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Chicagoe Electric Flex Shaft Carver

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Review by Jim Jakosh posted 11-18-2013 03:06 AM 3218 views 2 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Chicagoe Electric Flex Shaft Carver Chicagoe Electric Flex Shaft Carver Chicagoe Electric Flex Shaft Carver Click the pictures to enlarge them

I am not a carver but sometimes a project requires some carving or shaping and I have been doing it with a Dremel 4000. Well last week that thing got real hot when using a 3/4” shaping tool that I decided I needed one of those flex shaft carvers with a small stylus in my hand instead of the big Dremel. I think this job killed the Dremel because it does not wind up to top speed any more.

So I looked at Wecheer carvers at $204 and 1/6 hp and Foredom’s at around $400 and I decided I don’t use it enough to warrant that kind of money and I looked at Harbor Freight and I bought one for $39 with my 25% off coupon and got a free VOM meter to boot. It is 1/4 hp and runs up to 15,000 rpm.

It seems to work pretty good and I have turned down a couple of my carving/grinding tools to 5/32” to fit in the chuck. That is a drawback that it does not go to 1/4”.

I do not have a wall close enough to mount the hanging bracket so I drilled out one of the holes and mounted the hook on my drill press so it is always close to my work bench. As a matter of fact, the bench is too low for carving, so I have used the drill press table as a work station.

The variable speed foot switch works good but it is way too high at 2 1/4”. When I’m carving, I feel like a flamingo having to stand on one leg so I modified that foot switch right away. I screwed a thin piece of plywood to the bottom and made an off set piece of Lexan to bring the working part of that switch less than 1” from the ground.It is comfortable to use that way and I work it with my toe.

I have heard that stylus heats up when using it. If I have that happen, I’ll try to lube the flex cable and the hand piece with silicone spray. I was thinking of turning a wooden handle to go over that aluminum piece and it would act as an insulator because aluminum transfers heat real well.

Here is a shot of the carver with that 3/4” shaping bit:

Here is a close up of the plastic offset addition to the foot switch

I think I’ll keep it set up there all the time. For big carving jobs I would use a pneumatic die grinder in the barn with the high volume air compressor, but now I may be able to do that right in the basement shop with the HF unit.

Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!




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Jim Jakosh

11442 posts in 1758 days



25 comments so far

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

7713 posts in 2705 days


#1 posted 11-18-2013 04:58 AM

Thank you!

I was not aware (or forgot) Harbor Frt. had one of those…

Nice score!!

Hope it LASTS.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: http://www.WoodworkStuff.net ... My Small Gallery: http://www.ncwoodworker.net/pp/showgallery.php?ppuser=1389&cat=500"

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doubleDD

2452 posts in 696 days


#2 posted 11-18-2013 05:01 AM

Good review Jim. I looked at this carver a ways back. Always wondered if it would have been worth buying. I went out and bought a flexible shaft drill ext. instead since I didn’t have have a lot of use for it. It looks like you already made some nice improvements. Good idea to mount it on the drill press.

-- --Dave, Downers Grove, Il. When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams

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Rustic

3134 posts in 2249 days


#3 posted 11-18-2013 05:14 AM

Great review I would also add that you may want to spend the money and get a different hand piece, as the stock hand piece heats up too quick. Also, take the sheath off the shaft and lube the shaft with white lithium grease.

-- www.carvingandturningsbyrick.com, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

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stefang

13024 posts in 1987 days


#4 posted 11-18-2013 09:22 AM

That sounds like a fantastic value Jim and a good alternative for occasional use.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View casual1carpenter's profile

casual1carpenter

353 posts in 1129 days


#5 posted 11-18-2013 09:47 AM

“I was thinking of turning a wooden handle to go over that aluminum piece and it would act as an insulator because aluminum transfers heat real well.”

Jim, have you considered that while a wood turned handle might look nice the added insulation would interfere with the units ability to dissipate the heat it generates and introduce premature wear? I do like the foot pedal modification you have made. I bought a Wecheer unit awhile back and one of my personal issues was the foot pedal and my ability to control the speed. I guess that I run the carver like I drive, LOL, pedal down and often wondered if there was a way to add an adjustable screw thread governor, and it looks like your mod would be three quarters of the way there.

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Roger

14562 posts in 1457 days


#6 posted 11-18-2013 11:51 AM

Nice review, Jim. This tool is very handy in the shop. Very useful.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Kentuk55@bellsouth.net

View MShort's profile

MShort

1726 posts in 2071 days


#7 posted 11-18-2013 12:26 PM

Thanks Jim. Looks like you have a great setup for power carving now.

-- Mike, Missouri --- “A positive life can not happen with a negative mind.” ---

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

5639 posts in 2082 days


#8 posted 11-18-2013 01:36 PM

The chuck size would be a deal breaker for me….unless another hand piece with chuck would be easily obtained and not too expensive.
Gotta research it cuz that tool would be nice to have.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

11442 posts in 1758 days


#9 posted 11-18-2013 02:29 PM

Hi Rick. I’ll have to look at yours and see where to get a different hand piece- hopefully it will take 1/4” and I won’t have to turn down all my cutters. 10-4 on the Lithium grease!!

Hi Casural1carpenter, if you foot switch is like this one, you could put a bloc inside to limit the travel to like 3/4 speed or whatever. With the Wecheer, do you have to stand with you knee bent or is that foot switch lower?
10-4 on that wood handle and heat capture!

Hi Gene, are you looking for a chuck with 1/4” opening , too?

Hey, it is cheap and you get what you pay for but I find with a little modification , some Chinese tools can be made to be very useful and reliable and comfortable to use….............Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

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mpounders

732 posts in 1548 days


#10 posted 11-18-2013 02:34 PM

All of the Foredom and Wecheer standard handpieces will work with this machine; I added a Foredom handpiece that takes 1/4” burrs for about $40 to mine. You can find the instructions on the Foredom website for lubing the shaft, because too much grease can mess it up also! And I don’t think you want to lube the handpiece at all as that could possible cause it to fail. Heat buildup can also be caused by having too much of a bend in the cable while using it (you also want to store it with the cable hanging straight, not coiled up). Kinks can cause it to heat up and cause the inner shaft to break quicker. I definitely got my money’s worth out of mine!

-- Mike P., Arkansas, http://mikepounders.weebly.com

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HillbillyShooter

4576 posts in 945 days


#11 posted 11-18-2013 04:45 PM

Great review with a lot of informative feed back. Thanks!

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

5639 posts in 2082 days


#12 posted 11-18-2013 05:09 PM

Jim,
Yes, 1/4” max. Preferably Jacobs style like the HF one. That way, I could use almost any bit.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

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Rustic

3134 posts in 2249 days


#13 posted 11-18-2013 05:18 PM

Jim I will show you all you need to know lol

-- www.carvingandturningsbyrick.com, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

11442 posts in 1758 days


#14 posted 11-18-2013 05:47 PM

Thanks, John.

Hi Mike, that is good for all of us to know. Thank you very much!!!!!!!

Hi Gene, note mike’s response. You can get to 1/4” using a Foredom cable., but I think they use collets which I like better anyway. I think I saw 1/8, 5/32 and 1/4”.

Hi rick. I’ll take you up on that this weekend!...............Cheers, Yim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

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mpounders

732 posts in 1548 days


#15 posted 11-18-2013 07:36 PM

Here is the link to the MasterCarver Stealth handpiece. It is a geared chuck that goes up to 1/4” burrs…$76

-- Mike P., Arkansas, http://mikepounders.weebly.com

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