Hello All,

In coming up with a new rosette design I find that I need a .030" wide circular groove right around the center. So I ordered a couple of .030" carbide end mills with 1/8" shanks. At first I figured I would make an adapter to fit them to my regular router's 1/4" collet, but when they arrived I changed my mind! Those suckers are really small!

With visions of carbide shrapnel stuck in my rosette, I figured that I better get a Dremel, and a base for it, so that I could feel whether I was feeding at the right rate. I remember from years ago that Frank was saying that the then newer Dremels had rubber mounted bearings that made the tool inaccurate. 

So what's the current state of affairs? Dremel? Laminate trimmer? Any advice would be most welcome (:->)...


Brian Burns

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Hi Brian. I’ve never used a new model Dremel.
I recently purchased a Bishop Cochran router base for a dremel 300. This base supports the Dremel at the top as well as the bottom. This prevents any possible movement that might occur in a bottom mount only router base. Also it is not unusual in the older Dremels to find some slop in the bearing mount area of the housing. Take it apart and wrap the bearing with tape or as Frank Ford shows on the Frets website heat shrink tubing. I would check Craigslist for an older Dremel in serviceable condition. I’ve done that and had good luck. BTW the Bishop Cochran base is most excellent. And as you probably know don’t take a pass any deeper than the diameter of the cutter.

I don't often use rotary tools but a year or so ago the Black and Decker RTX I had for years tore itself apart during use and took some of a jig with it!

I bought another to replace it and the drive had so much wobble I could use it for nothing that demanded anything close to precision.

I went to a store that had display models of the Dremel rotary tools and grabbed the spindle of each and tested them for wiggle. The only one that had no noticeable play was the two speed model which was also the least expensive of the lot.

I took a gamble and bought one and luckily it was very solid. I had thought of opening it up and wrapping the bearings but figure it best to avoid fixing something that ain't broken. If and when it gets sloppy I'll give that a go.

I have heard good things about Proxxon. The one possible downside is the Proxxon doesn't thread into jigs and bases so you need to modify them or make your own. I may go that route someday.

Found an interesting site selling replacement parts for Dremel tools :-)

Hi Brian,

We use quality laminate trimmers for just about every job requiring precision and clean edges,  Historically I note we all used Dremmels when they were the go-to cheap alternative  to spending a lot on a quality mini router/trimmer and they had a lot of cheapish bits available.   However, they were never good and the chatter and inaccuracy were about the same as it is now.  A wobbly Dremel will snap a fine bit faster than a laminate trimmer and the "bog down" of the motor and whiplash torque is more of the same.   It comes down to to determining whether building a quality guitar with the cheapest tools is a good idea. In my experience it is not.  Laminate trimmers and quality mini routers are relatively cheap these days, as are the accessories that go with them.

For relevance, we regularly run a 1/8" spiral downcut bit in our Wadkin Overhead - 23000 RPM, 3 HP, reducing collets from 1/2", for doing fine f hole cutouts and pattern work - the combination of big stable machines and extremely small bits is a good one.  There is also a lot of information out there which deals with speed, depth of cut and feed rate - all good things to know.  Also, there is carbide and then there is carbide,  a lot of cheap Chinese stuff is pretty poor, and quality fine bits aren't all that more than the cheap stuff when you consider what the job is you are asking them to do.



Hello All,

Many thanks for all the responses (:->).

Well, I think I'll go back to plan A, which has the advantage of being the cheapest, if it works (;->)...

I've bought two of the .030" carbide bits from RobJack, which I think are high quality, and Ill risk using one of them in my Milwaukee full size router. It's got a dedicated base with a threaded 1/4" pivot pin that I use just for rosettes, and the poly cutting board molds that I build them in. The traditional Spanish method of building the rosette right in the soundboard is too scary for me! 



I use a Proxxon rotary school. Very high quality German made tool. I bought the aluminum router base also and cut it on my little bandsaw to a shape similar to the StewMac base.

Hello Robbie,

That is one very nice looking tool! And, after all these years, I'm still not over my "tool lust"!

Being in the usual impoverished condition of a classical guitar maker, I'll try making do with what I've got, at least until I break the first miniature end mill (;->)...



I've pretty much given up on Dremel.  For inlay work and other light duty, I'm using a cheap air driven Chinese pencil die grinder.  The super high speed means it simply doesn't grab or pull at all.  I bought a very simple setup from Dave Nichols and it works like a dream.   The tool is so light it works well on a very lightweight acrylic base he makes.  

Contact him:

His Web site:

Hello Frank,

That sounds like the best solution yet!

I checked with Dave Nichols and the grinder and base from him are $190. I'm sure that they are top of the line, but I only need to make one circular cut per rosette.

So, I searched on ebay for "pencil die grinder" and came up with a bunch, all the way from $16 to several times that amount. Is there one that you have had good luck with, that you would recommend?



Didn't know the price - I agree that's a bit much for your use.  You can easily make your own base  - the die grinder he supplied with mine is a simple cheap import, but it works well.  Lots of folks use the Harbor Freight ones with success, I think.

Hello Frank,

Blues Creek has a grinder and base for $130:

They say that they got help with the design by Dave Nichols, so it's probably close to what he sells.



I don't build acoustics, so I don't know if this will work for your application. I've used it in place of my Dremel router for butterfly inlays on tables. Very easy to handle, variable speed, the switch and speed control are reachable while handling it.

Not bad for $95.


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