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What do those Dremel bits do? Well I’ll tell ya!

Yeah, I’m an overachiever.

I originally thought I could fit all of my notes from Jill Timm‘s class, The Amazing Dremel, into one blog post.

Bwahahahahahahah!!!

I did not take into account how many notes I took during the workshop. In fact, my table neighbor at the workshop teased me for two days on how many notes I took.

My plan is to split the information into three blog posts:

Please note that this post only focuses on what the bits look like and what they do. Oh, and the bits mentioned are the only ones that we used in the workshop – we didn’t use any routing bits. Sorry.

That said, let’s talk Dremel bits.

I think that one of the things that both attracted me and freaked me out about the Dremel was its huge buffet of accessories. The packages are labeled by use, but it still seemed like gibberish to me. Jill created the perfect environment for overcoming my Dremel fear.

You can read about my class in the following blog posts:

This post is in no way meant to replace the total awesomeness of taking Jill Timm’s class. I benefited so much from hearing Jill’s experiences and seeing her work in person. If I had bought a Dremel and experimented with it on my own, most likely I would have never tried it on the range of materials that we did in class.

Jill recently announced that she’s taking her Dremel class on the road and would love to be scheduled by your group. I highly recommend the class if you have a chance to attend.

The main categories of bits, according to Dremel, include the following:

  1. Carving & Engraving
  2. Sanding
  3. Cutting
  4. Grinding & Sharpening
  5. Cleaning & Polishing

These categories are pretty consistent among other manufacturers of rotary tool accessories, so you can often find alternatives if you shop around. Carving & Engraving I used two different types of bits that fall into the carving & engraving category – diamond bits and high speed cutters.

Diamond Dremel bits

Diamond Dremel bits

Diamond bits can be used with the following materials:

  • Aluminum
  • Bookboard
  • Ceramic tile
  • Glass
  • Mirror
  • Steel

Dremel high speed cutters

Dremel high speed cutters

High speed cutters can be used with the following materials:

  • Bookboard
  • Linoleum
  • Polymer clay
  • Wood

Sanding

Sanding involves two different parts – the drum and the sanding band. Sanding bands come in different grits, just like sheets of sandpaper.

Dremel sanding bands and drum

Dremel sanding bands and drum

To use the sanding band, you simply slide it over the drum. Replace it when it wears out. Easy peasy.

Attaching a Dremel sanding band

Dremel sander ready to use

Sanding bits can be used with the following materials:

  • Aluminum
  • Bookboard
  • Plexiglass
  • Polymer clay
  • Wood

Cutting

There are different types of cutting wheels for different materials.

Dremel abrasive cutting wheels

Abrasive cutting wheels

Abrasive cutting wheels can be used with the following materials:

  • Bookboard
  • Plexiglass
  • Wood

Dremel fiberglass cutting wheel

Fiberglass cutting wheel

Fiberglass cutting wheels can be used with the following materials:

  • Aluminum
  • Bookboard
  • Ceramic tile
  • Wood

To use a cutting wheel, you have to attach it a mandrel.

Dremel mandrel

Dremel mandrel

Unscrew the tiny screw on top of the mandrel and remove one of the washers.

Attaching Dremel cutting wheel

Slide the wheel onto the screw, then add the second washer. Attach the screw to the mandrel base and tighten.

Attached Dremel cutting wheel

Replace the wheel it when it wears out.

Grinding & Sharpening

Grinding and sharpening stones are made of two basic materials: silicon carbide (green bits) and aluminum oxide (brown, orange, pink, or grey bits). You may have noticed that some of my grinding stones are oddly-shaped. This is because the stones wear out with use. You can reshape your grinding stones using a dressing stone.

Orange Dremel grinding stones

Orange grinding stones

Orange stones can be used with the following materials:

  • Ceramic tile
  • Glass
  • Mirror
  • Steel

Blue/Green & Pink grinding stones

Blue/green & pink grinding stones

Blue/green and pink stones can be used with the following materials:

  • Aluminum
  • Ceramic tile
  • Glass
  • Mirror

Cleaning & Polishing

Felt polishing wheels and cones are used in combination with polishing compound.

