In this article, you will learn about all the different bits and burrs used with the Dremel or similar rotary tool.
These bits are available from both Dremel and third-party manufacturers. There are bits for wood, stone, glass, plastic, and metal. So no matter what material you are working with, there are bits out there for it. In most cases, the same bit will work on multiple materials. I will mention this as we go along.
Years ago, when I was a complete newbie to Dremel and other rotary tools, I had purchased a complete set with many bits and burrs. As I explored materials beyond wood, I discovered the utility of bits that I had no clue about previously. This, in turn, opened up a whole new world of possibilities. This is the world that I am going to share in this article.
A Few Things To Keep in Mind
Please note that I use the terms bits and burrs interchangeably in some cases. A bit is anything that goes into a rotary tool. Some of these bits are also called burrs because they are very abrasive. Burrs are generally only used for carving soft materials like wood.
As far as I know, no one carves metal. It is much easier to sculpt it by cutting or melting it. However, you can always engrave it. Stone carving is very common but if you are carving something hard, make sure you are cooling your bit using water. Otherwise, it will overheat, degrade, and eventually fall apart mid-session.
Dremel has an excellent system of numbers and colors to segregate their various accessories. This is really helpful if you are trying to understand the 100+ piece accessory kit that you recently purchased. However, in this guide, I will be covering all kinds of bits. Many of these are available from other manufacturers. I will not be referring to the Dremel colors and numbers.
The bits I am talking about are 1/8” in thickness which is a standard size for Dremel, and other rotary tools that use Dremel standard sizes.
So if you are ready to learn about all the different rotary tool bits that are out there, keep reading.
Dremel Bits For Wood
There is almost an endless variation of bits for wood carving. I know this because I have tried most of them, and my wish list is still extremely long! So I have divided them into
As far as Dremel the brand is is concerned, carving and engraving bits for wood are the same thing. However, there is a difference when you look at third-party manufacturers.
Engraving bits are smoother and are designed for precision. This is what you would use to create fine details or do calligraphy-inspired designs.
Carving bits are far more abrasive. They are designed to take more material off. Dremel calls them ‘cutting’ bits.
Here’s a good example of a set of carving bits.
The thing to note here is that you cannot shape a lot of wood with the Dremel set. You can do so with the previous set from Rokrou, a third-party seller. The finer tips on this set are great for fine engraving work. The larger stone-tipped bits are meant for metal, glass and stone. Not wood.
Here’s an example of what you should get for carving wood if you want to buy from Dremel only.
Depending on where you are, this may be called a “cutter”. Don’t be confused. Once you know what you are looking for, the image will be enough. The names might and will vary.
For carving, just get a set of various shapes when you are just starting out and build from there. Something like the example below.
Cutting wood with a Dremel is only feasible if you are cutting small pieces of wood. Otherwise, you are much better off using a coping saw or a similar saw. Dremel and other brands make HSS (high-speed steel) rotary blades in various sizes for cutting wood and other soft materials like plastic. Here’s an example
A set like this will last you a long time if you use it well. Make sure never to put too much pressure and avoid overheating. They won’t break but they warp and then they will wobble and not cut smoothly.
Make sure you follow the arrow and attach it properly so that it spins in the right cirection.
You can get two kinds of sanding bits for Dremel. There’s the drum type and the disc type. The drum type comes in three different sizes and the disc is usually one size only. See the examples below.
This is a good example of sanding drums in all their sizes.
This is what you will get if you are looking for sanding discs. This is just the regular hook and loop (AKA Velcro) system scaled-down the Dremel size.
Polishing for wood is done with felt-tipped bits. You will get them large collections of various sizes and shapes. A set like the one below will probably last you several years or several projects if used properly.
You can also get smaller sets when you are just starting out. Most large accessory kits will come with at least a few polishing bits.
There are special bits that are meant to be used either perpendicular or parallel to the surface of the wood. These are routing bits and they must always be used with the routing attachment. You can get a set with the attachment from third-party sellers like the example below.
You can also get Dremel branded attachments. If you are using a Dremel tool, it is better to get Dremel-made attachments. If you are using any other rotary tools, you can get one or the other. Most brands don’t last as long as a Dremel, with the only exceptions being Milwaukee and Proxxon. So you can base your decision on that fact.
Related: Best Dremel Bits for Wood
Dremel Bits for Plastic
You can easily use all the bits for wood on materials like plastic and fiberglass. This is because they are equally effective when used on non-wood soft materials. However, for really soft materials, you should slow down the rotation speed. Otherwise, you run the risk of burning your material, which might produce toxic fumes. Too much speed will also ruin wood and produce burn marks.
So all the bits mentioned above will work for materials as hard as wood or softer. You can carve, engrave, sand and polish just like you would for wood. A few exceptions will remain, though. Make sure to do test runs before starting or committing to a project.
Dremel Bits For Metal
Dremel makes specialized stone-tipped grinding bits for grinding metal. These are useful for taking our burrs in your metal works, smoothening sharp or rough edges. They can also be used for sharpening edges on blades and things like chainsaws.
Dremel actually makes a special chainsaw grinding attachment and special bits for that purpose.
This kit is meant for all kinds of tools and not just chainsaws. Whether you are using a Dremel branded rotary tool or not, it is a good idea to buy a Dremel branded kit in this case because it is built to last. Garden tools can be rough on your rotary tool!
