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The Dremel Tool, can it really do that much?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Whafrodamus, Jun 13, 2004.

  1. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    I went to Home Depot today looking around for a router, bandsaw, drill press, table saw, and a few other goodies when I spot this Dremel tool on a wall under "Hobby items". I see it can act as a plunge router, drill press, engraver tool, and a zillion other things.. When building a bass, can it really replace the router and drill press? Should I purchase the dremel tool and a bandsaw instead of all my other doohickies?
  2. Nope, no way, fergit about it!!

    The Dremel has it's place in the shop. Shaping, especially tight areas is a perfect task along with inlay routing, tight sanding, and other light removal tasks. I use it for nut slotting, and some folks find it quite servicable for binding routing.

    You really need the torque and capacity of the larger tools. Even electric hand tools are more suited to the job. You can build an entire instrument with hand tools and, if you're careful and take your time, you can make a fine bass. As you gain confidence and experience, you will begin to see why we like even larger tools in our shops but it usually takes time and a fair amount of money to acquire them. And it's doesn't stop there. This is a never-ending journey here. I would be safe in saying that there isn't a builder on here (except maybe Ken Smith) that has EVERY tool he or she would like.
  3. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    Okay, thanks :). So, I'd be better off buying the router, bandsaw, and other stuff? Also, would I atleast be able to use it as a drill press (With the drill press kit)?
  4. Again, no...

    The dremel drill press is small, light, and doesn't have the throat depth of even a desktop 5 speed drill press. Besides, a Dremel starts at 5000 rpm - way to much for drilling. You should be anywhere from 300 - 1800 rpm on a drill press. Try twisting a bit through 2" of maple and you'll wish you had spent the money.

    If you really need a press and can't afford a cheap import (try Big Lots), get the portable style that attaches to a hand drill. They've got them at Home Depot and they work pretty well. I've used them in other types of fabrication and you can get a good perpendicular plunge from them.
  5. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    Price isn't really an issue, I'm just a cheapo :p.. I'll take your advice and buy the drill press too.. I'll use the dremmel for inlaying and such.
  6. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    Check pawn shops for tools. I got my drill press there.......t
  7. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    I've got a dremel. I've used it for shaping and doing some contouring and that's it thus far. I do plan on getting a drill press, router, etc, but since so far i'm getting help from a friend of the family with the routing and drill press related items-i can wait. :)
  8. dremel has high speed and is lightweight. Good for fine work, but lacks the torque necessary to do any larger job (and making a bass out of a solid blank is a 'larger job'. Gawd, i'd never even think of using mine as a router or drill, at least not above drilling a 1/8" or smaller hole in an emergency.

    Lots of good routers out there if you don't mind spending a little while for the fine adjustment and don't need to turn large bits.

    Table saws are dicier; the low end $150 stuff isn't really worth owning and the good stuff costs money. I have some table saw links; PM me if you want them, but basically for most of us you have the Powermatics and Delta Unisaws (cabinet saws, high quality, $1500 plus), then Jet and similar saws ($maybe $1200), then you start to overlap into the high end contractor saws from DeWalt, Delta, Piowermatic et al and also get into the lower range cabinets from grizzly, then you work through the whole thing again.

    If you were going to buy a $100 tablesaw, i'd tell you to buy a good circular saw and a clap on rip fence instead but that's just me :D

    You can get lots of good bandsaws though. the delta 14" is widely loved, as are the larger delta models. Lagunas are great though expensive (as are their other tools). A high quality bandsaw which is set up properly will cut at least as well as a shi**y tablesaw so keep taht in mind.... a used 4" jointer and awesome 16" bandsaw with a rip fence is better than a bandsaw and a cheap tablesaw.
  9. BTBbassist

    BTBbassist join us for mankala hour!

    Apr 20, 2002
    Westlake Village, CA
    If you'd like to pursue woodworking as a serious hobby, I feel that the best things to know when starting out are:

    1. Patience. Buy tools one at a time. Research and assess your needs and usage of the tool. Spend as much money as you can toward that tool (within reason). Depending on your woodworking allowance, you won't have a full shop for a few years. However, as your skills and projects grow, you will appreciate the quality of the tools in your workshop, and should not ever have to replace them.

    2. Buy tools bigger than you think you need. At least with my case, I've replaced many smaller tools within a year, which is not only frustrating, but costly.

    3. Don't skimp on your table saw. In most shops, the table saw is the center of the attention, acting as a workbench, router table and anything else you can think of. You really can do just about anything on a good table saw. This should probably be your first big tool purchase.

    4. Save a trip to Home Depot by buying from internet sources (read: Amazon.com ToolCrib) Their prices are basically unbeatable, and they offer free shipping, great service, and an excellent selection. They shipped a 375# saw to me via truck freight for absolutely free. :D

    Anyway, these are just a few things that I keep realizing as I continue to put together a functional shop.

    Regarding rotary tools, everyone's responses have been right on. They have their place for detail work, but the attachments are just sales gimmicks that cannot possible perform accurately or effectively under any but the most casual of circumstances.

    Have fun! :D
  10. PasdaBeer


    Nov 2, 2002
    Santa Rosa California
    SandStorm Designs
    Dremels are just chunks of plasitic waiting to be blown up..
  11. Rick Turner

    Rick Turner Commercial User

    Jul 14, 2004
    I design and build electric basses and pickups under the Turner, Renaissance, and Electroline brand names.

    They're useful for self-dentistry if you like a lot of pain, and they're useful for hand held tasks, but as mini routers, they're useless or worse.
  12. Skorzen


    Mar 15, 2002
    Springfield MA
    Except with luthery, you can easily get away with no table saw. Not that it wouldent be nice, but for someone looking to get into luthery I think they would be better served by taking the money they would spend on a table saw and invest in a quality bandsaw(Laguna Minimax ect..)
  13. BTBbassist

    BTBbassist join us for mankala hour!

    Apr 20, 2002
    Westlake Village, CA
    Totally...for luthery, a good solid bandsaw is the center of everything. Laguna makes an excellent product that is well worth the cost IMO. My post above was referring mainly to woodworking in general... :)
  14. rdhbass


    Jun 28, 2003
    Springfield, mo
    Speaking of the dremel router attachment, i have one and I spent more than 5 bucks on the tiny router bit. I just needed to make a small cut in maple and it was dull very shortly. Dremels attachments and such are way overpriced for my tastes.
  15. Rick Turner

    Rick Turner Commercial User

    Jul 14, 2004
    I design and build electric basses and pickups under the Turner, Renaissance, and Electroline brand names.
    Having worked as a cabinet maker for several years, I go with the table saw as the center of a wood shop. If you can accurately cut plywood, phenolic templet material, Plexiglas, and rip wood for glue joints in neck stock, you're there...and you also need a band saw. The plywood issue is very important because with that capability, you can build a shop, benches, jigs and all.
  16. I use the dremel to clean excess finish out of cavities, to polish fret ends, to smooth polish nut slots, to enlarge holes for big-diameter potentiometers and jack holes, and to clean out old glue. You can use it for inlay work too. Get the right bits.

    It's really handy for that. Stew Mac sells a base so you can rout binding ledges too. Not too bad.

    But a real router? Nope.