PLEASE WEAR A MASK WHEN CREATING DUST
AND WEAR EYE PROTECTION AT ALL TIMES
A tool is only an aide to assist you in
doing the work you intend to do; it is nothing more than
a labor saving device.
If you can read this then you can use a
computer. If you can use a computer you can use and master
all this wonderful equipment. The Dremel Tool Company
makes a variety of tools; all of which are very good for
their specific purpose. But there are a few that can be
used to advantage in the vast majority work within our
wonderful hobby of miniatures.
Like the all American peanut butter, which
is so basic as every parent and child knows; but when
you become innovative and put the peanut butter between
two pieces of chocolate you have created a whole new dimension.
It is the same with some of the Dremel tools. Therefore
I will concentrate on what I think is the basic tools
(my opinion) and get a bit innovative. It may not be as
good as peanut butter between chocolate but then again
every one's taste is different.
To be discussed:
Moto tools; variable and one speed
Flex shaft. Drill Press Scroll saw
Tips, hints, jigs (making a router table/sander/shaper
for free, lubrication, tack cloth substitute, table saw,
temporary motor brushes).
If I were to list and discuss every piece
of equipment that Dremel makes this would become a confusing
"book". It is only intended as a tutorial or
a "hands on how to". It is my opinion; having
used every piece of equipment that the Dremel Company
makes. I have used the above equipment almost exclusively
and with some variations (tips; jigs; hints and adaptations)
I have used them to the exclusion of all the others. I'd
rather master a few.
All tools, especially power tools, should
be used while wearing eye protection. There are some within
the Small Stuff community that have devised ways and methods
that will enhance the use of the equipment to be discussed.
I assume they will post their findings and experience
to Small Stuff Digest for everyone's benefit.
and Moto Tool
MOTO TOOL, VARIABLE AND SINGLE SPEED
This particular tool is the work horse of
the Dremel line and as such will be referred to very often.
One must remember that the Dremel Moto tool is a low torque
(low power), high speed machine. The tool relies on its
speed to do the work -- not its power. Too much pressure
against the accessory and the motor will stall. Go softly.
Both battery operated and the power cord units are very
good but I feel more comfortable with the power cord and
variable speed units.
The Flex shaft permits one to hold
the working end as a pencil if one wishes. This appears
to afford greater control. The Moto tool without the Flex
shaft cannot be held in such a manner but must be held
in the fist. I also found that the Moto tool held in the
fist appears to get much hotter than the Flex shaft and
affords less delicate control. The Flex shaft has not
demonstrated any tendency to heat up even under prolonged
Originally the Dremel Company had only colletts
which came in different sized openings. If you refer to
the catalog (or photo above) you will see the different
colletts. The reason they had varying sized opening is
to accommodate a variety of different thickness shanks
on the accessories. This created a problem I had to solve
when attempting to use Dental bits. (Refer to "hints"
Now the Dremel Company has introduced a
chuck which is a universal "collett" so to speak.
It will accept any diameter shank from "0" to
just under 1/4". This Moto tool can be hand held
or fixed into a holder of sorts. The holder I find most
practical for me has been the Drill press. I will expand
on that relationship later. For now let us concentrate
on the Moto tool and the Flex shaft.
The current Flex shaft will not mate to
the older variable or older single speed Moto tools. It
appears that the reason for this is that the flex shaft
requires about 3/4" of threaded shaft on the working
end of the Moto tool. The older units had about 1/2"of
threaded shaft. The newer ones present no problem. The
universal chuck can be placed on the business end of the
flex shaft. The entire assembly of the Moto tool and the
Flex shaft can be hung from an accessory called by the
very original name of "Flex shaft tool holder".
This can be adjusted to a height that is most comfortable
for the user and also clamps to the work table, thus providing
a larger and less cluttered work surface and also is a
very convenient way of operating the Moto tool.
Press in Horizontal Position
This is one of the first places that innovation
(adaptation) starts to rear its head. Of course the drill
press can be used simply as a drill press, but
(this is a nice BUT) the Moto tool can be also mounted
in a horizontal position which allows for hands free (both
hands free) working (see photo above.) This method of
mounting is built into the drill press. I have made a
simple jig which allows the drill press to be used as
a router table or a sander/shaper table (see photo). No
change in the drill press is required. Scrap wood was
used for the jig so the only cost would be the "C"
clamps. Look at the photos that show the simple addition
to the drill press that permits it to be used as a router
table and a sander/shaper. In the router mode for this
adaptation the Moto tool is ABOVE the work while in the
Dremel router table the moto tool is also in a vertical
position but works from BELOW. I do not know where it
is written that one way is the perfect and only way. Consider
that if you are going to use the router free handed you
will be working from ABOVE. The Moto tool is lowered and
fixed in a position so that the accessory being used (sanding
drum or router bit) is in the exact position you require
for the job at hand. That is within the half circle cutout
(as explained below).
