Wood carving becomes easier using a Dremel tool. As a beginner, I’d recommend you to own a Dremel tool, but if you’re into power carving, you must have one of these. This guide will help you to pick the right Dremel accessories, along with choosing the right piece of wood. This guide is also useful for wood carving for beginners.
If you want to engrave or carve designs on wood, the best power tool is a Dremel tool. It has incredible cutting abilities. A Dremel tool will always make it easy to engrave on wood, and you can even write letters on it. Other than crafting, you can do small home repairs with a Dremel tool.
Wood Carving With a Dremel Tool
These step by step instructions will make your design pop from the bare wood. You can follow this step by step process for hassle-free wood carving with Dremel. This process has three stages with 15 consecutive steps.
Stage-1: Transferring Your Design Onto Wood
Step1: Gather Everything!
Gather everything on the workstation or work table. It’s hectic not to get a tool or thing at your reach when working. So, I made a list for you below. You just check if everything from the list is present on the table.
Step 2: Choose the Right Piece of Wood
Pick the piece of wood on which you want to carve the design. Look for any warps, defects, or knots on the plank. Pick the one that’s free from those since they are difficult to carve through.
If you’re an amateur, I’d suggest you take a softwood plank. Softwoods don’t break easily. So, Pinewood, basswood, or butternut will be the best pick for you.
If you’re an experienced crafter, choose among cherry, oak, or maple. You’ll have to work carefully on these hardwoods since they tend to chip or break.
Step 3: Transfer the Design Onto Wood
Clean the wood’s surface and make sure it’s dry before you draw the design on it. Now you can depict the picture in two ways.
The first method is freehand. Draw the design directly on the surface using a pencil. If you use a pencil, you can remove any extra marks that may be unnecessary for the drawing.
Planning is always a good idea. Mark the areas that you want to carve deeper beforehand so that it becomes easier to understand while you’re working.
Use light strokes to draw the design so that you can erase anything that you don’t want. Once you’ve put out the picture, you can darken it if you like.
When you’re working with a dark piece of wood, use a white or light shade pencil to draw.
The second method is to print the design on a piece of paper and then transfer it onto the wood using carbon paper. First, secure the carbon paper with the picture using tape. Place them on top of the wood, placing the dark side of the carbon paper facing down. Outline the design. And don’t rub the carbon paper. It’ll make the wood smudge.
Step 4: Secure the Wood With C-clamp
At this stage, place the wood at the very edge of the work table and secure it using C-clamps. Check carefully if the wood doesn’t move. Otherwise, it may create hazards during the carving process.
Step 5: Take Protective Measures
Now before you start carving, put on your safety accessories. Dremel tools produce a generous amount of sawdust. Keep yourself safe from sawdust and splinters.
Stage-2: Carving the Design
Step 6: A Flexible Shaft Attachment
Use a flexible shaft attachment on the tool. You can get it from any hardware store near you. Though it’s optional, it lets you hold the device with ease by relieving the weight from your hand.
Step 7: Start Carving
Hold the tool like a pencil. Keep your fingers at least an inch or 2.5 cm up from the rotating end of the instrument. Hold it in a way so that the power switch faces up for easy access.
You’ll have to hold the tool at an angle of 30 to 45 degrees. Get a comfortable grip and be careful of the rotating end on the Dremel tool. Otherwise, it could cause you serious injury.
Go in the direction of the wood grain slowly with short strokes. As the Dremel tool has a small motor, it could get damaged if you carve wood for a long time. Go in lightly into the wood and pull it in the same direction. Carve in the same order as the wood grain, but for no longer than 5 to 10 seconds at a time.
One thing to remember is that you can’t rush while carving. Otherwise, you’ll end up making a disaster. Because you can always dig in, but you can not put back what you’ve already dug out.
Step 8: Carve Large Areas With a Sabretooth Bit
A sabretooth bit has sharp teeth. Hence the name is sabretooth bit. It carves out the largest areas with the least amount of time. The teeth of the burr quickly tear through the wood, removing materials from the plank.
Rotate the sabretooth bit clockwise at the end of your Dremel tool to secure it. Start with the slowest pace and increase the speed conveniently.
Step 9: Outline the Design With a Fluted Carbide Bit
A fluted carbide bit leaves a smooth finish on the surface. It has tiny channels around it with sharp edges to carve out the outlines. Follow the lines in fluid motion while working on the intricate lines.
A standard Dremel bit set has 3 to 4 fluted bits. Use them according to your needs.
Step 10: Sand Edges and Smoothen the Cuts With a Diamond Bit
Use the diamond bit to sand and blend sharp edges of the carve. The rough texture of the diamond bit works like sandpaper. You can only use diamond bits to carve softwoods.
Turn on the Dremel tool and sand the edges using your preferred piece of the diamond bit.
Step 11: Wipe Away Sawdust Occasionally
A Dremel tool creates lots of sawdust. So, wipe away the dust every 4 to 5 minutes with a dust collector or a dry cloth. Tap the piece of wood to remove any clogged dust.
Stage-3: Sanding and Finishing the Design
Step 12: Sanding
Sand with 150 grit sandpaper to smooth rough edges. Fold your sandpaper and sand out the uneven or sharp edges. You might not have to use sandpaper if you’ve carved it with a diamond bit.
