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By DrPhill
Apologies if this is the wrong forum..... mods please feel free to move it.

I am doing some wood carving, but there are some fairly difficult areas to do. These are deep excavations where I cannot get a lot of leverage with my existing tools. It might be possible to use a rotary tool like a dremel to grind/sand/file in these areas..... but I have never used such a tool. I would be worried that the sideways force would make the tool unusable.

Has anyone done similar? Does the high speed reduce this problem or make it worse?

If this is a good route, is Dremel a good choice, or are there better?

By AJB Temple
Dremel is variable speed. Mine has a flexible remote shaft. They are good but you need to be prepared to get through a few bits. I only use mine for cleaning up difficult corners, as there is not much I can't do with a really sharp knife and carving chisels.
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By DrPhill
Thanks, it sounds as if using a dremel may be a possibility. Do you use the 'sides' as well as the 'end' of the bit? I am imagining small, almost spherical or cylindrical bits (do they exist) which can remove material in all directions.....

I am only removing small amounts at a time, but getting rid of as much as I can before getting to the hand carving stage. This is my first 'real' carving as my other projects have been 'releif carving' . I may have been a little over-ambitious..... but maybe I can pull this off. The other use for the dremel would be as a mini sander, but I am sure it would manage that.

Photos may not show much, but I will try when I get good light - though that may be the end of the week. I can see what I want to remove, but by the time a tool has got in there, there is not a lot of wiggle room to get into the edges, hence the dremel to go a bit 'sideways'.
By Richard_C
Dremel is a motor on a stick, huge range of tools - cutters, drills, sanders, polishers etc - so you could probably do most things from diy dentistry to de-rusting an oil tanker very slowly. Its worth looking at the dremel europe website and see their range of accessories and tools.

I don't have one - I do have a cheapskate dremel-alike which does what I want well enough, one tool is a bit like the one linked below and might be the sort of thing you are looking for. ... 102-ocs-p/

Flexible drive is very useful, I keep my machine hung up on a shelf rack with the flex drive on, so I can just walk over to it and pop in a polisher for jewelry, sander for the nub on the bottom of a turned bowl, cut off tool for odd bits of metal or plastic ..... It's not a proper precision tool, well not the way I use it, but a useful thing to have around.
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By Lons
getting rid of as much as I can before getting to the hand carving stage

I'm not sure about that, I do it the other way around, take the bulk off and as much detail as possible with chisels and use the Dremel and Foredom for some of the more intricate areas using burrs and sanding drums.

As said, hundreds of tips available and you can buy very cheap sets which don't last but cheap enough to be disposable, Ebay, Lidl, Aldi etc. Check the shaft dia fits your collets or buy a chuck attachment which is worth having! A flexi shaft is easier to handle but not essential.

Can cut any direction just use gentle pressure and keep a firm hold. Don't forget an extraction hose close to the work or you'll get a nose full of dust.
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By Padster
Just to confuse the issue a little I’ve done a little of this and have a Proxxon FBS 240. In my opinion it is great, you can get various kits, with a flex shaft, a press adapter, 6 different collets so can take all the Dremel accessories. I think it’s better made, than other makes, you’ll find many comments that it’ll outlast any Dremel, but to counter you’ll also see it’s not as powerful as a Dremel either wattage or rpm - many agree to disagree in comparison and it’s opinion at the end of the day.
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By Robbo3
I use the Parkside (Lidl) battery rotary tool to get into the intricate places of bandsaw moose like these (by Marius Ptaszczyk)

Bandsaw Moose (Mariusz Płaszczyk) .jpg

The tool come with all sorts of sanding & drilling bits but the mandrels are undersize compared with other rotary tools. It does have various collets one of which is suitable for standard mandels (1/8" or 3.2mm I think).

Parkside Rotary Tool.jpg
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By novocaine
yes a "dremel" like tool can be used for this.
yes you can side load them.
yes you can get special burrs for this sort of stuff
yes, the abrasive wheels will wear out quickly.

Saburr are regarded as the best and are priced as such, cheaper burrs are available.

practice on scrap first, it takes a few passes to get the hang of it.

Don't waste your money on a real dremel, buy an aldi or lidl special. it's a motor with a stick. :D
By Tris
The only thing I can add to this is if you buy one of the cheaper tools then expect the spindle lock to fail. This has happened to me twice now as the plastic button or locking rod has broken off. I just removed the plastic parts and now keep a suitably sized nail to put through the hole that was left and into the spindle.
Axminster used to do some good value small carving burrs, quite long lasting as I recall.
By whatknot
As others have said, the Dremel can do all the things you ask and there are oodles of bits, burs, sanders etc

A corded variety are better (IMHO) than the cordless, you will not have to be waiting for a charge up at a critical moment ;-)

A flexi shaft is priceless, so much better than holding the Dremel itself

A quick release chuck is also an extremely good item to have, not essential but makes life so much easier

Not having very deep pockets I bought a set of cheap burs off Amazon, about £6 I think, yes you can get better but they do the job

NB the Dremels are much more powerful than the cheapie variety, although the cheapies work well too
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By ED65
I wanted to add my agreement that Dremel is not the brand to buy, especially if you plan to go cordless. They are not the company they once were (and haven't been for years) and their current stuff is made in China, same as nearly everyone else's. While you can get lucky and get a good one they're not consistent, with abject failures not being unheard of. Not what you want when you're paying quite a premium for something.

Flex shafts are good, but point to note: they don't have to be run from a mini drill! Why even think about powering one from a mini drill when you could run one from a power drill just as easily, more reliably and with greater torque?