The jig (fence) is moved either forward
or back from the router bit or sanding drum so that you
will have just the amount of router bit or sanding drum
protruding past the face of the fence. In this way you
use the fence as a control to move the work passed the
exposed portion of the router bit or sanding drum. (Again
refer to the photos.)
For use as a sander/shaper; set the jig
(fence) exactly as it was for the use as a router fence.
But in place of the router bit you have a sanding drum.
Same process of passing the work in front of the sanding
drum using the fence face as a guide. Again refer to photos.
It is better to make a number of light passes
to do the required work then try to do it in one brute
force pass. That does not work well at all. Take off a
little at each pass. Next year you will not recall how
long a particular step took but when you look at the result
you will see a "good" or a "%#$@&"
job. Go slowly and let the Dremel do its work.
Speed of rotation is at maximum for the
router work and adjusted for the sanding/shaping work
to be done. Too slow a speed for the router and it will
"chatter" and "gouge" the work. Too
fast for sanding and it may burn the work. Adjust the
Clamp the table of the drill press to the
work table so that it will not "walk" while
the routing or sanding is being done.
The jig is nothing more than a scrap piece
of wood of which the leading edge is "true".
By that I mean square and at right angles to the now top
and bottom of the piece. At the center of the fence face
use the Dremel itself with the largest sanding drum to
create a half circle cutout. This half circle cutout will
be the area that the router bit or sanding drum sits in.
Make sure that the cutout is big enough to accommodate
the largest accessory to be placed within it.
Of course the first time you try either
method of adaptation; use scrap wood to get the "feel"
of it. Do not rush any of the procedures, take your time
and do it right the first time. Remember the old adage
"measure twice so you only have to cut once".
Refer to the photos as needed.
Saw as a Table Saw 1
Saw as a Table Saw 2
Again; here is a tool that even when on
your way to mastering it, you will be thrilled at how
it saves time and energy and performs like a gem. As in
the other tools, there is room for improvising. Read all
the instructions in the manual for the scroll saw. Have
replacement blades available as you will have blades snap
(break) and in addition they will lose their "cutting"
ability and require replacement. Always have the teeth
of the blade pointing toward the table of the scroll saw.
Apply enough tension to the blade so that it is resistant
to side pressure from your finger. This resistance test
is done with the saw unplugged (not running). A coating
of paste wax well rubbed onto the table surface will help
in moving material. Always lower the "shoe"
down to slightly above the thickness of the material being
SPEED. Saw speed can be adjusted to suit
the work being done. Most early users run the saw at about
maximum speed. This is OK when cutting a straight line
in the rip or cross-cut mode. But when making turns or
cutting more involved designs slow the saw blade down
to just where it is cutting the material and feed slowly.
The rate of feed is important, as too fast a feed rate
forces the blade and makes the control difficult. Also
at a slower speed and feed you can "nibble"
your way around tight turns with a standard blade by cutting
on the waste side of the line.
The blade in the scroll saw has an excursion
(up and down distance) of just 3/4". Hint; Wax the
blade with candle wax to reduce friction. Hint; If the
blade feels like it is getting dulled, it is only the
portion of the blade that has been cutting. The untouched
portion of the blade is "new". To use this "new"
portion of blade the material being cut has to be raised
off the table of the saw. This is done by using a scrap
piece of wood that is cut to its center and left in place
on the saw table. The piece to be cut is now placed on
top of this, and in essence, you have raised the material
to be cut so that an unused section of saw blade is now
INNOVATIONS: Refer to photos. I have made
a jig which allows me to use the scroll saw as a table
saw of sorts and permits me to rip and cross cut thin
sections of material. It basically a trial and error approach
until you achieve the desired end. What is needed are
2 (two) "C" clamps and either a piece of wood
with a true edge or a thick metal rule with a true edge.
Either of these have to be as long as the saw table or
longer but not by much. The next part can be very frustrating.
This straight edged material has to be clamped to the
saw table parallel; to the saw blade for the entire length
of the "fence". Making pencil marks or pen lines
on the saw table will guide you in placement of the straight
edge. Once you have adjusted this straight edge so that
you can repeatedly cut a length or section of material
that is of equal dimension from end to end, then you can
scratch the line into the table face where the straight
edge meets the table face and have a reference line to
replace the straight edge any time you wish.
