Page 1 of 4 1 2 3 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 37

Thread: The Basics of Dremel'ing Sinktubes

  1. #1

    Default The Basics of Dremel'ing Sinktubes

    Lord Maul asked me to bring this over here from FX-Sabers... I hope some of you find it useful. As always, thanks to Jay-Gon for helping me get started with dremeling and for all his help over the years.

    Ok…this is a topic dedicated to dremel (or your favorite brand of rotary tool) usage, best practices and safety. I've noticed a lot of new people asking about tools and techniques. Well, here's a start. Keep in mind that every one has their own way of doing things. No one is right or wrong, it's just preference.
    I certainly hope this helps some of our newer folks who are interested in making sabers.

    I'll have to post this in sections and will add to it as I document different techniques. Grab a cup of coffee... you're in for a read.

    Ok…Let’s get started.

    First, SAFETY!

    Before you buy and operate your dremel, make sure you have purchased all the necessary safety items.

    1. Safety Goggles: Dust and particles are a byproduct of cutting out the metal in a sink tube…it is IMPERATIVE to have proper eye protection. To date, no successful “eye-transplant” has every taken place and you only have two of them! Wear your goggles. If the finest piece of dust can cause a corneal abrasion, imagine what a sharp chunk of brass sink tube would do. Additionally, it’s not just the byproduct you need to worry about…I’ve had cutting disk crack and shoot across the room and have even had an extension wand explode.

    2. Face mask: I like using some sort of mask so I’m not inhaling the dust created by cutting or sanding a sink tube. I don’t have statistics, but I’m pretty sure brass dust was not meant to be inhaled.

    3. Face Shield: Overboard on the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)? Maybe, but have you ever been hit in the neck with a tiny hot shard of metal? This will prevent that from happening. THIS IS NOT….I repeat, NOT AN ALTERNATIVE TO THE SAFETY GOGGLES.

    4. THICK gloves: I use weilding gloves that I buy at Homedepot. I'm not a big fan of clamping down a sinktube in a vise, becuase I moved the sink tube as much as I move the dremel while cutting. A sink tube can get very hot while under the pressure of a blade. Also, you'll have a nice layer of protection in case the dremel slips.

    I have all three items stated above, plus gloves because I don’t like using a clamp to hold the sink tube so it does get hot.
    Here’s my PPE!

    Any questions so far…pretty basic stuff right? Ok, so let’s move on to equipment.

    Your tool of choice will vary. I like to use a corded multi-speed rotary tool with a flex shaft. The shaft will allow you to hold the tool more like a pencil, allowing for more familiar (if not better) control. Yes…cordless dremels are made but they just don’t have the power or endurance and the good ole’ corded ones. Multi-speed….not every job requires your cutting wheel to have a million RPMs. Whether it’s a Dremel brand or Black and Decker…either are great and the choice is yours.

    Personally, I like this one:

    Yes…it’s a Black and Decker. But it has all the features I’ve described above and will fit all the Dremel Brand attachments.

    Next is a Flex shaft….as stated above, this tool gives you more control and will greatly improve your “dremel-fu”.

    This is the 400 series and it has all the features I’ve described above. You can also purchase a kit that comes with the flex shaft (as shown).

    Next up, a dremel station. By far, one of the best investments I’ve purchased for my tool. It will hold your dremel and convert it to a drill press (for small jobs). We’ve actually got one dremel in the press and one on the holder with the flex shaft attached. Having two means that I can go from drill press to cutting or sanding without changing shafts.

    The other essential item to buy is an accessory kit. If you’re just starting out…get a small one. You probably don’t NEED all the stuff in the larger kits. The smaller ones will have your basics: This kit contains:
    • •Reusable storage box
    •400 Series XPR storage case compatible
    •Removable organizer tray
    Sanding/ Grinding Accessory Kit 686-01 Includes:
    •1 - 426 1-1/4" Fiberglass-Reinforced Cut-Off Wheel
    •1 - 85422 Silicon Carbide Grinding Stone
    •15 - 412 Medium Sanding Disc
    •1 - 402 Mandrel
    •1 - 407 1/2" Drum Sander
    •4 - 408 1/2" Coarse Sanding Band
    •4 - 432 1/2" Fine Sanding Band
    •1 - 932 Aluminum Oxide Grinding Stone
    •1 - 8193 Aluminum Oxide Grinding Stone
    •1 - 511 Abrasive Buffs
    •1 - 84922 Silicon Carbide Grinding Stone

    You will probably need to buy more cutting and sanding wheels as time goes on.

    Along with your power tools, you'll also want a few small hand files. These will help sand down edges that may be to small or tight to get the dremel into.

    That’s about it on the equipment. Next up…Best Practices

    Best Practices:
    Well, as promised, here's my brief tutorial on cutting a sink tube.
    First thing I do is make sure I've got a good design on graft paper. You want your design to be as accruate as possible cause those are the lines you'll be cutting.
    Now, I've tried to secure the paper to the sink tube with all sorts of clear tape before. If you use tape, use a paper painters tape or masking tape. Myself, I don't use tape....I glue the graph paper to the sink tube using a stick of glue.

