Dremel Carved Painting Roller Sleeve




About: I'm a refugee from Los Angeles, living in backwoods Puerto Rico for about 35 years now and loving it. I built my own home from discarded nylon fishnet and cement.

Design rollers are like rolling block prints.  They can be used as painting tools to liven up a painting with patterns.   They do the job well, and quickly. 

This particular roller sleeve is carved with a dremel tool with a ball-shaped burr bit.  It paints parallel wavy lines.  Other carved designs will paint other designs. 

1 1/4" PVC pipe sections can be used as the basic sleeves for standard paint roller handles.  Besides carving, you can also adhere materials to the sleeve to make designs.  

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Step 1: Carving the Sleeve

To hold the pipe section in my vise, I slipped it over a longer piece of 1 1/4" diameter pipe slit up one side and rolled to fit inside.  As it expanded, it held the pipe section to be carved firmly. 

Pencil your design and carve away.  

Step 2: Other Carved Roller Sleeves

Most of my carved roller sleeves use large diameter pipe sections and need custom made roller handles. 

For more information about design rollers see my larger instructable:  https://www.instructables.com/id/Design-Rollers-for-painting

Step 3: Sample Painting

This seahorse painting is done on water color paper using only design rollers and paper stencils -- no brush work.  

Some of the rollers were tiny, and used other techniques than carving for making the surface designs. 

What Can You Do with a Dremel Tool?

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    12 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I do love that you have introduced us to this idea, Thinkenstein. I love the designs you've come up with on your own. You are clearly brilliantly creative.

    Something that might be helpful to mention to any PVC ingenues....wear a protective mask! Sanding PVC with no respiratory protection is pretty dangerous (eye protection is pretty much a must with a Dremel too--at least it is for me).

    I've got a ton of self-designed stencils I'm going to have to convert to PVC rolls for print-making. I'll have to alter them to make them repeating patterns, I assume, but your Instructables on this idea have sparked quite a bit of creativity. Thanks for sharing them!

    1 reply

    8 years ago on Step 3

    Thanks! The reason I asked is because we just bought a new house and the walls are kinda empty and boring..
    I am still thinking of how to spice it up besides hanging stuffs to it..
    Thanks for the tips and i guess, next is to select colour to make the rooms look more spacious.
    wish me luck!

    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 3

    I once helped my brother paint a room with a sort of mottled 2-color paint job that turned out pretty well. First a base color went down; in that case a sort of yellow. Over that, they stippled a compatible darker color with a crumpled up plastic shopping bag. The textural effect was pretty nice. No roller needed.

    They used a clear paint medium to thin the top coat out some for a little transparency.

    Good luck to you.


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 3

    Really thank you for your advise.
    I had 2 more concealed electrical points to take care of.
    According to my schedule. I should be able to begin the painting week after next.


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 3

    I have seen cast rubber design rollers for sale in paint stores before, so the idea of painting walls with design rollers is not new.

    If you want to make your own, I would suggest not using this carved technique because it would only hit the top surfaces, and if the wall is not perfectly smooth you wouldn't get a good print of the design.

    A roller with a spongy material glued to it for the design would work better. I have a roller I made from sponge rubber over a PVC core that gives an interesting texture. I would suggest you try something like it. I just ripped the surface of the mattress foam I used with a pair of pliers to make the irregular pattern.

    Uncle Kudzu

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Interesting! Is there any problem with a seam showing in the print in the case of using the viynl fabric? Does the PVC hold much paint/ink on its slick surface if use without fabric?

    4 replies

    You are right that the bare PVC doesn't hold as much paint, or maybe what paint is there just comes off faster. It does work, though.

    As far as a seam showing goes in the case of the vinyl, I'm not exactly sure what you mean by a seam. The vinyl has a sort of mesh material on the back side, which is the exposed top side on the roller. The mesh texture holds paint well. The decorative side of the vinyl sticks like crazy with PVC cement to the PVC sleeve; I guess because PVC is poly VINYL chloride.

    Ok, after looking more closely at the photo, I understand what you did with the vinyl fabric.

    I have seen a linoleum block carving that had a loose flocking material glued to the printing surface. Something like that would hold more paint. I love the idea of carving the PVC pipe with a rotary tool. Thanks for sharing!

    Gluing flocking material to the printing surface is an interesting idea. It might fuzz up the sharp edges of the cut lines some, but that could have its uses at times.

    PVC would be harder to cut than linoleum, but one could heat and flatten some fairly thick PVC sewer pipe to make a flat printing block. Perhaps rough sanding of the surface before cutting would help it hold more ink, or paint, too.