Dremels are an incredibly versatile all-in-one tool that offers users a wide range of benefits and negates the need to purchase many different tools to make up for what a Dremel can do by itself. One of the most common uses for Dremels is wood engravement. However, this may leave some to wonder, what is the best Dremel bit for engraving wood?
The Dremel 107 ⅛” is the most versatile Dremel bit in most instances. If you only purchase one bit, this should be it. But each Dremel bit has a unique shape, size, and intended purpose. For this reason, it is best to have a kit with multiple bits for any engraving style you may decide to implement.
This article will provide a brief overview of the Dremel and examine the many tasks capable of performing. Next, we will provide the reader with a comprehensive list of the best Dremel bits for wood engraving to make an informed consumer decision. Finally, we will go over how Dremel bits work, set up and install them, and some safety precautions.
Dremels are a compact handheld tool, which is easy to use, powerful, and, best of all, not overly expensive. Some consider Dremels to be akin to a super tool.
Dremels are known as a rotary tool, meaning that they spin in a circular motion, not unlike a drill gun. The difference between the two, however, is the shape. The Dremel is typically (but not always) designed with a straight body that somewhat resembles an electric shaver, making it ideal for exact detailing and engraving instead of a drill gun, which is somewhat limited in this regard due to its shape.
The brilliance of the Dremel lies in its simplicity. All one must do is set the speed dial according to the job you desire to perform and press the button near the unit’s head to engage the motor.
Different versions of the Dremel are available for purchase, which vary in a few key ways, such as their weight, range of speed settings, variety of bits that are accommodatable, and how bits must be changed.
Some Dremels will require a cord to be plugged into a power source to function, while others run off a rechargeable battery, allowing for more portability. Whether you go with a cordless or a battery-powered alternative will largely depend on where you intend to use it and for what purpose.
Another great thing about Dremels is that unlike power drills known to have high vibrative recoil, Dremels are incredibly smooth and easy to control. You will not feel them shaking or violently vibrating while you are using them; in fact, you will hardly feel them working at all.
This also makes it easy to use for extended periods without inducing fatigue in the hand or arm.
If you are interested in purchasing a Dremel—which any serious craftsman/craftswoman will likely be—consider investing in the Dremel 3000 model. (Check out the price on Amazon Here) The amount of value you’re sure to get out of it will far exceed the reasonable price you will pay.
The Versatility of a Dremel
While Dremels are highly popular amongst woodworking enthusiasts, particularly those with an affinity for fine artistic designs, they are by no means limited to this group. Just about anyone with a constructive yearning can benefit from owning a Dremel: from welders all the way to automotive connoisseurs and beyond.
The most common uses for Dremels include:
- Polishing steel surfaces to give a clean, finished look
- Abrading burrs and sharp corners
- Routing wood edges to create custom designs
- Sanding down wood surfaces to provide a nice smooth texture
- Drilling pilot holes
- Cutting steel
- Engraving wooden items
- Arts and crafts designing
- Grinding down and finishing welds
The beauty of custom wood carving with a Dremel is that you will be able to create pieces that are entirely one of a kind and unique, and you will also derive a sense of pride and accomplishment from the knowledge that you have done it all by yourself.
Dremels also make an incredible birthday or holiday gift for anyone interested in arts and crafts or handy work, so if you are stuck and don’t know what to get someone, this may be the perfect gift this holiday season.
When it comes to the Dremel’s versatility, the potential is virtually limitless, and if you can envision it, you can make it a reality.
Before we note that because every bit is unique in its shape and texture, it would make the most sense for a passionate carver to purchase a complete set of bits for any situation that may arise.
For this article’s purpose, though, we will be reviewing individual bits on their merit as standalone pieces. For this reason, versatility will play a significant role in our selection process. In other words, we are looking for the bits with the broadest range of general capability but also of the highest quality.
Dremel 107 1/8” Shank
The ⅛” Dremel shank is a very well rounded bit, and for this reason, comes in at number one on our list. Because of its versatility, this may, for many people, be the only bit that they ever need.
