How to Carve Wood With a Dremel Tool

Written by josh baum
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How to Carve Wood With a Dremel Tool
Think of the items you can make with a Dremel tool. (wooden carved chess image by Christopher Meder from

Dremel tools make wood carving safe and easy for virtually everyone. The exceptionally light weight of these tools and the fact that they can be used like woodcarving paintbrushes make them ideal for small craft projects. They're also efective for carving names or other identifying information or features into wood and plastic items. The tool has numerous attachments that put a whole mini-woodshop at your fingertips.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Saw attachment
  • Sanding drum attachment
  • Sanding disc attachment
  • Wood
  • Electric fan

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  1. 1

    Set up your workstation. It should include a comfortable sitting surface with a table, desk or bench in front. There should be ample light and space for a fan to be directed to blow across the work area. The fan will blow fine sawdust as it is created, keeping your wood project clean and your Dremel bit free of obstructions and gunk build-up.

  2. 2

    Plan your project. The possibilities are endless: You can make small bowls, dollhouse furniture, wall decorations and much more. The only real limitation is size: Dremel tools are designed for fine sanding, and their only real application to larger projects like full-size furniture is for finer detailing.

  3. 3

    Practice holding the tool, controlling the motor and switching attachments. Dremel tools are designed to be held and used much like a pencil. The motor is activated by holding down a button or trigger, which you should test before using the tool for cutting, so you can get a feel for its timing. Dremel tools also have interchangeable bits and attachments that are usually locked in place with a screw or some type of metal or plastic latch. The specific mechanism varies from one model to another, so check the original instruction documentation for your model if you cannot see how the bits are removed and replaced.

  4. 4

    Use the saw attachment to make any substantial cuts in the wood. This attachment is designed for cutting off whole sections and can be used much like a jigsaw. However, Dremel tools aren't really designed for this type of cutting, and you should always do any major sawing with other, larger tools. Prolonged use of a Dremel tool for sawing can wear out the engine prematurely, although occasional use isn't a total tragedy.

  5. 5

    Shape the wood using the sanding-drum attachment. Use the abrasive tip to shave down the wood in several gradual layers, taking advantage of the opportunity for precise control. Since standard Dremel tool settings have the bits spinning to the right from the user's perspective, with the tool pointing away from her, always work from the right and move to the left with each stroke. Stroke with the grain of the wood wherever possible.

  6. 6

    Fine-tune the details of your project with the sanding-disc attachment. Sanding discs are flexible and sand gradually, so you can easily smooth over intricate detail work without much risk. Hold the disc against the wood surface at a 45-degree angle and pass over it quickly and lightly. Feel the surface of the wood with your fingertips after every few passes to determine when the surface is finished.

Tips and warnings

  • Dremel tools are great for just whittling away at a piece of wood. You don't always have to have a plan in mind; start sculpting a small block of wood and decide what to carve whenever it starts taking some sort of familiar shape.
  • Long hair can get caught in the motor, stem or bit of a Dremel tool. Always pull back long hair and secure it away from the tool and your hands.
  • Children should not use these tools without the direct supervision of an adult who is familiar with all of the tools and their use.

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