How to Use a Rotary Tool on Wood (11 Steps)

Do you own a woodworking shop or metal shop? Are you working on a woodworking project? If the answer is “YES”, then definitely you are familiar with the rotary tool.

A rotary tool is a multi-functional tool that can work with several accessories like wood, metal, plastic, glass, electronics and many more.

Using a rotary tool, you can create beautiful art on a wooden surface, and small household repairs. Also, there are always some places at our home where we can’t reach, but we need to do little grinding or polishing type work. A rotary tool is always useful on these type of tasks.

If you want to carve a design on a wooden surface, firstly you need to know how to use a rotary tool on wood.

Step by step procedure of using a rotary tool on wood

how to use a rotary tool

Step 01: Choose a plank of softwood to carve your design

Why did I state to choose a softwood? Softwoods are easy to work with; they will not make you disturb during an operation. Choosing a plank of wood of pine, basswood, or butternut will be the best option to begin your work. 

Also, make sure no imperfections like knots or warps are there in the wood. Otherwise, it will be challenging to carve a design.

Step 02: Make your design using a pencil

Did you already select a design? If yes, then you are one step ahead. If not, choose your design. Either from online or from any other area.

Then, take a print out of the design. Next, use a carbon paper so that you can copy it on the wooden surface.

Place the carbon paper underneath of the design paper. Using a pencil, draw the outline to transfer the design on the plank of wood.

Step 03: The plank of wood need to be clamped on your worktop

Select an even worktop where you need to place the wood-piece. Place the wood-piece at the corner of your worktop and clamp it so that it remains stable during the operation. Depending on the size of the wood-piece, you may require several clamps to accomplish this step.

Step 04: Wear all safety equipment

Safety is always inevitable, and you mustn’t proceed to operate with the rotary tool without safety equipment. The rotary tool creates lots of dust and due to this, wear goggles, to cover your eyes completely. Put on a face mask to keep your nose and mouth safe. Wear hand gloves to protect your hand during a sudden wood kick up.

Step 05: Placing the design on the wood

Take a rotary tool and make sure the attachment is flexible enough so that you don’t feel any fatigue in your hand.

Hold the rotary tool like a pencil. To get the most control, keep your hand 30° – 45° angle to the wooden surface. Thus, you will be able to create the carve with ease. 

Step 06: Don’t do hurry, make small strokes

A rotary tool contains a small motor. It means you can’t run the tool for a long time. Don’t hurry while working with a rotary tool. So, press the rotary tool lightly and pull the machine on the wood grain, not more than 5 – 10 seconds at a time.

Step 07: Use sabretooth bit to carve large areas

A sabretooth bit is a handy tip to carve large blank areas because it has sharp teeth that tears through the wood easily. Place the bit of the sabretooth at the end of your rotary tool. Rotate the bit clockwise to secure it nicely. Turn the tool on and place it on the large blank area and don’t force it to create a carve.

Also, make sure your selected sabretooth bit is compatible to work with wood. 

Otherwise, the design will get damaged.

Step 08: Use a fluted carbide bit to create an outline

A fluted carbide bit will leave smooth finish in the outlines because it has shaped edges with vertical channels. While using a fluted bit, be careful to follow the outlines slowly to avoid any types of mistakes.

Step 09: To smoothen your cuts, use a diamond bit

A diamond bit works like a sandpaper as it has rough texture in it. This rough texture assists to smoothen any sharp edges. Choose a diamond bit as per your requirement and place it on the head of the rotary tool. It is always advisable to work slowly and carefully to smoothen the sharp carves.

Step 10: Wipe away the sawdust

As I stated earlier, a rotary tool creates a lot of dust. And because of the dust, it may be difficult to look at the design during a cutting operation. So, during the operation, stop the rotary tool every after 5 minutes and wipe away the dust from the top of the design.

Step 11: Final finishing

To add more vibe in the design, you can use a ball-shaped fluted bit in your rotary tool. Thus, the design will look more attractive. Continue to press the bit around the design to create a random design on the wooden surface.

Also, you can apply a wood burner on top of the design to give a darken look. 

Remember, if you place a burned mark on the wood, you will be unable to remove the mark later. So, before deciding to use a wood burner, think twice.

Next, choose a polyurethane or other type of color to create a coating on the design. Apply the coat using a natural-bristle brush and after applying the coat, wait for the next 24-hours to let the coat dry.


So, isn’t a rotary tool a versatile tool? By interchanging the bit, in the above project, you have done shaping, sanding and roughing using a rotary tool. All you need to do is while operating, keep yourself safe from any hazardous situation following the safety precautions.

Related Reads:

What Does a Rotary Tool Do?

What Is A Wood Router Used For?

How to Make a Wood Lathe? (7 Steps With Images)

What Is A Wood Chisel Used For?

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