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Dremel on black walnut?

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  • Dremel on black walnut?

    I'm new to carving....will a Dremel carve black walnut ok? If so what are basic bits, tips, or ?? That you will be using...assume I need some things that will cut off the big excess wood fast then finer tips etc to do shaping and finishing...any tips or direction on where I should go for this info? Thank you

  • #2
    The Janka Hardness value for Black Walnut in 1010 lbf, compared to Basswood at 410 lbf, but still less than some exotics. I have carved Black Walnut with hand tools (gouges & knives), so it should respond well to Dremel burrs. Depending on your project you may want to do some rough shaping with other power tools (i.e. band saw).

    Black Walnut ball-in-a-cage:- 1-1/2" long
    Last edited by pallin; 05-01-2018, 06:34 PM. Reason: added dimension


    • #3
      I use hardwood, although most are exotics. All hardwood the rough shape using 1/4 Sabruu tooth burrs on a die grinder....dremel does not have enough power to get rid of fast removal. Most of my wood I will cut out with the bandsaw, go to the die grinder or at times an angle grinder with carving bits,... and then just use the Dremel for basic design work. Use Kutzall bits, sanding drums, and a few diamond bits. Although word of advice,..... each and every hardwood has its own learning curve. I believe learning should be done on softwood and work your way up to hardwoods. Hardwoods are not easy to use until you figure out the whole ball game. Here is a picture of the ex-coarse Sabruu tooth burrs 1/4.inch I have all of them but the disc one. One last word those Sabruu tooth burrs will eat up your hand into hamburger meat ....make sure both hands are on the die grinder (I use Makita only) and no clothing can get tangled in the tool and work is braced down good. I worked my way up the chain although....when it came to rotary tools...... Dremel learned how to use it, flex shaft learned how to use and then progressed to die grinder. If you good with tools then power is the way to go. And just a thought if you are new to power tools, this is too much for any beginner. But that is just my opinion...some people start out using a chainsaw.
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      Last edited by Dileon; 05-01-2018, 07:58 PM.


      • #4
        Dileon mentioned the the burrs will eat up your hand... Do NOT use any sort of cloth glove - use ONLY all-leather gloves for hand protection. Better to have the tool eat a glove then the back of your hand.... Cloth gloves can get caught in the burr and will snap your finger (dremel) or wrist/arm (grinder) before you can blink...

        You can use a Dremel with walnut, but it takes quite a bit longer than one of the heavier-duty tools to remove the waste wood. Here's one I did from black walnut. About 14 inches tall.

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        • #5
          Try something small to start with, or just fool around on a scape piece of walnut. But Di suggestion is right on
          . . .JoeB


          • #6
            When I carve "hardwood" I intend to leave it "natural" to show off the wood or the grain. I believe the "burr" or "bit" is far more important than speed or torque. . I start out using full size gouges and hammer or, more often now, an automach (power gouge).

            The next move is to the foredom tools (similar to a dremel). I use both flexshaft and micromotor. The flexshaft with 1/4 inch shank burrs allows me to remove wood faster and create a "roughout". The same thing could be accomplished with the micromotor it would just take longer. From there I move to the micromotor with burrs that will still remove wood at a fast pace.

            Once I am close to having the shape/size carving I want ~ I move to diamond or ruby bits with rough category burrs (about 80 grit). The greatest problem at this point is burning the wood. Minimizing this takes a combination of speed and pressure ~ but it happens! Just go over the area again and eliminate the "burn" marks. I continue with a medium grit and go over the piece again. Then I usually move to a mandrel with sandpaper in my micromotor using rough and fine grit. I finish with diamond or ruby bits of about 400 grit. Here the major concern is burning. Use a very light touch and keep the bit moving.

