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.
2 Minute Read
The Parts of a Flex Shaft
The 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 likedrill bits, burrs,discs, 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 onAmazon.
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.
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.
Flex Shaft Recommendations
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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