I try to stay away from “specialty” tools that are really only useful for one purpose. For one thing–I am not a drywaller. I am a carpenter. Owning the Roto-Zip was a bit of frivolity that while I do not regret–I am not sure I needed. Ah well. Another tool for me to have. Adding to the armory is never a bad thing, and Roto-Zip tells me why I need this tool–which is all fine and great, but I’m here to cut through the sales writing, and just tell you what I think.
Last time I checked my local Homie D, the Roto-Zip was available for about 70 bucks. Not chump change–but what you get for it is worth it. What you are buying is a drywall router. It is designed to easily cut around openings in your drywall. Light fixtures, switches, sockets, pretty much anything that needs to be accessed behind your drywall.
I bought this tool for a garage drywall project I had undertaken, and frankly didn’t want to hand cut all the openings with the usual suspects: Keyhole saw and utility knife. For the size of this project–the Roto-Zip was a bit of overkill. There really weren’t that many openings, and unless you have a pretty steady hand–cutting straight with this thing is kind of useless. I am sure there are ways you can do it–setting the guard against a square would work–provided you did the math for the difference of the bit distance to the square. I just didn’t use it this way.
For a bigger drywall project? Invaluable. The ease at which you can “zip” around openings, the Roto-Zip performs as advertised. As usual, anything with dry wall creates a whole load of dust–so unless you like a nice paste in your mouth–wear a mask. It’s hot, annoying, and sucks–but so does lung trauma. Just use it it. For the entire garage, I only used one bit–so the quality of the bits is pretty good. I didn’t tempt fate and just bought the Roto-Zip brand bits.
This thing is pretty loud too. Just unavoidable for the RPMs it kicks out. It has a high-pitched whine that I think most parents are familiar with in the Little Green Army Men aisle of your local grocery store. Hearing/dust protection is vital. Do pay attention to the direction you are cutting as you want the bit to be drawn toward what you are cutting out. Opposite will mean deviations all over the place, and more mud and tape later.
Fixated Utility: High for a dry wall project. I’d say if you have just one room–tough it out. It’s probably worth saving 70 bucks to hand cut. Anything bigger–you can probably justify this one. But–my time is different than yours. For speed–definitely a plus.
Can I break this shizz?: I dropped it from about 8 feet to a concrete floor, and it held up. I wouldn’t try that very often, but the Roto-Zip’s construction seems to be pretty tough. The handle is nice–but trying to hold a sheet of 5/8” by 9′ drywall over my head with one arm kind of sucks. The Roto-Zip spent a lot of time balanced precariously on a ladder until I could get the sheet secured enough to use it. It’s tough–but you could crack the case with a well aimed fall.
Will my significant other stab me if I buy this?: If you have a decent sized drywall project: No. The speed and ease of cutting out for openings will alleviate the 70 bucks. Again, for smaller projects you can do without it. It really shines for pro drywallers.
The Final Word: A great tool for what it is designed for. Good motor, good construction, and very easy to operate. My hatred of dry wall prevents me from using it as much as I’d like for the price–but that is my fault. Not the tool’s. All in all–if you need a drywall router the Roto-Zip is hard to beat.
You can find a variety of RotoZip Tools at Amazon.
5 thoughts on “Roto-Zip Review, Overkill or Useful Drywall Router?”
I know this post is kind old, but thought I would throw my 2 cents in. I recently finished my basement with about 20 box cuts. I used a $20 (sale price) Harbor freight trim router that I put 1/8″ and 1/4″ rotozip bits in. Already had the router, and $10 for bits is about the cost of a keyhole saw. Worked great and saved so much time.
Any old router with a 1/4″ collet would do. Usually you remove the base when doing drywall.
Good tip Tom, thanks for sharing your recession-friendly work-around for Roto-Zipping!
I used a rotozip to cut up an integrated tub and surround prior to removing it. This unit had been installed in the 80’s was a lovely blue (ugh). Installed when the house was originally built so the walls were finished and the flooring went in after the installation. The rotozip made pretty short work of the demolition.
I used to contemplate buying a roto-zip but then ended up getting a drywall bit for use in the dremel (with the flex shaft). It isn’t a pro-grade solution but falls well within the DIY wheelhouse. Also a person could buy the roto for their project and then just sell in on Craigslist when finished. Heck, there are probably good used one’s on CL as well.
Great suggestions as usual! Thanks Jeff!