What Power Carving Equipment and How Much.

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Forum topic by helluvawreck posted 01-31-2011 03:07 PM 5392 views 1 time favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3103 days

01-31-2011 03:07 PM

Topic tags/keywords: power carving equipment power carving for beginners power carving tools

I am very interested in learning how to carve well. I have a pretty good selection of tools for hand carving and I have started to do this on a regular basis in order to teach myself. However, I would also like to learn how to carve with power tools as well and right around the corner add wood burning to the mix.

I have a dremel and also a flexible shaft for it; however, from just reading I don’t have a lot of confidence in it as the right piece of equipment. For a beginners setup what would some of you recommend as a basic setup, including cutters, to get started off on the right foot and how much would the starting setup cost? Even though I’m a little broke at the moment I can scrape up some money towards this. What I don’t want to do is to start out with inadequate equipment that will lead me into a situation of being discouraged. Time is also very precious and valuable to me and I can’t afford to waste it by getting off to a bad start on anything.

Any constructive help and/or advice from you guys and gals will be greatly appreciated.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

15 replies so far

View Keith Fenton's profile

Keith Fenton

328 posts in 3157 days

#1 posted 01-31-2011 03:21 PM

I believe Jordan does all his beautiful work with a Dremel. I do segmentation which requires shaping of small pieces and I use a Dremel 4000 almost exclusively for this with the sanding drums and carving burrs like these :,130,43409 . My partner, Sheila (Scrollgirl) has a Foredom power carver which is put away in storage because the Dremel does all we require of it.

I personally don’t like using the flex shaft although Sheila does. I just don’t like how it pulls on my hand and it does put more load on the Dremel.

-- Scroll saw patterns @

View snowdog's profile


1166 posts in 4219 days

#2 posted 01-31-2011 03:50 PM

I started with a $12 pocket knife and went from there.

I am far from a great carver but I enjoy making wood chips. Start cheap and add as you go. Ebay is a great place to find deals but local is best. I am about to try some power carving just for fun. I have an old dremel so it is what I will use. Good luck with it and more than anything else enjoy the process.

-- "so much to learn and so little time"..

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3103 days

#3 posted 01-31-2011 04:33 PM

Well, since I’m broke and have a Dremel I guess I should start with a Dremel. :) That makes that part of it pretty easy and a lot kinder to my billfold. :)

I appreciate it, Keith and snowdog.

Now, I know that I haven’t heard anything good about the stock cutters that come with the Dremels. Could you give me some quick advice about an assortment of basic carving cutters that are good quality or maybe which individual 5 or 6 (or more) might be good to get my feet wet.

I sure would appreciate it. I’ve got one of those itches to get started on it and I feel like I need to scratch it to see if it’s something I might like to do in the evenings when I get home from work instead of just sitting in my shop feeling my aches and pains. I’m 60 and work hard during the day but I don’t like to sit and just waste time doing nothing even if I’m tired.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3103 days

#4 posted 01-31-2011 04:44 PM

Keith, those kutzall cutters ain’t cheap but you must think highly of them. Would 6 or so of those give you a basic set to get your feet wet or would you just recommend buying some of those little sets at Lowes to get started with. If you take care of those Kutzall’s how long will they be good for?

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View hairy's profile


2783 posts in 3769 days

#5 posted 01-31-2011 05:18 PM

I have a dremel. It’s good for what it is. I consider it a lightweight, and it’s a good one for that. It is very good for fine detailing, the smaller bits get good access.

I have air tools, from my working days. Die grinders, wizz wheels and others, you can hog off a lot of wood quickly with them. I don’t use them for that, but many do. I didn’t want air compressors and all that noise in the basement. It takes a serious air compressor to keep up with high speed air tools, plus they need to be oiled, and usually the oil is exhausted out the back of the tool.

You can do a lot with hand tools. They have been the go to tool for centuries.

If I ever feel that I need more than the dremel, I would get the Foredom. It is big bucks.

-- My reality check bounced...

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2930 days

#6 posted 01-31-2011 05:30 PM

I’ve got a Foredom and a few Dremel’s. Aside from the Foredom being mounted and always at the ready, it’s never been able to do anything the Dremel couldn’t.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3352 days

#7 posted 01-31-2011 05:41 PM

sorry Helluwa I canĀ“t help you much there
but I think when Jordan has the shoe competition :-)
he mention ( I think) only a few sander/grinder/router tools tothe Dremel to do the job
so I surgess you contact him and get the advice since he is a master with powercarving tools

take care

View hairy's profile


2783 posts in 3769 days

#8 posted 01-31-2011 06:09 PM

Well said, Bertha. Experience is always better than an opinion.

-- My reality check bounced...

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18423 posts in 3912 days

#9 posted 02-01-2011 07:49 AM

I have never tried carving with a dermel yet. Just a knife and chisels. A few chisels that make basic curves, ect are a good way to make them, more precise, easier and faster than trying to control a knife.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Keith Fenton's profile

Keith Fenton

328 posts in 3157 days

#10 posted 02-01-2011 01:40 PM

I was introduced to those Kutzall bits when Sheila bought them to do Jordan’s shoe challenge. I have the four that he recommended on that page they are the silver A,D,J and O. and they do work great. Also being carbide they should hold up quite well but I have not used them enough to find out first hand.

