I bought my Dremel after making my first kit pipe. After forty hours of carving with files by hand, I decided that I needed to assist the process with a power tool. A Dremel with a sanding drum seemed just the thing. Though it does indeed work, I rarely use my Dremel for shaping stummels. I now go straight from the sanding disc (chucked up in my lathe) to small files for detail work, to finish sanding. The Dremel rarely touches wood these days.
There are three main tasks the Dremel fulfills.
1. Cutting the slit in the button of the stem -- Perhaps the most difficult part of hand cutting a stem is cutting a good slit in the button end of the stem. This slit is key to provide a nice open draw for the pipe, yet it needs to be compact enough that there is enough rubber left for strength. Remember, this area of the pipe is going to be in the smokers mouth, and if we make the slit too tall we will either need a stem that is too thick to be comfortable in the mouth, or have too little rubber left and have a very fragile stem that is likely to be bitten through. I will cover in the stem section how I use the Dremel for cutting the slit into a stem.
2. Cutting a channel in the bottom of the mortise for bent pipes to pass a pipe cleaner -- On deeply bent pipes, it is impossible with some designs to have the draught hole in the middle bottom of the mortise floor. As such, it will not pass a pipe cleaner into the bowl with the stem in place. This is unacceptable in anything more than a basket pipe, and can be remedied with some careful opening of the hole.
3. Signing a pipe -- I have yet to be satisfied with a logo design, and have therefore been hesitant to drop $150 on a stamp for my pipes. I need to just make up my mind on what I want the stamp to be, but in the meantime I continue to sign my pipes with my Dremel. I vow to stop that practice soon though!
As for the tool itself, first of all, I recommend a variable speed model. I do occasionally buff tight nooks, and other do other odd jobs with my Dremel, and speed control is key to doing those things well. As such, I recommend the MultiPro model, with the flex shaft. The flex shaft is key to doing the precision work you will be doing with the tool.
As for accessories, I use the following bits most often: (Go to www.dremel.com and go to the Accessories/Rotary Tool Bits/Carving-Engraving section to find the bit that corresponds to the number indicated below. Unfortunately, the Dremel site is coded in such a way that I cannot figure out how to provide links to the specific pages. All that shows in the address bar, no matter which page you are on, is the URL to the home page.)
* 105 * 106 * 190 * 191 * 199