Dremel polishing felts and mandrel

Polishing felts and mandrel

Dremel polishing compound

Polishing compound

To use a polishing felt, you have to attach it a mandrel (different from the cutting wheel mandrel). The felt has a tiny hole in the center of it – you screw the mandrel into the hole to attach it.

Attaching Dremel felt polisher

Attached Dremel felt polisher, ready to use

Felt polishing wheels and cones can be used with the following materials:

  • Aluminum
  • Ceramic tile
  • Glass
  • Mirror

For further reference, you can check out Dremel’s website for information on all of their attachments. Even better though, is this very sexy poster: Dremel Accessories Guide Poster. We got one of these posters from Jill in our workshop packet.

I can’t decide if I want to hang it in my studio…

258 Responses to “What do those Dremel bits do? Well I’ll tell ya!”

By Anonymous - 13 September 2015 Reply

Thank you. I agree with others that your ‘cut to the good stuff’ list is what most of us are looking for…like most tools, practice teaches us the rest.

By Elissa - 14 September 2015 Reply

I’m glad you found the information useful.

Elissa

By Mark Krupp - 1 October 2015 Reply

Where is the best place to buy a variety of specific bits?
Most stores have “kits” which include all the bits I DON’T need, and few that I do.
Thanks,
Mark

By Elissa - 13 October 2015 Reply

Mark –

One place to get specific accessories is from the woman who taught me everything I know – Jill Timm! She has her own online store – check it out.

I did a quick online search and found that both ToolBarn and Widget Supply sell individual bits. I haven’t shopped at either of these stores myself, but they seem worth checking out.

If you have a local toy and hobby shop near you, try looking there – they often sell Dremel accessories.

Elissa

By sky - 13 December 2015 Reply

Mark I get all my bits at Lowe’s and or at Walmart.

By Ainslee - 17 March 2016 Reply

Mark, you didn’t say where you live. I work at a store that carries a huge selection of individual bits and accessories. Center Hardware in San Francisco.

By Elissa - 24 March 2016 Reply

Ainslee –

Is it this Center Hardware? Looks like a fun place to explore.

Elissa

By Karen - 3 October 2015 Reply

My husband and I have just purchased a dremel 3000. Wanted to do some wood carving. Look forward to hearing from you with your expertise on the thousand and one ways it can be used.

Thanx

By Elissa - 13 October 2015 Reply

Karen –

Wow! A 3000? Mine is just a 300 model – lucky you!

Unfortunately, I don’t know anything about that specific model. I don’t see why you wouldn’t be able to use the same bits that I use for wood carving – high speed cutters.

Elissa

By Tunku Mohamed Abidah - 10 October 2015 Reply

thank you for sharing

By Elissa - 13 October 2015 Reply

Tunku –

I’m glad the post was interesting to you!

Elissa

By Lee Scaros - 23 October 2015 Reply

Hi

I love dremel and the Diamond coated dremel bits. I have used them in my stone sculptures for the final detail work and sanding. I politely offer a word caution, the stone dust will clog the dremel. I have destroyed 3 of them. The answer is frequent breaks to vacuum the dust off the dremel vents.

I currently use the dremel bits in pneumatic pen grinders with the air compresors located in a dust free area.

Happy grinding
Lee

By Elissa - 26 October 2015 Reply

Lee –

Thanks so much for the tips! Keeping an eye on the vents is really important.

Elissa

By Robyn - 27 October 2015 Reply

This is exactly what I needed. THANKS!

By Elissa - 28 October 2015 Reply

Robyn –

Thanks so much for the feedback!

🙂 Elissa

By angela - 4 November 2015 Reply

HI, I am not yet a Dremel owner (ohh shame of it). Not very good with tools etc – however I have a number of horseshoes that I want to polish up and engrave, but I don’t know which Dremel I should buy (I’m guessing a Dremel would be the best tool for this). I’ve seen the Dremel 3000 on offer, but also read the 4000 is better. Can anyone advise me what I should look for please? Thanks 🙂

By Elissa - 6 November 2015 Reply

Angela –

I’m not an expert on the different kinds of Dremels available. I own a Dremel 300 and I’m pretty happy with it. The only thing that could be improved would be for it to be cordless.

I had to look up what horseshoes are made of (blush) – it looks like you should be able to polish them with a Dremel as they are made of steel. For engraving, the diamond bits should work – try it on an inconspicuous area first to be sure.

Good luck!
Elissa

By Angela - 9 November 2015 Reply

Many thanks Elissa, believe me you know a lot lot more than I do about them!! Thank you.

By azflygrl - 25 December 2015 Reply

I just got the 4000 and I love it…..it has enough power to work on many products…..metal….wood….glass….pvc…..stone…..tile…..you name it it can do the job.

By Eric - 30 November 2015 Reply

Hi,

Thanks for this great resource; there are a lot of different bits and it’s always confusing to chose the right one.

Another issue I’m often facing is how to chose the right speed for each bit/material.

I already noticed you could easily set a wood piece on fire if you use a too high speed; Also when cutting metal, it’s easy for the bit to start glowing red which is probably not a good thing.

Any idea where this information can be found?
(or a rule of thumb to avoid destroying the bit and/or the work piece?)

Thanks 🙂

By Elissa - 30 November 2015 Reply

Hi Eric,

I did a bit of searching and found a fabulous resource that should meet your needs – I just wrote a blog post about it. I hope you find it useful!

Elissa

By Betty Laevey - 30 November 2015 Reply

I’m so glad I found your site. I’m flummoxed by all the bits and possibilities. Right now I need to put my flexshaft together with my Dremel and I have scattered the parts so that I don’t know their order. Can you help? Are there instructional pictures?

By Elissa - 30 November 2015 Reply

Betty –

It’s tough for me to help you without knowing the make and model of your flexshaft – could you give me more information about what you’re using?

Elissa

By azflygrl - 25 December 2015 Reply

You can go to YouTube….there are videos on how to do what you need…..

By David dutton - 17 December 2015 Reply

I wonder if you could help me, I have tried loads of places in the u.k. To try and purchase one of those posters, the dremel accessories guide chart, but have had no luck, is there anyway you could help me find somewhere in the states to purchase one.
Many thanks

By Elissa - 17 December 2015 Reply

David –

You can download the Dremel Accessories Guide Poster right from their website. You could also try requesting one using their Literature Request Form.

Good luck!
Elissa

By Tony - 12 January 2016 Reply

I’ve been searching now for a week to find what I’m looking for, eBay, Amazon, drill retailers, hobby shops, ‘Marts – you name it I’ve searched! OK, I need drill bits to fit a Dremel but with a cutting edge of 4mm and 4.5mm. so what I need are drill bits with a reduced shank, i.e. 3.2mm. I need to drill 4mm and 4.5mm holes 1/2″ deep down the center of round plastic billets 1″ long x 5/8″ dia. using dremel fitted to my workstation drill press. I would appreciate any input/info from anyone. T.I.A
Tony

By Elissa - 13 January 2016 Reply

Tony –

Did you see these? The measurements are close to what you’re looking for – the set includes 0.30mm and 0.35mm bits.

Elissa

By Doug T - 14 February 2016 Reply

Elissa has a great post here (and the sequel post to this is also great as it mentions a couple additional accessories {the “Dremel” bits} that one can use).

I myself have a Harbor Freight Rotary Tool (the Chicago Electric Variable Speed Rotary Tool model #68696) and I love it (Popular Mechanic did a comparison of 6 rotary tools and gave the Chicago Electric rotary tool {which was also the least expensive rotary tool tested} a 4 star out of 5 rating, tying with the Black and Decker RTX-6, with only the Dremel 4200 {5 Stars} and a Proxxon rotary tool {4 1/2 stars} beating it them out, those both are over $120 Rotary Tools). Whats nice about the rotary tool I have is I can use all the Dremel accessories (with two exceptions, the Dremel Keyless Chuck (though there are Keyless chucks available that should fit if you search online, I believe the one I ordered from China is the proper size) and the Dremel Collet Nut as the tool’s shaft that these screw on to to is slightly larger then that of a Dremel Rotary Tool (I believe the Dremel’s use a 7mm inner diameter for the Collet Nut, Keyless Chuck and even the Square Driver Cap that some of the Dremel attachments use, while my rotary tool is about an 8mm inner diameter for the collet nut) and some of the Dremel Attachments (again if it is an attachment that requires you to use the Driver Cap with the square hole you might be out of luck).

One item I believe Elissa recommended either here or in her The Amazing Dremel with Jill Timm posts is the Flex shaft. I wholeheartedly agree with this. Though if you do use a flex shaft you also need a holder or way to hang the rotary tool from, as they work best when the rotary tool is elevated 9the elevation also helps reduce the chances of the flex shaft kinking up and breaking while in use).

Also as Elissa mentions search around online if you are looking for a bit to cut or drill out areas/holes larger then 1/8″, I did a quick google search and found some 4mm and 4.5mm drill bits with a 3.175 for sale from Ali Express (a Chinese website) though they look to be sold in sets of 10 drill bits all the same size. Just remember though in most cases if you are drilling a hole larger then 1/8″ (approx 3.175mm) you might need to look at an actual drill or drill press.

By Elissa - 25 February 2016 Reply

Doug –

Thanks so much for your contribution with this comment! There’s a lot of good information in there – I appreciate your sharing this information.

Elissa

By Doug T - 26 February 2016 Reply

Elissa-

Your welcome for the kind comment.

Since I posted that I added a new toy, a Dremel 3000 (the first actual Dremel I have ever owned, previously owning a cordless Black and Decker Wizard and a the cheap single speed rotary tool from Harbor Freight, along with the Chicago Electric Variable Speed Rotary Tool from Harbor Freight that I mentioned in my post above). Haven’t actually used the Dremel 3000 yet, instead still using the Chicago Electric Rotary Tool, as it is the one currently set up hanging form the stand with the Flex Shaft attached since I have been engraving some river rocks so that they are runestones for a friend who is into stuff like tarot card readings, tea leave readings, etc… figured the runestones would be perfect since their mothers side is of Nordic decent (fathers side is Scottish, so there is also the possibility some of the ancestors on that side may have also used runes).

I do know one thing if you have the Dremel Dust Blower (or even a 3rd party/Chinese knock off of it) you need to be real careful, I have found that out the hard way, it is very easy to brush a finger against it when it is spinning, and if you do you will burn yourself, luckily the friction burns i got on two of my fingers aren’t that bad, though one did blister up :(. Other then having to be even more careful the Dust Blower is a nice little attachment, it does act as a replacement collet nut so you wont be able to use it if you use a Keyless Chuck (also a nice attachement/accessory to have), that does blow the dust, wood shavings, etc… off of what you are working on so you have a clearer view of the surface when working.

