With a body of all-plastic construction, the American-made Dremel was manufactured from 1975 to 1990 and advertised as being able to turn hardwood dowels or soft metals up to 11/2 inches in diameter and 6 inches long. The lathe was offered in several, very similar versions that were marked, on their boxes, from the earliest known Moto-Lathe Model 700, to the later Delux Model 700 and Deluxe Moto-Lathe Model 701. In addition, one instruction book is titled as being for the Models 700 and 708 and another for the Models 700, 701 and 70001. However, the labels on the lathes themselves are a little different, having been found bearing the following inscriptions: Model 700; Model 700-1, Model 700 Series 1 and Model 708 Series 1. All types were of the same capacity - and possibly useful for light-duty work turning small parts for model aircraft, boats, dolls' houses and similar hobby interests.
Most appear to have been powered by a built-in, 115-volt, 60 Hz, 1.4 or 1.5-Amp 3450 r.p.m. motor the main shaft of which doubled up as the headstock spindle - though a Model 708 Series 1 has been found fitted with a less powerful, dual frequency 0.7 Amp, 50/60 Hz motor that ran at, respectively, 2875 and 3450 r.p.m. Regardless of Model type, each Dremel lathe was around 155/8 inches long, 6 inches front to back and 41/2 inches tall. Equipment and specification was basic, consisting of a hand T-rest, fabricated from plated sheet steel, split vertically and adjustable up and down and in and out by simple slots and locking screws - and along the bed in a central T-slot; the headstock spindle had a screwed nose and the tailstock a screw-feed spindle - the latter two fittings complete with the necessary wood-drive and cup centres. However, to make the lathe fully operational a set of accessories was really needed, the makers offering four miniature turning chisels with hardened blades, a honing stone to keep them sharp, a small faceplate, a set of hardwood dowels and a wood-screw drive centre to supplement the 4-prong spur type fitted as standard to the headstock spindle.
As production continued, some changes were made to the specification with the earliest versions easily distinguished by several features, the most obvious being a tailstock with a faux "4-bolt clamp-on top" - later models having an easier-to-use design with a single lever to lock the spindle. Other alterations included replacing the original "splined-head" T-rest and tailstock clamping screws - that required the use of an awkward-to operate key - by wrench-turned, domed-headed nuts. Eventually the lawyers got their way and a cautionary safety notice was glued to the bed's front face and, finally, the frankly crude, spring-loaded metal tab used to lock the spindle when the nose fitting needed changing, was changed for a red plastic push-button.
Although very different to that other far better known miniature American lathe, the ManSon, the plastic-bodied Dremel does makes an interesting comparison to another, earlier miniature lathe aimed at much the same market segment - the Cincinnati "Mechanic Maker". This unusual machine - also with a built-in motor used as the headstock spindle and so ready for immediate use straight from the box - was constructed almost entirely of sheet steel and manufactured by the Winkle Manufacturing Company of Cincinnati 17, Ohio, USA. One other miniature plastic-bodied lathe also comes to mind, the Emco Unimat 1 - but this was a quite different proposition, being a clever 6 in 1 "Universal" model capable of turning, milling, drilling, fret-saw and sanding disc work.
Obviously a lathe of limited capabilities - the Dremel is now enjoying a new life as a "collectable item" - enthusiasts bidding over mint examples still in their original, unopened, Christmas-paper wrapped boxes of which, surprisingly a number appear on a regular basis. Though not, perhaps, with the Xmas paperů