You can find 50 grit sanding drums for the Dremel can also remove wood fairly quickly. The coarse ones that are made by Dremel I believe are 60 grit which still works pretty good for the small stuff that I do. The finer 120 grit drums help to clean up the sanding/carving scratches and the diamond bits can help save a little on hand sanding after the fine sanding drums.

The only other bits that I use from Dremel are the pointed diamond bits which I use to remove sanding scratches from tight corners (works great) and occasionally pointed grinding bits for the same purpose

-- Scroll saw patterns @

View Toolphan's profile


5 posts in 2916 days

#11 posted 02-01-2011 04:57 PM

As mentioned above, you can use hand tools or power tools. I started with hand tools and gradually graduated to the big boy power tools.

-- Toolphan

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3103 days

#12 posted 02-01-2011 06:24 PM

Thanks, Kieth and snowdog. I’ll probably get a few of the bits that you described and I’ve got an assortment that came with the Dremel tool and I also have a couple of small Dremel assortments. All the Dremel stuff is new and I’ve never used it but have had it about a year; it should still be ok.

snowdog, hairy, Bertha, Bob, Dennis, Toolphan I also appreciate your comments and help.

I will continue to hand carve; I’m just a beginner but I’m getting better and faster. I’ve had some of my carving tools for 15 years or more but I’ve never had the time to do much with them and I’ve used my knives to whittle out a few Santas, etc. here and there. I’m doing some relief carving in the last week or so and am enjoying it. I hope that I can stick with it this time.

However, it seems at times the power carving might seem more appropriate. One thing I can think of might be birds. I’ve tried off and on to stick with it but this time I think that I will. Time will tell. Anyway thanks for all of your help. I’ll post a few things that I’ve carved in my projects in a week or so. You’ll see that I’m just a beginner but I don’t think I’m hopeless. At least I hope not.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3208 days

#13 posted 02-01-2011 09:39 PM

Helluva, I have not done much wood carving and don’t plan to start because I already have too many irons in the fire, but I just feel I have to comment here due to 19 years experience with Foredom and Dremel tools. The carving I do is mostly with pattern wax used to make master patterns for jewelry designs. It’s similar to wood carving, except if I screw up and carve off too much, I can melt wax onto the pattern and build it up to try again. Wood is a one time thing; can’t glue the chips back on.

Anyway, there are several handpieces for the Foredom flex shaft machines. The most common is the #30 and is the one you see the most. It’s 1” diameter, about 5” long and has a geared chuck on the working end. They also make a graver handpiece which works like a power chisel. It strokes back and forth instead of spinning. There are very thin handpieces, handpieces with quickchange collets, gear reduction handpieces for high torque application, gear increasing handpieces for high speed work. The motor drive units come from 1/15 hp up to 1/3 hp units. Some are DC powered, most are AC. The foot pedal speed comtrol is very easy to get used to and hard to do without once you learn to work with it. The bottom line is there is no way that a Dremel will come close to a Foredom for flexible uses.

I have 3 or 4 Dremels that I use with specific bits and just leave them set up that way. I even use a Foredom foot speed control to make the Dremels easier to use (will only work with the single speed Dremel) I tried the Dremel flex shaft attachment; didn’t like it at all. Too stiff, too under powered, and too short.

View Pop's profile


429 posts in 4183 days

#14 posted 02-02-2011 12:52 AM

Helluva, I have a foredom. Unlike the Dremel it has power to spare. As for the Dremel, I used one for years until I got a Proxxon. If you try Proxxon you’ll throw rocks at Dremel. Very nice German engineering. I also have Arbortech carvers. A little pricey, but very heavy duty. Arbortech machines are built on a 4-1/2 in. grinder.
All these machines even Dremel are gpod carving tools.

Back when I was doing photography there’s a joke that goes: Walk in any photo shop and say “I LIKE TRI-X”! There will then be a loud argument over film. Carving equipment is like that “tri-X’ film. what one carver likes another dislikes. The only real advise I can offer is fins a few carvers or wood stores and try out stuff untill you find things YOU like.


-- One who works with his hands is a laborer, his hands & head A craftsman, his hands, head & heart a artist

View Stonekettle's profile


135 posts in 3141 days

#15 posted 02-02-2011 03:12 AM

I do a lot of carving as you can see from my posted projects. I do some hand carving, but thanks to my last tour in Iraq I don’t have a lot of feeling or strength in my left hand these days – and being left handed, that really limits my hand carving ability. Accordingly I use power carving tools for most everything I do. I started out with a Dremel and still use it with the flex shaft for smaller projects, but I’m a big fan of Foredom tools. I’ve got a couple of the older cc models and one of the new reversables. They’re expensive, but you never have to worry about overheating or lack of power – and you can find used ones on ebay or craigslist for cheap (I got both the cc’s for $75 from a women whose soon to be ex screwed around on her with the babysitter. Man, I love Craigslist and angry spouses ;) The Foredom has two major advantages over the Dremel, the foot pedal for on/off and speed control, and interchangable handsets. I use a number of handsets for rotory carving, and the reciprocating handset for blade carving. That recip handset is like waving a magic wand over the stock, wood chips just peel away. I love it.

Pop makes a good point though, ask a dozen carvers what the best tool is and you’ll get a dozen different answers. Best advice I could offer you is to check around for a local carving club (like turning clubs, they’re everywhere) and attend a few of their meetings. If experience is any guide, they’ll be glad of your interest and happy to offer you advice and hands-on eperience without it costing you much more than a few hours of your time.

-- Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station

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