Category : Bookish Tips

Dremel resources for artists

Dremel resources for artistsIf you haven’t already guessed it, I love my Dremel. It’s my baby.

If I ever find that my hubby has used it to clean grout in the bathroom, I will have to kill him.

That said, welcome to the last post in my series of posts related to the use of a Dremel in the book arts. While the first two posts were based on information collected from Jill Timm’s class, The Amazing Dremel at the 2009 Focus on Book Arts conference, this post focuses on resources I discovered while going down the rabbit hole of insane and obsessive Googling.

Long story short, lots of sleep lost and not enough to show for it. Let’s move on.

Here’s a rundown of all of my Dremel-related posts to date:

And speaking of the woman who started it all, Jill Timm, here’s her wonderful book Winter White, which was created using a Dremel on the covers.

Super Coolness from the Dremel Company:

Books that reference using a Dremel in bookbinding:

Material-specific resources:

Resources that are cool, but I can’t come up with an interesting category name:

If you find other nifty resources out there, let me know and I’ll add them to the list.

So now I have a Dremel…what can I work on?

Dremel setWelcome to part two of my series of blog posts based on information collected from Jill Timm‘s class, The Amazing Dremel at the 2009 Focus on Book Arts conference.

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?

Wood:

  • 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.

Glass:

  • 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.

Mirror:

  • 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

Linoleum:

  • 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.

Plexiglass:

  • 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:

  • 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.

Aluminum:

  • 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.

Polymer Clay:

  • 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.

Steel:

  • 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.

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 bits can be used with the following materials:

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

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.

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.

Abrasive cutting wheels can be used with the following materials:

  • Bookboard
  • Plexiglass
  • Wood

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.

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 stones can be used with the following materials:

  • Ceramic tile
  • Glass
  • Mirror
  • Steel

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.

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…

The envelope please…

Results of Polldaddy pollWell I feel silly because I can’t figure out how to close the PollDaddy poll within WordPress. Poop.

I officially declare that the poll is closed. I mean it. Don’t even try to vote now, even though I can’t stop you.

You have spoken and I will obey. Here’s the order of my posts starting next week:

  1. Dremel bits and what they do
  2. Paper and Book Intensive 2010
  3. Trip to the American Bookbinding Museum
  4. Book artists on Twitter – part 2
  5. New books on my bookshelf
  6. Peggy Skycraft and why she rocks
  7. Trip to the Taurus Bookbindery

I had to make a judgment call when there was a tie between two topics, so I put them in alphabetical order.

If anyone objects, I’d be happy to figure out some kind of blog post deathmatch.

For blog's sake, what do I do next?

I have a backlog of blog posts that has accumulated over the past 2 months.

Sometimes I get an idea for a post and start a draft, then something distracts me and I move on to a new topic. I need help figuring out where to start and I’m interested in hearing about what grabs your attention.

Here are the blog posts I have in my queue (these are working titles):

  1. Book artists on Twitter – part 2
  2. Dremel bits and what they do
  3. New books on my bookshelf
  4. Paper and Book Intensive 2010
  5. Peggy Skycraft and why she rocks
  6. Trip to the American Bookbinding Museum
  7. Trip to the Taurus Bookbindery

I plan to publish my posts based on the feedback I receive – most popular topic comes first.

Voting will be open until Friday, at which I point I will announce the post schedule.

If you have suggestions for any other blog topics, please let me know – I’m open to any comments you may have.

Note: The poll is now closed.

The Amazing Dremel with Jill Timm – Day 2

Day two at the Focus on Book Arts conference is now over. Well, not quite – right now I’m listening to Peter Thomas and Jim Croft doing a duet on a harmonica/ukulele and trombone, respectively.

Today was day 2 of The Amazing Dremel with Jill Timm. The day progressed much like it had yesterday. Jill would do a demonstration, then we would have the opportunity to practice what we had learned. Thankfully, I was much more relaxed with Stan today.

More from the “E Series”:

I think my favorite material from today is the ceramic tile. You can remove the gloss from the tile to reveal the matte color underneath, then you can drill further to access the clay base.

My least favorite – plexiglass. Blech, blech, superblech. Jill told us that plexi gets more interesting when you use a thicker piece. That may be true, but my piece from today looked like I dragged it out in the road.

Working with steel was a wacky experience. It was hea-vy – about 3/8″ thick, which doesn’t sound like much but it was substantial. We put some rust goo on it yesterday and set the pieces outside overnight. Today our steel was covered in rusty goodness. When you use the Dremel on steel, sparks fly.

Seriously, sparks fly. Be careful.

Here’s the “E Series” in it’s entirety:

We made simple books using a Zutter Bind-it-All. We used 2 pieces of bookboard for the covers and CD sleeves for the pages. We could store each of our samples in one of the CD sleeves – pretty cool idea. The last CD sleeve houses a small book we used for recording tips learned while working with each material. The book should prove useful for reference in future projects.

Unfortunately, the book isn’t big enough for all of my samples and I need to do some more work on it.