    Liberally apply it and start putting it on your saber. Make sure no trash gets between the paper and the sinktube and make sure you're are putting it on straight.

    Your graph paper lines should line up and there should be no creases or airbubbles in the paper. If you don't get it right the first time, simply peel it off and try'll take a few minutes before that glue dries.
    Once it's on, let it dry for a few minutes....test it out...try to move the paper shouldn't budge. If it does....let it set for a while longer.
    Next, I mount on a new cutting wheel. I have also saved a few older, smaller ones and I'll show you why in just a minute.

    I use a heavy duty wheel. They make stronger ones....called reinforced wheels, but I like the HD ones because they're thinner and when you're making small cuts, thin is better.

    Next, I put the wheel to the steel (or the brass ;D ). I follow my lines pretty closely but usually just outside the line. You can always take more brass off later....but you can NEVER put it back on. So it's better to come back after with a sanding drum or hand files to finish the job. (Another tutorial....another time)

    Now...why do I save used wheels? Because they're smaller and I can use those to get into tight space. Like here...

    Ok, for me, I've found it's better not to chop up the sinktube...meaning, once the wheel is in....follow the line all the way to the end. Try not to pull it out and start cutting from a different direction or'll just make more work for you later when you try to even out those lines.
    Trim of any excess you may have...

    Once you're done, you should have something like this....

    Next, soak that sink tube in some water to take off the glue and you're good to go. Next up....sanding down those nasty edges with a a sanding drum, flap wheels and hand files.

    Here is a quick overview of drum sanders and flap wheels.


    So you just finished cutting your sinktube... see all those rough edges? Let's get rid of them.

    This is what I refer to as "finishing". No one wants sharp edges on their saber. They're uncomfortable and dangerous. This is where drum sanders and flap wheels come into play.

    These are only a few of the various types of sanding tools available to you for use with a rotary tool.

    Drum sanders come in various grits and a few different sizes. I usually start with these.

    Here's an example of an "unfinished" sinktube. Note the jagged edges and the uneveness of the cuts. This will be more prevalent when cuting curves.

    I'm going to tackle this by using three different sanders. First, I'll use a 40 grit drum. This one will remove alot of those shards of brass that I want gone. I'm also going to have my rotary tool set to a medium-high level. I'll make a few quick and LIGHT (not much pressure) passes over the edge of the peice. This process is quick and I don't spend a lot of time on it. I just want the bigger peices removed so I can use another sander to "sculpt". Here's the drum I use for this.

    Once that's done, I change the drum to a 100 grit so I can start to define the lines. Everyone does this differently. Some people clamp down the piece and work the dremel around it. I hold the piece... this allows me to not only move the dremel, but move the shroud also.
    With this... you are only removing millimeters of brass. I also lower my rotary tool's speed setting... usually to low-medium. This is where the final shape will emerge. Take your time. Remember... you're SCULPTING. In some areas that are tight, I might just use the tip of the drum... for broader areas or straight lines, I'll use the whole drum...running it parallel with the line.

    So now... I have straight lines, no burrs and a nice clean look. But I'm not quite done. The edges are still sharp.

    This is where the flap wheels come in handy. Basically, a flap wheel has tiny sheets of sandpaper tethered to a center wheel. This lessens the amount of resistance against the metal and helps to soften those edges.

    I use the same process as I stated above, moving the rotary tool and the shroud. I follow the lines on the sinktube, first at a 90 degree angle to the cuts and then at 45 degrees on both sides of the line. Careful not to take off too much chrome on the outside. This rounds out those sharp edges.

    The finished product:

    All edges are even and rounded. No one is getting their finger sliced on this shroud.


    One more thing... invest in a good set of hand files. These are essential, especially when trying to even-out a straight line or for getting in-between spaces that a dremel won't fit.

    For instance, this saber needed nice, smooth lines... and obviously a dremel will not fit in-between those lines on the body of this hilt. This was all filed by hand. Yeah... it took a while, but worth it.

    Sanding Down a Sinktube

    I have no luck with Gold transparent powdercoating so I am still forced to sand down sinktubes. The first one I ever did, my first saber actually....was sanded down by hand. It took all day.
    Then I saw Jay-Gon using brass polished sinktubes....but they were $30.

    The sinktubes I use are from Ace Hardware. In the store, they cost about $, they're about $4.00. Doing so many brass shrouded sabers, we had to come up with an easier way to sand it here's a video of how we do it.

    If you have a better way, please let me know.

    All you need is a drill, a 5/8 compression stop plug, a heavy (thick) glove and sandpaper (80 grit to 1500 grit). For the final "polishing", I use the same technique but with 0000 steel wool and Brasso or Flitz metal polish
    The results....a smooth, gold sinktube!


    Honing out a Bladeholder

    GAH! This used to be such a pain for me. Our first few sabers, we didn't hone out bladeholders. We sanded down our blades. The problem with this is then ONLY that blade can be used with that saber. Not a good option. The better option is to hone out the blade holder.

    So let's go back to flap wheels. Again, everyone has a different method for this. I'll show you how to do it with a dremel.

