Dremel vs Drill. What’s the Difference and Which Tool Should You Use?

Dremel rotary tools and power drills are a staple in most toolboxes. These two are different types of power tools and are not interchangeable, although some of their functionality overlaps.
So, when should you use a drill, and when is a Dremel a better option?

Let’s find out…

Key Takeaways

  • A drill is primarily used for drilling holes and driving screws, while a Dremel is designed for high-speed applications such as sanding, cutting, grinding, and shaving materials.
  • It’s important to note that Dremel tool bits operate at high RPM but have lower torque, whereas drills offer higher torque but lower spindle speed.
  • Additionally, there are differences in the clamping systems: the Dremel tool features a 1/8-inch collet clamping system, while drills typically utilize expandable 3-jaw chucks.

Difference Between a Dremel and a Drill

Dremel vs Drill comparison


Dremel offers a range of tools and bits, all compatible with one base. These can be used for high-accuracy work, from drilling holes, cutting plexiglass, grinding metal, and sanding to filing dog nails.

See the potential of this versatile tool: Surprising uses of Dremel tool.


Drills come in various sizes, and they’re meant for one of two jobs: drilling holes and sinking screws. Power drills can be small, lightweight tools intended for working in close quarters or large, hammer-action tools meant for heavy-duty work.

Drills and Dremels have some features in common but vary in critical aspects: Drills are meant to bear end-on loads perpendicular to the drill shaft. Conversely, Dremels are intended to bear side loads parallel to the drill shift, which would damage a typical handheld drill. Drills have a high torque and low speed (max 2000 rpm), while Dremels have a low and high speed (max 35000 rpm). While far more powerful, drills are much less versatile than Dremels.

We’ve outlined the differences between a Dremel and a drill in the sections below to fully understand them.

1. Speed

A drill functions at a low rotational speed, while a Dremel functions at a far higher rotational speed. Dremel tools are famous for their high rotational speed, typically between 5000 rpm and 35000 rpm. On the other hand, Corded drills have a rotational speed between 300 and 3000 rpm. In comparison, their cordless counterparts function between 250 and 2100 rpm. Some drill models can work at up to 4000 rpm, but they’re specialty models and quite expensive.

This rotational speed is relatively low when compared to the Dremel, but bear in mind that the Dremel produces far less torque than a power drill.

That leads to our next point, the rotational torque of these two tools.

2. Power/Torque

Dremel tools function at low power and produce low torque. Typical Dremel models deliver between 1.2 and 1.8 amps of motor power, which translates into low torque. In comparison, power drills produce up to 1200 in-lbs torque, which is high. Power drills equipped with a clutch also allow for torque control, ensuring that it doesn’t rip a screw head off its shaft when sinking screws.

In practice, power drills can quickly sink holes in tough material. In contrast, depending on the situation, a Dremel tool will take much longer to sink the same hole or be incapable of doing it at all.

3. Design and Shape

Dremel tools are meant for high-accuracy work in close quarters and thus have a barrel grip. This type of grip allows the operator to find the optimum position to use the tool in each situation without sacrificing accuracy.

Power drills, however, are meant to cut into material quickly. To facilitate this, they have a pistol grip. This type of grip allows the operator to position themselves behind the drill, bearing their weight down to facilitate drilling in hard material.

4. Direction of Force

Dremel tools work in a variety of applications. Thus, they are designed to take workload perpendicular to the spindle and along the spindle axis.

Power drills are meant to work only in one direction and are thus designed to take workload along the spindle axis. A power drill could easily break if the workload is applied perpendicular to the spindle axis.

5. Tool Holding

Dremel offers a variety of bits, all compatible with a ⅛” collet, which snaps the tool bit into position. Conversely, power drills are typically equipped with a 3-jaw self-centering chuck. This chuck is compatible with various drill bit sizes, usually up to 13mm in diameter.
Larger drills are available on the market. These are special tools and are not as commonly available.

Related: How to change Dremel bits easily

7. Types of Bits

Dremel offers a wide variety of bits, including grinding bits, sanding and cutting discs, and polishing and carving bits.

Drills typically only use drill bits and driver bits. Some bits are compatible with sanding and polishing bits.

8. Weight

Dremel rotary tools are lightweight and meant to be handheld. Power drills are slightly heavier than the Dremel rotary tool. Large power drills are considerably heavier than the Dremel since they’re designed for power, not as lightweight hand tools.

9. Uses

The Dremel rotary tool is highly versatile and can be used in many applications. Typical applications include cutting wood, plastic, and metal, carving, etching, drilling, grinding, sanding, and polishing. Each of these functions is facilitated by a specific tool bit. This list is by no means exhaustive. For more information on Dremel tools and their uses, see this article.

Power drills are meant for drilling and driving screws. Depending on the drill bit, they can drill through plastic, wood, tiles, masonry, and concrete.
Then there is also hammer drill and rotary hammers with hammering action for drilling masonry and demolition work.

Drill or Dremel, Which Tool is Right for You?

The tool you need depends on the job at hand. Here’s a typical overview of when to use which.

  • Dremel: The Dremel multi-tool is a versatile power tool best suited to the person who needs one tool to do many jobs. This is typically the DIY enthusiast, artist, or craftsman who does a lot of carving, grinding, and polishing but doesn’t want to spend money on various tools. One Dremel, fitted with a range of bits, can do all these tasks, but few are not listed.
  • Drill: A drill is a powerful tool but primarily meant for drilling and driving screws. If your job requires a high volume of drilling and a tool that can do this quickly and effectively, use a drill rather than a Dremel. This is best for builders, carpenters, and other artisans who require a workhorse to finish the job quickly.