How to use a Dremel tool as a router in woodworking. A simple router woodworking project using a Dremel rotary tool and only two router bits.
Once again I have ventured into unexplored waters by using a Dremel tool thanks to Instructables. This community just keeps me going and busy with new possibilities with new contests and challenges.
This is my first attempt of using router skills in 30 plus years. The last time I used any form of router was to put an edge on a Wood Shop Class project back in Junior High.
Read on to see my experience and learn of some discoveries and recommendations has the project took shape.
Step 1: Tools and Supplies
There really is not too much needed for this project. The main tool that I used was an older model Dremel rotary tool that I have had and used sparingly over the past 10 years for some simple grinding, cutting, and polishing tasks.
- Dremel Rotary Tool (I used an older 400 XPR model with variable speed)
- Dremel Multi-Purpose Cutting Guide
- 1/8 inch straight router bit
- Round over bit
- Electric Sheet Sander
- Sharpie Marker
- Wood (I used a 10x10x2 piece of repurposed lumber)
- Carbon Transfer Paper
- Masking Tape
- Sandpaper 60, 150, and 220 grit
- Spray Paint
- Clear Coat
Step 2: Transfer Design
For those that follow me you will notice I am using a design that I used for another first time project. I used this same design on my Demon LED Light Box scroll saw Instructable. You can download the Demon Design here. Why the same design? Well, the last project I gave to my daughter, so had to make things fair for the son. He gets this one.
- Place your wood on a firm work area.
- Tape your carbon transfer paper with carbon facing your work surface of the wood.
- Tape your design on top of the carbon paper.
- With a pencil trace your design and transfer to wood.
- After you are certain you have traced all lines, remove design and carbon paper.
Step 3: Mark Up Design
Use a Sharpie Marker to retrace the design. This will help identify all the wood you will be removing with the router bit. Without clearly marked router lines your eyes may begin to play tricks on you by trying to focus on only pencil lines. You can see from the images that the carbon trace is very faint, especially on this weathered wood.
Additionally, when the wood starts flying it is hard to see your lines period.
Note in the last image where I make some on image notes, there are other areas that should be filled with black. I forgot to color in the hair and horns which caused me to almost forget to use the router on those areas.
Everything sharpie will be routed and removed.
Step 4: Router Bit and Cutting Guide
As I mentioned this is my first router project ever. When I started looking for router bits I discovered they are relatively expensive. I am guessing the more you pay the longer the cutting edge will stay on the bit.
My initial investment was low on Amazon. You can explore bits of your desire that meet your budget. I purchased a 10 bit set for $18. Since completing this project I have ordered two more straight bits at $8.00 each. Pricey!
From the set I bought I used the 1/8 inch diameter straight bit. The line thickness of my design ranged from 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch and then there was the larger areas of the demon horns and hair that were easier to route.
Step 5: Cut and De-Burr
Be patient and go slow!
- With the cutting guide set to about 1/4 inch depth cut your design into the wood.
- After your all routing is complete, use a burr cutting tool to clean up the edges. Read below for explanation of why routing is not as clean as desired.
If you smell smoke you are burning the wood! Take some time to adjust the speed and work the tool a little slower.
Sorry, but I forgot to take pictures as I was cutting. But, here is a short Dremel video to show how a plunge cut is made on a vertical surface. Use the same concept on your horizontal work surface.
NOTE! Before working on this project I did practice with some of the bits on another piece of wood. I discovered a huge difference working with my project piece This piece is reclaimed from an old step or deck bench. Not really sure where I got the wood. It has been quite weathered and probably exposed to lots of moisture over time. With that said, the grain was quite raised on this wood compared to a new piece of untreated and unweathered lumber.
The raised grain caused a little havoc with this project. It made the project quite the challenge as the little 1/8 inch bit wanted to follow the grain rather than cutting through it. Therefore, you might want to work with a nice soft pine right from the lumber yard or supply store when using a rotary tool router setup.
Final Note: Forgot to take image of the hair and horns wood removed with router.
Step 6: Spray Paint and Sanding
Now comes the fun part!
- Get your favorite spray paint and apply a coat to the entire work surface.
- Let dry a few hours.
- Sand the surface with your electric sander using 60 grit, 150 grit, and finally 220 grit
Since the routed area is recessed, the sander never touches that paint and leaves it in the recessed areas.
Step 7: Round Over Edge
Change your bit to a nice round over bit to give your wood a decorative edge!
Remember I said earlier how the grain on this wood was really raised? You can see evidence in these images where paint is left in the grain. Gives it a little character I think.
Step 8: Clear Coat
Use your favorite clear coat to preserve the wood and protect that paint finish.
Step 9: Final Notes
As mentioned this was my first attempt of using any type of a router in 30+ years since my days in wood shop class. Even then all we did was use a router to put an edge on a project.
Overall, a fun first time project exploring how to use tools in different ways. The next time I use a Dremel for routing I will be sure to use a nice soft and newer piece of wood. The raised grain just made it a little tougher of a job than it should have been I think.
Near the end of the cutting I noted the bit was really struggling as well. I would imagine this bit has already seen its life. Or perhaps, I need to invest in better bits. We'll soon see as I have some Dremel bits on order.
If you have a Dremel tool I recommend giving this a try. Your design and imagination along with a good bit can make a wonderful project.
I have been working on another project that I hope to have complete soon using a Bosch Colt 1 hp router. A new design with more power and better bits on the same weathered raised grain wood.
Don't Trash It, Route It!