The rounded head of this bit can make classic trench-like grooves in your wooden project, so it is not overly fancy but is instead right to the point.
It is also highly qualified for routing, giving furnishings, such as chairs or tabletops, a unique and artistic edge. To route edges, it may be advisable to clamp your project firmly and securely to avoid shifting, especially when working with small, lightweight pieces.
Another great feature of this bit, which deemed it first on our list, is its immense sharpness. This bit is capable of grinding down steel surfaces—even the hardest of wood materials, such as oak—will be no challenge for this shank.
The only drawback to this bit is that it tends to dull over time, but that is also heavily dependent on user care. The most important thing is to use the appropriate Dremel speed for the material you are carving so as not to burn out the bit and keep it sharp and preserve its longevity,
For hardwoods such as oak, a higher rotary speed will be necessary to engrave without inflicting excessive wear and tear on the bit. For softer woods, as well as metal surfaces, utilize a slower speed for preserving the bit.
This bit can also be used to plunge holes in wood, making it a useful tool for making pilot holes in certain circumstances.
Dremel 196 Carving Speed Cutter
Unlike the ⅛” shank, this Dremel carving speed cutter bit is flat on the tip, making it the optimal bit for engraving rounded surfaces, such as a wooden ball, for example.
This bit is made by Dremel and is not an imitation brand, so you can be well assured that you are getting the utmost quality from this bit.
The steel used to manufacture this bit is extremely durable and has a very high level of tensile strength, so you will not have to worry about bending or breaking this speed cutter during routine use.
Dremel 117 High-Speed Cutter
Next up on our list is the 117 bit. This is another speed cutting bit sold directly by the Dremel signature brand, but contrary to the 196, this bit is thimble-shaped with a rounded head, which produces a smooth engravement or cut instead of the 196, which will give your piece a more squared-off look.
This bit, which is crafted from solid steel alloy, is sure to get the job done time and time again. And for the average carving enthusiast, this may very well be the only bit you need ever purchase.
Tenfer Large Burr Cutter
Our list would simply not be complete if not for the inclusion of this Tenfer brand large burr cutter. This bit is ½” in size, and for that reason, it is more aptly suited to large scale engravings, such as signs and poster boards.
This cylindrical bit head is aggressively knurled, allowing it to rip through practically any surface, providing a rough and authentic look to whatever project you wish to design.
The Tenfer burr cutter bit is primarily used by welders to grind down welds and remove sharp edges from steel surfaces, but woodcarvers should by no means overlook it.
Complete Bit Sets
As mentioned, ideally, any individual looking to do wood engraving work would be wise to look into purchasing a complete bit set, not to be limited to one type of carving.
Each full set of Dremel bits will typically have different head shapes and vary from kit-to-kit by their texture. For example, the one-bit set may be one set that features all burred bits while another all smooth and nonaggressive.
Total bit sets typically come in durable hard plastics casings, allowing them to be stored away with ease whenever you do not use them. They do not take up a lot of storage space, which is another reason why we so highly recommend them.
Tacklife Rotary Kit
First up on the list of complete kits is the Tacklife rotary bit set. This is by far the most all-encompassing set on the market. Tacklife’s Dremel rotary kit boasts an astonishing 361 pieces, all ⅛” in size, which is the standard size for the majority of engravings.
There is virtually nothing that this kit does not include. In this set, you will find:
- Polishing disks and buffers
- Variously sized drill bits
- Grinders and sanders
- Router bits
- Engravement carvers
This set is very affordable, the pieces are of the highest quality, and it has more pieces than one person would surely ever need. For this reason, the value of this product is simply unrivaled.
This Dremel bit kit from XYGOOD Co includes ten pieces geared specifically towards engraving, so if you can do without all of those extra accessories and want to get right to carving, this will be the set for you.
