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  • Thinking about a micro motor tool

    Hey there,
    i\'m thinking about purchasing a micro motor tool. I thought it would be handy for fine detail and texture. I have concerns however that it may be more trouble than it\'s worth. They appear to be fussy, over priced gadgets that have frequent issues and poor warrantees.
    So, am I getting bad press? Are they worth the cost? Which models seem to hold up best? Which one would you buy if you had the choice?

    thanks,
    Dan

  • #2
    Re: Thinking about a micro motor tool

    Dan, I have had my Mastercarver micro motor since 2010 and the only repairs I have had is the motor brushes. I use it some every day and a lots others. If it were to go south on me I would get another one in a heart beat. I do not know anything about other makes. . . JoeB
    . . .JoeB

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    • #3
      Re: Thinking about a micro motor tool

      Dan, I have two micro motor control boxes and three hand pieces. The oldest is a micro motor purchased in 1995. It has been back for repairs; but, only because the cord was coming loose from the handpiece. The other is a Foredom and went back to the factory (no charge) shortly after purchase because of a loose part in the handpiece. It was purchased about 8 years ago.

      I keep one of the hand pieces fitted with a 1/8\" collet. I am gradually moving to 3/32\" shanks. Tired of making sure I had the matching shank and collet.

      I also have a Foredom flex shaft with four hand pieces and collets from 1/8\" to 1/4\". I use it primarily for removing wood quickly. I purchased the motor in 1980 and have changed the flex shaft 3 or 4 times. Everytime it was necessary because I allowed the bit to hit a piece of cloth or the plastic type shelf covers used in RVs to keep things from sliding around. I use this a lot to help secure my carvings when not using a vice.

      If I had to go down to only one power tool, it would be the Foredom micro motor. Nothing against the Optima from 1995; but, when I can, like to go with one line of tools. Just personal preference.

      I have yet to carve a piece either totally with hand tools or totally with power equipment. I use whatever will best get the job done in the area of a carving where I am working.

      I would never give up any of my hand tools nor my power equipment. I also use, very often, an Automach with a variety of gouges.

      Now, this is controversial and is my personal opinion. The only reason I can see for carving a complicated piece out of one block or with hand tools only; is bragging rights. It is far harder to add an insert and conceal it than it is to try and modify a design to make sure that the grain will not be too weak at some point.

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      • #4
        Re: Thinking about a micro motor tool

        Since I started carving birds of prey, I have purchased every power carver available. However, about four years ago I discovered that a dental power
        tool company, \'Canyon State Dental Supplier sells micro motors know as
        Marathon manufactured in South Korea which is the same units sold by other
        expensive sellers. I have been using my units for over three years just about every day without any failures.
        Oscar

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        • #5
          Re: Thinking about a micro motor tool

          Thanks for the input. I primarily use hand tools. Not because I am a total purist but because I don\'t like the noise and dust of my power tools. I also have a flex shaft tool that is very handy a times. Right now it\'s getting a workout on stone carving.
          ive looked at the foredom brand and I\'ve been happy with their products in the past. I had not looked at Marathon. I avoid off brands as a general rule due to difficulties with support. I\'ll investigate those a bit more.
          one more question. Most units I see run at a maximum of 30K RPM. SOME WILL DO 38or as high as 50K RPM. Is the extra speed significant?

          thanks,
          Dan

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          • #6
            Re: Thinking about a micro motor tool

            Dan I believe that any of the micro motors are capable of producing sufficient speed. More important is the bit or burr chosen.

            Smoother diamonds (400-600 grit) are just as efficient and less likely to burn the wood if run at a slower speed. Burrs in the 80-300 grit I run wide open.

            I also combine rpm with the way I am using the hand piece. Sandpaper I start at about 3/4 speed and increase to the point where I no longer get what I call stuttering (almost like the bit is bouncing on the wood). If I am working in a tight area and am not moving the bit much I slow the rpms so that I am less likely to burn or burnish the wood.

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            • #7
              Re: Thinking about a micro motor tool

              First of all thanks Paul, well presented. Dan , use three different rotary tools. the micro motor=46,000 rpm, the flex shaft+26,rpm and an air driven hand piece=320,000 rpm .

