I'm VERY new to woodworking and don't have a lot of tools. I have a DeWalt Pullsaw, a Dremel, and some various hand tools. I recently got into woodworking because I saw a lot of really cool woodworking projects involving D&D, but now there are other things I'd like to work on.

My biggest issue is I live in an apartment, and even if I didn't, I can't afford expensive tools like a table saw or router. My Dremel is a Dremel 1000, which only has 1 speed, 35k rpms. Every time I've tried to use it to cut the wood I've been working with (birch, both 0.25" and 0.75"), I've either burned the wood, or in one case, even heated up the bit so much, it melted and snapped in half.

I know I should get a better Dremel, but is the 1000 a lost cause if I just want to cut some small shapes out of the wood? Or do I need a softer wood?

Also, is there a way I can keep my cuts straight using the pull saw? Or will I have to refine them with a hand plane? They always come out wavy and trying to sand them down results in my cut being the wrong size.

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    Hi and welcome to this site! We try to maintain a question-answer format that is a little different than most forums. The idea is that we want each post to be a single question and specific answers to it. That should make them more useful as a reference in the future. To that end, I think that this should be split up into two questions, one about your problems with the Dremel as a router, and a second about pull-saw technique. – SaSSafraS1232 Mar 14 '19 at 22:02
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    I'm just going to address the "dremel" part of the question so you can split this up. I think we need a little more information about what you're doing. What kind of bit are you using? What kind of wood are you working with? How much material are you trying to remove? If you can include photos (particularly of the bit, many of the ones that come with dremel kits are totally useless for wood) that would help a lot. – SaSSafraS1232 Mar 14 '19 at 22:07
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    Have you thought about buying a chisel? – Alexander Gruber Mar 14 '19 at 22:50
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    "is there a way I can keep my cuts straight using the pull saw?" Practice will certainly help here, although there are various other things you can try as well including something already mentioned by @Ron in his Answer. "Or will I have to refine them with a hand plane?" This is often a good idea, and is considered best practice in many cases. "trying to sand them down results in my cut being the wrong size." Simple solution to this, cut on the waste side of the line (cut the piece overlong) and then sand or plane to your lines. – Graphus Mar 15 '19 at 6:22
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    The spiral bits that I think you're talking about are intended for drywall, not wood. – SaSSafraS1232 Mar 15 '19 at 17:10

I'll answer the second question first as it's easier.

Without knowing the size of the wood or whether you are ripping or cross cutting, I'll give you a general answer. I use some Japanese Pull saws, I like them better than Western push saws. To help keep my cut straight, I made a small miter jig that I clamp to the table. I'm sure you can find many plans online. In a pinch you can just clamp a scrap piece of 3/4" stock that has a clean "Factory Edge" along your cut line and hold the saw flat against it.

As for the Dremel Rotary Tool, this can be a real challenge for 3/4" material and it's not really the best choice for cutting. You would be better off with their Ultra Saw with an edge guide for cutting thicker stock.

I have a Dremel Scroll saw that I use for projects that would be too small on my table saw. I clamp a straight edge on it as a fence and if you go slow, it works just fine. It's also very quiet and you can hook up a small shop vac to it for dust collection.

Here's a picture of it set up with two fences to cut really small tenons.enter image description here

You can also consider a Jigsaw. It's fairly quiet and not too expensive. With an edge guide you can get straight edges. See the theme here, you want a fence or a guide to help keep your cuts straight.

So, in my opinion, I think you will have good results using your Pull Saw with a Miter Box or other straight edge and some practice. If you are making small decorative things where structural strength isn't needed, you can try Basswood, but it's softer than Pine.

I hope this helps and enjoy the hobby!


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  • I know that there are some "saw" bits for regular Dremels. Are they even worth using? Although really I think the biggest problem is the RPMs of my Dremel. Also, pricey or not, I live in an apartment and don't have the space for any sort of table tools, and I don't want to chance getting noise complaints for using them, which is why I'm set on sticking to the Dremel. Would a lower RPM Dremel be enough for 3/4" Birch with the right bit? Or would I still be better off with a "softer" wood? – Darin Beaudreau Mar 15 '19 at 13:17
  • Also, not all the cuts I want to make could be made with a "saw" bit. Some, like the circular holes and curves, would require a routing bit, which is why I mentioned routing. – Darin Beaudreau Mar 15 '19 at 13:26
  • It sounds like you really ought to have a router, not a dremel. The issue isn't the RPM, it's the torque. A router will have the same RPM as a dremel, but it won't bog down making heavier cuts. Unless you're doing detail work like inlaid banding or guitar frets the dremel really isn't powerful enough for general purpose woodworking. – SaSSafraS1232 Mar 15 '19 at 17:06
  • Also, even if you have a router, you shouldn't be using it for rough cuts unless there's no other way. Your rough cuts should be with a saw of some sort. (A typical process for repeating curves is to cut within 1/8" with a saw and then use a template and router to get to the exact shape you want.) If you can't get a scroll saw or band saw a coping saw works just fine too. – SaSSafraS1232 Mar 15 '19 at 17:09

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