I'd like to understand: what is the point of a Dremel tool? I know that there are many Dremel accessories that are indeed useful, but why should I have to get the tool itself? Couldn't the whole system be implemented using an adapter for an ordinary electric drill? Is there some special attribute about the Dremel motor of which I am not aware? Or is it just unnecessary vendor lock-in?
An ordinary electric drill does not have the speed of the Dremel (30,000 rpm) which is the key to getting the best results from many of the accessories. Also, the Dremel tool is much smaller and lighter than an electric drill which is very useful in many applications such as carving, etching and working with small work pieces. Dremels can be used with non-Dremel accessories such as drill bits and grinding wheels so you are not locked in. As an example, the Dremel tool is excellent for cutting screws and nails to size using the 1 inch diameter cutting wheels. It would be very awkward to achieve the same results with an ordinary electric drill.
Just received one for Christmas.
Such a rotary tool's USP is it's size. It's actually a bit of a jack of all trades, but it's size means that it can do the same things as a full size drill, but can do them to smaller work pieces in more confined spaces. They also make up for a large range of manual tools that do the same jobs, though perhaps not as well. I would argue the benefits of a Dremel versus a junior hacksaw or file for many applications other than accessability. Something that you might consider prior to buying into the Dremel lifestyle is a mini chuck that can use Dremel compatible attachments in a full scale drill /driver. This way you might evaluate the attachments.
The best way to understand this is by analogy:
Consider the dentist drilling a cavity with a large Black & Decker. Not pretty.
Imagine trying to turn 1mm diameter screw threads for a watch on a 2500kg workshop lathe.
The biggest problem with Dremels is the users. I have read a review of one type by a user who gave it 1 star out of 5 because he couldn't build a farm gate with it. I think he was being serious. It's a bit like a toy tool. Use it for working on toys and it will meet expectations. Use it to cut paving slabs and you'll be disappointed.
Compared to a full sized metal geared 700W Makita, the lateral load capacity of a Dremel is minimal. Scaled down to a 25mm cutting disc though, it's adequate.
This isn't a review per se, but I've owned a Dremely machine for 18 months now. I'm not an engraver (but then I'd buy an engraver), and I'm not a wood carver (but I'd buy wood chisels). Thing is that over the last 18 months, I've hardly used it. The only time has been to cut off a small bolt that I couldn't have reached with a hand saw. Oh and removing some Gorilla glue foam which realistically could have been accomplished with a Stanley knife. I've come to the firm conclusion that it's too much of a compromise (Jack of all trades, master ...) It certainly is in a workshop setting where you have all the specific tools the Dremel seeks to replicate. In that respect it's like WD40 - useful if you only have one can to hand. Otherwise use the proper spray. I've realised that a Dremel's only selling point is that it's akin to a Leatherman that you take hiking. It'll fit in your pocket and do a lot of stuff, but at a compromised effectiveness.