I’m sad that my workshop is over. Jill Timm is a fabulous teacher – very patient and kind. I would take another class with her in a heartbeat. As a nerdly side note, I had Jill sign my Dremel manual. If it weren’t for her, then Stan would never have come into my life.

Dear Stan, I love you. I’m sorry you have to go home in a UPS box and not on a plane with me. Don’t hate me. Love, Elissa

Team Bonefolder

Kaija over at Paperiaarre commented on my last post about bonefolders that she uses a teflon bonefolder in her work instead of one made of bone.

In my work I employ a team of bonefolders: one made of bone and one made of teflon. I use the teflon bonefolder for any work on a visible surface – bookcloth or paper on the cover of a book, for example. I use my bonefolder for anything work that doesn’t show, such as inside work.

Before I got my teflon bonefolder, I used 2 boney bonefolders. I always kept one clean and the other was always used for glue work. This worked best for me because I never had to worry about whether or not my bonefolder was clean – I had an assigned clean bonefolder. The bonefolders were two different sizes so I could easily tell them apart.

Then I got a teflon bonefolder.

I knew that they didn’t leave shiny marks on paper, which was a big plus. In addition, they were nice and slippery, which helped make work easier. So I bought one. What I found was that while the teflon folder had its perks, it was sorta soft. I couldn’t get as much muscle behind it as I could with my other bonefolders.

So in addition to using my bonefolder for inside work, I also use it for any work that requires me to use strength for any reason. In these situations, I usually place a piece of scrap paper over my work so that I don’t get any shiny marks or accidental tears. I guess it would be great to have one bonefolder that was great at everything. But I’d probably use two anyway, for the cleanliness factor.

Rhonda at My Handmade Books ran a poll on her blog about which bonefolder folks preferred. It seems like most folks are like me – reluctant to give up one in favor of the other.

I’d love to hear if you’re a you’re in a monogamous or a polygamous bonefolder relationship. Fill out the poll below and make me feel validated!

Note: This poll is now closed.

Rub a bonefolder on your face?

I learned how to make books when I was in graduate school – I had a part time job at Paper Source in Cambridge, MA (back when there were only two stores). I worked there with a woman named Martha (can’t remember her last name) who was enrolled in the bookbinding program at the North Bennet Street School [drool].

One day, Martha told me that a good way to take care of your bonefolder was to rub it on your forehead. The oils in your skin would help to condition it. Although I thought it was odd, I had no reason not to believe her. I have engaged in the practice ever since.

Today, for whatever reason, I became obsessed with this practice. I have never heard of anyone else doing it. I decided to do a Google search. The only face-specific method I found was mentioned in an article by Evi Sztajno from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Sztajno wrote this article about Sam Green, Washington state’s first poet laureate.

Here is a quote from the article:

At a bookbinding workshop at Seattle Pacific University last week, Green got a twinkle in his eye as he rubbed a bonefolder tool on the side of his nose. That’s the secret to a really clean fold, he told women attending the workshop. “Face oil is the best,” he said, continuing to rub. “Although my wife has a favorite spot in her hair she likes to use.”

He says nose, Martha says forehead. To-may-to, to-mah-to.

So if you’ve heard of others doing the face/bonefolder tango, or if you do it, let me know. We can start a support group.

Super happy gluing tip

Glue Brush with Chopstick Rest

One of the best things about taking workshops is that you get to pick up little tips that make a huge difference in your work.

One of my favorite tips came from a table mate at the Focus on Book Arts conference last year. While she was gluing, she used a chopstick rest for her glue brush to keep it from rolling off the table – genius!

Mrs. Lin’s Kitchen has a great selection of chopstick rests. I’ve ordered from them before and had good service. If you’re looking for one that’s extra special, I recommend this one.

By the way, if you find a chopstick rest shaped like cheese, please let me know.

Me want.

Bookbinding lessons learned the hard way

  1. Don’t skimp on glue.
  2. Don’t use too much glue.
  3. Don’t refill your glue container near something of value.
  4. Don’t carry a loaded glue brush over something of value.
  5. There are no winners in the game of Where did I leave my glue brush?
  6. Don’t glue after 11:00 p.m.
  7. Wear an apron when gluing black kangaroo leather.
  8. Don’t try to learn a new bookbinding technique on a piece that you’ve promised to a show.
  9. Don’t try to learn a new bookbinding technique using really expensive materials.
  10. Don’t work bookcloth with your bone folder when you’re in a bad mood.
  11. Measure twice thrice a whole bunch of times, cut once.
  12. Don’t cut bookboard by hand for more than an hour.
  13. When your arm starts tingling or feels numb, it’s time to stop.
  14. When you have blisters on your hands, it’s time to stop.
  15. Stop being stubborn and get the tool that will save your hands and increase your productivity – it will pay for itself over time.
  16. Check your materials stash before you commit to a custom order.
  17. Check your date book before you commit to a custom order.
  18. The amount of time you’ve put aside for that really important project – double it.
  19. If you really like a piece you’ve made, keep it for yourself.
  20. There’s no such thing as taking too many classes.

Pin It on Pinterest