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I have always liked Dremel tools. The company first came to my attention yonks ago when they came out with the amazing multi-tool. This has gone through a fair few incarnations since it was first invented, but they all do more or less the same thing. I have had mine for 14 years and still use it regularly.
I was not aware of the range of home soldering and brazing tools that they sold, so when I received one of these for my birthday this year (alongside it's smaller sister the so called "Versatip"), I had to do something very alien to me. I had to read the instructions...
Never one to normally bother with more than a skim of such things, I read the enclosed info carefully and perused the internet to learn how to use this tool. I had been given the tip and flame tools alongside some silver precious metal clay to make inserts for my harps and pendants. Having wanted to do this for ages, but never quite being able to justify the cost, it was a very welcome gift. But where did I start?
The Versaflame is an open flame burner tool, which can be used for brazing, shrinking plastic coverings, silver clay use, even for cooking.
The Versaflame comes in a super attractive brushed metal box, around the size of a large lunchbox. The casing is aluminium with a reverse relief "Dremel" logo on the lid, and looks classy and stylish. The lid lifts easily to reveal the magic tool, and all of the attachments which are made from a very good quality shiny steel. The inner part of the lid is lined with a spongey dark grey foam, and all of the attachments etc are housed in special fitted compartments which are covered in a soft flock type material.
The Dremel VersaFlame is a easy to use burner, which can be used by holding it in your hand over the object that you are working on, or by placing it into the base (provided) which makes it into a stationary table top burner. A versatile tool (hence the name), it combines open flame function with a variety of slot on tips and tools including a soldering head.
COOKING ON GAS:
In order to get the thing working, you will need a can of butane (lighter gas). This meant that I could not test mine until my order arrived which was very annoying. I would like to see a small can of gas included with each tool so it can be used immediately. Other than this minor annoyance, the tool was easy to fill up and it was a quick process. The "hand held" shaft doubles as a fuel tank and that is where the gas is stored. The base of this has a little brass grommet type thing like a refillable lighter, and those familiar with refilling lighters will instantly recognise the identical process. It took seconds to fill the canister in the Versaflame, so a can of gas will last a long time. Although I grabbed my gas cans on Amazon, you can find the gas in pretty much all of the major supermarkets etc for a few quid a can. Dremel say that the tank canister lats around 75-90 minutes (on a full tank) but mine has not run out yet so I cannot verify this.
FEELING HOT HOT HOT:
The VersaFlame is a wireless tool meaning it is highly portable. Lighting the Versaflame is a simple task as all of the buttons/knobs are blue, which contrasts nicely against the grey and brushed metal of the casing. There is a very effective safety catch as well as an ignition button which is thumb operated on the top. The safety catch is located just under the big blue piezo ignition button, and this just needs to be moved right to the left to disengage it. You then press down on the bigger blue ignition button and you hear a click, similar to gas oven lighters.
The tool lights easily every time. The flame is a blue colour which burns evenly and brightly, there is no inconsistency in the heat which is very important for jewellery making. The tool manage to fire pure silver, bronze and copper precious metal clay with ease. I did not use a trivet and wire mesh, instead I used a big hunk of slate to fire my clay on. The results were impressive even for a novice, and the tool worked efficiently. More importantly for me, the tool is light as a feather whilst you use it so there is no danger of wrist ache. I have carpal tunnel so this is imperative to me.
The flame length is easy to adjust in operation with the little right hand blue slider. The largest flame possible from this tool is around 2.5 inches and it can be shrunk right down to around 2cm. There is also a small black plastic dial type lever on the top of the heat shaft which adjusts air to the device, meaning that you can have a focused blue flame or a more flickering yellow flame. Central position on this little dial (ie the raised tab in the centre of the flame shaft) gives you the blue flame, and moving it to the left or right rings out the yellow.
The open flame apparently reaches temperatures of 1200 degrees C..... make sure you tie your hair back if long like mine!
Once you have finished working and take your thumb off of the blue ignition, the safety lock slides back into its original position which means that you do not have to remember to lock the tool every time, as it does it for you. The flame/heat adjuster lever is also in blue plastic and is sited on the right of the tool. The adjuster lever is responsive and controls the flame easily.
When using the removable base which enables the tool to be freestanding, the tool sits very snugly with no give. There is no chance of it toppling unless knocked. This is a brilliant additional item as it means that you can work with safety in hands free mode. The base is made from black plastic and is shaped in a long semi circle, with a round hole for the tool in the centre.
Catalytic add on:
Within the box there is a catalytic heating add on accessory. This increases the accuracy of your work, whilst removing the initial ferocity of the open flame by utilising hot air. I have used this and the open flame functions, and both are excellent for metal working. This is just one of many design features and add-ons which show how clever and versatile this fab little flame burner is. This add on is designed mainly for heating plastics or for materials that need more care.
Add on parts:
Included in the price are a variety of tips which just slot onto the shaft of the tool.
The catalytic blower head tip supplies a hot air temperature between 680 and 1000 degrees C. The very shiny soldering tip heats up to 550 degrees and comes with a tin containing a sponge, ready for you to dampen and use like a normal soldering iron. The extension piece is designed to be used for heating larger areas and there is a slot on deflector which when used with the extension piece can be used for plastic shrinking around wires etc.
All of the add on parts are beautifully made with no rough edges. This is a very high quality tool for the price and consistent with what I have previously experienced with Dremel tools.
Dremel products including the Versaflame have a 2-year warranty.
* Dremel VersaFlame tool
* Catalyst tip
* Soldering tip
* Flame extension piece
* Soldering wire tin with blue cap
* Soldering sponge + sponge box
* 1 mini wrench
* Welcome poster
* Instruction manual
These come in a plastic bag within the box, and are comprehensive. The booklet contains the instruction in 26 languages, with English being at the top so it is easy to find. The guide covers maintenance, filling and safety warnings alongside some easy to understand diagrams.
* Tank capacity of 22g
* Auto child safety lock
* Flame lock button for continuous hands-free use
* Converts to table top tool with removable foot
* Precise flame allows for detailed open flame work
* Powered by liquid butane gas (lighter fuel) - use anytime anywhere
* Very short heat-up time
* Variable temperature setting
The Dremel Versaflame costs around £30 upwards and is curently on Amazon for £35.99.
I consider this to be excellent value for such a beautifully made tool. It is a versatile and efficient tool which has many uses around the home and for hobbyists. I also own the Versatip which is more of a specific soldering tool and I use this for very fine silver wire work. Both are superb.