Quick-change Flex-shaft Handpieces Compared

Q: I’ve got a Foredom #10 handpiece, but the lever action is stiff. Which quick-release flex-shaft lever is the easiest to operate?

A: Of the ones I’ve used, there are two main lever types. One is the Techno style, including the original Techno, and there are at least two versions or copies now available, one Swiss and the other American-made. The other style is now sold by Foredom as their number 18. I forget who the original manufacturer or designer was. The number 10 you’ve got is, I think, simply the Italian Faro design in the Foredom USA-made version, otherwise identical so far as I can tell with the original Faro. Fordom also sells one listed as the number 180 in Gesswein’s catalog, but I’m not familiar with it.

The Faro #10 was for a long time the one I used, and still do use on occasion. The lever is sometimes a bit short for total ease of use, but always worked fine for me. Its main drawback is that the lever operates a friction-fit cam mechanism, so if you use the lever a lot when the handpiece is still rotating, you’ll wear out that cam rather quickly, though it’s not that hard to replace. And the nose bearings seem to have a somewhat shorter life than I’d like.

The Techno types have longer levers, and the lever operates a ball bearing mechanism, so operating the lever with the shaft still rotating doesn’t hurt it. You can, if you wish, change burs with the motor still clipping along at a decent speed if the burs are something you can grab or otherwise flip out without injury. And the bearings are completely replaceable. But smaller hands might find the Techno slightly more awkward to hold. I’m not sure why, but it feels a little odd in the hand, although I’m used to it now.

The number 18, at least the one I’ve got, uses a lever you press in towards the body of the handpiece. In use, the lever juts out away from the handpiece. I find that quite awkward, and at least on mine, the mechanism takes considerable force to operate, and makes a rather grating sound while doing so. It’s not a pleasant handpiece at all, and I almost never use the thing.

by Peter W. Rowe M.F.A., G.G.