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Dremel Tutorial

Dr. Bob


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.

Dremel Tutorial
part 2

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.

Photo: Colletts and Moto Tool


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 running.

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" below).

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.

Dremel Tutorial
part 3

Photos: Drill 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 speed accordingly.

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.

Dremel Tutorial
part 4

Photos: Scroll Saw
Scroll Saw as a Table Saw 1
Scroll 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 cut.

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 being utilized.

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 this by-product.

Dremel Tutorial
part 5


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.



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.


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 odors.


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 cuts.


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 circular shim.

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.

Dr. Bob