Yes, I have a Dremel…what else can I work on?

As mentioned in my last Dremel post, this post focuses on tips for using a Dremel with specific materials. When I attended The Amazing Dremel with Jill Timm last year, I documented what I learned in my post So now I have a Dremel…what can I work on?

This time I took 4 ½ pages of notes during the workshop. Most of my notes duplicated what I learned last year, but some of the tips were new to me. In addition, I worked on two new materials – bookboard and brass – those notes are new.

New materials:


  • It’s easy to drill holes in bookboard. For better control, use a workstation to stabilize your Dremel.
  • Use carving bits to do deep work.
  • Bookboard tends to “barf” when you work on it, meaning that material comes off in fluffy chunks. In addition, you’ll be left with fluffy, chunky burrs on the board.
  • To get more control when carving out areas, cut out borders with an X-Acto knife, then work within those lines. You’ll get a cleaner edge.
  • Aluminum oxide grinding stones (brown, orange, pink, or grey bit) can be used to clean up burrs and soften edges.
  • Bookboard will erode grinding stones, so move the Dremel while working to even out the wear.
  • You can get a smoother finish on the surfaces of worked areas by burnishing down with a bonefolder.


  • Because brass is softer metal, it’s easy to create depth with layers of work.
  • Diamond bits can be harder to control.
  • Pay attention to the direction of your work and stay consistent – it shows!
  • For polishing, use felt pads with polishing compound.
  • For polishing, use emery-impregnated bits without polishing compound.
  • Polish brass before doing other work (such as engraving) or you’ll risk getting polishing compound into groves/texture and you’ll have to work hard to get it out.

Previously-covered materials:

Some general tips:

  • When putting a sanding band on the drum mandrel, tighten the screw on top of the mandrel to snug up the drum.
  • If your bit turns red, it’s overheating. Once it burns, it will turn black and you won’t be able to use it again.
  • A Dremel has two motor brushes, one on each side of the motor.
  • Motor brushes will wear down and get shorter over time.
  • Always replace both motor brushes at the same time.



Shattered mirror

Sad, sad mirror


  • Use light pressure – you don’t need to go deep.
  • Put a drop of oil on glass prior to drilling to both increase speed and keep the bit from overheating.
  • Be careful when drilling too close to the edge of glass because it can shatter apart.
  • For safety, tape glass edges before drilling.


  • Start at medium speed.
  • This is a soft material and won’t allow fine lines or detail like harder materials.


  • If your bits get gummed up, put them in the freezer for easy removal of the offending material.
  • You can also squeeze gummed up bits with pliers and the material will pop off.


  • Sanding bits can be used to create a satin texture and remove rust.
  • It is easier to work in one direction.
  • Use titanium bits to drill holes – these are gold in color.


  • Take short passes because wood can scorch.
  • Use sanding bits to remove burrs from the surface of wood.
  • An aluminum oxide grinding stone acts as really fine sandpaper.

In my next post, I’ll share the Dremel sample books that were created in class. Jill came up with a great solution for housing our material samples – stay tuned!

One Response to “Yes, I have a Dremel…what else can I work on?”

By Carol - 5 September 2010 Reply

I’m tempted to print out all your Dremel pieces – and maybe I will – but common sense tells me to just look them up on your wonderful blog. Thanks, Elissa.

So what do you think? I'd love to know!

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