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Dremel for 'carving'?

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DrPhill

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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?

Phill
 

stuckinthemud

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Photos would help. For this I usually use a drill to take out as much waste as I can then crumble the edges of the carving into the drilled out areas
 

AJB Temple

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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.
 

DrPhill

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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'.
 

Richard_C

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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.

https://www.dremeleurope.com/gb/en/high ... 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.
 

Lons

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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.
 

Padster

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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.
 

Robbo3

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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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novocaine

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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.

edit:
Don't waste your money on a real dremel, buy an aldi or lidl special. it's a motor with a stick. :D
 

Tris

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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.
Regards
Tris
 

whatknot

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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
 

ED65

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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.
 

whatknot

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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
 

AES

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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

HTH
 

ED65

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AES":26t71q7w said:
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!
 

AES

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Yup, agree with that ED65.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that wherever possible, one should only buy where, as a minimum, one can get the tool (or whatever) in yer own sweaty 'and!

Agree of course that it's NOT possible if buying on internet (e.g. my dental burrs above), but even buying on line, when it looks like the source may be China (etc), then only buy from a dealer who has good warranty/service, OR only "take a punt" where the total cost won't make a big hole in the pocket if lost.

I just don't know if Dremel quality has dropped or not (above posts) and if so, if that's a result of being made in China now - or not. But buyers with Dremel problems, with the Dremel name/at their prices, should IMO always contact Dremel direct. If the Q really is dropping, that should fix problems (assuming Q really is dropping and assuming enough buyers follow up and don't just moan).
 

Lons

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Just as an aside to this, if as I suggested earlier you get the chuck adapter so you can use various size shanks without changing collets there is another source of carbide burrs, your dentist! They throw them away long before being blunt and whilst they're usually fine profiles and have a notched shank they work very well and last a long time.
I have quite a few I obtained years ago and still going strong, also have a box of various single and double sided hand dental pics and scrapers which are useful detail tools.
 

whatknot

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I can vouch for the usefulness of dental drills ;-)

My dad was a dentist and I begged some from him in various sizes years ago before he retired, I am still using them some 40+ years later

Initially they were for model making as I was into war gaming at the time but they have come in useful for all sorts over the years, and carving latterly
 

DrPhill

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Gosh I take my eye off the thread for a moment and when I look again it has grown......

Lots of useful input there, and I will need to digest it. I had ruled out cordless (if I dont use tool for a few months the batteries seem to get upset) though I could more easily work outside. I would need an extension cable to do that with a corded, but I would get some natural dust disposal......

I had not thought about dust - I am currently using a proxxon carver with flexcut bits, and that makes heavy bits that fall rather than float in the air. So I am allowed to work indoors (I don't have a dedicated space with power and light). That means that a dust producing tool may not get as much use until the drier weather arrives.

The power carver removes more volume, more quickly and accurately than I could by hand, but for the fine detail and crevices it will get cumbersome. The next step is going to be hand carving and/or rotary tool.

Interesting that going for 'the name' is not considered value-for-money. That frees me up to buy a cheaper model to learn on. I am carving yew, so the grinders will get a relatively easy life.

So thanks for all the comments - I am still learning.
 

Lons

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DrPhill":3ndqkyrw said:
I am carving yew,
That makes dust extraction even more important or a least wear a mask, it can be toxic to many people.
 

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