Picture of The Inexpensive Dremel Foot Switch
This is a very easy to make, inexpensive, durable foot-controlled on/off switch that can control the power on any small tool or appliance, such as a Dremel or other rotary tool, a "Leslie" rotating organ speaker motor, lights, or anything really. We're going to cut the extension cord partway along the length, and add in the switchbox, so that the outlet or outlets at the end of the extension cord are switched on or off when the foot switch is actuated.
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Step 1: So Why?

Picture of So Why?
So... Why Do I want to make a foot switch that lets me turn a 110v appliance on and off- specifically a dremel?

I do a lot of project work on motorcycles and motorcycle-shop-related electronics, namely cordless phones which do not survive well in a shop environment. I use my dremel for a veriety of things, at several different speed settings, but the tool has a simple slider on the body to control on/off and speed, and it's aggrivating to have to reach up and slide it all the way off because i need to use that hand to hold something else, and then have to try and get the speed right again 10 seconds later. This way I can just tap a switch with my foot, needing zero hands free to control the power- AND the Dremel can be left at a specific speed setting, with no fiddling around needed to get back to that setting later.
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DIY Dave3 years ago
Here's mine
footswitch 1.JPGfootswitch 2.JPG
Bilby (author)  DIY Dave3 years ago
Hey, looks great, man! Did you ground the metal chassis as some of the comments suggested? How do you like it so far?
DIY Dave Bilby3 years ago
I think I grounded the chassis (it's been a while since I made it). So far its worked great. The switch I used was a light up switch, but I dropped it and the light quit working.
Mike63 made it!5 months ago

Definitely a cheaper way. Here's mine from 1990:

Bilby (author)  Mike635 months ago

Not bad, definitely more "finished" than mine is. Do you remember at all what it cost? Assuming you had a spare cord to hack up, looks like maybe $15-20 in today's money, still not too expensive.

Mike63 Bilby4 months ago

I think the only thing I had to "buy" was the enclosure and I think it was around 20.00 or 30.00 for it. Everything else I had on hand.

Mike635 months ago

Here's what details I can give:

smelo19805 months ago

Hi there. Great instructable. This was my first instructable I ever did and spurred me to start an account. Anyhow, I have one question for anyone out there as I am a notice when it comes to electronics. Can you or someone tell me how to add an led light to this switch so that the light turns on when the switch is turned on. It would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks again

jherncal2 years ago
How the Switch. Live in Caracas Venezuela, and do not get the respuesto original, so I'm looking for ways susituirlo by adapting, but for that I need, you know how it works. Your input is 110 volts, but do any measurements with the multimeter and No. Y723 MOSFET device, I have 12 volts, but it is damaged. Also I have a glass thermistor smd capacitor, contacts, and other component, which is covered with black resin. Thank your help with this I leave the image.
Dremel 300 Series

Como Funciona el Switch. Vivo en caracas Venezuela, y no consigo el respuesto original, por lo que estoy buscando la manera de susituirlo mediante una adaptación, pero para ello necesito, sabe como funciona. Su entrada son 110 Voltios, pero realice una medidas con el Multimetro y en dispositivo tipo mosfet Nro. Y723, tengo 12 voltios, pero el mismo esta dañado. Asi mismo tengo Un termistor de vidrio un condensador smd, los contactos, y otro componente, que esta cubierto con resina negra. Agradecer su ayuda con esto les dejo la imagen. Dremel 300 series
You could just use your dremel cutting tool to cut that nut off.....just saying. prooly easier and quicker
oddmidge5 years ago
On small change, use a plastic project box. Incase you have wire issues, you don't want to shock yourself, it can be potentially fatal.
Either that or you should of used a 3 prong cord into the box to ground it. Just because the dremel is 2 prong doesn't mean you should use a 2 prong cord on the switch box. The dremel is 2 prong because it doesn't have any metal parts that could ever become live.
I've been shocked by 110vac plenty of times, and I'm just fine-ine-ine-ine. *smack*

