Set of 10 Carbide Burs - Set $20
1/8" shank double cut carbide burs in a variety of shapes. While I still prefer the Saburr Tooth burs for fast and efficient gourd carving (those were actually designed for carving wood and gourds), sometimes budget is a concern. These carbide burs are not quite as fast cutting, but they do make a smoother cut and will stay sharp a lot longer than regular steel burs. If you are looking to carve without spending a lot of money this an acceptable substitute. The double cut also means that these burs will work for lefties.
Diamond Inverted Cone
Mounted on a 1/8" shank. Perfect for undercutting, texturing and sanding.
5mm - $4.50
6mm - $4.50
8mm - $4.50
Set of all three sizes - $12
Diamond Bur Sets
These economical sets have 1/8" shanks. Set of 6 assorted - $4
These larger sized burs are more practical for sanding and carving than the tiny ones that come in many sets. Loose packaging, Exact sizes and shapes vary from set to set, but are similar to photo.
60 Grit 1 1/4" Shaping Wheel $18.50
These are some of the burs Bonnie Gibson uses most often in carving, cutting and inlaying materials into gourds.
1/8 inch shank
Use this one for relief carving, to inlay heishi and for stippling techniques.
1/8" & 5/16" $6 each
6 and 2 mm HSS Wheels
1/8 inch shank
Great for cutting fine lines.
(The smaller wheel can cut tighter curves.)
Dremel Inverted Cone
1/8 inch shank
Head is 1/4" wide
Structured tooth carbide burs are a good choice for fast roughing out and general carving. Because these have non-directional cutting teeth, they are the best choice for left handed carvers.
About Carving Burs: Which type is right for you and your project?
Most burs that are included in a typical rotary tool kit are intended for general household use, and many are unsuitable for gourd carving. The descriptions below will help you to choose the appropriate burs, you can also find more in depth descriptions on pages 29-31 of Bonnie Gibson's book "Gourds with Southwest Motifs" .
Note: Bonnie has been carving wood and gourds for over 30 years. All of the burs shown below are pieces she has used and tested herself.
High Speed Steel Burs
These burs are the mainstays of most gourd carvers. They are inexpensive and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. This type of bur cuts with sharpened cutting flutes or "teeth". They will cut aggressively and are perfect for most people that want to do general gourd carving, and their price makes them the best choice for beginners. For most carvers, three basic shapes are adequate (although you may want to add a variety of sizes within those shapes.) I recommend a wheel, a ball, and a either a cylinder or an inverted cone. You can use other shapes as well, but if you are starting from scratch this is a good place to start. These burs will dull after years of use or if misused, but usually a thorough cleaning will extend their life. (More on cleaning burs at the bottom of the page.)
Carbide burs are more expensive than steel burs, but with ordinary care they will outlast a steel bur and should rarely need to be replaced.
Some carbide burs look exactly like steel burs, but will stay sharper much longer. Personally, I don't buy this type as they are much more expensive and the high speed steel cutters last quite a long time when they are kept clean and used only on gourds.
Some burs have bits of tungsten carbide grit fused onto a steel based cutting surface. This type of bur comes in various shapes and cutting grits, but is less aggressive and smoother cutting than a structured tooth bur.
Structured tooth cabide burs have sharp hair-like projections protruding from all sides of the bur. They are great for left handed carvers as they are not directional and are not used with a mandrel. They come in a variety of shapes and grits and are the most aggressive burs for fast carving.
Diamond burs are not intended for carving through the gourd skin. They are better suited for detail carving or sanding operations. These burs are the least aggressive of all but are perfect for sanding or texturizing after the rough carving is finished. Inexpensive kits with several burs will give you plenty of shapes to choose from.
Specialty Tungsten Carbide Burs
Structured Tooth Carbide Burs
Bur Cleaning Info and Tips
There are different reasons why burs leave burn marks or don't cut well. If you know your bur is relatively new and not likely to be dull, then the cause is often a dirty or clogged bur.
The easiest way to clean all types of burs is to get a small jar (baby food size is fine) and fill it with enough acetone to cover the bur cutting heads. Let the burs soak for a while, the acetone won't hurt them. This will loosen the resins that are clogging the cutting surfaces. After the burs are removed from the acetone, simply scrub them off with a toothbrush shaped brass brush. This should eliminate the majority of the debris. You can resubmerge and repeat if necessary.
Carbide burs are much tougher and in a pinch they can even be flamed with a small propane torch to burn off the residue. Use caution when using this method; flame the bur while it is chucked into your tool, don't attempt to hold it with pliers (or your fingers!!!). Do NOT try this on steel burs. They will lose their temper and will not hold a sharp edge. If you are cleaning a mandrel mounted carbide bur, you must remove the small fiber washer before using the torch cleaning method.
*Looking for Rifflers, Hole Saws and other tools?
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Note: Large or heavy headed carbide burs will work better at slightly lower speeds. They can be run at full speed in a Foredom tool, which runs slower than other tools. Practice with them to deterimine the ideal speed for your own tool. Always insert these burs completely up to the shoulder depth (the thick area of the mandrel) when mounting into the collet or chuck. Do not run the mandrel mounted burs in reverse.
*Looking for Bur Holders, Flexshafts, Keyless Chucks, Sanders and other Rotary Tool Accessories?
1/8 inch shank
Burs that will both drill holes and cut sideways for piercing/filigree.
