SKILL LEVEL beginner
by Courtney H
Tools & Accessories
Let's Get Started
To reduce the risk of injury user must read instruction manuals for all tools used in this project. Wear eye and respiratory protection. Use clamps to support work piece whenever practical.
Find the right Dremel for your task
There's no shortage of options when it comes to Dremel. Across our projects, we've used the Dremel Lite, the Dremel 3000 and the Dremel Stylo+. Each varies in size and power to cover all types of cosplay projects, so far our favorite is the Dremel 3000. If you plan on creating large builds, the Dremel 3000 will be up to the task. It's high-powered, ranging from 5,000 to 35,000 RPM, which means it's a particularly good choice for dense materials. If you find that the 3000 is a bit heavier than you prefer for your longer builds, consider the Flex-Shaft attachment. This attachment connects to any high-power Dremel rotary tool and we've found that this adds a lot to flexibility and comfort without giving up any speed or power. Compared to the Dremel 3000, we'd recommend the Dremel Lite and Stylo+ for more specific scenarios or skill levels.
Use the right sanding drum for the right tasks
The sanding band is a Dremel bit that's really useful for carving, smoothing, texturing, and detailing your build--as long as you're using the right grit for the task! There are three different grits of dremel sanding bands: very fine (240 grit), fine (120 grit), and coarse (60 grit). Each grit produces a different effect and has its place in the lifespan of a project. Here's how we tend to use each grit: Coarse Grit is for carving or shaping as it quickly removes a lot of material. This is likely to leave your foam with a rough texture, so be sure to skip it if you're looking for an especially smooth finish. Use Fine Grit to refine shapes or smooth out unwanted texture. This grit is a good middle ground: it carves and shapes material at a slower speed than the coarse grit, but leaves a smoother texture in its wake. Very Fine Grit is perfect for cleaning seams and creating precise details. (Don't forget to hit it with a heat gun for an extra smooth and sealed foam surface!)
Pull your Dremel in the right direction
While using your Dremel on a project, the direction in which you guide your hand can make a big difference. Look for a small arrow near the end of your Dremel, close to the bit. This arrow shows the direction that your bit will spin, and that's the direction you'll want to make your strokes. Pulling in the opposite direction of the arrow can result in some substantial gouging. For smooth and controlled sanding, you'll want to make sure you're making gentle and even strokes that lead away from you.
Use the right RPM for the right material
Adjusting the RPM (rotations per minute) of your Dremel allows you to carve out a design at a speed that's comfortable for you and appropriate for the density of the material you're working with. A faster RPM means more material will be removed more quickly, but you'll want to be careful that the RPM isn't too fast, or else it may generate too much heat and melt your material. Just about every Dremel rotary tool has a large range of RPM to accommodate different materials for a cosplay project. For most projects with an EVA foam-like base, we like to use a higher RPM to block out our general design. Even a box cutter can be useful for pulling some material out. From there, we'll begin to gradually lower our RPM as we get into finer detailing. By contrast, working with thermoplastics like Worbla or plexiglass means a lower RPM is necessary from the beginning. These materials are especially sensitive to heat generated from tools and can start to melt if the RPM is too high.
Always practice on a test piece first
Finally, we recommend taking time to get comfortable working with your rotary tool. Be sure to save scraps--they're invaluable as test pieces you can use before moving on to your full project. Use a scrap piece to test which grit you want to use, or whether the RPM is set at the most appropriate speed, or even just so you can get used to moving the Dremel in the right direction at a slow and steady pace. Testing on scrap will ensure that you're warmed up and confident, and you'll save yourself the heartache of ruined material or lost progress on a project. If you're already feeling confident, then use those scrap pieces for low-stakes experiments instead! Find new textures and effects without risking any damage to your final piece. Go crazy with all the different bits (sometimes we even use sanding stones on EVA foam) and find your new favorite. Remember, there are no rules in cosplay, so stay creative!