Introduction: Get the Most Out of Your Dremel

Picture of Get the Most Out of Your Dremel

If you're like me (and I'm sure a lot of you are) you own a Dremel. This versatile tool is perfect for preforming odd jobs when you don't want to get out a power tool. With (hundreds?) of attachments, this tool can do anything from drill a small hole in a sheet of aluminum, to carve intricate objects from a block of wood.

In this Instructible, I will tell you how to get the most out of your Dremel, from proper use of attachments, to safety and other various tricks I have picked up.

Step 1: Parts of Your Dremel + How to Attach and Detach Bits

Picture of Parts of Your Dremel + How to Attach and Detach Bits

A Dremel is a relatively simple tool, it consists of a wire brush motor with an adjustable current switch that allows for two or more speeds. The "business end" of the Dremel consists of four parts: the shaft-stopping button, the rubber collar, the collet, and the tightening cap.

By default, your Dremel will come fully assembled, minus a bit in the collet. However if you find yourself taking the parts off to clean them, you may want to know how to reassemble them. First screw on your rubber collar, this is shown in the first picture. Next insert the collet (Picture 2) and finally the cap (Picture 3). While this is still loose, insert your bit (Picture 4), hold down the shaft-stopping button and tighten the screw cap with the wrench.

Once the cap is fully tightened, you are ready to use your Dremel.

Step 2: The Dremel's Bits

Picture of The Dremel's Bits

Almost any Dremel you buy will come with several different bits. Each has its own specific use, and each must be used correctly in order for them to last. Here I will explain the bits I own, and their various uses. I wish I knew how to do those nifty bullet type things, but until then:

Cutting Bits:

Fiberglass Cutting Disc - I love these guys, they are the largest cutting bit you can get for a Dremel, and they tend to last for a good while before breaking. Advantages include deeper cuts and they're able to cut stronger material, such as metal and ceramic. Disadvantages are that refill packs are about $10 for five of them.

Standard Cutting Disc - Also decent for metal, most replacement packs come with many for cheap. They break often, and I've been nicked by flying disc-shrapnel before. Used for all-purpose cutting. Use these before your nice fiberglass ones.

Grinding Bits:

Carbide and Standard Grinding Bits - Both essentially the same, the carbide bits are designed more for metal, however the standard ones work well on it too. Use these whenever you have to take down sharp edges on something. The small carbide one is decent for drilling holes through metal, just make sure you center punch it with a nail or something beforehand.

Various Sized Sanding Bits - Almost self explanatory, use these for sanding wood inner corners and edges. Note that these will break very quickly if you attempt to use them on metal. The sanding discs are used primarily for flat surfaces and edges, you could call these disposable, refill kits are cheap and plentiful. More information on how to change and replace these later.

Carbon Steel Brush Bit - I love this one as well. Very useful for cleaning out tools and taking paint off anything. Scrapes away delicately on a lower setting and more vigorously on a higher setting. Can be used in place of a larger wire brush wheel to clean files.

Drilling Bits:

Drill Bit - When I don't want to go out back to my drill press or get the DeWalt, this is a worthy substitute. Whenever drilling into anything, be sure to center punch it with an awl or Leatherman tool.

Brush Bit - Not truly a drilling bit, but still worthy of mention. Can be used for....well for brushing things. Not the most useful attachment, but it's handy to have...sometimes.

Step 3: Specific Bit Uses

Picture of Specific Bit Uses

Some of these bits have multiple specific uses, I will show you how to do some specific tasks with your attachments.

Cleaning a pair of needlenose pliers with the carbon steel brush bit: (Pictures 1-5)

My overused pliers gather lots of crud fast, so I often use my carbon steel brush attachment to clean them out. This task is simple enough, and requires little time to improve the performance and grip of your pliers.

Start by attaching the bit to the Dremel.
Put it on a low setting and start brushing parallel to the plier grooves.
You will find this improves the pliers grip greatly.

Changing sanding sleeves on a sanding block mandrel: (Pictures 6-9)

If you've worn out your current sanding bit's sanding sleeve, it may be time to replace it with another. To do this, start by taking the sanding bit out of the Dremel if it isn't already. Remove the small screw at the top of the bit, and slide the rubber part off the shaft. The reason we do this is because of the way the bit is made, the sleeve can only be removed when it is off the shaft.

