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Favourite Burr Shapes, Uses And Tricks.


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I am really interested to see what shape burrs people use when carving stone and or bone- I'll start. I use diamond burrs with stone and bone and carbide burrs with bone- though I have been experimenting with carbide burrs on jade. The carbide burrs will cut jade as they are harder then that (nephrite at least) however their life is significantly shorter then when using on bone. The advantage I found in my testing was that the carbide burrs allowed extra detail not obtainable with plated diamond pieces.


Here are my favourite diamond burr shapes


Numbered from left to right.

1) Barrel with flat tip- Great all round shape. Great for hogging out material, the flat end means its good for lines and abutting edges as the end doesnt eat away as much as the belly. Nice and long so it can be used to remove undercutting.

2) Tapered barrel- same as above though its more accessible into some areas then the non-tapered one.

3) Oval shaped- This is my favourite shape. The belly makes this great for smoothing out undercut areas and I find its much less prone to undercutting then small barrel or any sized round burr. The round nose and belly make it great for adding curved tapers/ curves to a surface. Lastly the round nose is good for gently eating away under objects.

4) Round burr- Not much that I use this for that I cannot use the oval burr for/ that the oval burr is better for. I do use these for drilling small holes.

5) Oval burr again though a different size.

6) Barrel with rounded tip- Quite useful for eating out under things (I prefer round nose burrs when going under a crossover for example, flat nose ones work but tend to leave lots of cleaning up)

7) Tapered thin burr- The small end size is useful for small areas- enough said.

8) Rounded cone- I use this as a substitute for the oval burrs as these come in every cheap kit I buy but I can never find oval burrs in there! Not as useful

9 and 10) Wheel burrs- My second favourite shape. These guys are great for lines, curves and edges! They have such fine cutting edges they provide the most detail out of all the diamond burrs Ive got. I use these guys for cutting under bridges in crossovers. I have a few different sizes though some are V shaped and not as useful. The small burr is great for details- something I have not used to its full capacity.


My favourite carbide burr shapes



1) Barrel- great for doing lines and edges. I tend to use the corners for details.

2) Inverted tapered barrel? Useful for details- again using the corners.

The selection is simple here but again burrs of different sizes but the same shape are used- note the flat end means straight cuts. I particularly like the small inverted tapered carbide bits for detail. My selection here is supplemented by the above selection of diamond burrs and with gravers and scrapers.


The other thing I like in small burrs is small long shafts (1/16" or 2.35mm) as this allows access to deep within detail- a crossover for example. The shaft of 1/8" burrs tend to get in the way.


The main tricks Ive found are as follows:

1) To make a curve use something straight- the longer and flatter the better. I tend for files over burrs due to the larger surface area.

2) When shaping a piece use the barrel burr parallel rather then perpendicular to the piece- the longer edge means neater lines and no undercutting.

3) You can remove the diamonds from the end of barrels/ burrs to stop them removing material if need be.


I look forward to seeing what other use and learning some more tricks!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Lachlan, Re your Burr usage. I also use very similar burrs to you - and also use the wheel burr of mabe a larger size to out line my

relief carving on wood for the boxes. makes a great outline cut for the next electric chizel blade to cut against. But I digress-- I meant to

write about what I use my worn out burrs for. I bend the ends about 45 deg. and fit them into a dremel etching tool. You can remove the

hardend toolbit quite easily. The 6 and 3 mm burrs will fit in quite tightly albeit at an angle. As I carve quite hard stone ( argilite), I use this

tool as an electric file on those small places hard to clean. Works for me...Colin

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I have the diamond tools in the above image, but for what I have been carving they seem to not be useful. They must be better for some things, but not for the woods that I use. I'll have to keep trying them as I hanker to use other materials.



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Hi Lachlan, Sorry about being tardy with a reply but we are in the process of moving house and I'm both fairly busy and of course stressed. Could you possibly allow me into the new year to take so pics and forward them from my new workshop? Thanks ....Colin

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