Dremel Tool with diamond drill bit for pottery

I throw pottery, and one piece just came out of the kiln with some glaze that filled in some of the holes; it’s a small collander. I’d like to get a Dremel tool to clean up the holes but was told that I really need a diamond tipped drill bit to get through the high fire glazes without breaking the piece.

Should I get a diamond tipped drill bit? Sounds plausible. Which Dremel tool makes the most sense? I’d probably want a cordless one for ease of use. There are a few two-speed models, but I’m pretty sure I’d want the variable speed. Since I’ll be using it for pottery and other projects I want to get a good all-around tool.

All I can add is the Dremel is hands down the most useful tool ever made. I’d go with variable speed.

Dremels are indeed terriffic tools. I’ve been using the same one for over 20 years now. Yo should definitely get a variable speed. Dremel also makes a flex-shaft attachment that you might want to look into. It’s kinda expensive, and I don’t know if it fits all models, but it looks real useful. Once you own a Dremel, you’ll find all sorts of uses for it.

I like the corded Demels, myself. I know some people use the cordless but get two, because you know it will run out of juice just when you need it the most. The flex shaft is a hand saver, a necessity in my opinion if you use the Dremel for any length of time.

Make sure and wear saftey glasses too, the Dremels throw off a lot of stuff. I think i have some diamond tip bits (I have a ton of bits), I got them cheap on eBay. They are expensive at the hardware store.

As for the diamond dusted bit, it’s not a drill but you are after. That will shatter the piece badly.

It’s a thin cylindrical grinder bit. “Smooth”, not fluted like a drill bit- but coated with diamond dust. That will grind through both the glaze and the ceramic without introducing angular force against either that could shatter it.

A thought- don’t try the first contact on that piece. Sit, and wait- fire a scrap with the same glaze, same thickness if you can. Fire it identically, use THAT as your test piece. I’d start at the highest speed you can turn to- not battery operated, but corded. The battery will slowly lose its juice as you work, and if your rpm’s drop below a certain speed, you do risk chipping instead of smoothly grinding through the glaze and substrate.

Good luck. The Dremel is a beautiful tool- I own a real one, and a Sears Craftsman knockoff that turns every bit as fast. Let us know how it goes !


You can get diamond-tipped burr bits fairly cheap (for example, at Woodworker’s Warehouse, http://www.woodworkerswarehouse.com:80/shopSearchResults.asp?SID=&shopperid=3UCGEQGPFEE38NLTMJKK7LNHHVPPCSSA , you can get 30 bits of varying sizes for $15.00. I’d consider using (a very little)water or mineral oil as a lubricant while grinding to keep the heat down.

I’d go with the corded Dremel with the flex shaft. Very handy.

Wow, thanks everyone for your input. I love tools, so any excuse to buy something like a Dremel which I’ve wanted for a while is a good one. Now if I could only find an excuse to buy a Sawsall…

There is the corded tool kit, which comes with the flexible shaft attachment plus a bunch of bits. (I sound like Kryten). It’s top speed is 25K. There’s also the cordless kit which has a much lower top RPM. Do I really need 25K vs 10K RPM. The cordless one would be much more useful for projects outside and away from civilization but not if the lower top RPM makes it less useful.

      • STOP!!! Don’t buy that Dremel, until you have considered a Foredom tool. They are more expensive, but work FAR better and last longer, as all their brushes, bearings and cords are separately replaceable. The 1/8 HP is about $220 or so online, the 1/4 HP is about $360. Dremel tools have two specific problems: their speed control is lousy, and their shafts are never ground on-center. The claimed speed range of Dremels is 5000-30,000RPM’s but the actual tested range is typically about 14,000-25,000. Diamond bits don’t work well in Dremel tools because the shaft is not ground on-center, and the diamond bits get knocked off one spot, and then that spot just gets bigger and bigger, until the diamond bit is ruined. The shaft being off-center also means that Dremels chatter a lot–and yes, you can use one and say “it works just fine”, but then, you use a Foredom… and you see that it works far better. You can use the same bits in each (if you get the 1/4 HP version, you can even use quarter-inch shaft bits, that a Dremel can’t use at all). Some Foredom handpieces cost $200-$300, but that is because of the high-precision bearings used in them. Half the things you think are impossible with a Dremel, can be done with a Foredom tool.

For now-and-then use a Dremel is way better than nothing, but if you plan on using it a lot, you will be much happier with a Foredom tool.

Something I recommend to all Dremel users: buy a foot pedal switch. I have a cheap Craftsman one I bought many years ago – it’s just a momentary-contact switch in a foot pedal with a power cord attached. You can use it with any power tool. I use this pedal all of the time with my Dremel tool, routers, and belt sander (when it’s flipped on its back and clamped to the bench).

While I’m sure that they must be the finest tools available short of a full-blown dentist’s drill, if I had that kind of cash in my tool budget, I’d probably buy the full Dremel kit and then use the remainder to buy a plate joiner.

Foredom Power Tools.
Dremel Tools USA.

Can’t tell the players without a scorecard.

Well I bought the corded Dremel with the flexible shaft, which certainly makes the operation much easier. It’s not a tool I’m going to be using all the time, so I couldn’t justify the much higher priced Foredom.

It’s still slightly slow work, but I picked up a selection of the diamond bits to complement the one I bought when I got the tool. They seem better suited for this work. So far so good.

Hey. No yapping. Get back to the grind.


      • No, the neatest ones are the 60,000 RPM air tools --but they cost lots more even. I got to see one used at a gun/craft show once. A guy was carving a bas-releif scene of a bunch of stampeding horses–on a chicken eggshell!

My sister and I are into pottery, and were taught in college to use Dremel Tool for grinding off glaze and stilt marks and whatnot. It’s pretty standard. However, be careful–my sister got too close to the Dremel Tool when she was grinding some glaze of a piece, and it yanked clean a BIG chunk of her hair (which took months to grow back).

Fortunately the bald spot was in a place where she could cover it up with other hair, but I’m tellin’ ya, that was bizarre. She first showed me her “accident” by lifting up a “flap” of hair, and there was this completely smooth bald spot on the top of her head, about the size of–the lid of a container of Parmesean Cheese (I have some Parmesian Cheese next to me and it looked to be about that size). It was as smooth as a baby’s bottom, too. Took months to even grow peach fuzz on it. The Dremel Took yanked her hair out so clean… (Of course, she is visually impaired which kinda explains why she got so close to it–but I’m telling you, DON’T get close to the tool!) :eek:

OK, I guess I just had to share my sister’s Dremel Tool Bald Spot story. It doesn’t come up much in converstation… :wink: