So now I have a Dremel…what can I work on?
As mentioned in my last Dremel post, this post focuses on tips for using a Dremel with specific materials. I took six pages of notes during the workshop. As I reviewed them, I realized just how much I’d forgotten since I took the workshop. I’m glad I’m such a prolific (a.k.a. anal) note taker.
Once again, I’d like to mention that 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.
And away we go! Please note that this post only focuses on materials I used in the workshop.
Some general tips:
- Always always always wear eye protection and a dust mask. Things fly in the air. Really. It happened to me.
- The Dremel should make a purring noise when you turn it on.
- If the Dremel makes a grinding noise, check your motor brushes. Note: You should check motor brushes after every 50-60 hours of use.
- Don’t force it – let the bits do the work for you.
- You can get different results from different bits when you move your Dremel in either direction.
- When holding a Dremel, be sure to not put your hands over the air vents.
- If the Dremel gets hot, turn it off and let it cool.
- Did I mention that you should always wear eye protection and a dust mask?
- Grain affects working with wood. Work with the grain when possible or the tip of your Dremel will skip.
- The harder the wood, the more detail you can get.
- Use wide strokes to get an even, smooth finish.
- Use a saw attachment for any substantial removal of material.
- With high speed cutters, use bits with smaller heads for thinner lines and/or smaller spaces.
- Using the Dremel at higher speeds will cut more smoothly.
- You will get more drawing control if you work at a shallow depth.
- Use a ball tip to carve out a space for inserting beads.
- The edge of sandpaper bands can be used to carve out fine lines.
- Smooth out the edges of your glass first to remove sharp edges.
- Work on glass on a dark surface so you can see your work better.
- Use a low speed with diamond bits or your glass will chip.
- Move the Dremel in the direction of the rotation to reduce chipping.
- To see exactly what your image will look like through the glass, you need to get on top of it and look down. Looking at glass from an angle will cause distortion in viewing the image.
- Keep the Dremel moving on the glass and don’t keep the tip in one spot or that spot will overheat – give it time to cool off.
- You can work on both sides of glass to create dimension.
- The thicker the piece of glass, the greater the depth achieved.
- Images on the back of glass need to be done in reverse.
- If the tip of your bit is skipping on the glass, then your speed is too slow.
- All tips for glass can be applied for use with mirror.
- The rubber grey disk (looks like stone) takes away the paint and silver from mirror but doesn’t grind the glass
- You can cut levels into linoleum because it’s the same material all the way through.
- Don’t stay in one spot for too long – linoleum will melt and clog up your bits – work for short periods of time.
- You can cut all the way through linoleum with a Dremel.
- You can use the Dremel to carve linoleum for printmaking.
- You can use brushes to create a soft frosted finish.
- Use the bits lightly – only use the tips. Don’t push down.
- Plexiglass has a low melting point, so work on an area for a short period of time and then let it cool.
- Pieces of plexiglass that fly off while you’re working can burn your skin – wear protective clothing.
- You can work through plexiglass if it’s thin enough.
- You can work on both sides of plexiglass for depth.
- Be careful while working, the surface of plexiglass can scratch easily.
- Use low speeds when working with sanders.
- Ceramic tile is composed of a glass surface on a clay base. You can take off the glassy surface or work through to the ceramic base, which is softer.
- Tiles that are made for floors have been fired at a higher temperature and are harder to work with.
- Tiles made for walls and countertops are softer and easier to work with.
- Seal any exposed ceramic areas or it could stain.
- Because aluminum is a soft metal, you can cut all the way through it.
- You can work the surface to create reflective values.
- Metal brushes can be used to clean up burrs.
- Use a metal circular saw bit for cutting out slots.
- Alcohol inks can be used on the surface of aluminum.
- Sand down sharp edges.
- Before polishing, make sure all burrs have been removed.
- Polish aluminum by moving in one direction.
- If you want to keep the surface shiny, you’ll have to seal it or it will oxidize over time.
- Be aware that aluminum will heat up the longer you work with it.
- Don’t stay in one spot for too long – polymer clay will melt and clog up your bits. Work for short periods of time.
- Don’t use diamond bits.
- You can polish polymer clay to a small degree.
- You can cut recessed areas in polymer clay, then fill the recesses with a new color of clay and re-bake it to create inlays.
- Carving polymer clay is messy! Keep this in mind when choosing your workspace.
- Grind down the edges and corners first – it’s sharp!
- If you apply a layer of rust to the steel (either naturally or by using product), you can carve away the rusted layer to reveal the shiny layer underneath.
- Steel will spark when you work on it.
- Use high speeds.