But if you think you'll be doing this a lot then go all the way to a hanging motor with flex shaft and handpiece (Foredom or similar). Oh and mustn't forget about foot-pedal control! Previous thread: new-dremel-or-alternative-t98766.html

In terms of burrs, if you want to go with carbide then I would recommend you buy directly from China via AliExpress at a fraction of the price you'll pay from most retailers (often for the exact same product). I was actually looking at these just last night by an amazing coincidence as I came across my sets of carbide and diamond burrs when doing some tidying in the spare room over the weekend. I've used the carbide ones at 20,000 RPM on hardened tool steel without visible wear, and without a single breakage.
By whatknot
I can't imagine using a flex shaft with a standard drill, the noise would drive you insane and would be rather uncontrollable IMHO

As to avoiding Dremels, I wouldn't agree but you don't have to pay Dremel prices, my 2nd hand Dremel with full kit, bench stand, flexi, grout cutter, circle cutter and oodles of fittings cost me £40

And is far more able than the cheapies, which I also have two of
There's a lot to agree with in all the above posts, and as a Dremel (mains) user, and a user of one the Workzone (Aldi cheapo "Dremel knock off") my own experience reflects most of the above comments.

Re the Dremel, mine is over 15 years old now and gets LOTS of use for all sorts of things. So far, never one moment problem. The Workzone is clearly a cheapo, and right from the start had noisier bearings than the Dremel, but after at least a couple of years heavy use it's also still going strong - though no doubt one fine day I'll have to strip it and replace the bearings with SKFCO or something decent. From the looks of things that won't be a huge job.

I've also heard on here that Dremel quality isn't what it was, especially on their battery tools (which I don't have). And that's maybe because their tools are now made in China.

As I've said before, personally I don't believe that "made in China" (or anywhere else for that matter) necessarily means carp. IF the OEM is subcontracting his own designs to a Chinese factory, provided the OEM maintains oversight on materials and fasteners specs, manufacturing tolerances, and correct assembly, there's no reason why something from China cannot be every bit as good as the "same thing" from somewhere else. Some OEMs clearly do care about quality, some "not quite so much"!

Re carving, I'm definitely NOT much of an expert (I don't seem to have the "eye" for it), but I have been experimenting with 3D/compound cutting on both my scroll saw and my band saw recently (see the pic from Robbo 3 above.

Nice though such things do look, you'll notice that these animals have "square edges" - something that real animals don't often suffer from!

So I've been using both the above "mini drills" with and without a flexi shaft to try and "improve" the look of my cut out figures. BTW, I've also used a sharp knife, a small sharp chisel, plus various bits of sandpaper wrapped around formers, finger nail emery boards, and various "Dremel type" sanding cylinder/drums ranging from about 6 to 20 mm dia. It all works.

But I've found that all "motorised" shaping takes a bit of getting used to, and if not careful (it seems I wasn't!) you can soon end up with a cat without a tail or a dog with only 3 legs or 1 ear! "Practice makes perfect" - as is so often the case!

But neither drill seems to suffer from the side-loading of the bearings (when used without the flexi shaft), and holding the "handle" of the flexi shaft is anyway a bit easier than holding the drill itself right down near the chuck/collet.

About the only thing I've found with a flexi shaft is that even if you follow the Instructions and do NOT allow the shaft to tie itself in a knot (just allow it to make a single gentle curve) it does run a bit warm after a while. I have 2 of these flexi shafts (one Dremel, one Workzone) and every so often remove the inner and run along the wire spiral through my hand with a little Vaseline on my fingers). Seems to work OK. I've also found the clamped-on vertical hanging post (that came with the Workzone kit) very useful to keep the drill itself out of the way of the job.

BTW, I DO also have a horizontal fixture for a (mains) electric drill and use a somewhat larger (dia) flexi shaft with that. But for that I use a set of mounted stones of various grades and shapes (cone, cylinder, drum, sphere, etc) but so far ONLY on bits of metal (the stones I have are NOT suitable for wood anyway).

Apart from their "Kwik Click" attachment for mounting thin cut off discs, I don't use Dremel's proprietory accessories at all. There's loads in the Dremel catalogue, but compared to others which seem to be freely available (e.g. the set that came with my Workzone kit), Dremel's don't seem to be of any better quality and are much more expensive. If you do go this route I'd suggest keep your eye open in Aldi and Lidl, and also in the "cheapo rubbish bins" you often see in DIY Emporia. I've picked up all sorts of such cheapo but useful "junk" in such outlets.

And agree 100% with buying tungsten carbide "dental burrs" from China. MUCH cheaper and just as good as (better?) than Dremel's own which are again, rather expensive.

Just to be clear, we are NOT talking about producing life-size sculptures here! For that you'll probably need something like Arbortech (which uses an angle grinder as power source anyway, NOT a "Dremel").

Finally, based on the design by a very well-respected member of the Scroll Sawing section here, if you're going to do much of this, especially "powered carving & sanding", then IMO you need some Dust Extraction.

Brian's idea was simple. Buy a decent-sized plastic washing up bowl (choose an oval one, not a round one like I did!) drill a hole in the bottom to take a suitably-sized piece of plastic pipe and a sieve with a flange (for a sink or something), to fix to the bowl. Connect a shop vac to the underside of the pipe, set the bowl between your knees and carve/sand away with the vac running, holding the job over the bowl. Mine works fine and clears most of the dust (but I DO wish I'd chosen an oval bowl) :D

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By ED65
AES wrote:As I've said before, personally I don't believe that "made in China" (or anywhere else for that matter) necessarily means carp.

Yes absolutely. But just like with modern Stanley (including the supposedly much higher-quality Sweetheart stuff) the QC is all over the place. But the price doesn't reflect this and that's a bone of contention for me at least, although individual mileage varies on this apparently!