Breaking Edges

One of the problems with having to rush to finish the Christmas present for my daughter (the toy kitchen), is that I had to skip some steps to get done in time.

As I was designing as I built, I wasn’t sure which edges would end up being the outer areas of the finished product, and thus needing to be rounded over.

Rounding edges over have a couple of benefits – the obvious one is removing sharp edges and corners, making them more child-friendly, and overall nicer to the whole tactile experience.  The other benefit is it reduces the chance of splintering of the edges.

I normally like a 1/16″ roundover – the object retains the overall concept of the square edges, but with a good rounding.  I normally use a plane to achieve this – the Fastcap Artisan Radius Plane (from Professional Woodworkers Supplies).


Fastcap Artisan Radius Plane

It is a great little plane, and works really effectively.  When I first got it, no edge was safe!  Unfortunately for this project, as I had already assembled it, this plane is no good for getting into corners and therefore wasn’t a real option.

Onto plan B.

I thought a Dremel may do the trick, even found some Dremel roundover bits in Masters.  Unfortunately I didn’t read the packet, and it turned out that the bits were specifically for the Dremel Trio.

The idea of using the Dremel high speed rotary should have worked, but I have not been able to find any round-over bit that fits.

So then I decided to look at the Dremel Trio – it isn’t too expensive, and seeing as I had the roundover bits, that might have been a reasonable outcome.  However, once I looked at it closely, I was disappointed in the build quality, especially of the base.


Dremel Trio


Trio Foot

It was really the mechanism for adjusting the base that was really cheap – not the quality that I associate with Dremel, and it really put me off buying it.  With the cost of the Trio, and the set of router bits I needed to get the desired roundover, that started becoming a reasonable portion of much better tools.

It was about now that I was kicking myself for selling the Triton Spin Saw.  Not that I have needed it until now, and holding a tool for years to finally find an actual purpose is obviously not worthwhile.  But it would have fitted the Dremel Router bits, and performed as a large version of the high speed rotary.

I have an old GMC Laminate Trimmer, but found that both for the size of the base, and the extension of the bearing section of the router bit, I couldn’t get into the areas I needed to.

So next, I had a look at the Bosch Blue laminate trimmer, or what the actually call (and more appropriately), the Palm Router.  This has the benefit of taking 1/4″ router bits, and is the machine of choice for the CNC Shark & Shark Pro. A pretty good endorsement on its own!


Bosch Blue Palm Router

It is a very nice-looking tool, and doesn’t try to “bling-out” to create a sale.  My only experience of Bosch is a corded drill I bought about 14 years ago, and despite my best efforts I haven’t managed to kill it yet.  Says something about the brand.  Not sure about the height adjustment on this either – seemed a bit difficult, but they may have been inexperience with the tool.


Festool Laminate Trimmer

Finally, I considered the Festool OFK 500 Q.  There are larger trimmers from Festool, but getting into tight areas is key.  The base looks promising, and the cut-off area from one side allows it to get into pretty tight areas.  There is one ‘interesting’ feature of this tool – it takes proprietary router bits.  However, it does come with what Festool calls an Ogee router bit, which everyone else calls a roundover bit, so that is a bonus.

So those are the choices I am considering.  The Festool is the most expensive, but as I was already willing to get the Dremel (plus the router bits) which came to $200, that is a reasonable amount off the price of the Festool, so it is more justifying the difference.

Got some thinkin’ to do.



Dremel Chuck

Was having a bit of a peruse of Dremel accessories down at Masters, and came across the keyless Dremel chuck.  Sounded like a pretty convenient idea – instead of having a number of different collets, you can change your Dremel so changing between bits is toolless, and it doesn’t matter if you are changing between different shaft diameters. Also means you can use small drill bits without having to purchase ones specifically for Dremel.


Original bit securing system

The original system does work, no question about it.  But it could be more convenient, and toolless bit changing has a certain attraction.


Dremel Toolless Chuck

When you take the chuck out of the packet, don’t expect it to work exactly like a spare chuck for a drill/drill press.  It needs to be mounted on the Dremel to work – as it screws up and down the shaft thread it opens and closes the jaws.  Solid little unit, and doesn’t crush like the aluminium collets of the original system when they get stuck in the shaft of the Dremel.  It may not be for you, but always good to know these sorts of things are out there (and at $20, it isn’t too impacting on the wallet).

Continuing the family tradition

Year 2 😉

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Using the Dremel to carve the pumpkin.  If I had the mini carver from Arbortech, who knows what I could do.  Not that it cannot be achieved manually, but the Dremel in this case made it much easier!

