Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that Tim Vande Sluis of http://carvingonwood.com/ is correct. You can’t really do fine, detailed work with a Dremel (or any other basic rotary tool). I’m not sure if it’s just my lack of experience really working with wood, my lack of experience really working with my Dremel, or what but I’m just not able to get the detail that I was hoping for. See, my first practice piece was on a chunk of redwood 4X4 (leftover fencing material) and I was just doing Celtic knots (I wanted to learn how to properly draw them AND carve them). Even though I didn’t quite finish it, it’s not half bad (if I do say so myself).
UPDATE: I was mistaken (well, the person that gave me these scraps of wood was mistaken). The wood in the two photos below is NOT mahogany. It is Jarrah, which is a type of eucalyptus. Due to the grains, it is not good for carving/machining (so it wasn’t just me). I guess I get to find another use for the rest of the scraps I have (http://www.wood-database.com/lumber-identification/hardwoods/jarrah/).
The second piece I used some scrap mahogany that was going to go in a trash bin. Well, that wood is very difficult to work with. All I kept thinking was, “It’s so dry! It needs lotion!” LOL! I sanded a block on my belt sander and it was just beautiful! Then, I pulled out my Dremel (well, first I drew a design). OMG! The wood was splitting (or trying to) every which way you can imagine! Even using a sharp hand chisel was making it split! So, I just stumbled through the best I could and called it good.
The next piece (the one I’m currently working on) is another piece of leftover building materials but this time it’s a block of 2X4 pine. MUCH easier to work with BUT the Dremel keeps getting hot and the bits are burning my wood (and these are fresh bits). I have to keep stopping after 30 minutes or so to let the thing cool down (and, yes, I’ve lubricated it). It doesn’t matter what speed I use, either. This piece is much more detailed, also (an actual picture I printed up and transferred to the wood with carbon paper). I’m just not able to do what I envision in my head with the Dremel. I’m really disappointed but I’m determined. There is no way we can financially purchase an engraver at this time, so if I end up having to use a pocket knife to get the look that I want, I will!
I don’t have any linseed oil yet (need to run to Lowe’s and see what they have, whether they have it, and the determine the costs) so I’m making do. I have water-soluble glaze (you paint it on), spray-on finishes in Matte and Gloss (can be used on everything from ceramics to wood), and clear Rustoleum. I have water-color paints (like you buy for little kids), ceramic paints, and these things called oil crayons … no idea how to use that but all I can say is thank goodness I’m not doing this as a business! LOL!