Hints and Tips Page 17
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|Paying Homage to the Rotary Tool
|If there is one tool that can do nearly everything, it's the rotary tool. This multi-tasking tool should be one of your first investments for the wide variety of tasks it can perform. Here are just a few of the things you can do with a rotary tool and accessories.(And there are probably a hundred more things I don't have room to list).
|Although these are made may several manufacturers, Dremel seems to be the name that everyone knows--and for good reason. They make a quality product. Be prepared to spend a few bucks to get a good one--those $20 imported ones should be considered disposable.
|Almost all of them will have multiple speeds or variable speeds. Depending on the task, this is going to be very handy. From what I've seen, a lot of the accessories are interchangeable between manufacturers-- and it's the accessories that make these so useful
|Let's start out with the carbide or high speed steel burr. I use these to "whittle" the basic shape of the handle, especially in smaller areas where my belt sander won't reach. You can use these to shape the brass or nickel silver guards also. Use a light skimming motion--these are aggressive and will dig in if you use any pressure. Especially the carbide ones. I call it "whittling".
|You can also use the carbide rasps to enlarge pin holes or the slot in a guard. ( For guard slots though, use a file to finish up to get a good, flat side). The carbide rasps are strong enough to shape hardened steel, but go slow.
|Small as they are, the sanding drums can be used to finish shaping the handle. (Actually though, I always recommend hand sanding as your final step). I typically use a lower speed--these go so fast they can burn the wood. They wear out fast but fortunately they are economical and easy to replace.
|Cutting disks, in addition to cutting bar or rod stock are also useful for roughing up the shiny metal surface of the tang, to give the glue something more to bite into. I like the slightly larger fiberglass reinforced ones--they hold up a lot longer and aren't as brittle.
|These cutting disks can also be used to profile a blade blank, getting it to the right shape before going to the grinder. It's a slow process and you'll eat up a few disks, but it's sure a lot easier than using a hacksaw. In this photo I'm modifying the tip of a tanto blade I was working on.
|Rotary tools also do a great job acting as a small router . This attachment is attached by replacing the front collar on the tool and provides a range of depth adjustment.
|I use this routing attachment for cutting the grooves on the inside of two halves of a handle to accept the tang from a hidden tang knife. Although you can freehand it, it prefer to hot glue a guide fence on a scrap of wood to run the base against. (Hot glue the scales down, too with a single dab of glue). I like to use a 1/4" square bottom router bit
|And this is what you'll end up with. Pop the scales off and glue them back together in preparation for epoxying the hidden tang blade in.
|This is a slightly larger router base that Dremel makes. I've used this more for small woodworking projects than for knifemaking, but it's still pretty handy.
|Another useful accessory is the Dremel base that turns your rotary tool into a drill press. With an inexpensive sliding cross vise, this could easily be used as a mini-milling machine
|Being the cheap guy that I am, I found a drill press stand that was designed to hold a corded hand held drill at a garage sale for $5.00 . Using stainless steel hose clamps, it was easy to strap the rotary tool in. It was supposed to be temporary but I've been using it for 10 years now.
|Although it won't replace the buffing wheel on your grinder, those little buffing wheels are great for polishing small areas or items.
|Oh, didn't I mention that you can drill with a rotary tool? These are best used for smaller drilling jobs (don't throw away your electric hand drill or drill press!) such as the lacing holes on this sheath I'm making. Whole lot faster than using an awl.
|By the way, most rotary tools are designed to work with accessories with a 1/8" shaft. For smaller drills or accessories, Dremel makes a keyless chuck that works like the chuck on your hand drill. Since you are no longer restricted to accessories with a 1/8" shaft, using this gives you the option to use a much wider ( read smaller) range of accessories and drills.
|They always give you an assortment of small grinding stones when you but a kit. These are great for sharpening lawnmower blades and chainsaws but I would never EVER consider using them to sharpen a knife. Too hard to get a consistent edge.
|Yeah,yeah, I know that there's like a million other things that the rotary tool can do and that ( to mix a metaphor) I only scratched the tip of the iceberg. This little homage to the rotary tool was only meant to illustrate a few of the more common ones and to hopefully to give you some ideas.
Hints and Tips Page 
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