I really, really like this tool! I’ve got just about every carving tool out there; from a full assortment of carving gouges and chisels to chain saw roughing carvers. I also have the classic Foredom tool and lightweight Dremels. Rounding out my carving tool set is a wonderful Burnmaster pyro detailer. What was missing from my arsenal was a high speed detail carver.
I like them all. But in the class of rotary tools, I have never been happy with the results. I find it difficult to achieve a smooth cut. Grain or other imperfections in wood has always caused the burr to take a march in a different direction. Frustrating. I also tire of muscling the Foredom handpiece and the “torquish” flex shaft. It’s far better than having all the motor weight in the handpiece, but it still leaves me aching after just a few minutes of use.
I happened to come across this product while researching the very high speed NSK Presto pneumatic turbine handpiece. These dental-inspired tools run upwards of 350,000 RPM and have a price to match! They are best used for piercing work on turned vessels where fine control is desired, and light carving is sufficient. I was looking for something between this product and my Foredom. And, something a whole lot cheaper than the NSK!
I found exactly what I needed in the RAM Power 45. It is a electric laboratory tool manufactured by RAM Products. It spins at a nice 45,000 RPM. It is very ear-friendly, running extremely quiet throughout its speed range.
The handpiece has a very nice collet chuck and tool-less change mechanism that makes burr swap-out a snap. Rotate a collar on the handpiece, slip the old burr out, put the new burr in, and rotate the collar back to the run position. Fantastic. It is fully electronic, meaning no shaft. The only thing dangling off the handset is a lightweight coiled electrical cord. You can run ths for hours with little or no fatigue. I found I had to quit holding on so tight – a gentle grip is sufficient and easier on the hand.
The handpiece, which weighs in at 9 ounces, is controlled by a small control unit that contains the transformer, electronics and controls. It has forward and reverse run capabilities and can accommodate a foot switch (don’t bother). There’s a power switch, rotary speed control and connector for the handpiece. It has overcurrent protection and a reset. A set of replacement brushes are included. The manual estimates ~1,000 hrs of life for the brushes.
In use, I find it makes a very smooth cut. The high speed simply ignores grain direction. It is light enough that I can re-direct it easily with no resistance, yet there are no surprise excursions. For burrs that can cut in either direction, the fwd/rev switch is nice. I’ve found in practice that I rarely touch it – relying instead on re-positioning the work piece.
The best part is the price. Street price is in the $250 range (2015). Don’t waste your money on the foot switch. I find I turn it on, set the speed, and work. No need to vary the speed.
The picture above is my unit. I use it regularly. Check out my Maple Leaf Bowl articles here for some of the carving results. It shrugs off dust – both the handset and controller are sealed. However, I’m not sealed, and the fine dust detail burrs create is bad for lungs. Be sure to wear the best dust protection you can.
Thumbs up from the Splintershop for the Ram Power 45 Handpiece and Controller.