XYGOOD’s rotary burr kit includes both ⅛” as well as ¼” bits, which is nice because it gives the user a little bit more variety in size and thickness.
You will find bit head shapes in this kit, including triangular, spherical, cone-shaped, flat-headed, round-headed, and everything in between.
Another great thing about these bits is that they are universal in that they can also be used in drill guns, drill presses, so they are not confined only to use in conjunction with a Dremel.
The material used to fabricate these bits is tungsten carbide, a highly durable but simultaneously lightweight material that will not bend, strip, or snap on you, even when used to perform heavy-duty tasks.
Dremel Engraving Bits
Dremel bits come in an incredible variety of options and differ in shape and size relative to the job which they are to perform. For this article’s purpose, however, we will be mostly discussing one type of Dremel bit in particular, that being, bits that are specially designed for engraving wood.
Wood carving bits come in many different shapes and sizes. They may be triangular, circular, cylindrical, large, small, etc. Engraving bits may also be rough and burred, smooth, or spiraled exteriorly.
There is a vast difference in appearance between engraving bits, and this is because each bit will provide its own unique design when applied to a wood surface.
For this reason, it is important to know beforehand what each bit’s carving will look like and which one is best suited to the style of your project. Everyone will have their own preference for designs and bit preference, so don’t be afraid to try them out and experiment with different ideas.
The best way to do this is by having onhand a scrap piece of wood that you can use to test out different bits in determining which is most appropriate for the job.
Setting Up/Changing Bits
Another point that should be noted here is that different Dremel models vary slightly by requiring bits to be changed and swapped out.
For example, while the 3000, 4000, and 4300 models feature an EZ twist system that allows for bits to be removed and securely replaced with no additional tools, the 200 and 2050 versions require a wrench to be used to swap bits.
The EZ twist bit release system makes it so that changing accessories can be done in mere seconds. Pull back on the chuck, which holds the bit in place; this allows the bit to be released. From there, all you have to do is substitute in the new bit and let go of the guard, snapping it firmly into place.
Changing bits in the Dremel is made intentionally quick and easy because many times it will need to be done repeatedly throughout the course of a single project.
How to Engrave Wood Using a Dremel
When preparing to begin engraving a piece of wood with the Dremel, the first thing which you must do is set the speed. Whether you are carving hardwood or softwood will dictate the appropriate speed, but in general, setting the Dremel to a higher speed will allow you to perform the job with greater ease.
It is also recommended that you first outline the engravement you will be carving with a light pencil marking. This makes it easier to attain a more professional looking finished product by significantly lessening the chance of mistakes than freehand carving. Stencils can be a great way to outline unique designs before carving.
Take your time, go slow, focus on one section at a time, and remove excess wood dust to uncover your design in all its glory.
Engraving wood is an art form and a skill that takes time to develop, and as with any skill, practice makes perfect. If you are new to the art of wood carving, it will help immensely to watch videos, read articles, and educate yourself as much as possible on the different techniques and styles.
It is also recommended that whenever carving or grinding, you also use protective eyewear. Grinding and engraving wood and metal has the potential to throw off chips and shards, which can cause serious and even permanent damage if they happen to come in contact with your eyes. Always work safely and never take the risk.
Another important safety tip whenever working with a Dremel is removing any rings, bracelets, or loose sleeves beforehand. Because the Dremel is a motorized rotary tool, it has the capability of catching your rings and getting you tangled up in the spinning chuck, which can result in severe injuries.
Whenever you are not using the Dremel, remove all bits and accessories, and store them out of reach of young children.
In this article, we set out to determine which are the four best Dremel bits for engraving wood.
Although every bit is different, and therefore hard to rank in a general sense, we can determine that based on their versatility and exemplary quality, the four best Dremel bits for wood carving are the 107 ⅛” shank, the 196 carvings/speed cutter, the 117-speed cutter, and the Tenfer large burr cutter.
However, it is wise to consider investing in a set. As for the price, you will end up coming out ahead in the long run.