    I recommend purchasing a few of these...

    (side note: is a great resource for all rotary tool accessories. They are less expensive then Home Depot, ship with in a few days and they accept Paypal.)

    They cost about $2.30 a peice and one will hone out 3 or 4 bladeholders.

    Attach the above linked flap wheel to your dremel...

    then clamp down your bladeholder.

    For the purpose of this tutorial... I'll wrap the BH in a cloth and use a welding glove to hold it. WARNING: YOUR BLADEHOLDER IS ABOUT TO GET FREAKIN' HOT!!!!!! If you're using the clamp... give it a few minutes before you try to touch it. Also, do this BEFORE you powdercoat your BH. The bladeholder will get so hot, your PC will start to bubble.... I know... I've seen it happen.

    Turn your rotary tool to a medium high speed setting and them insert into the Bladeholder.

    Apply pressure to the walls of the interior and move it in and out. Let the BH cool off and then test fit a poly-c blade in it. LET THE BH COOL OFF first.... again... it's hot.. and could melt the walls of the poly c tube.

    If you're powdercoating, do this again very quickly after you've PC'd the bladeholder. Your goal with that is just to remove the over-spray that went inside the BH. Don't apply much pressure, let the rotary tool do the work for you. It should only take a few quick "hits" to remove the over-spray.

    I think that's all I've got for Dremel tutorials.

    I hope this serves you well. Thank you for reading. If you have any questions or tips, feel free to post them.  058

  2. #2
    Jedi Council Member cardcollector's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    I am A proud American.
    Blog Entries


    Woah! This is super helpful, I never would have though of using flap wheels...

    Most excellent!

    My .02 to add...
    I like to use sanding disks after the sanding drums, They can replace files IMO.
    Got a Question? There's a thread for that...
    ~Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.~Teddy Roosevelt

    SollusVir everywhere else... FXsabers, Youtube, etc...

  3. #3


    i remember finding this on fx sabers a while back. the tid bit on sanding down a sink tube was very helpful in sanding down a bike seat post that was slightly too large for my brother's cruiser bike. random, i know.
    anyways this is very helpful to beginners with rotary tools as well as advanced users.
    So let it be written, So let it be done.

  4. #4


    Quote Originally Posted by cardcollector View Post
    My .02 to add...
    I like to use sanding disks after the sanding drums, They can replace files IMO.
    I've used them too, with pretty good success. But I think I like the "idea" of "hand" filing. Makes it feel less mechanical and more "hand-made". Weird, I know.  058

  5. #5
    Council Member
    Jedi Master
    FenderBender's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Earth System - Rhode Island


    Thanks for putting this up here Casey, I kinda dropped the ball on it. Sorry Alec

    Some things that I do, I no longer draw the template first then add it to the tube. I put the graph paper direct on the tube then draw on the tube to scale. This insures the shape I draw is correctly contoured to the shape of the round tube ( vs. doing it on a flat surface then wrapping it around the round tube) I also use the vice as it helps have straighter cuts and more control, especially on the aluminum tubes which are harder to cut than the butter that is the brass tubing A good set of small hand files is essential as it gives you more control over the fine details and allows a more precise correction of any mistakes or if you need sharp angles that the drums cant give you.

    If you're new, please take the time we all consider just as precious as you and READ!


    Official BMF and LORD OF THE STRINGS

  6. #6
    Force Aware noslenpar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Queens, New York


    Thank you for posting this awesome tutorial.

    I'm getting ready to start making my first saber and this comes just in time. Can't wait to get started.

  7. #7
    Banned Sith Lord
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    the darkest places of your mind


    wow this amazing. thanks to all who contributed. ive learned something new!!

    cant wait to give it a try. if i can (somewhat) master soldering i can probably master this. overtime of coarse.

    its deffinatly a necessary skill to have. sinktube shrouds offer SO much more options when it comes to saber design.

  8. #8


    Hmm.. wonder why you posted the safety note on the gloves when you didn't use them in the tutorials.

    I've never used a dremel before, but this looks like a good tutorial, I bookmarked it. Perhaps this could go on the thread index?

    I really should get a dremel and start "Using the MHS as a canvas for saber art"

    Click here to learn all about me!
    The Shoutbox: The only place you can double post!
    Anybody who spells it Lightsabre is dyslexic
    "Yeah, if I had Skotts face I'd hit it too" ~ Fenderbender
    "You didn't buy a toy saber just to break it. You bought an economy sound card with a really complicated wrapping scheme." ~ Silver Serpent

  9. #9


    Gloves are for amatures realy men eat all thier metal shavings.

    though I do use one of those faces sheilds most of the time there is nothing more sobering then a shard of exploded dremel cutting disc grazing your cheek.

  10. #10


    Quote Originally Posted by Sidd View Post
    Gloves are for amatures realy men eat all thier metal shavings.

    though I do use one of those faces sheilds most of the time there is nothing more sobering then a shard of exploded dremel cutting disc grazing your cheek.
    or burning plastic fragment in your eye ( believe me it hurts )
    So let it be written, So let it be done.


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts