Saturday, January 26, 2013

Paintbrush Handles and Dremel Identity Crisis

Before I talk about matchsticks and dremels which think they are lathes, I want to thank the people who have checked out my fledgling blog, followed and left comments. You have been hugely encouraging and for that I am most grateful.

Yesterday was my most visited day ever with 17 page views (taking me to 114) and more than doubled my followers (from 3 to 7) so welcome all, make yourselves at home and grab a cup of tea. I am going to try to get content up at a rate of about 2-3 posts per week.

One of my favourite things is finding new ways to use easily available and low cost supplies (often from the DIY store) and use them to make unique items or give mass produced items some character. I want somewhere to share my findings, also if I go without making something for a few days I wont have post fodder so it will kick my butt into gear.

Right now I have a good range of craft supply basics but lack many tools and specialist items, I will be obtaining these as I can. I have a long list of things I would like and tools I would like to try. I wanted to try using a drawplate to reduce the thickness of a cocktail stick to make paintbrush handles.

Lacking a draw plate, I decided to experiment.

I put a very cheap matchstick (2.4mm sq and 43mm long) from a kids craft pack into the dremel multi-tool

Then worked at it with coarse and then fine sandpaper. The first attempt I went too far and it snapped, but my second try was more successful and yielded a quite convincing scale paint brush handle.


Once you have reached the desired thickness, use folder piece of sandpaper or a cutting tool to thin the piece where you wish to separate it. I believe in lathe working this is called parting

Make lots more !

Give the handles some colour, here I have given them a watercolour wash to tint them without coating them (they will be sealed later)

I doubt I will be able to turn fine spindles on the dremel (even if I get a workstation to hold the dremel level and still) however I think with my cheap woodcarving tools I can imply greater detail with a few scored lines. After a few handles I tried the carving tools again and got a reasonable first magic wand which just needs to be stained, it can also be Belinda's first wand.

Model ship builders apparently use drawplates to create rails and pegs for their work, for woodwork the tool is used from the 'wrong' side of the die using successively smaller holes until the desired size is reached. I want to make some drawing pencils (and coloured ones like my real sets) and for this I feel I would need the reproducibility of a drawplate, using the same final hole for the whole set. Sat next to each other is will be very clear that they are not identical in width, there is a lot more room for variation in a jar of paintbrushes, I have about 10 different sizes, colours and styles in my brush pot (mug).

I need to work on creating the bristles for the brushes next, I tried some last night but it needs more work (the brush on the far left above has a little cyanoacrylate gel on it still, must sand that off.


  1. Gracias por compartir tus experiencias con la dremel,feliz domingo:)

    1. Gracias por su visita RosaMaria (Google Translate)

  2. Great tutorial! I can't wait to try it! Any idea on how to make a few 1/12 laundry pegs for my laundry shop project?
    Have a great day

    1. I usually experiment with several methods before settling on one. I would try to use the dremel to reduce the size of the wood, wrap a fine cord around the top so it doesn't split (that is how old fashioned clips in england work) and then cut the slot with a very sharp scalpel or craft knife.

  3. I will watch your experiments with the greatest of interest! I really want to use the central room in the attic as a painting studio for my 1:12 scale, early 18th century self, so some brushes will definitely be in my future :)

    I think they're already very pretty wands!


    1. Thank you Nina for your kind words. I did cut some extra detail into one brush handle, when I finish the brush post tomorrow (including the reason for the delay) I will be sure to include a photo of it, just for your enjoyment.

      Kim (who follows your blog too)

  4. Hi KIm Really clever usage of the dremel tool. That is thinking outside the tool-box!


  5. Hi Kim,
    Thanks for sharing the brush tutorial!!!