How to Sharpen Dremel Bits for Wood Carving

A Dremel tool is a very handy piece of equipment for wood carving. It is powerful for its size and is best for DIY projects that require sensitive touches. What makes it stand out is the wide range of bits that come with the rotatory tool.  But with extensive use, the drill bits can get dull over time. This might distress some people who are working on urgent project. So in this guide, we’ll walk you through on how to sharpen Dremel bits for wood carving.

The best method to sharpen Dremel bits is to do it manually with either abrasive sandpaper or sharpening stone. You can use 600 to 1500 grit sandpaper to sharpen your Dremel bits and the same grit sharpening stones.

Dremel bits can be very small, so you have to be careful while sharpening them. Doing it by hand is the best way to do so as it ensures precision. If you use any automated machines like grinders, you might just take off too much. This will make the bits unstable and make it harder to use them later on.

Step by Step Guide to Sharpening Dremel Bits with Abrasive Sandpaper

We consider sharpening Dremel bits with sandpaper the most effective way. These are cheaper compared to sharpening stones. Unless you sharpen knives and other tools occasionally, sandpaper is a better choice.  It is a method in which you will have more control over how much you need to work on the bit, besides, buying sandpaper is cheaper.

Regardless of what method you choose, the key in both of them would be patience. Follow this step-by-step guide and make sure to do so nice and slowly:

Step 1 – Cleaning Up

Most of the time, people don’t clean their drill or Dremel bits once they are done with it, and put them back to their place without cleaning up. When you are sharpening the bit, you must clean it first. Use a brush and clothe to dust off the dirt, sawdust, or shavings that can get stuck in the grooves. 

Step 2 – Prepping the Sandpaper

You will be sharpening the Dremel bit just like how you sharpen knives. You will have the bit in your hand while the sandpaper needs to be stuck down to the workbench. One way to do so is to use super glue adhesive to stick the paper to the worktop. But it can be very hard to pull it off once you are done. We would suggest you stick it to a piece of flat scrap wood instead.

Step 3 – Sharpening The Dremel Bit

Now when it comes to sharpening Dremel bits or any tool in general, you need to work on them at an angle. Hold the bit in your hand and move it back and forth on the abrasive surface.

You need to start at a lower grit paper first. This cleans off the dull edge, after which you move to higher grits. Those will sharpen and then polish the bit. Once you are done sharpening one side of the edge, you flip and start working on the other. Make sure you do not take off too much material, since these bits are already very small.

Step 4 – Testing the Sharpness

Once you are done sharpening the bit, it is time to test it out. You can start with something light, like a piece of scrap wood. Don’t push it too hard though, you do not want to dull the edge right away.

Step 5 – Storing it Properly

Once you have sharpened all your Dremel bits and tested their sharpness, it is time to store them. Use proper storage to avoid losing them and ensure their edges do not come in contact with anything hard when you’re moving the kit around.

Want to take your newly sharpened Dremel bits for a test drive? You can read our article: Great Ideas For Wood Carving Dremel Projects to get started.

Other Methods of Sharpening Dremel Bits

The only other feasible method to sharpen Dremel bits is by using sharpening stones. You can find these files in various grits, but they are a bit more expensive than sandpaper. However, they last a long time, in fact, you can use these for years.

Since these are more expensive, you are going to have to spend a lot to buy them at different grits.  Unless you plan on sharpening a lot of tools for a long time, we don’t think it’s wise to spend so much.

Another method that we found was effective in sharpening bits of all sorts was using abrasive files. For this method, you would require a vice to hold the bit in place while you use the file to sharpen the bit. So the whole method is different compared to when you sharpen with a stone or sandpaper.

Abrasive files are available in different grits, but usually, they are rougher. So finding ones in higher grits can be difficult from your local hardware store.

Dremel Bit Sharpening Tips

So there are a few tips and tricks that you can follow when it comes to sharpening your Dremel bits.

  • Use mild force when sharpening your Dremel bits for better results. Applying too much force can make the bits uneven.
  • Use water to decrease friction heat when sharpening. When you are continuously rubbing something against an abrasive surface, you can produce a lot of heat. This heat will ruin the temper on the metal bits, which in return weakens them.
  • Use uniform motions for all edges of a bit to ensure even sharpness throughout. You can also count the number of motions you have made as well.
  • Patience is the key, we said that right at the start and it is the best way to get results. Work slowly or else you might end up with uneven edges.
  • Lastly, always store your bits properly when you are done using them. Oftentimes people just chuck their bits in a drawer or something because they are too lazy. The bit will lose its edge when you move things around in that drawer. So just place the bit in your kit in its proper place once you are done using it.

And if you’re wondering whether Dremel can be used to carve wood, then read our Guide on Carving with Dremel to know the answer!

How to Know its Time to Sharpen Your Bits

The most important question at hand would be, when do you know it is time to sharpen your Dremel bits? So, a lot of time when you do not get the desired results in your projects, you either blame your skills or the tool.

However, if you are someone who has years of experience, the former is very difficult to believe. So then, the fault lies in the tool. But the tool itself might not be faulty, and may only require a little maintenance.

If you ever feel like your Dremel tool is struggling to carve and the carving is not very smooth then your bits likely need sharpening. You will see the wood getting burnished on the surface in this instance. You can feel that with your hands as the results are not as smooth as they could be. This means that the Dremel bit is not sharp enough and it is struggling to do its job properly.

So you can feel it out most of the time when your bits are not sharp. And other times you can just see the results are not as great. This is when you know that it is time to sharpen the bits.

When to Buy New Dremel Bits?

Once you sharpen your Dremel bits, they can last a long time before you have to do it again. But ultimately, a time may come when you sharpen a bit too much and it becomes unusable. Or if you end up making a mistake and the edge of the bit is uneven. In these instances, you have to buy new Dremel bits.

Also, you can use the methods mentioned above to sharpen bits of any power tool. Of course, for bigger bits, you can even take these to the grinder. Some people use Dremel to sharpen their other bits. A diamond wheel can do a fine job at that. So having that bit handy can help in sharpening a lot of other tools.

Final Thoughts

If your Dremel bits become dull or they are underperforming, you don’t need to throw them. Sharpening them can enable you to reuse those dull Dremel bits for a long time before you have to buy new ones.

The same is with every other tool in your shed. Don’t throw away tools because they are underperforming, instead give them the maintenance they require. After all, wood carving is all about patience and reusability

Martin Swizz

Hi! This is Martin, I like to research, experiment, and learn new things related to wood carving and other kinds of woodworking.

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