Single Fine Filigree bur (left) Carbide $5.00
Carving drill - 3/32" shank HSS $15 (Center) Sold Out
Carbide Pointed Bur (right) $13.00
Burs for Filigree Carving
*See the Project Packets page at www.bonniegibsonart.com for instructions on how to do the filigree technique
Diamond burs are best suited for sanding and texturing the softer inner gourd. These are not suitable for cutting through the tough outer gourd skin, but they cut smoothly when doing fine carving or detail work on the inner pulp, and are great for smoothing cut edges.
Assorted larger head Diamond Wheel Burs mounted on a 1/8" shaft. Most are approximately 1/2" - 5/8" wide. Some have squared edges, others are rounded. Thickness varies. Great for smoothing backgrounds and inlaying larger cabochons. $2
We have smaller Diamond Wheels, 3/8" - 1/2" sold in a mixed set of 3. $3
Thin Diamond Wheel mounted on a 3/32" shaft. These hard to find burs are great for smoothing backgrounds, inlaying small cabochons and undercutting relief carvings.
4mm - $4.50
6mm - $4.50
8mm - $4.50
10mm - $4.50
High Quality Swiss made Burs
Large (1/2") Safe End Cylinder
Below: Saburr Tooth brand structured tooth burs are my favorite carving burs because they have fast cutting teeth to remove a lot of material quickly. All of these burs have a 1/8" shaft.
The dovetail shape, inverted cone and concave cylinder shapes are good for cutting basketry and ripples, the tapered shapes works well in tight areas, and also gives you the proper angle for flattening backgrounds, and the large head cylinder is perfect for smooth, even inlay channels. The long taper shape is excellent for getting into small areas, or use the bud for small areas or lay on its side for wider cutting areas. The ball is good for general fast removal, while the ball nose is a nice combination shape with the advantages of both a cylinder and a ball.
Safe end burs have no teeth on the top end of the bur, are perfect for cutting along borders - because there are no teeth on the end, you get a really clean cut.
Arizona Gourds is an authorized distributor for Mastercarver Micro-Pro Tools and Ram Carving tools. Please use the link button to view these micromotor carving tools.
Ball Head Cylinder
These are GENUINE DREMEL burs.
Diamond core drills
3/32" shank, with a 3mm cutting head. The head is a hollow tube coated with diamond grit, and it may be used to enlarge holes in beads so they will accept leather cords or to drill holes in stones or glass for hanging. Use water to lubricate and cool the bit while drilling. (I either dip the bur in water frequently, place the stone in a shallow dish with a small amount of water.) More instructions on drilling/cutting with diamond burs in the October 2012 newsletter.
Above Right: Carbide Football and Carbide Coarse Grit Cone bur.
The carbide football is a smaller bur that can perform both like a ball and a cylinder. The shape allows to to get into small areas and use either the tip or the side. Carbide means it stays sharp! $12
The shape and size of the coarse grit cone bur (1/2" x 1/2") combined with the coarse cutting carbide grit means that you can hold your tool with the full side of the bur on the gourd surface, and remove material very quickly. Another good bur for lefties. $12.50
New! "Carving Burs - Selection and Uses" tutorial now available! This packet explains the differences between styles, shapes and sizes, and which burs are good for which techniques. It's a handy 12 page reference guide.
New - Shown to right - Long Diamond Taper
Designed to ream out and enlarge bead holes, but can be used like any other diamond. Similar to "Filipoint" bur. It has a 1/8" shank.
Safe End Inverted Cone
Note: The new inverted cone bur shown above is similar to the dovetail bur, but has a more acute angle and a slightly shorter head. This shape works well for ripples and basketry. Both have a safe end, which allows you to cut cleanly alongside an edge or border.
3mm Inverted Cone
3/32 inch shank
Used for texuring and small fine cuts
4MM (5/32") Carbide Wheel bur $6
4MM Wheel bur - Fits Dremel tools, but might be snug in a micromotor tool.
1/8 inch shank
These cylinder burs are ones that Jordan Straker orders for himself and his classes.
Carbide Inverted Cone
1/8 inch shank
Head is 3/16" wide
2-PC MINI DRILL SET Perfect for “Filigree carvings”; these amazing bits drill holes and side cut to shape openings in material up to 3/4” thick. These bits are precision made from special super hard Titanium nitride (TiN) coated HSS steel for heat resistance and long life. Set includes one each of 3/32” and 1/8” shank (fit standard power tool collets). Lengths: 2” and 2.25”. $16 set of 2 bits.
Set of 6 assorted diamond burs - each set may be different. $4 Half price for the month of Dec. or while supply lasts. Only $2
Carbide coarse grit cone
1/8" 4-DIAMOND CARVING POINTS FINE (150 GRIT) SET. This great new set has the four favorite shapes used by wood and gourd carvers! Use diamond points anywhere for superior control and finish when smoothing, detailing, feathering, texturing plus inserting eyes & feathers. Also, useful to remove deep scratches left by coarse cutting burrs such as Kutzalls. Genuine diamond grit is amazing, it out-lasts all other burrs & cuts fast, yet leaves a smooth finish. 1/8" shanks fit most all power carvers. Each set includes a selection of favorite carving points and a clear plastic storage pouch. Heads 1/4" (except 1/8" tapered burr). Overall length 1.75". $11
3/16" comes in a two (2) pack for $10
1/4" (left) comes in a two (2) pack for $10
1/8" (right) comes in a two (2) pack
Carbide 1/8" Inverted Cone
Carbide 3/16" Cutting Wheel