Step 13: Add Texture if You Like
If you don’t want to keep the carving flat, you can use a fluted ball bit. With this bit, you’ll be able to create texture. A textured or pitted background makes the wood piece more eye-catching.
Create circular marks with a ball-shaped fluted bit pressing lightly into a specific place. Keep adding texture until you’re satisfied with the look. You can entirely skip this step if you want your design to be explicit.
Step 14: Burn Wood With a Wood Burner
Give the wood piece depth and dark color using a wood burner. A singed or burned wood looks more attractive than a plain plank.
First, plug in the burner and heat it. After heating up thoroughly, press the hot end into the wood, and drag it according to your design. Be careful about the heated end of the burner. It can burn your skin accidentally. Also, keep in mind that it’s hazardous to remove a burn mark. So, be extra attentive while you work with a wood burner.
Step 15: Stain the Wood if You Want
If you want to change the wood color, staining is a good option. Remember that the carved areas will look darker than the uncarved parts.
Use a paintbrush with natural bristle to spread the first thin coat. Let it dry for at least about 15 minutes before wiping off. Wipe with a clean rag and check the color of the stain. If you’re satisfied with it, then let it sit for 4 hours before reapplying another coat.
Step 16: Put on a Clear Coat
Applying a clear coat will preserve the wood from damage. Use a brush with natural bristle. Instead of shaking, just thoroughly mix the clear coat with a popsicle stick to pop out any bubbles, as the bubbles will give an uneven finish. Apply a thin layer and let it dry for about 24 hours. Once dried, your carved piece of wood is entirely ready!
*Wear a fog-proof eye protector and a respirator to protect your eyes and lung from wood pieces and sawdust.
*Put the dust mask over your nose and mouth.
*Don’t touch the running part of the Dremel tool as it can cause some serious injury.
*Make sure the bits you’re using are meant for that particular work.
What’s a Dremel?
Dremel is a power tool. It is a product from an American power tool brand primarily known for its rotary tools. Dremel is a brand of power tools, especially rotary tools, that can cut glass and other types of material such as wood, plastic, and metal.
What’s a Dremel Used for?
Using a Dremel tool will make it easy to cut through the material and make intricate lines. You can use Dremel for drilling, cutting, cleaning, sharpening, polishing, sanding, carving, routing, engraving, and grinding.
This tool consists of a rotating head that can hold various interchangeable bits and burrs. With the help of the bits and burrs, you can cut and carve on numerous materials. Moreover, you can carve letters into a piece of wood with it.
What are The Basic Wood carving Tools? to Use with Dremel
There are a few basic tools you need to use while carving wood other than the Dremel tool. They are as follows:
A Carving Knife:
The first thing you would need is a carving knife. Investing in a good knife will be worth it.
An ax is an essential kit in wood carving with Dremel. You’ll need it to a chunk of wood in the basic shape. A small easy-to-grip ax would be useful.
A Sharpening Stone:
The blade would get dull eventually by continuous use. Now you’ll need a sharpening stone. A good ceramic stone is essential to sharpen any steel. Hold the blade at an angle between 10-20 degrees. Then swipe it back and forth across the sharpening stone.
What Will You Need for Carving Wood With a Dremel Tool?
Things You’ll Need for carving wood with a Dremel Tool:
- Softwood blank
- Dremel tool
- Carbon paper
- Dremel carving bit set
- Shaft attachment
- 150-grit sandpaper
- Wood burner tool
- Stain (optional)
- Fog-proof safety glasses
- Dust mask
- Safety gloves
What Are the Other Dremel Tool Bits for Carving Wood?
Cylindrical bits: These bits make edges flat and create V-shaped channels.
Ball-shaped bits: They are best for making round edges.
Tapered or pointed bits: Allow you to make precise lines as well as carve rounded lines.
How to Attach a Flex Shaft to the Dremel Tool?
A Flex Shaft acts as an extension for your rotary tool. It lets your handwork at ease, making it possible to use the heavy Dremel tool without holding onto the device itself.
First, unscrew the black threaded collet on the end of the rotary tool. Next, grab your flex shaft and slide the inner core out about 2 to 3 inches.
Then, press down on the collet lock button, and loosen the collet nut. This prevents the motor from turning, allowing you to detach the nut and slide in the flex shaft’s inner core. As you’ve inserted the core, now tighten the nut back up, but keep pressing down on the collet lock button. Use the included wrench to make sure that the flex shaft does not come loose.
After pulling and tightening the collet nut, slide down the Flex shaft silver hose onto the rotary tool and screw it in place. Take the other end of the flex shaft and insert the L-shaped tool into the hole on the side to prevent the collet from rotating. Unscrew the collet until the tip is loose enough for the bit.
Then insert your bit of choice, tighten the collet, and then you’re ready to use your flex shaft.
You can get a clear idea following this video here:
Get a few extra pieces of the wood you plan on carving so you can practice before carving out your design.
I tried to put the most effortless way of carving wood for you. I hope this will help you to sculpt some fantastic pieces of woodcraft with the Dremel tool.
Now get creative! Just follow the steps and turn those plain planks into some of your dream projects. A very happy wood-crafting to you!
About This Writer
Hi, I am Eric Devin and I am a professional interior architect. Since childhood, I've always enjoyed DIY projects! And, I have loved to solve simple household problems using essential tools and equipment. I have also acquired a lot of information about basic household tools settings by working with contractors.