Until I moved to Crozet, I never had a problem getting regular pedicures. Now all the salons are so far away I don't seem to get around to it as often as I need to. Not to mention that I've got to tote my infant son around with me everywhere now, and I don't want him breathing salon fumes.

I always got tired using a pumice to smooth away the dead skin on my feet when I gave myself a pedicure at home, so last year I got a bright idea. Why not try using a power tool?

I first looked into tools specifically marketed to file off callouses and with other pedicure-oriented attachments. But the reviews I read indicated that all of them were pretty much low-powered and useless if you've got serious callouses to get rid of.

So then I looked in the Dremel tool. It has tons of attachments, but I was most interested in the sanding bits. It cost $80 for the set I got, and I figured if it worked for pedicures it will have paid for itself with two uses.

Now that I've been using it for nearly a year, I can report that it works really well for pedicures! Sanding the callouses and dead skin off your feet with a power tool is not for the faint-of-heart. One slip, and you're bleeding. But if you've got good strength and control with your hands, it's a fabulous tool to make quick work reducing even the thickest callouses.

Even with a power tool, I need to spend about ten minutes per foot to get down to the baby-soft skin on the bottom layer. And as a practical matter, I usually spend five minutes per foot over two days. This makes it less likely that I'll accidentally sand away too much in one spot and wind up with a tender area. After walking around for a day after the first treatment it becomes clear where additional sanding is necessary, and where I've cleared enough skin away, so I can safely finish the job on day two.

I've used a couple different sanding cylinders, I'm not sure which grits they are exactly-- I think I've used both the fine and medium but not the very coarse grit. I'm afraid to use that one on my feet, but the other two seem to work about the same for me. I've found it's a little safer to work on wet skin like you would with a pumice, not only so the skin is soft and sloughs off more easily, but also since the Dremel generates heat from the friction, and there is less heat generated when the skin is wet. It gets hot pretty fast when you do it dry (not that I don't ever use it dry, it's more expedient at times, but less comfortable).

I may try using the buffing tip at some point to see if I can use it to buff my nails to a shine. I don't often paint my fingernails since I can never seem to keep them chip-free for more than a day, but I do like to keep them buffed if I can. But I've been a little afraid to try so far since I think it might get too hot on my fingernails, plus I don't know if I'll have enough control holding the machine with my left hand while I buff the nails on the right hand. With the pedicure, I can use BOTH hands to guide the tool for more control.