            I finish my hardwood pieces by going over them with fine OOOO4 steelwool.
            Cliff Unbound 011.jpg


            • #7
              Starting small is a great idea. The only reason I wrote what I did was... I got a piece of medium size black walnut and carving chisels for one of my first carving projects....and of course did not know anything about carving. I knew art but not the medium of carving in wood. The piece seems outrageous hard and of course, my chisels were hardly getting one chip....( chisels needed major sharpen) and the instructor did not know anything to tell me but get some books and learn. I did make sort of a shaped figure....but it was not as easy as doing other kinds of I never picked up the chisels again until 25 years later. As Chris Pye says most people learning pick way to hard of projects to begin with ... and I was one of them. Today I carve often large, to medium size... projects so I can not use the flex shaft or dremel to remove large areas of wood.


              • #8
                Hi John. Great reply’s above!
                And I do agree with Dileon and the quote of Chris Pye that when beginning many will take on a little more then they should at the early stage
                From my experience. Someone new to carving should use softer woods that are easy to cut and quick. With a hard wood you might find it slow and frustrating and put you off the whole carving thing entirely. Its best to learn and develop your skills on that soft wood. Other then the slow grind of the hardwood.
                I always say “ Life’s to short to carve hard wood! “ and you can always stain your carved soft wood piece Walnut!

                And on the tools to use. Yes the bandsaw or chainsaw are very quick ways to “ Block out “ your piece. But if your on a budget the Kutzall Extra Coarse Extreme Shaping wheel and the same line of 1/8” shaft burrs ( see pics below) can get a block of wood shaped up pretty quickly!

                welcome to Power carving!

                Regards Richard Yates
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                • #9
                  Looking at the tools Richard has shown you, it becomes very apparent why to wear the leather gloves
                  . . .JoeB


                  • #10
                    Leather gloves are not a good idea. Their toughness will suck your hand into the machine before you can blink.

                    With all kinds of hand tools in my cold shop, gloves are great. Power stools are bare-handed.
                    Brian T


                    • #11
                      Boy Brian, more than once have I been glad I had my heavy horsehide gloves on. Just saying
                      . . .JoeB


                      • #12
                        All good advice given above. A Dremel will work fine on Black Walnut as long as your project is not too larger. Start small, go slow, and wear a leather glove, leather apron, goggles and dust mask.
                        Keep On Carvin'
                        Bob K.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Robson Valley View Post
                          Leather gloves are not a good idea. Their toughness will suck your hand into the machine before you can blink.

                          With all kinds of hand tools in my cold shop, gloves are great. Power stools are bare-handed.
                          I agree with this one... I have had all kinds of thoughts on this. I have had a few kutzalls attacks
                          my arm and fingers when I was learning. Barehanded it is a bad grind up a mess.

                          But with both hands on the bigger power machine.the machine will not go into the hands' easily unless you slip or it major jumps when using the machine The worst thing about heavy leather gloves they can slip off the power tool easy, if you do not have the right grip. Although on the angle grinder I use a glove on the one holding end that is most likely to get attacked. The worst thing about gloved hands it is a bear to turn the machine off and on. In the summertime I do wear gloves although as my hands sweat bad, making slipping off the machine the worst issue. I believe with both the die grinder and most of all the angle grinder you need to watch that burr does not fly out by checking super often and that you look at the donut wheels often make sure they are not cracked or damaged. So far with Sabruu tooth bits no problems with breakage.

                          I do wear.... full coverage head protection and a leather apron pulled tight against my body. Lately, although I am using a speed control with both machines in order to shut them off and control the speed level I need.


                          • #14
                            I have a Foredom now, but long ago and far away, I carved my wife a lovely pendant out of walnut. It was in Woodworking magazine, and it was a project called 'Tanglewood'.

                            I made the blank, and then hand carved what I could, and then used a Dremel with a round carbide bur, and then used the sanding drums to finish. It can be done, but take the safety precautions from everyone above.

                            I have not been 'bitten' by a power tool yet, but I have had enough 'bites' from my knives, v-tools, and gouges that I do not want to go there!