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Rotary Tool Bits for Wood Carving

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I've been wanting to embellish some of my handles with carving. I even took a couple of classes and got a set of carving chisels. One thing I've found is that it's very difficult to carve hardwoods like Maple, African Blackwood, etc., so I've been thinking about using the rotary tool for that. To those you carve using a rotary tool, what kind of bits do you find most useful?

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There are hundreds of different rotary carving bits...I have lots of them and have spent lots of money on them, but end up using only carbide ball burrs and occasionally a long narrow tapered diamond point for tight cleanup.

The best place I've found for them is here:  http://www.lascodiamond.com/LascoProducts-3-32-Carbide.html  I have no financial interest in this company. I've marked the ones I use for small scale/detailing in the image below. Purchase only carbide, high speed steel burs will burn out very quickly.

You might find this free download of use for detailed carving with power tools: http://sterlingsculptures.com/wp/?page_id=315

Best of luck,



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I actually went from rotary tools to old fashioned chisels.  I liked the control better.  Rotary tools caused my hands to go nuts due to their vibration but that's mostly because I have some problems in my hands. 

I have a magazine, not on hand, of a rotary tool company that specializes with wood carving, once I find it I'll post up the info for you.  I saw a demo of a guy using this rotary tool to make duck decoys and it was pretty impressive. 



If your using chisels to crave hard maple or curled maple. You're tools should be extremely well honed, like 2000 grit polish.  If the tool is not biting in the wood is just not sharp enough.  I like to carve maple, its a slow process with hand chisels but it is such a nice surface.  Curled maple is like a stone and I have not attempted to carve it.  I have done a lot in back walnut and I like it accept for its open grain.   

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I have used rotary bits for carving wood quite a bit over the years and developed quite a collection, I even had my dentist donating to the cause for a while.... 

my go-to bits were always the cylinders or even the “inverted cone” cylinders for detailed work. CF68BAC8-B0CF-4A5B-A1C3-A7C45BA6B80D.jpeg

when held on an angle they work like a V gouge and give you a crisp center line. 

I used round bits and oval like bits for hogging off lots of material 


For super small details I would use the a tapered diamond point


but I found you can’t move a lot of material with a tapered point because the closer you get to the center of the bit the slower the bit is turning (think an old LP record - at the outside things are moving much quicker than at the center) 


I agree with tsterling - the carbide bits are the key.

Hope this all helps.

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