              The air driven, will burn the wood so fast it makes your head swim. I still use it, but it has be reduce to lay-out and highlighting. I find it a little easier to highlight than a burner.
              . . .JoeB
              . . .JoeB

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              • #8
                Re: Thinking about a micro motor tool

                I\'m with you on the Marathon units.... I got mine from Canyon State also. By the way, the Marathon Handy 700 is made by the same Korean company (and is the exact same unit, only the name is different) as the Foredom 1050, with the brushless handpiece. The guy at Canyon State is good to deal with, even if he isn\'t the most outgoing personality.... fair and quick to make things right if there\'s a problem.

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                • #9
                  Re: Thinking about a micro motor tool

                  As everyone knows I am not a micro motor fan.....Although Marathon is better made in my opinion. I had a micro motor that kicked the bucket.....about a month ago....and I been trying to get it going with no success. Finally today I threw it in the trash can, but had second thought.....perhaps it was like kicking the car and could get it going decided to test it one more time. So I dug it out the trash can.....To my major shock the darn thing is running fine today.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Thinking about a micro motor tool

                    You did check the brushes or swithch? . . . JoeB
                    . . .JoeB

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                    • #11
                      Re: Thinking about a micro motor tool

                      The switch yes....the brushes no....I do not have a manual on taking these darn things apart. The last few...I have taken apart, did something wrong and they did not work. Which is my complaint all these places that want to make money on service will not allow people to fix their own machines that are able. I am good with my hands and mess with things but there are some things if I had a darn manual then they would be manageable. Until they give me a parts list and replacement list I am going to rant and rave about bad, bad management of their products. Sick of the attitude of most,....throw it away and buy a new one. My attitude is if you did not sell me junk product in the first place I would not be having this issue. Combination of extreme bad customer service and yes I know what good customer service looks like.....the micro motor is one of the worst machines I have.... but need. Di with her gray hair falling out...smile. Part of the problem I have....is the 70% humidity combination of salt ocean air....is heck on anything metal....especially machines have to be triple plastic bad to protect them. Maintenance is darn long process and needs to be done regularly...my problem is the manufacture products that do not give a heck what the customer thinks. Just my opinion....but the micro motor is one major bad machine produced by really bad people. And the darn thing cost to much money to have such bad experiences with it.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Thinking about a micro motor tool

                        Di, if it is the bruches you have to have a set on hand to replace the old one. This is not a difficult deal.

                        You will notice a couple on round insets with a grove cut in them located at the back of the tool. take a coin insert into the slot and unscrew the plugs, the plugs are located below the cap that you just unscrew. The brush is a piece of graphite attached to a spring, Just remove the old brush and insert the new one and replace the cap. Wala your done. . .JoeB
                        . . .JoeB

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                        • #13
                          Re: Thinking about a micro motor tool

                          Further suggestion re the brushes, when you get replacements, and if they have precurved ends to match the curvature of the armature, make sure they go back in exactly like the old ones came out, in other words, make sure you match the curvature. One additional thought is that the armature itself is a bit corroded. You\'d need a manual to take the thing apart far enough to get at the armature but if you could it is a simple deal to clean one up with a scotchbrite pad and reassemble. Oh, also check for a break in the wiring up near the cord strain relief (the little thingy on the cord where it enters into the body of the tool). Could be a short right there.

                          Tinwood

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                          • #14
                            Re: Thinking about a micro motor tool

                            So then who makes a good starter kit?

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                            • #15
                              Re: Thinking about a micro motor tool

                              Originally posted by mrpipster View Post
                              So then who makes a good starter kit?
                              I don\'t know if there is such a thing as a starter kit micro motor..... what you can do, is purchase a low end model and use it for a few years, to see if it\'s worth it to you, to have a micro motor. A cheap one is the little \"Micro Pro\" through woodcarvers supply.com At $199. it\'s probably the cheapest thing going. A better choice, although a hundred dollars more...is the Marathon N7R through Canyon State Dental supply.
                              Marathon makes a full range of units from the budget end, like this one, all the way up to the Handy 700 model that runs 2 handpieces, of which one is a high torque, brushless model. Canyon is also an authorized warranty repair for Marathon and that is important. They service what they sell. I love mine.

                              One thing to remember when you get a micro motor, no matter which brand....you can\'t use it like a dremel or a Foredom flex shaft unit. It\'s a very delicate piece of machinery. The motor is in the handpiece, it\'s tiny. It\'s not meant for bearing down on your work as you carve....you will burn up that little motor in a heartbeat and that is the most expensive part of the whole thing. Don\'t cover the air vents on the handpiece as you work...the motor has a little fan, cooling it and you mustn\'t block those air vents. It\'s for texturing work and carving tiny details where you need the freedom of movement and control, that a shaft tool just can\'t give you.

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