on a flex shaft motor, but saw this and it seemed to fit my budget (=inexpensive). I've been very happy so far and like the pedal operated on/off and speed control much more that I anticipated. The motor sounds less stressed than with the smaller tools. So far it's been fine for occasional cutting, drilling, and grinding use on small metal brackets, ABS and styrene plastic, using small drums for sanding wood, etc. The handpiece stays cool and is relatively lightweight. In practice, the flex shaft is no more constraining than the power cord on the handheld motors. So far I've successfully used a wide variety of rotary bits and tools with the included chuck. I can't say how a collet would work because I haven't felt the need for anything beyond the stock chuck and haven't had an issue with bit centering or shank slipping.
"   read more

VOTOER Flex Shaft...image Go2Home Flex Shaft

"So far this is an exceptional grinder. I do engraving on metal and stone so work and I needed more power than I could get from a standard size rotary tool with a flexible shaft. This model with the 780w motor seems to be just what I need for the time being. Having an extra set of carbon brushes for the motor is a big plus as I know they will need to be replaced eventually. So far, I am very satisfied with my purchase." read more

Flex Shaft System,...image Flex Shaft System

"Plenty of power, easy to use and control and the price is great! I use it to clean and cut gems and rocks as well as polish them, so i need to be able to vary the speed a lot. The eurotool works great. Way, way better than my dremel and quite a bit better than my foredom for much less money." read more

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Megan Coward, Graduate Jeweler Gemologist, GIA, Graduate Gemologist

Megan Coward is a graduate of the GIA with Graduate Jeweler Gemologist and Graduate Gemologist accreditations. She has 20+ years in the retail jewelry industry in various roles including as a diamond buyer and gemstone appraiser.

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