Ten buck Harbor Freight "pencil grinder" vs Dremel, no competition

Lost the keys to the garage in the snow last night, there have been some thefts in the area so didn't want to leave it unlocked overnight, figured getting a locksmith to come out at 8 PM on a Saturday night was going to cost more than it was worth, thus is was down to Home Despot for a new lock. The old one was some brand I'd never heard of, got a new Schlage.
Lock went in fine, but the opening in the old strike plate was too narrow for the Schlage deadbolt, so went to put the Schlage strike plate in. Needed to open up the mortise a little and deepen it. Was going to go down to the basement and get the chisels, then I noticed the ten buck Harbor Freight "pencil grinder" http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?ItemnumberG869 sitting on the shelf by the door. Already had a 1/8" carbide cutter in it that I had been using in the Dremel just before I got the HF (put the cutter in just to make sure it actually fit and that the thing actually spun up without throwing it across the room--it is, after all, Harbor Freight). Hadn't had a chance to really play with the thing yet so decided to try opening up the mortise with it and see how bad it was.
Well, I'm a believer. Compared to that little ten buck air grinder, Dremels are crap. It never bogged down once, got cooler instead of warmer, never gave any sign of strain, cut through the jummywood of the door frame with just the right amount of resistance to give me real control, it's light and really well balanced compared to the Dremel--it handles like a pencil, not like a power tool. In short it works the way I _expected_ a Dremel was going to work before I used one, but the Dremel never really worked that way. And to top it off, once the strike plate was in I had to adjust it a little as well, and the air grinder with the carbide cutter sliced through that with no more fuss than with the wood.
Been toying with the idea of a flex shaft but see no need for one of those either--with the air grinder I'm not tied to a few feet of shaft--I can use it anywhere I can run an air hose--and it turns over 50,000 RPM.
Designed so that the air exhausts out the back with a long sleeve so that it exhausts far from the work piece so no problem with oil contamination either.
They've got a 1/4 inch die grinder for ten bucks as well--next time I'm over there I think I'm going to get one of those.
Downside is that it needs a compressor of course.
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--John
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I'm not exactly a Dremel fan but in fairness, isn't the moral more like "air tools that are sized right for the compressor have a lot more oomph than electric tools that are underpowered for the job?"
I've got a Griz moto-tool with a flex shaft and it's got almost as much guts as the little die grinder that came with my compressor. I think if I pushed both of them to the limit I'd burn up the moto-tool motor first, but for normal pencil-grinder jobs they're about the same.
But there's still times I want a little pencil tool and don't want to hang a motor someplace or drag an air hose around, and then I grab the Dremel I got for Christmas. The wife has a little battery dremel she uses on the dog's toenails. They like it better than a clipper for some reason.
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Thanks for the input. After giving up on my Dremel a year or so back, especially the flex shaft, I have needed it from time to time but decided it just didn't make the cut...literally. Therefore, I usually figured out other methods. Since I have a compressor in garage, as well as a pancake compressor, I can use the HF grinder in many areas.
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Ask your dentist what he uses, a max 25,000 RPM Dremel, or a 100,000 RPM air turbine drill.
That said, how does the bearing play compare?
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Father Haskell wrote:

I have no idea. Using it hand-held there's no noticeable play. If I was using on a toolpost then I'd worry about it. I understand that one can get a set of precision bearings for it from any bearing supplier for under 20 bucks.
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he uses one of those cord-driven monstrosities. Probably nowwhere near 25krpm[*].
scott
[*] Ok. He retired in 1992, still using that damn thing. Modern drills are much improved.
As for dremels, there's a kawasaki kit (yes, it's even flourescent green) at CostCo for about USD35. Includes stand, flex shaft and bunches of bits.
scott
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Scott Lurndal wrote:

You really should have found a different dentist. Even when I was a kid in the 60s mine was using an air turbine drill. Actually he had a high speed air drill, a low speed air drill, and a cord and pully drill--the last one he used for polishing after a cleaning and for no other purpose that I am aware of.

Googling it that looks like a really good deal, mainly because of the "bunches of bits". Have to go check it out and see what's included--if it's got a good range of cutters it's worth 35 bucks even if you toss the tool.
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Mine (with a carbide burr that was looted from some other machine) does a good job of dealing with plaster walls. I've put in dozens of outlets recently, and the wallholes made with my other techniques are MUCH sloppier.
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