Axminster Rotary Power Carver archive

Wednesday 21 January 2009

Mark Cass brings us this test from the archives

On being presented with this smart-looking rotary carving kit, my initial reactions were mostly favourable and it was with some interest that I looked forward to the actual testing. I've not used one of these before so I was keen to see what it could do.

The kit itself looks complete and cosy in its plastic case and well furnished with ample abrasive bits and mini-carving chisels, as well as a flexible power attachment and associated handpieces.

The main tool feels good in the hand and is of a comfortable weight and balance, although disconcertingly it put me in mind of the dentist's chair. This feeling was reinforced by the white colour of the 'drill' coupled with the pink drill bits; hrrrrr, feel free to shudder now.


Unfamiliar as I was with this type of tool, I made a point of consulting the instructions included in the box - one side of A4. These were sketchy, unclear, poorly translated and accompanied by small smudgy photos of uncertain meaning. I'm sure I won't be the only person to use one of these rotary tools for the first time; without a better guide it's likely that a fair degree of disappointment is on the cards.

In use

Despite my initial assembly frustrations, the Axminster rotary tool kit was eventually up and running - with a little help from a colleague - and I started to enjoy myself. The motor runs smoothly, delivering constant power with a nice sound, even when under full load.

I suspect grinding through sheet steel may be too much of a test for it, but it coped admirably with a variety of timbers at the GMC workshop. However, the six grinding bits supplied with the machine are really only suitable for metal working, so you will need to buy some burrs suitable for wood if you want to tackle woodcarving. This is a shame. The main unit is ideally suitable for carving purposes and carving is indeed mentioned in the name of the unit, but is not supplied with suitable bits. Hmmmm!

Variable speed is a standard feature of most of these rotary-type tools; in this case 1 to 5 gives slow to fast, with 6 providing an unmissable - and unnerving - turbo-boost.


Aspects of changing accessories were a bit fiddly but achievable nonetheless; I particularly liked the reciprocating head set-up for carving. With the main tool switched on and hanging from a convenient hook, the carving head can be run off the 990mm (39in) flexible drive shaft for ease and convenience.

Sadly, the five chisels supplied were of poor quality, so it's best to have some decent ones of your own on standby. Despite this, the reciprocating carving action was positive and controlled; after prolonged use the vibration could become a bit wearing, but I imagine this is par for the course with this type of tool. The handpiece did get a little warm after sustained usage - not uncomfortably so, but enough to be worth mentioning.


The smaller of the two heads, for rotary work, was extremely well machined and a pleasure to use. I can see it being of particular use for model-makers and the like. All in all I feel the Professional Rotary & Carving Tool is well worth considering if you are in the market for one of these rotary tools.

This classic test was taken from WC issue 68

Woodworkers Institute

Tagged In:

power carver , Mark Cass , Axminster , Classic Test

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"The main tool feels good in the hand and is of a comfortable weight and balance"

The Numbers

Axminster's Professional Rotary & Carving Tool Kit
Power: 125W
Speed: 30,000 rpm (max)
Collet: 3.2mm
Chuck: 0-3.2mm

The carver comes in a box

Contact Details

Contact: Axminster
Tel.: 0800 371 822