Ok…this is a topic dedicated to dremel (or your favorite brand of rotary tool) usage, best practices and safety. I've noticed a lot of new people asking about tools and techniques. Well, here's a start. Keep in mind that every one has their own way of doing things. No one is right or wrong, it's just preference.
I certainly hope this helps some of our newer folks who are interested in making sabers.
I'll have to post this in sections and will add to it as I document different techniques. Grab a cup of coffee... you're in for a read. ;)
Ok…Let’s get started.
Before you buy and operate your dremel, make sure you have purchased all the necessary safety items.
1. Safety Goggles: Dust and particles are a byproduct of cutting out the metal in a sink tube…it is IMPERATIVE to have proper eye protection. To date, no successful “eye-transplant” has every taken place and you only have two of them! Wear your goggles. If the finest piece of dust can cause a corneal abrasion, imagine what a sharp chunk of brass sink tube would do. Additionally, it’s not just the byproduct you need to worry about…I’ve had cutting disk crack and shoot across the room and have even had an extension wand explode.
2. Face mask: I like using some sort of mask so I’m not inhaling the dust created by cutting or sanding a sink tube. I don’t have statistics, but I’m pretty sure brass dust was not meant to be inhaled.
3. Face Shield: Overboard on the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)? Maybe, but have you ever been hit in the neck with a tiny hot shard of metal? This will prevent that from happening. THIS IS NOT….I repeat, NOT AN ALTERNATIVE TO THE SAFETY GOGGLES.
4. THICK gloves: I use weilding gloves that I buy at Homedepot. I'm not a big fan of clamping down a sinktube in a vise, becuase I moved the sink tube as much as I move the dremel while cutting. A sink tube can get very hot while under the pressure of a blade. Also, you'll have a nice layer of protection in case the dremel slips.
I have all three items stated above, plus gloves because I don’t like using a clamp to hold the sink tube so it does get hot.
Here’s my PPE!
Any questions so far…pretty basic stuff right? Ok, so let’s move on to equipment.EQUIPMENT:
Your tool of choice will vary. I like to use a corded multi-speed rotary tool with a flex shaft. The shaft will allow you to hold the tool more like a pencil, allowing for more familiar (if not better) control. Yes…cordless dremels are made but they just don’t have the power or endurance and the good ole’ corded ones. Multi-speed….not every job requires your cutting wheel to have a million RPMs. Whether it’s a Dremel brand or Black and Decker…either are great and the choice is yours.
Personally, I like this one:
Yes…it’s a Black and Decker. But it has all the features I’ve described above and will fit all the Dremel Brand attachments.
Next is a Flex shaft….as stated above, this tool gives you more control and will greatly improve your “dremel-fu”.
This is the 400 series and it has all the features I’ve described above. You can also purchase a kit that comes with the flex shaft (as shown).
Next up, a dremel station. By far, one of the best investments I’ve purchased for my tool. It will hold your dremel and convert it to a drill press (for small jobs). We’ve actually got one dremel in the press and one on the holder with the flex shaft attached. Having two means that I can go from drill press to cutting or sanding without changing shafts.
The other essential item to buy is an accessory kit. If you’re just starting out…get a small one. You probably don’t NEED all the stuff in the larger kits. The smaller ones will have your basics: This kit contains:
• •Reusable storage box
•400 Series XPR storage case compatible
•Removable organizer tray
Sanding/ Grinding Accessory Kit 686-01 Includes:
•1 - 426 1-1/4" Fiberglass-Reinforced Cut-Off Wheel
•1 - 85422 Silicon Carbide Grinding Stone
•15 - 412 Medium Sanding Disc
•1 - 402 Mandrel
•1 - 407 1/2" Drum Sander
•4 - 408 1/2" Coarse Sanding Band
•4 - 432 1/2" Fine Sanding Band
•1 - 932 Aluminum Oxide Grinding Stone
•1 - 8193 Aluminum Oxide Grinding Stone
•1 - 511 Abrasive Buffs
•1 - 84922 Silicon Carbide Grinding Stone
You will probably need to buy more cutting and sanding wheels as time goes on.
Along with your power tools, you'll also want a few small hand files. These will help sand down edges that may be to small or tight to get the dremel into.
That’s about it on the equipment. Next up…Best Practices
Well, as promised, here's my brief tutorial on cutting a sink tube.
First thing I do is make sure I've got a good design on graft paper. You want your design to be as accruate as possible cause those are the lines you'll be cutting.
Now, I've tried to secure the paper to the sink tube with all sorts of clear tape before. If you use tape, use a paper tape...like painters tape or masking tape. Myself, I don't use tape....I glue the graph paper to the sink tube using a stick of glue.
Liberally apply it and start putting it on your saber. Make sure no trash gets between the paper and the sinktube and make sure you're are putting it on straight.
Your graph paper lines should line up and there should be no creases or airbubbles in the paper. If you don't get it right the first time, simply peel it off and try again...it'll take a few minutes before that glue dries.
Once it's on, let it dry for a few minutes....test it out...try to move the paper around....it shouldn't budge. If it does....let it set for a while longer.
Next, I mount on a new cutting wheel. I have also saved a few older, smaller ones and I'll show you why in just a minute.
I use a heavy duty wheel. They make stronger ones....called reinforced wheels, but I like the HD ones because they're thinner and when you're making small cuts, thin is better.
Next, I put the wheel to the steel (or the brass ;D ). I follow my lines pretty closely but usually just outside the line. You can always take more brass off later....but you can NEVER put it back on. So it's better to come back after with a sanding drum or hand files to finish the job. (Another tutorial....another time)
Now...why do I save used wheels? Because they're smaller and I can use those to get into tight space. Like here...
Ok, for me, I've found it's better not to chop up the sinktube...meaning, once the wheel is in....follow the line all the way to the end. Try not to pull it out and start cutting from a different direction or anything...it'll just make more work for you later when you try to even out those lines.
Trim of any excess you may have...
Once you're done, you should have something like this....
Next, soak that sink tube in some water to take off the glue and you're good to go. Next up....sanding down those nasty edges with a a sanding drum, flap wheels and hand files.