Powered carving tool review

Can anyone recommend / review a good quality hand held power carving tool. (Im uk based). Iv previously bought a cheaper priced small hand held but it has no guts init. Slight pressure and it stops.

Share ur suggestions and reviews please.

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depends on the amount/kind of work you want to do.
Dremel would be obvious, for more substantial work i see most “professionals” using makita grinders.

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A Foredom like they use and sell at Mirai or the variable speed Makita.


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Hi @CeramicBonsaiArt,

I’m UK based too. I use and recommend a mains powered (240v) Makita die grinder for heavier work including removing bulk and rough work. The one I have is the “GDO600” and it’s 400 watts, so pretty beefy for a handheld – 3 or 4 times as powerful as most Dremels or equivalent.

For detail work, I prefer a small, lightweight handpiece on a flexshaft powered by a sepreate (hanging or desktop) motor. I find this more precise and easy to use than a standard Dremel style. I did a bunch of research and considered Dremels own “Fortiflex” but in the end I decided to import a Foredom with a full range of collets to fit the various shank sizes in my bit collection. A good decision.

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Good question. For fine detail I’ve been considering the multi tool package from Kaizen bonsai as an affordable option. I doubt Graham would sell something not up to the job but would be interested if anyone has got one or used it to hear what it’s like?

I’m hoping someone will give me the Makita for Christmas!

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I have a Makits and various bits(20+ years old now) which has never let me down. You’ll only need it for very large projects. My Dremels get used much more. I currenly use a 4000 though have a couple of earlier models as well plus a selection of bits/brushes etc. I get most of my accesories from William Vlaanderen though have others including from Chris at Bonsainibblers.UK and Graham at Kaizen. I bought my first Dremel when slot racing and building chassis in the seventies. It still works perfectly. Was worked hard and says something for their old quality. I had trouble with a later one but their after sales was excellent.

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Here’s some personal experience with carving tools:

New deadwood out of live tissue: Pliers and a draw knife.

Shaping and defining smaller branches:
(Low need = Lower cost) Dremel with any 1/8" (3mm) shaft wood carving bits
(High need = Higher cost) Mastercarver or Foredom flexible shaft tools

Wood removal (moderate):
Arbortech mini-grinder or Merlin mini-grinder
Die-grinder with wood carving bits

Wood removal (aggressive):
Angle grinder using a King Arthur’s Tools “Lancelot” chainsaw attachment

Notes on safety:
Basic: Filter mask, safety glasses, blah blah blah
Basic: When using Dremel or flex-shaft tools, you can help your spatial awareness by being in constant contact with your target. Even if all I’m doing is holding out my little finger to touch a branch, I have better control over my tool. When appropriate, I like to have one hand close to the spinning bit and the other at the rear. The hand near the bit is anchored on the piece by my wrist or the side of my hand. This allows for safe operation of the tool as well as keeping the bit from biting too deep or hitting live tissue and branches.
IMPORTANT: I consider using wood bits on a die-grinder to be a misuse of the tool. Select a die-grinder with a paddle switch. If bad things happen, the grinder will shut off as soon as you let go. If it has a locking on-switch, it will still be spinning away as you’re trying to get your bleeding body part away from the accident.
IMPORTANT: I consider putting a chainsaw attachment on an angle grinder to be a VERY BAD IDEA. With that said, I do this every time I want to remove a great deal of wood in a short amount of time. So there, I’m a hypocrite. You should NEVER use an angle grinder with an on/off switch for this. Use a paddle switch.
Bonus: Use a foot pedal switch for all your electric grinders. It’s an extra bit of comfort for my safety worries.

Other Notes:
Mastercarver has a chisel attachment that I think works very nicely.
There is a tool that is dedicated to electric chiseling, but I don’t own it and cannot comment.
Makita seems to be the go-to recommendation on die-grinders, but it can be expensive. I recommend visiting pawn shops for power tools. It’ll take you a while to find one that is right for you, but it can be done. Be careful what you’re buying, not all pawn shop tools have all the handles and locking collets you’d have if you bought the tool new.

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