October 26, 2007

Dremel Duo (Stylus & Driver) - Review

dremel_duo1.jpgDremel has just released a new lithium-ion powered screwdriver, the Dremel Driver, and they've bundled it with their Dremel Stylus, which has been out since 2006. We were curious to see how Dremel was going to handle the whole lightweight lithium-ion screwdriver thing and we jumped at the chance to test out the little guy and as a bonus, we got our hands on the Stylus as well.

The Dremel Driver and Stylus come nicely packaged together, but are also available as stand alones (more on that later). They come with a stand/charger that fits both tools, charging one at a time. There is also a nice little compartmentalized case for your rotary bits and driver bits as well as an expansion piece for the stand that clicks onto the side and provides a space to store your bits for easy access. This last piece isn't pictured, as we lost it somewhere along the way during our test phase. We're pretty sure it's in the truck somewhere.

dremel_duo_box.jpg

The system has no removable battery to charge. Instead the entire unit clicks into the stand and it does its charging there. This situation presents no bench top space issues, seeing as both of these tools combined are hardly any bigger than the standard 18-volt battery and won't be taking up much space at all.

Which brings us to the heart of these tools: their size. They are both very, very small. With rotary tools, we're used to tiny, but the screwdriver is so small it's sort of funny. It's can store anywhere; a tool box, a kitchen drawer, or a shoebox in a college dorm room. We tested it out while working on a punch list, so we just stuffed it in a pocket each morning and went from room to room with our hands freed up our hands for other things.

dremel_duo_driver.jpg dremel_duo_driver_size.jpg

The controls are very simple; the drill only has a trigger and a forward/reverse switch. The one speed setting is relatively slow (300 rpm), but perfect for the detail work that the tool is made for. It's variable speed, but the maximum rpm drives home the fact that this driver is meant for small projects in small spaces, not blasting 1,000 drywall screws in an afternoon. But that's not to say it's a weak tool.

The Dremel Driver manages to pack 7.2-volts into its tiny 5" frame. We were able to drive a 3" screw into a wet 2x4 with little problem. Sure it took a little longer than an 18-volt drill, and it would be pointless to do it all the time, but it is still possible if you're in a pinch. It's likely though that the work you'll be doing with this tool will be little hinge work, things under the sink, hanging pictures, and putting together 'some assembly required' toys.

dremel_duo_stylus.jpgThe Stylus is pretty much the same except that it's a rotary tool as opposed to a screwdriver. It's lightweight, fits very comfortably in the hands (as all Dremel tools do), and is powerful enough for whatever you throw at it. It's got an rpm range of 5,000 to 25,000 that is easily adjustable using the rear dial.

The t-handle is a new thing for us. We're used to the standard cylindrical rotary tool and it took a bit to get used to. The t-handle is a bit more limiting if you're going to be working in spaces where you need the mobility to easily flip the tool around in your hand, but if you aren't doing that, the stylus body should work out fine. Once we got used to it though, it felt natural.

dremel_duo_stylus_top.jpgOur one complaint with the stylus is that the arbor stop is right next to the power button and is actually the larger of the two. So we would go to shut the tool off, but press the arbor stop instead, making for a grindy second or two. After a while we got it all figured out, but it left us wondering if the on/off might be better served on the side of the tool, where it could be accessed by the operating hand. It's a fairly minor point and one that quickly fades after a week or so using the tool, but since Dremel has set the highest standards for tool ergonomics and ease of use, anything oddities in this area give us pause.

The Stylus comes with all the rotary bits you need to get started. Enough so that if you're new to rotary tools, you'll be able to get a grasp of how useful they can be. And along the same lines, the Dremel Duo comes with a nice booklet on how to properly use your rotary tool as well as some project ideas.

dremel_duo_case.jpgOverall the Dremel Duo is a great set. Both tools have the Dremel stamp of being powerful, well-built, ergonomic, and stylish all at the same time. Because they are so small and simple to use, the tools are perfect for someone who is toolphobic, and because they're so quality, any contractor would happily add them to their toolbox.

As we mentioned earlier, these tools are sold as a set, or individually. The Screwdriver costs around $70 and the Stylus runs about $70. Combined, the set goes for just under $100. We'll let you do the math to decide what the best value is.

Dremel Duo at Amazon.com
Dremel Driver at Amazon.com
Dremel Stylus at Amazon.com

Read More in: All Reviews | Cordless | Lithium-Ion | Power Tools | Rotary Tools

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at October 26, 2007 5:18 AM

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Recent Comments

I love my Duo's! As mentioned in the article, unless a specific application needs a regular cylindrical Dremel these fit perfectly in my hand and I don't tend to cramp up after extended use like I sometimes do with my regular Dremel multi.

Great value on the duo compared to individual purchased, and so many applications can be covered with this combo. Hard to go wrong with this set and with the Dremel name you can count on the quality that I demand in my tools.


Posted by: Wes at April 16, 2009 4:56 PM
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