Dremel tools are not always thought of a traditional woodworking tools but I am astounded how many woodworkers one one of these and for me, I am always digging mine out of the cupboard for one reason or another. What I like about them is the portability and how they can do small things with such ease that most other tools are either too big or too cumbersome to use. The one thing I use mine for all - the - time, is trimming screw and nail tips that have protruded through the wood when making things like jigs. I like it when screws protrude through the wood because I know I have a "good bite" on the wood, but having a small sharp tip poking out is a hazard so I always cut them off flush and the Dremel tool is perfect for that.
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More recently I found myself needed a multitude of small, even holes that could be done with the drill press, but I have always wanted a mini drill press for my Dremel tool, so now was a good time to see if I could figure something out for this ...
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I started off with a scrap piece of 3/4 inch plywood for the base, then attached, with screws from the bottom, a 1-3/4 " square mast ... that was the easy part. Next, I wanted to have a variable height adjustment so needed a 2 stage mechanism. For the first stage, I ended up using a piece of T-track mitre gauge slot track I purchased a few years ago that has never been used. this is because it has a recess along the bottom the protrudes, so if you dado out a grove, it doesn't sit flat because of this protruding part where screws heads would otherwise be. To make the slide to move up and down the mitre gauge blank, I used that same "extruded" plastic called UHMW polyethylene. It is widely available and I purchase it in 3/4" thick pieces, then cut my own miter slot material on my own table saw with a general purpose blade as I need it.
This plastic worked perfectly after spending some time on my table saw and very carefully sawing and re-sawing ever so slightly until the piece fits into my T-track mitre gauge slot blank.
I never use wood anymore for mitre gauge material, I have had too many instances where wood expanded so much it wouldn't even fit in the mitre slot, and that's the problem with wood for mitre slot material, if you want a nice snug fit, wood expands and contracts and sometimes it is too tight, other times it fits too loosely whereas UHMW polyethylene fits the same every time you use it.
For the second stage of the height adjustment I decided on making a moveable piece that I could fasten to the mast using a "cam system". All a cam is is a circle with a hole drilled off center, and in my case I should add a bit of a handle to it as well to make it easier to re-adjust.
I cut a piece wood and glued more plywood on the sides to make the clamping portion of the second stage height adjustment. I had to make it slightly loose to allow for wood expansion but was relying on the cam system to give me a tight fit with it.
After the clamping housing was glued and tested to ride smoothly up and down the mast, the next thing I did was drill a hole at a place in the housing where I felt would be a good place for the cam to insert through. Using this hole as a reference and the mast as the other, the distance between the hole and mast, plus a half inch or so would be the size of my first attempt at making the cam. I drew it on a piece of plywood, cut it off on the bandsaw, then smoothed it out slightly on my reciprocating sander.
Next, I needed to drill a hole through the cam, and again I made an educated guess where I thought it should be. next was to try out this cam system to see if it would even work. To my delighit, it worked even better than I had hoped. The cam system actually automatically "locked" when I raised the clamp housing, I didn't even have to lock the cam handle .. of course, I did to ensure it was being held, but that's how well this system worked. It made me wonder where else I could use this idea it worked so well.
Next, I needed to attach the 2 height adjusting stages together which was easily done with three screws through the T-Track.
And finally, the test to see if this thing would even work. I attached the Dremel tool and set the height ... turned on the Dremel tool, and the whole system worked like a charm. Amazingly well.
With all the various bits and attachments, I could see the potential for many, many different uses for a tool like this, especially for model makers and carvers. There is a whole world of uses for woodworkers doing other forms of carving and miniature work.
Copyright Colin Knecht