Equipment/Flexible Shaft Drill

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Class Red equipment: Do not use without specific training.
(More about equipment classes)

Equipment / Flexible Shaft Drill
Flexible Shaft Drill


This is an "Axminster Heavy Duty Flexible Drive Unit" with a foot control, a 4mm keyed chuck handpiece, and a small handpiece with 2.4 and 3.2mm collets. It can be used with small drills, burrs, and polishing wheels. It's mounted to the Fine Metalwork bench.

This is a Category Red tool: training is mandatory.

The current owners are: Peter Sewell

Trained: AH, HW, STJ.

Using the Flexible Shaft Drill

Health and Safety

Formal Risk Assessment

It is essential for anyone using the drill, or nearby spectators, to wear eye protection whenever the drill is running. Some usages (polishing, in particular) also require a face mask.

The main risk is eye damage: the small drills and other tools sometimes break or grab the workpiece, and they can fly off at high speed in any direction. Grinding and polishing wheels can also send small particles of grit flying off. Action: users must wear eye protection, always.

Additionally, polishing can generate fine dust which should not be inhaled. Action: users should use a face mask when polishing.

Using the drill involves rapidly spinning drills and other tools close to one's fingers. Action: users need to take care to hold and support the drill and workpiece appropriately.

Avoiding Tool Damage

It is vital to avoid contamination of the tools for fine metalworking (on silver, copper, or titanium) with particles of iron, steel, or lead, otherwise pieces can be ruined when they are soldered. Accordingly, the burrs and wheels for fine metalworking must not be used on any materials except silver, copper, titanium, or gold.

All the flexible shaft accessories (burrs, wheels, handpieces, etc.) must be put away in the right place (one of the drawers of the grey filing cabinet) after use.

When changing handpieces, the projecting ridge on the flexible shaft has to be lined up with the connector inside the handpiece.

When changing collets, only modest finger-tight force on the spanner should be used.

Small drills (less than 1.5mm) can break very easily unless due care is used.


First select the appropriate handpiece. We have a keyed chuck, for drills between 0.3 and 4.0 mm, and a collet handpiece, for burrs and wheels with 2.4 or 3.2mm shafts. To change handpieces, hold the black knurled region on the end of the flexible shaft in one hand, and the handpiece in the other, and pull apart. To put on the other handpiece, line up the projecting ridge on the flexible shaft with the connector inside the handpiece and push together (this shouldn't need too much force: check the alignment if it does).

To change the collet: unscrew the conical cap on the end of the handpiece with the small black spanner, replace the collet with the other one, screw the conical cap back on, and tighten gently with the spanner.