as mentioned above and in my other post the Keyless Chuck is also a nice addition, it allows you to use accessories (the bits) with different sized shanks without having to take the collet nut off and put in a different collet, so you can easily go from a 1/8″ shanked bit to say a 1/16″ bit, back to another 1/8″ bit fairly quickly (compared to having to remove the collet nut each time). Now the Keyless Chuck might not work with some of the attachments such such as the Dremel A679-02 Lawnmower, Gardening tool/Chainsaw Sharpening kit as the Keyless chuck sits to far forward on the Rotary Tools shaft and the grinding stone(s) you use for sharpening wont line up with the attachments sharpening guide (or in the case of the garden tool sharpener attachment the grinding stone wont fit if used with a Keyless Chuck). Now thats not so say I dont recommend the Keyless Chuck, because I do, I have 2 of them (one for the Chicago Electric Rotary Tool that fits its larger diameter shaft, and an actual Dremel one for my Dremel 3000) I primarily purchased them for use since I have a bunch of diamond tipped engraving bits that are 3/32″ shanks along with all the 1/8″ shanked bits that came with both the rotary tools and in various accessory sets I purchased (such as the 228pcs set same as/similar to the one you got from Jill Timms workshop).

One last item that I can think of right now that I would suggest for your rotary tool is the Dremel A550 Shield if you plan on doing a lot of cutting with the abrasive cutting wheels (and even the fiberglass reinforced cutting wheels), metal grinding, or using the brass or steel bristled brushes. The shield screws onto the tool where the collar cap is and then can be rotated around so that the shield is between you and the bit. Doing this if the cutting wheel breaks, sparks fly or bristles break of when using the rotary tool the shield will deflect any broken cutting wheel bits, the sparks from grinding, broken bristles, even debris from what you are working on away from you. ***NOTE*** This item isn’t a replacement for eye protection, but is to be used in conjunction with the proper eye wear.

Sorry if this is a long winded post, hoping that someone can find some of the information in it useful.

By Kenneth Sikes - 2 March 2016 Reply

I have some rough gemstones that I need to shape smooth and polish. Which grinding stone do I use first two grind and shape the stone? Which grinding stone do I use to smooth the rough part of the stone light on top of the stone and on the side of the stone. Do I use the pink ones first when smoothing the stone and then use the orange ones to smooth it even more or do I use the sanding drums to make the final smoothing of the stone and which bit would I use if I want to smooth a scratch in the stone. Once I have smooth the stone I guess that is when I use the felt wheels with polishing wax to make this stone shine. I bought dog SE Rotary tool accessory kit 228 piece Will this set do all the things I need to do with the Ruffstone to turn it in to A nice polished gemstone. This is all very new to me so I would really appreciate if someone can help me with the step-by-step if it’s not too much of a problem or if you know of a video that shows me the step-by-step. Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon.

By Noëlla Rochon - 31 March 2016 Reply

Hi Elissa. First I’m sorry my english is not very good.

I wish to do jewelery with spoon and fork. I see those on pinterest. I’m looking to buy tools to do my project, and I don’t know which one I have to buy. I’m living near Montreal in Québec. Can you tell me which tools I need to buy first and all accessories it is necessary. I also need the preceding to do the jeweleries. Also where I can buy the tools.

Thanks
Noëlla Rochon

By April Anderson - 3 May 2016 (4 weeks ago) Reply

Noella I have seen Dremel sold at Home Depot. If you can’t find it there there is a place in Ottawa called Lee Valley that sells the Dremel 3000 (I believe it can be ordered on line). They also sell many of the various bits. If you go to the store (its right off of the highway) the staff will help you with which bits would be best for your purposes.

By Elissa - 4 May 2016 (4 weeks ago) Reply

April –

Lee Valley Tools is a great suggestion! They’ve got a good reputation and a nice selection of Dremel goodies.

Elissa

By Theresa - 21 April 2016 Reply

Thank you so much for this post! I’ve recently started experimenting with cutting and shaping bone china. I’m having trouble figuring out which bit to use for 1)creating intricate shapes – I have a diamond wheel cutter which is great for basic outlines but I want to get a more detailed cut on some pieces and 2)sanding the edges after I’ve made the cut to remove any ridges and make it smooth to the touch.

By Elissa - 10 May 2016 (3 weeks ago) Reply

Theresa –

I don’t have a lot of experience working on china, but found this interesting resource for you: Upcycling Broken China (A Tutorial)

I hope it helps. 🙂

Elissa

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