Get the Most Out of Your Dremel




Introduction: Get the Most Out of Your Dremel

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

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

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

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

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

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!



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    148 Discussions

    I know this is an older post, but what do the different colors of grinding wheels mean? What wheels are used for what materials?

    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!

    5 replies

    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!

    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.

    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"

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

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

    EBay has some great kits for economical prices

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

    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/

    1 reply

    Yes, There is, But they're pretty bad

    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.

    2 replies

    forgot to mention it Came with aa flex shaft also

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

    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!!!

    1 reply

    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.

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

    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.