I use shims of metal the length of the guide
fence to alter the thickness of the strips I intend to
cut. As example; if the fence is set at 1/4" from
the blade and I want to rip strips of 1/8", I place
a 1/8" shim against the fence which in turn reduces
the distance from blade to fence to 1/8". Of course
you can scratch lines for any thickness you want onto
the saw table. The work to be cut when using the fence
is held very firmly against the fence while being
fed into the blade. I found that running the saw blade
at a slower speed increases my accuracy in this situation
and reduces the tendency of the blade to follow the grain
or "wander". Use the blower to your advantage
by making sure it keeps the line to be cut free of saw
dust. You will create a good amount of saw dust with this
saw. HINT; Save the sawdust; as it makes good wood filler
when mixed with glue. There must be many, many uses for
PLEASE wear a mask when creating dust and
wear eye protection at all times while working.
This is where "the rubber meets the
road" so to speak. Dremel provides accessories to
meet almost any need that may arise. Off course I will
say to read the catalog rather than have everything presented
here. There are accessories that will allow you to do
things very rapidly and then switch to an accessory in
the same category to "fine tune" what you are
doing. As an example (without parts #'s) Dremel has a
rigid wire sander that comes in a number of shapes. This
is good for course wood removal. Then replace that with
one of the finer sanders to finish the job. Hint; very
fine drill holes can be made either to act as pilot holes
for larger size drills or to prevent the splitting of
wood. These fine holes can be made either with old Dental
bits or by removing the head of a finishing brad and use
the shaft and point as a drill bit to do the job.
INNOVATIONS, HINTS & TIPS
TEMPORARY MOTOR BRUSHES
I have scattered hints/tips throughout the
tutorial but there is one tip I found that comes in very
handy especially when all the stores are closed on a late
night , etc., and your Moto tool stops running because
the brushes have worn down to nothing. If you have to
replace the brushes. There are emergency substitutes for
the brushes. Do not throw away your old and used "C"
and "D" flash light batteries. UNPLUG THE MOTO
TOOL! Break open the batteries and remove the carbon rod
that runs down the center of the battery. Do this on some
spread out newspaper because it can be messy; very messy.
Use sand paper and a file to adjust this carbon rod so
that it fits into the place where the carbon rod (brushes)
go. After it slips in take it out and cut off just enough
so that the spring and cover can go back on. The spring
must be under compression so that the carbon rod is pushed
against the commutator. As long as you have the cover
and spring off, before putting in this emergency carbon
rod. Take a Q tip moistened with alcohol and put in into
the carbon rod hole and clean off the commutator. Just
hold the Q tip against the commutator and with your fingers
(on the other hand) rotate the motor shaft. This rotates
the commutator and permits the Q tip to pick up granules
of waste carbon. These emergency carbon rods are just
that, they will not last any whereas long as the proper
brushes, but will allow you to continue working.
SUBSTITUTE TACK CLOTH
A fresh sheet of Bounce can be used in place
of a tack cloth. It will remove sawdust from work and
equipment. Placed in a tool box or drawer it will dispel
The life of any piece of equipment is extended
and good working condition is maintained if proper maintenance
is observed. The Scroll saw has special places to oil
the machine and the manual tells you when, where and how
to oil. Very good reason to read manuals. To oil the flex
shaft I put a few drops of light machine oil (sewing machine
oil or 3 in 1 oil) into the opening that is used as a
"lock" while tightening the chuck.
Remember to wax and polish the table of
the scroll saw. Use a paste wax. It permits the work on
the saw table to slide easier.
With a little imagination and the use of
the saw blade accessories that Dremel now makes; it is
not difficult for those who are financially challenged
to create a table saw. Especially if a table saw is not
in your budget . HINT: For the table of the intended saw,
think of using the metal plate that electricians use to
cover electrical boxes. Why? because they have "true"
or square ends which makes it infinitely easier to add
a rip fence and miter fence. The slot for the saw blade
to poke up through is made with the Dremel accessory that
is us for cutting metal. Making the mini saw table is
a big buck saver and a bigger "I can do it booster".
Sorry but tilting the table can be a nightmare. If you
are a masochist you can attempt it. I prefer shims under
the work to be cut or I make items that do not need bevel
HOLDING DENTAL BITS IN THE COLLETT
The smallest collett will not grip the very
thin shank of the Dental bit so here is what I ended up
doing. I used a small piece of brass tubing, purchased
in a hobby shop. Perhaps 1/16" i.d. (inside diameter)
and slit the small section of tube down its entire length.
The section of tubing used was about 3/4" long. The
slit was made with the Dremel and the accessory for cutting
tubing (how original). This slit section of brass tube
was inserted into the collett that grabbed it the tightest
while in its "unclamped" or "untightened"
position. The Dental bit shank was placed into the hole
of the brass insert and then the collar was tightened.
This held the Dental bit securely. In essence I made a
Thank you for permitting me to share with
you. If anyone has any Hints or innovations for the Dremel
line please post them for all to enjoy.