Once the rubber block is removed, slide the sanding sleeve off of it and throw it away if you're replacing, or slide a new one on if you're putting it on for the first time. After this simply slide the block back on the shaft (making sure both the washers are there) and screw it back in tightly.

Polishing wheel use: (Pictures 10-15)

In order to install a polishing wheel, you first need to remove a different disc from the interchangeable disc mandrel. Take one of the cutting wheel mandrels and unscrew the screw at the top. remove the disc from the screw and insert the polishing wheel through the screw. Thread the screw onto the shaft of the mandrel and tighten snugly.

Once completed turn your Dremel on a low setting and apply some polishing compound. You can use this wheel and compound mixture to polish any type of metal. Below I've included a sample of a pair of scissors that I've used the compound on. Notice the great shiny lighting and visible difference from the rest of the tool.

Step 4: Safety

Picture of Safety

It is important to always wear the proper protective gear when operating any machinery. Glasses or safety goggles are required at all times in order to protect your precious eyes from shrapnel, amongst other things. When cutting or opening potentially harmful things, please wear rubber gloves. With some people, even battery acid can cause long term skin damage.

In any event, thanks for reading my 'Ible, and please rate +1 for the contest if you thought it was good!


rhoaste (author)2009-06-14

Sorry to sound a bore, but it's essential to wear safety glasses when using the cutting disks in conjunction with the Dremel or similar tool. When the cutting disks break (and I can assure you they will), fragments fly everywhere at colossal speed. If one of these hits you in the eye- it's game over. Be safe!

MikB (author)rhoaste2016-11-13

Even better: Try and keep your face out of the plane of the disc in the first place. Be aware that the pieces will mostly fly outward in the flat plane of the disc.

Those sanding flat-discs too -- they can unstick from the rubber mount, and I can vouch for them disappearing, whole, at great speeds, when the adhesive fails!

fozzy13 (author)rhoaste2014-07-07

I can personally attest to the high levels of pain inflicted by flying broken cutting disks. I'm fortunate enough to still have both eyes, but have gotten blisters on my eyelids before from the hot fragments hitting them.

ABLACKX (author)rhoaste2009-07-07

If you read the whole Instruct able you'll see the the last step is about safety , but thanx for pointing that out :) "Safety First"

osgeld (author)ABLACKX2009-08-18

Im sorry but that just tickles me, "Safety First" but ironically its on the last page

ABLACKX (author)osgeld2009-08-18

Your comment is a killer , I'm now left speechless :) you're %100 right ,good one

Sherwind1 (author)2016-02-26

were can i buy this set

DeniseR35 (author)Sherwind12016-04-25

EBay has some great kits for economical prices

DeniseR35 (author)2016-04-25

Thank you so much I've always wondered how to use the different ones correctly

winful (author)2016-02-28

thanks for the great information! Is there a dremel bit for wood? Is there a book to explain how and when to use the different bits. I think I got one when I bought my Dremel but I can't find it now/

Yonatan24 (author)winful2016-03-11

Yes, There is, But they're pretty bad

SakhailC (author)2015-12-21

i dont have a dremel tool. As its very expensive where i live. So i bought a chinese tool the shop keeper told me it's Just as good and it is. It runs frm 8000 to 35000rpm. 7 speeds. Just like the dremel , an exact copy. Got it for 3700rs(abt US$40). Came with attachments.

SDX2000 (author)SakhailC2016-01-20

Where did you buy it from?

SakhailC (author)SakhailC2015-12-21

forgot to mention it Came with aa flex shaft also

Adegorr (author)2015-08-23

Thank you very much!
Very illuminating for a newcomer like me =)

mary.barson (author)2015-03-19

Great tutorial. Added to my "favorites". I am using my Dremel with #544EZLock wood cutting tool. I am cutting out damaged wood on my hardwood floors. My Dremel, (just got it), gets soooo hot I can hardly touch it, and it takes a good 45 minutes to cool down. What am I doing wrong. I run it at 15000. Thanks!!!

G4Bionicle (author)mary.barson2015-07-10

If the Dremel itself is getting hot, you may be bearing down to hard on the wood and putting excess strain on the motor. Try decreasing pressure, changing your RPMs and if that doesn't work, your dremel may have an internal fault and might require returning.

LeonD3 (author)2015-06-17

Has my Dremel 3000 have overload protection for when a drill or cutter jams as it takes a second or two to free them??

BillS8 (author)2015-02-28

Thank you for the advice. My daughter is building a copper pipe glockenspiel ( and she needs to tune the pipes. I think a dremel with a metal grinding bit with be the right tool for the job.

meeeeep (author)2015-01-18

We need a massive accessory kit that includes tons of bits as well as the flex shaft and workstation.

deals_on_heels (author)2014-10-09

The Dremel 4000 got pretty good reviews. Looks like the one to go for

Anja Wirth

RebeccaB1 (author)2014-08-24

I have a DREMEL 3000 & im useing it to make an electric guitar & im neerly finished too works like a dream but will have to replace the carbon brushes soon & the sanding bands i love the damm thing

csiquet (author)2010-03-05

I downloaded the bits' chart from the Dremel site, I had it printed in A3 size and plastified. Very useful.

ImagineCircuits (author)csiquet2014-07-25

yup page not found do not even try it

kokpat (author)csiquet2014-07-07

I would like to have a look on the link but....

Page not found.....

csiquet (author)kokpat2014-07-08

The link is 4 years old, they updated the site since then. After a small search, you can find these documents:

kokpat (author)csiquet2014-07-14

Many Thx, I did not realize that this article is 4 years old because it appear in my fb recently.
Anyway, it helps a lot and thx for reply me.

mgingerich (author)2014-07-07

Wish I'd read this before I destroyed a grinding bit by trying to cut with it. Nice Instructable!

martindisenio (author)2014-07-07

the shame with Dremel accessories is no have much instructions about what's the right uses ( what's material with what bit, and soo )

dackermans84 (author)2014-07-07

A nice and usefull instructable! Finally someone who can explain to me what the different bits are for!

LeyLey45 (author)2013-08-27

Which 'sanding block bit' do I put the small sanding sleeves on? I can change out the large sanding sleeves with the sanding block bit, but I cannot figure out what to put the small sanding sleeves on...Please help...

arfing1 (author)2013-08-25

Hi. I am thinking of replacing my Dremel cordless with a corded version, and am currently looking at model 275 02, used, ebay. I am wondering if I can use all the hundreds of bits, etc. we have for the other model on the new model, as well as all the collars. Also, I am looking at model 225 01 flex shaft, and wondering first if you think it's necessary (cannot tell if the 275 02 will fit nicely in my hand) and second if it will fit. My usage would be mostly for polishing jewelry and removing pointy-bits left from cutting a piece off from earrings or pins for repurposing. The only thing so far that I can see me not liking about 275 02 is the on-off switch being at the bottom close to the cord, rather than right at the top for a quick turn off,but then again, sometimes when turned off I seem to easily turn it on when not wanted, so I need some guidance in that area as well. Meanwhile a huge thank you for all the information you have posted, and all the comments have convinced me into using eye protection, which I hadn't previously done thinking my reading glasses were enough!

skuishingbugs (author)2013-04-16

this was seriously very helpful! thank you!

dtuffy (author)2013-03-24

Thanks for the cool tips. The more I read, the more I learn.

Prfesser (author)2012-01-19

Nicely done! A few comments (and my apologies if any of these were covered in the other 124 comments...)

--Safety is indeed first and foremost; placing the eye-protection blub at the end is actually a good idea. People tend to remember best what they've seen/heard last.

--The wire brush tends to lose individual wires as it's used--another good reason for eye protection.  Use this attachment in a location where the bits of wire won't get embedded in undesired places such as bare feet.

--The non-reinforced cutting discs can be strengthened by wicking a few drops of thin CA (super-fast) glue into the disc.  Hobby-store CA is generally superior to the stuff sold in most big-box stores.

monty324 (author)Prfesser2013-03-18

and also the non reinforced cut off bits expload from time to time(i might just be using it wrong) another reason for eye protection.

and they make a weird smell in my workshop when i use them.

