I’ve been intrigued with the RotoZip spiral tools for a while. I’ve used the smaller rotary tools (a.k.a. Dremels) for years. On several occasions, they’ve helped out, with their ability to get into a tight place with a variety of burrs, cutter wheels and sanding drums. On the downside, their lack of power and small cutters made for slow going if much material had to be removed. Enter the RotoZip RotoSaw + Spiral Tool System. When the Robert Bosch Tool Corporation, offered us one to review, I jumped at the chance.
The tool in question is the model SS560vsc-50. The kit consists of: the 6.0 amp RotoSaw, ZM4 Zipmate right angle attachment, a 4″ wood/multi purpose flush cutting wheel, 3-1/2″ tile/masonry cutting wheel, and 3-1/2″ metal cutting wheel. Also included were 2 spiral bits; one for drywall and one for wood. To round out the package, there’s a vacuum hose attachment, an auxiliary side handle and owners manual, all packed in a sturdy carrying bag.
RotoZip claims to be able to cut most any type of material, and with the Zipmate right angle attachment and an array of bits and blades, we’ve found that to be true. The Zipmate attaches easily with a large threaded twist collar and the blade guard can be rotated 360 degrees. Depth of cut is 3/4″ with no provisions for adjustment. My first “on the job” use came while doing a window and vinyl siding replacement. With the Zipmate and flush cutting wheel, I easily cut out several areas of water damaged sheathing. Interestingly I did a head on comparison with a top quality 7-1/4″ cordless circular saw, and liked the RotoZip better. Used with the blade facing up, the Zip was easier to manipulate and follow the cut line with. In another area, vinyl siding had to be cut from around an electrical panel and meter base. Using the blade guard as a guide, I held tight against the boxes and the cuts were done in minutes. Moving inside, a 1/2″ of sheetrock had to be removed from the window openings. The Zipmate was removed and a spiral drywall bit installed. Again the cuts were fast and easy, although dusty. Not surprisingly the air from the motor circulates the dust more than a hand saw would. The included vacuum attachment hooked to a shop vac would have helped; I guess I’ll round up an adapter.
Having proven it’s usefulness in the real world, We set out to see what else the Zip could do. I was most interested to see how it would handle tile. Using the included tile/masonry blade i made several cuts on tile scraps I had. The cuts went surprisingly quick and easy. Holes in tile for shower heads, faucets etc. always pose a problem, and I wanted to see how a spiral bit would work. RotoZip offers a1/4″ diamond bit and a 1/8″ carbide bit. I had a carbide bit that came in a 4 piece variety pack and tried it. As is always the case with tile it was a slow go. So much so that I gave up and moved on to something else. A demo-video shows the diamond bit in action, and when i do another tile job I’ll try one. I also used the cutter wheel on concrete block and brick. While it cut both with no problem, the cut was only around 1/2″ deep. Scoring the block all the way around produced a clean straight break. I tried cutting and breaking the brick on a 45, to no avail, it was just too brittle.
Moving to metal, I installed the included 3-1/2″ blade. We used it on 18 gauge sheet metal, 3/16″ strap, 1/2″ rebar, and copper tubing. All cuts went well with the only limiting factor being depth of cut. Rebar or tubing larger than 1/2″ would have to be rolled to achieve a full cut. For comparison a 4-1/2 angle grinder didn’t fair much better, as the design of the blade guard got in the way. The full size grinder also cut faster; but not by a lot.
All in all our experience with the RotoZip thus far has been favorable. I’ve used it on most material common to a construction project, and it has performed admirably. The 6 amp motor has plenty of power, and hasn’t backed down from any task. With the Zipmate attachment and cutting wheels, it stands apart from all other rotary tools, micro saws and oscillating saws. I don’t foresee it taking the place of any dedicated tool, but it gets an A for versatility. Properly accesorised and used within it’s limitations it could earn a spot in any tool box; like it has in mine. The kit is available from $67 for a refurbished unit to $99 for brand new, not bad.