For starting out, you can get a third party set like this one right here –
The different shapes are helpful in different scenarios. The colors are indicative of use, and these vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. So you should read the user notes when you buy these bits.
Make sure to read up on the recommended speeds and stone types for different materials. These stones will eventually wear out with use, but they can wear out really fast if used inappropriately.
Dremel makes some of the best-reinforced cutting discs for metal cutting. With these cutting wheels, you can cut, trim, and groove various kinds of metal.
They might seem a little expensive upfront, but they are well worth the investment if you are working with metal frequently. The EZ lock system is a huge convenience for any rotary tool user, making it an additional benefit when buying Dremel.
You can also choose from resin-based cutoff wheels other than these fiberglass reinforced cutoff wheels. These tend to be a lot cheaper, but they also break easily. So they tend to come in large packs.
I can recommend a set like this one for beginners. It has cuttings wheels for wood, glass, and metal. That makes it really affordable. You will be breaking a few of these, and you don’t have to feel bad about it.
Learning can be a destructive process. Ask me, I have destroyed entire packs of these, and I am not sorry at all! I learned a lot in the process. Not I don’t break as many. I am still learning, you see!
Metal needs special abrasive wheels for polishing. These are designed to give a similar effect as sanding drums on wood. The only difference is the material. These are usually made of fine strands of metal, resulting in a fuzzy metal pompom of sorts!
The only thing to keep in mind when using these is to not apply pressure and turn the speed down all the way. Otherwise, they tend to explode all over the place. I am still finding strands of metal from one such incident months back!
These are cheap to buy in bulk, just like the sanding drums and polishing bits. You can get a pack of them like in the example below.
The colors are used to distinguish the abrasiveness of each type. That makes us rotary tool users a really colorful bunch! But then you already knew that, because you are one of us!
You can also use felt-tipped polishing bits for buffing your metal pieces. The same thing is done on a larger scale for buffing car bodies with large felt discs and polishing wax.
Metal engraving works the same way as metal grinding does. You get specially coated bits that will eat away at the metal as it turns. As long as you don’t overheat them through extreme pressure and/or speeds, they will produce good results.
This engraving and carving set from Dremel that I mentioned in the wood section are also rated for metal use. Read the instructions carefully, though, because they are usually meant for soft metals. Trying to engrave reinforced steel might call for some special grinding stones.
Fine tipped grinding stone bits are also excellent options for engraving metal. Just make sure that you can run them as cool as possible by using running water or dipping your piece in a pool of water while working.
If you are worried about decaying the metal, run it slow to keep it cool.
Dremel Bits For Glass and Ceramics
The keyword for glass cutting is “Diamond.” That’s right; these bits are all bling and fancy because they are coated with a fine layer of diamond dust. This is because glass and ceramic have hard physical attributes that resist cuts and scratches.
Diamond-tipped tools are the only things that can cut or scratch them. They come in different grits, just like sandpaper and whetstones. The range is between 40 and 600, where the higher the number, the finer the grit.
Any diamond-tipped engraving tool will work just fine for glass. Anything that works on glass usually works well on ceramics also.
Just like the carving bits for wood, the diamond-coated bits come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. You can choose a large but cheap set for experimentation and then buy more expensive bits once you know which size you will be using the most.
This set from Dremel is a good example of a versatile kit at an affordable price. This is the third time it is appearing on this list. These tips are diamond coated and work well on all kinds of glass surfaces.
The larger ones are special abrasive stones that work well on glass, ceramic, metal, and a host of other materials. But they are not great for wood.
The same felt bits can be used for polishing glass because usually, you are just looking for some shine, not sanding.
Dremel and other manufacturers make diamond-coated cutting wheels, such as below. These will slice through the glass at moderate speeds. Always read the user notes for recommended rotation speed for every accessory that you buy. This way your accessories will last a really long time.
You can also get core cutting sets for cutting precise holes into glass and ceramic. Like the example below:
Dremel Bits For Stone
Shaping and engraving stone is slow, especially for harder stones like granite and jade. For this reason, you will want to start with softer stones like sandstone and perhaps marble.
Stones are pretty much like glass in this regard, and so you will need diamond-coated bits to make any headway into carving or engraving them. It is a slow process and requires patience and proper cooling, but it is gratifying to see what you have created out of a simple stone.
Thus, everything I have mentioned in the glass segment holds for stone carving, grinding, and engraving.
One word of advice – for larger pieces, you are better off roughing it out with hammer and chisel and then using the Dremel for the details, etc. Make sure you have running water or a basin to work with. This will help you keep the bit cool and prevent damage from overheating.
This part is not mandatory but removing debris constantly within something like rubbing alcohol is important for greater accuracy and smoother experience.
Also, resist the urge to increase the rotation speed. It will degrade your precision and damage the bit and possibly the design you are working on. It took thousands of years to form the stone you are holding. So a few extra hours to make art out of it is worth it.
Here’s a good diamond-coated bits starter kit with lots of variety.
As you can see, it is rated for stone as well as glass, ceramic, and wood.
This list is far from exhaustive. It is meant to give you a broad overview of how Dremel bits work and what kind of bits to use for different materials and projects. Once you know which way your project is headed, you can start to dig deeper and find more specialized bits. I have covered such bits in previous articles for woodcarving projects.
I hope this article has given you enough inspiration to jumpstart your rotary tool-based journey. The possibilities are truly endless here!
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