DeathBunny2000 (author)2012-08-06

thank you for the pictures. I am so tired of reading instructions using words I am not familiar with on how to do things with tools and I have NO idea what they are talking about.

a picture is DEFINITELY worth at least 1,000 words.

abstracted (author)2012-03-03

i have the same dremel i bought when they 1st came on the market.... nothing beats keyless chuck...nope I am wrong...the flex shaft with a keyless chuck is almost as satisfying as sex......ummmm maybe not....hmmm, but it makes the tool that much better to use. talk to your dentist, ask about old dental bits....they are very good dremel bits designed for very high speed, various shapes n sizes.

pj63 (author)2012-02-01

I had a Dremel for several years.. After i gave up and 'Retired' on me i brought another which never lived for too long... Then i tried a 'Challange' one from ARGOS ( UK catalogue shop) and it is great. Only cost £20.00 and i use it daily. Its never let me down and ALL acessories fit.... GREAT INSTRUCTABLE...

hjjusa (author)2012-01-19

My first dremel I had for ten of so years, lent it to a friemd he left it out in the rain, I cleaned it up and it still ran good. Second dremel 5 years third 2 years.
After that it was a dremel every 1/2 year. I switched to a Black and Decker RTX No troubles at all. Upside, I took apart my old Dremels and stuck the shafts into old screwdriver handles, make wonerderful clamps and third hands for holding small parts.

whisperonthewind (author)2011-06-12

Because so many of the attachments/bits come with those screws, I kept dropping them and losing them. There are a few way down deep in the floor register. After searching Lowe's and Home Depot, as well as Radio Shack and the optical stores, I learned that the #2 screw doesn't fit, that McMaster-Carr doesn't have the right screw, and that Fastenal can't even special order them. They may be available outside the US, but I work for a machine shop, and even they couldn't get any screws that fit. Perhaps we could have built some, but the cost...

I finally called Dremel, and they very kindly sent me two screws. It took two weeks and they arrived in this bubble envelope that could have held 2,000 screws. Lesson of the day: It's faster and cheaper to buy a new mandrel - it comes with a screw.

drdanielalvarez (author)2010-08-18

The Dremel Europe site has great tips and videos. Important tips on cutting discs: the 409 (not fiberglass reinforced) should be used double, that is 2 discs together. The 456 (fiberglass reinforced) should be used with a a washer on each side. Click on "Training Videos".

carpii (author)drdanielalvarez2011-01-13

Thanks for posting these. I just got a wireless dremel, but I was really disappointed with the lack of explanation on how to use any of the attachments, or even the SpeedClic system. I didnt think to look on their website, cheers

Oh, and great instructable too :)

Robot Lover (author)2010-04-29

also if cutting metal, it would be a shame to get sparks in your eyes.


johnbot61 (author)2009-09-07

Even if you've never worn safety glasses before in your entire life wear them with this little gem of a tool. The little wires can and do fly out and can puncture an eye. In fact this goes for any spinning wire tool.

Mbrito (author)johnbot612010-03-07

Good advice, not only metal bits but what ever material your manipulating can cause eye damage,  3 dollars at Home depot can save your sight!!

Subconscionaut (author)Mbrito2010-03-21

so true....also,if you're wearing a respirator, make sure you are wearing appropriate goggles that FIT with it. the 3m n95-type respirators, for example, fit very well with the inexpensive gardener-type googles( flat front with flexible top/bottom/sides)
the glasses-style eyeshields leave a large gap that beckons crap to your lower lids
I learned this the hard way and as a result, had to spend a lot of time digging fiberglass out of my lower lids.
VERY IMPORTANT:fiberglass is encapsulated and pushed out of the body eventually, but carbon fiber will continually dig  through your body, creating scar tissue as it goes.CF Lovers: Effective Eye Protection FTW!save your sight homies!
great Ible, very useful!

TheCiscoKid (author)2010-02-11

I may be doing something wrong but I think something is not right about my dremel...   For some reason the cap unscrews completely whenever i try to use it and the bit falls right off.... any suggestions?

Mbrito (author)TheCiscoKid2010-03-06

there are several size brass collar inserts that go under the cap if the one your using is worn or to big, your bits wont tighten down and the bit will fall out.
  Hint: Remember the bit and the brass insert collar must match in thickness.
If you already double checked this, then it could be a stipped  cap screw or threaded collar.
I think that just about might cover it.

Mbrito (author)2010-02-21

the screws on those tiny shafts are always coming loose or braking off. I find those tiny sanding discs and polishers frustrating to use. I love the little one piece tools though, sanders in different shapes and grinders those are nice. I dont mind using those up and having to buy new ones. No frustration there.

About This Instructable




Bio: I study engineering at Virginia Tech. Long time instructables fan.
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