Power Tools

What power tools (Dremel, drill, plastic cutter, CNC, etc.) do y’all use? My team uses a Dremel and a drill. I’m just curious as to what other teams use, now that my team might finally have a place for larger power tools.

For vex or just for engineering club in general?

For Vex, although power tools you have for other parts of the club and use for Vex occasionally because you have them also count.

A band saw would be recommended, also a drill press, and jump shears are great for plates

Dremel and a hacksaw. Cutting is a pain, so it’s a great incentive to not cut pieces unless we absolutely need them.

Even though we have 14" cut-off saw and a large rotary Dremel with an open diamond blade, I don’t let kids use it (yet) and don’t like them myself - way too much power and danger.

In addition to hacksaw and a set of needle files we use 3" variable speed grinder a lot.
Then we have a small drill press, small Dremel, and Dremel Multimax:
I love Multimax and let kids use it all the time. It is not harmless, but you have to get creative to injure yourself with it. Multimax is perfect to cut complex shapes from aluminum parts even in the tight spots.

I’ll also add a belt sander (which usually has a sanding disc too) to the list. It’s extremely helpful to smooth cuts, straighten edges, fix allen key, and especially make bearings fit into aluminum C-channels.

A bandsaw is a must, but make sure you only cut aluminum with it. It may depend on the quality, but ours should not be used for steel.

Ours works for both. Just make sure you get one that fits your needs

Our robotics room is across the hall from a woodwork shop that has a bandsaw. Our mentor replaced the wood blade with one that can cut wood, steel, and aluminium. But be carfull with the bandsaw, not only because you might cut your fingers of but also because the steel gets hot. We also have a cheap bench grinder we got from Harbour Freight that has lasted a lot longer than we expected, it now has a ridge where we grind axles (speaking of which, hand on tight when grinding axles, the bench grider will bend it). We have a rotary tool that we also got from Harbour Freight which we don’t use very often. We also have a drill the we don’t use very often.

My Team uses a simple Dremel. I have gotten comfortable with my Dremel and can do about everything all these bigger, fancy machines can do with it. Dremel is small and easy to use, unlike a angle grinder, which I find extremely unsafe. If i were buying more powertools for my team, we would get a Dremel Mini, Dremel Max, and another Dremel 4200.

It actually is good for vex kids to use the machines that people have mentioned for future reference, like if they needed to use one for a project or something

I know. But my school doesnt have any money to buy or store any of those machines. :frowning: So I settle for Dremels :stuck_out_tongue:

The primary tools we use are a chop saw and a grinder. We chose a chop saw over a band saw as band saws are wicked dangerous. Sorry for the large images.

Face Shield

Before we go into power tools, this is a must for the Dremel and grinder. They are wicked cheap so there is absolutely no reason not to have them.

Chop Saw

This smaller 5.5" one we bought at Harbor Freight works better than the big one as the larger one melts the Aluminum. This chops saw makes right angle cuts of c-channel really well. Fast and efficient. And save your money by not buying the larger ones. This little guy is the workhorse tool of our club. You will have to change out the wheels though. Get the Harbor Freight warranty - it came in handy for our first one.


We have a grinder like @technik3k showed but also a larger one. The grinding wheels get worn down and we ave blown through 2 of these smaller grinder motors. Kids seem to want to push too hard on the grinding wheel limiting its lifetime.

Metal files

While not a power tool, a variety of metal files are essential. A good old Bastard Cut file works great.


I try and limit the use of these as they are pretty dangerous too. The cut wheels can be damaged easily and create additional flying parts. But sometimes you just need to use one.


Nice and beefy. We have had kids burn out a 7A corded model. Also, a larger set of more precise hole cuts can be helpful as can a drill press. But the drill press is a secondary use for finer spots.

Dust Pan

And lastly, you will be making quite a bit of dust. So get a couple dust pans.

My school uses only a hack saw, some files, a smaller dremel, and a grinder that can only cut halfway though any C-Channel. All of these are extremely safe if you know how to use them, and the only time i’ve cut myself with a hacksaw was when I was stupid enough to cut lexan with it.

One more important tool I would invest in is a good table vise. You will not want to cut things on the robot (cause metal dust is bad for gear trains) or just on the table. My school uses a larger piece of oak wood which the vise is bolted to, which is clamped onto a table. This makes it easy to transport and also great for cutting metal. Just don’t tighten it too tight. Something like the image would be preferable as you could move it when you don’t need it.

This is the vise that is in the picture:

I have one of these too, and for the money they are awesome, especially because you can easily take it with you to competitions.

The vise my school has is maybe 20 years old and is beaten up, but the grips work well despite being cracked and the flat side is excellent with a rubber mallet for flattening axles and one-by metal.

I forgot the hammer of persuasion. Not a power tool, but we seemed have veered off that.

And bolt cutters. The bigger ones are easier to use, but harder to store/transport.


Are there modifiers in BB code to make these images smaller? The normal BB Code modifiers are not working.

We just use a 4" grinder, dermal, and band saw (for plastic). We also use a heat gun sometimes to help form plastic sheets.