sdallesasse8 years ago
Very good job, but you should have a grounding conductor in the cord as well. If the feed side of the cord were to touch the box you could really get hurt. By having a cord with a ground does not always mean that you need to use a higher rated switch.
Bilby (author)  sdallesasse8 years ago
True, and grounding would be a good thing for this. Where I am using this, there are no grounded outlets available, so I simply eschewed the extra cost and complexity and did without. When I said that you should use a higher rated switch with a grounded cord, i was talking about for devices that have a grounded plug themselves- many of which ( in the hobby / shop world ) draw more power then this switch is rated for. Thanks for the comment!
Derin Bilby6 years ago
grounding is simple just punch a aliminum rod about 10" in the ground and voila
Bilby (author)  Derin6 years ago
Thanks for the suggestions ;) Of course all houses have grounded breaker or fuse boxes, and most water pipes are grounded as well. The problem I had (At the time i wrote this) was that none of the outlets were grounded- they didn't have the third prong on the outlet socket, nor were the electrical boxes grounded. The area of the building I was working with originally predated electricity and the electricity was wired in in the 1950s or 1960s, when grounded outlets weren't in common use.
Derin Bilby6 years ago
however we need to use the rod because our pipes are plastic.If your sockets are not grounded you can rewire the plugs.
Derin Derin6 years ago
update:it seems not even the gas line is perfectly grounded(the darn gas company makes them plastic after the main valve)and the water pipes are painted cast iron and plastic after the block valve(apartment block)
neoumlaut Derin5 years ago
The "darn gas company" uses a plastic spacer specifically because otherwise an electrical fault in your house could kill one of their workers. Same thing with the water pipe usually.
True, they don't want their employees to become a victim to someone's poor wiring.  The grounding is meant for the building and not the gas or water system overall.  It just needs to become a part of the whole grounding circuit within the building.  This is for the safety of the occupants and their property that require electricity.
Proper grounding is incredibly important but it should be grounded using a grounding rod, not pipes which is just a cheap cop out.
Don't get me wrong,  I am not saying that using a piping system is an alternative to using a proper grounding electrode such as a rod.  Just that the other metal pipes in the building MUST be bonded to the grounding electrodes through the ground circuit.
Bilby (author)  sdallesasse5 years ago
No offense fellas, but I think the conversation has gotten a bit side-tracked ;)  I don't think anyone's planning to pound a few 8' copper rods in the ground to keep their foot switch from shocking them! :)
Derin Bilby6 years ago
update:you could then use "fake grounding" where any ground is tied to neutral
it is unsafe,but safer than no ground
"Fake grounding" is dangerous. Doing so allows 2 paths for a fault to return on. This can lead to someone being shocked when taking a bath or shower for instance. Not a good thing.
I know that it is dangerous,but it may be enough to trip the breaker or GFI.I never used it,and I recommend nobody does so.
Don't forget, the system in the house had a grounding conductor. It is either the metal casing on the cable or the metal conduit that the wires run through. The outlet is bonded via the yoke (the metal part that holds the outlet in the box) when attached to the box.
Derin Derin6 years ago
btw do not forget wiring all green wires to the rod
i like the idea alot something i would do though is put a plug socket on th lead so tht you can use it for any device and use the switch box as a pass through and blug that into the wll via a lead that way you dont have to modify your tools or indeed use it with just the one tool.   sorry if this has been said already just to lazy to read all the comments lol
Bilby (author)  MikeLaraDesign5 years ago
Hi Mike,
   If you read the instructable you'll see that I suggest hacking up an extension cord so that you will have an outlet into which you can plug any electrical device. Of course, Some things don't like to be plugged into a hard switch, but so long as you don't exceed the capability of the materials used in current handling, you could plug anything into the box and it would work.
kerowhack5 years ago
Nice idea, I'm sure this would come in quite handy. For safety's sake, though, I would encourage you to use a grounded cord with this, per your final thought, since with a metal switch and a metal enclosure, there is a high potential of shocking the crap out of yourself. I think the current rating of that FS might be a bit low for this application too, though it should be ok as long as you are careful what you plug into it. How is the life on the switch?
I agree with the grounding, and maybe one step further would be to use a plastic plate on the top of the box. I wouldn't feel comfortable trusting the switch to isolate myself from a shock.

Or maybe I am too skittish.. I got shocked once while working on a tube amplifier, I still have my scar for that burn from 550 volts.. Oh well.
Bilby (author)  kerowhack5 years ago
The switch is working great so far, I don't have the specs on the switch any more but iirc it was rated for at least what the Dremel pulls- and being designed for a guitar stompbox, it's quite sturdy :) . I definitely agree on grounding- I think next time I might try a different (plastic) case, to avoid the grounding problem. My dremel doesn't have a ground prong anyhow, so other then the case there's not much to ground in this rig ;)
skimmo5 years ago
how much are rotary tools im going to buy one whats a good price?
petersen9095 years ago
I like the idea! For heavier duty tools you could use a relay to protect the switch from the higher amperage.
PCfreak5 years ago
Harbor Freight has A Foot switch
joezero5 years ago
I like this. These foot switches are very handy, I have made one like this and one from a sewing machine pedal. For the sewing machine pedal I just changed the plugs on the ends to the small large configuration(canadian/american standard). My Dremel lacks a ground. Eventually burnt out the dremel and attatched the flex shaft to the sewing machine motor. Less speed but more power.
meritsetgo5 years ago
you mean this switch is compatible with my plug
gemquest5 years ago
Great instructions! Thanks for sharing this. Did you ever give this a try with a sewing machine pedal? If so, I would like to know how it turned out. :)
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