EZ Lock

A little while ago, when I had time for frivolous things like reading the occasional Twitter, I managed to win a couple of new fittings from Dremel, which required a curious method to attach to the high-speed rotary tool.  They were put aside for another day.

That day came around recently, with the road sign project as I wanted to sand right inside the letters (and am way too addicted to electron murderers to try it by hand). I was able to attach the new sanding disk using the traditional bolt, but it reminded me of the new attachment method so decided to seek it out.

Finger Sander

The sander was like a belt sander – sometimes effective, sometimes the 80 grit worked a bit too well, especially into the soft timber between growth rings!

EZ Lock Cutting Kit

There seems to be a number of kits that have the EZ lock attachment, and I found this one at Bunnings for under $30. (Don’t believe the sticker!) Seemed to be the cheapest kit they had that included the EZ lock.  Another one had the same attachment, 1/2 the number of cutters and was over $50.

EZ Lock

The EZ Lock is spring-loaded – pull back on the attachment, place the cutter (or other accessory) onto the attachment and rotate 90 degrees before releasing the attachment.

Interesting – particularly for users who are regularly having to replace cutters during a job, or change from one sanding attachment to another.  Tool-less accessory/cutter changes are always a nice improvement for a tool, so long as it is a sensible improvement of course.

Cutting at 20,000 strokes a minute

Had yet another task tonight that resulted in me picking up the cordless Sonicrafter, and jumping straight into the job at hand.  This time I had a couple of bolts that needed to be cut short, and the idea of picking up a hacksaw, or an angle grinder with cutoff wheel did not appeal.

Cordless Rockwell Sonicrafter

I went to fit a blade, and realised the only blades that came with the Sonicrafter were for wood (only).  However, I do have some dual purpose blades from Fein, so it was time to try out the adapter that is supplied with the Sonicrafter, that in theory allows all other brands of blade to be fitted. (Fein, Bosch, Dremel)

Original Sonicrafter Blade drive

Universal Adapter

When I first saw its studded surface, I had the idea that somehow the placement was designed to just manage to engage in the design of all different brands of blade, but when I then tried it out, I found that where the back engaged perfectly on the hex drive of the Sonicrafter, the studded design was only intended to be a friction transfer. I’m sure they could easily have made one to fit each brand individually, but then I am equally sure they would have run into a lawsuit or two.

So armed with what was provided, I picked up a metal (and wood) cutting Fein blade, attached it and gave it a try.  The washer (which has a raised core area) neatly fitted the blade, centering it on the tool.  I tightened it up (normally) and gave it a crack. Then, after cutting through the first bolt, I did the second.

It may not be an adapter that engages into the blade mounting slots, but it proved itself tonight as effective anyway.

An Open Door

Now the door is open to the massive range of blades, sanders, scrapers etc available across the range of brands (a just a small collection of Fein blades is shown here).

A Place for Everything

And everything in its place…

Well, that is the idea, but without the former, the latter is nothing more than a pipe dream.  Despite the presence of Australia Day, I only managed to get out to the shed around 10pm, so there was little option but to either sharpen or organise/tidy.  Decided to tidy a bit, but even my best Cartman “You will respect my authoritah”, I only managed a mediocre compliance from the mess out there.

Started with the Torque Workcentre – from recent experiences with the new (fixed) second arm I had put on there (custom upgrade), decided I really needed the extra depth-of-cut that I could get with the 2400W Triton on there, rather than the 1800W.  I also added extra bar support to the end of the rail, really locking everything up solid (yet still removable with a simple twist of a knob)  Adjusted the blade to vertical, within 0.1 degrees using a Wixey Digital Angle Gauge.

The rest of the tidy-up involves slowly trying to find a place for everything.

Oh – one other thing worth mentioning.  I have a loan of a cordless Dremel Multi-Max oscillating tool for an article I am writing for a new magazine.

It is pretty new to the market at a whole, and brand new to the Australian market.  From the moment I opened the box (still wrapped 🙂 ), I knew this was a tool with a difference (although not a surprise given the Dremel brand).  This is definitely one worth keeping an eye on.

Dremel Flex Drive

During a bit of an end-of-year shed cleanup, I noticed the Dremel hanging on the mounting hook ready for the flex drive to be connected to it, and to the Beall Pen Wizard. I needed to shorten the Foredom holder so the Dremel Flex Drive head could extend far enough through to be usable.

It wasn’t hard.  I ended up using the bandsaw, then a quick sand to square it up on the disk sander.  The extra holes I had already tapped for the bolts to properly support the Flex head.

Mounting Flex Drive

So another job ticked off.  Will be interesting to see if this makes any real impact on using the Pen Wizard – taking the top-heavy weight of the Dremel off the Wizard.

