Dremel Tool Safety Tips for Polishing Polymer Clay Beads and Jewelry

Polymer Clay Dremel Tool

Learn How To Use a Rotary Tool Safely with these 8 Tips:

For many polymer clay jewelry artists, a Dremel Multipro or other comparable rotary device is a favorite tool for drilling, carving and buffing Fimo beads. But as is the case with all power equipment, there are some safety issues to keep in mind. Warning… some of the descriptions listed below are dramatic, graphic and sometimes even silly to emphasize their importance:

1) Read the safety info that came with your machine. There are also cautions posted on the machine itself… read those!

2) Always wear safety glasses even if they make you look like a geek (or regular glasses if you wear them). Loosing an eye because a bead hit you at high speeds is one of the poorest ways to get good at your craft!!

3) Tie loose hair into a pony tail. Accidentally winding your long hair into a machine that turns at 30,000 RPM (Revolutions Per Minute) is guaranteed to hurt.

4) Don’t dress fancy while working with a Dremel. Guys don’t do it and there’s a good reason for it. Take off scarves, ties, long necklaces, shirts with drooping sleeves, bracelets and rings that could get all wound up in your buffing wheel! Do wear clothes though. You don’t want to be one of THOSE kinds of artists!

5) Unplug the machine when you change buffing wheels, drill bits and any other accessory for your rotary tool. You could get hurt should the machine accidentally turn on when you weren’t expecting it!

6) Buff on the right side of the wheel. Look at the direction the wheel is spinning on your machine. When I hold my Dremel in my left hand with the wheel facing the ceiling, it turns counter clockwise. This means if you hold the bead on the right side of the wheel and you accidentally let go of it, the wheel will throw the bead away from you. Alternatively, if you hold the Dremel in your right hand and the bead is polished on the left side of the wheel, the bead will fly into your face. And you are all too pretty to have a bead permanently embedded somewhere where it’s not supposed to be!

7) If you do drop your bead, make sure to turn off the machine before you bend over to pick it up. Like I mentioned before… bad things happen when you get your hair caught in any high speed buffing tool. Not a pretty site!

8) Think… don’t drink! When you are using any machine it is important to be focused. So if buffing beads makes you stressed, make sure to have your Martini after you’re done using the Dremel. That also goes for any other prescribed drugs that may impair your alertness.

For more information on how to use a Dremel MultiPro Rotary Tool, here’s a 3 additional articles:

I shared these Dremel Tool Safety tips to help make you safe, not afraid. Girls… power tools can be your best friends if you learn how to use them correctly! And guys… you’re smiling cause you already knew this, didn’t you!

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Cindy Lietz, 23 September, 2008

    What’s your opinion of the Dremel? A must have tool or an unnecessary accessory for polymer clay artists?

  2. MJ, 23 September, 2008


    When using power tools safety glasses should be worn even if regular glasses are used. They help protect laterally and give extra protection to the glasses themselves.

  3. Cindy Lietz, 25 September, 2008

    Good point MJ! It is also a good idea to pull your head back a bit. I was reading on ArtBeadScene about a woman who got a piece of wire up her nose and into her sinus because she clipped off a wire too close to her face! Ouch!!

  4. Cassie, 28 October, 2008

    I’m new to your site and new to polymer bead making, but I’ve been making jelwrey for years and have played around with glass bead making at a friends studio. This post was great tips for those who have never used power tools, but for those of us used to power tools, but not polishing beads, there were a few tips missing I would have loved to see. Such as: How to hold the beads in a safe manner when polishing them, whats the smallest bead size thats really safe for polishing this way. These may be listed on other entries you have, but since this is a safety post, and those are safety issues, I’d hoped to find the answers on this entry.

    As far as the hair thing goes- it doesn’t just hurt to get your hair caught in power tools. There have been cases with slightly high power tools where the force of the hair being caught actually ripped off portions of scalp. Not a pretty sight at all.

    Also, this comment: “Girls… power tools can be your best friends if you learn how to use them correctly! And guys… you’re smiling cause you already knew this, didn’t you!” Arg! Some women are very, very proficent with power tools! I frequently know more about them the guys in my classes (at an industrial school) and at the professional design firms I’ve worked for. Why must other women continue to spread this sterotype?

    Just my 2 cents. Overall, the site seems to full of good information and a good resource for newbies to clay like myself.

  5. Cindy Lietz, 28 October, 2008

    Thank you Cassie for your input! You are right about safety being very important and that is why I have written a fair amount about it. I always advocate that people read their safety instructions carefully before operating any power tools.

    In my video on safety I talk about ripping out chunks of hair and the machine hitting you in the head, should you get your hair caught in it. So I also agree with you on that.

    As for how to hold the bead safely, I have talked about this in tip 6. I will also add here that if you can’t hold it firmly in your fingers while buffing, than it is too small to buff. With small beads like that you are better off buffing by hand or using a rock tumbler to do it for you.

    My comment about women using tools comes from experience with thousands of women in my classes who were afraid to use power tools. They were comfortable with a food processor but not a sander and I just want them to be able to see they are the same.

    Just like you, I am very comfortable with working with tools, but I am not so blind to think that there isn’t a strong stereotype out there. Just look at your industrial school. I’m guessing, Woman are still the minority.

    I recognize that my style of ‘perpetuating the stereotype’ may be annoying to you and perhaps to many other women. But for many ladies who still think that way, they can relate. And when they can relate, they feel more comfortable. When they are comfortable, they may just try something new. And isn’t that what we want them to do in the first place?

    For me, by recognizing the stereotypes I can help people move beyond them. It may not be the best way to go about it, but I mean well by it and I hope you can forgive me for that.

    Thank you very much for sharing your opinions. I really appreciate your involvement!

  6. Sandra, 08 November, 2010

    I don’t have a dremel rotary tool (yet, on my christas wish list), so I was wondering if a drill press would be able to do this job? I have sanded my beads so they are lovely and smooth, but I can’t get the shine on them even by buffing with a soft cloth.
    Any ideas people?

  7. Cindy Lietz, 09 November, 2010

    @Sandra: You know Sandra, in theory it should work, but since I haven’t tried it myself, I don’t know whether or not it will. I guess the only thing to do is to test it. If it doesn’t work, you can save the buffing wheel for when you do get a Dremel. Just make sure if you do try it, wear safety glasses and follow all the other safety rules for working with a power tool. Always start at the slowest speed and never make your motor work too hard. If it does work, come back and let us know what happened.

  8. Phaedrakat, 11 November, 2010

    @Sandra: I was wondering what type of clay you are using? I was just worried that you might be using Sculpey III or another clay that doesn’t get super-shiny…what clay are your beads made of?

  9. Sandra, 14 November, 2010

    I’m premo and a brand here in NZ called du-kit. Is lovely to work with, but I’m thinking now that it won’t shine up very well. I bought myself an engraving tool that has polishing attachments and it has buffed some stuff up lovely, but the shine isn’t there. I guess that’s when floor polish comes in very useful.

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