So back to cleaning the shed.  The main problem is that never-ending adversary – a lack of space.  So many things don’t have a proper home, they get left in inconvenient locations, such as the middle of the floor, or the middle of the workbench because there is nowhere better for them to reside.  Time for another cleanout I think!

Dremel Router

I can’t help it: when decent tools have optional accessories, I can’t resist also trying them out on the hope/expectation that they will live up to the quality of the parent product.

In this case, the idea of being able to take the Dremel and turn it into a mini-router is quite appealing.

Dremel Router Stand

It is pretty cool – the plunge springs are a bit strong, but otherwise it has an interesting collection of features and accessories.  Fence, circle cutting attachment, a couple of template guides, quick-adjustment plunge-stop, and a simple attachment method for the Dremel.

Perhaps the multi-functionality is what really appeals (and lots of small cutters, grinders, etc), so perhaps is also what caught my eye with Triton, Torque Workcentres, and now Dremel.

Next will be checking out the drill press attachment- also looks very interesting/functional.

Dremel Drillpress

Carbide Cutters

In preparation for a serious attempt with the Beall Pen Wizard, I had a close look at what cutter profiles were available.  I was particularly interested in some form of side-mill (traditional straight cutter if it was a router bit), 1/2 round, laser bit.  Went through a number of cutters, and they looked ok, but nothing particularly impressive, or what I was particularly looking for.  Until I got to the second cabinet, and there they were – solid tungsten carbide bits.

I know carbide isn’t as sharp as tool steel, but the edge is significantly more durable.  Still, I was surprised to read that these were designed for metal.  They will work well in timber (and acrylic).  There was even a laser bit which was exactly what I wanted – one that comes to a sharp point with minimal radius at the tip.

Picked up 6 different bits initially – I’ll have to check what other profiles are available.

TC Bits

This is the base of the Flex-Drive stand – quite convenient for your regularly-used bits.  Only problem I discovered is the holes for the bits go all the way through, so you can’t have holes in the table (such as with the Walko!).  So I’ve put a piece of plastic underneath to stop the bits falling through to the floor if I happen to use the wrong storage hole.  Has a convenient location for the spanner as well.

The other thing I wanted to try, was to see if the Flex-Drive could be made to fit the Foredom holder that came with the Pen Wizard.  The Foredom handle is straight, with a moderate diameter making it an easy fit, whereas the Dremel is a tapered, design, oval in cross section and all up designed for the hand, not for fitting in a tool (fair enough!)

However, by tapping some extra holes in the Foredom holder for some additional bolts, I found I was able to secure the Dremel very easily.

Tapping Threads

Now I found that the Dremel Flex Drive didn’t protrude through the holder far enough to be able to work, but that is actually going to be a simple fix – I just need to cut the holder shorter, with the amount I remove being equal to the additional amount of protrusion that will be achieved.

Concept Check

The whole reason for this is to be able to mount the Dremel on a hook, and just have the Flex Drive connected to the Pen Wizard.

Mock Setup

Still a bit of a work-in-progress, will be interesting to see if I can get it to work out, and that it ends up a better solution that having the Dremel direct-mounted.  Each bolt is only finger-tight, so removal of the drive is not difficult, although I have also ensured that the drive lock is always exposed so you don’t need to remove the handle to make bit-changes.


Nipped up to Carbatec to pick up a new Dremel so I could use it with the Pen Wizard. Been wanting one for ages, but needed a good excuse to go with the original brand of rotary tools, rather than some after-market ones I’ve had / have (GMC / Triton)  The Dremel threads straight into the Pen Wizard, and that is all the motivation I needed in the end.

I picked up the 400 Series (Digital), which came with a number of fittings and accessories, including a flex drive.  As I’ve said in the past, tools should not be cute, but the miniature versions of common tools (cut off wheels etc) invokes the “aren’t they cute” before you realise what you’ve said.  The digital allows you to preset the desired speed before switching on.

I didn’t buy any additional cutters etc, but I’ll need to, to get some of the fine cutters needed for pens.

The Pen Wizard still gives me the feeling that it needs looking after – it can definitely do the job, but not if you are rough with it.  With the Dremel screwed straight into it, I found it was a little light in balance – the Dremel making it a bit top-heavy.

Taking off the guilloche attachment, I cut a series of mild helices, then engaged the reverse gear and cut them again, producing a light knurled pattern.  The cutter was completely wrong for the job, but the ease of achieving the result was obvious.

Like any tool, it will take some time to become proficient, but once the basics are worked out (setup, cutters, getting the pen blank evenly turned), it will be very straightforward to get decent results.

I am particularly interested in seeing the results from using acrylic – again, the main thing that will affect the result is accurate, even turning.

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