Tuesday 28 October 2008
Michelle Robertson tests this pyrography tool
Dremel have recently launched the VersaFlame, another extremely versatile and multi-functional tool that would be a good investment for anyone's toolbox. It is capable of welding, melting and shrinking materials with ease making this ideal for those interested in jewellery making, restoration and plumbing. But it doesn't stop there. The bonus, should you choose to purchase this product, is that it is also rather good for woodcarvers.
Getting startedThe unit behaves similarly to a blowtorch in that a flame is produced with which to work. In the case of the VersaFlame, you simply fill up with liquid butane gas, the kind found in a can and available from tobacconists, and you're ready to start work. The 42ml tank capacity ought to run for about 75 minutes at its highest setting. It features either an open flame (up to 1200 degrees Centigrade) or hot air (680-1000 degrees Centigrade) for use. It claims to be the only stationary burner that safely combines open flame use with a catalyst and soldering head.
Ignition is simple with the release of a child safety lock and the push of a button, and from here, you can control how high you want the flame to burn. For continuous use, there is a flame lock which I found really handy for hands free work, particularly when combined using the removable supporting foot.
In useThe controlled flame is great for detailing. As you burn selected areas of wood, for instance feathers and hair, the VersaFlame really brings out these areas with pleasing results. On a recent visit to Peter Benson's workshop I tried the burner on a carving of a dog that Peter had been working on. By setting the tool to a high flame, I was able to pull out some impressive definition and shading to hairs carved on the ears through scorching, as the photograph above shows.
The flame is adjustable through the simple turning of a nozzle therefore precise control shouldn't be a problem. For best results, however, I would recommend trying the VersaFlame on test pieces of wood before you let it loose on your prized carvings just so that you can get a good feel for the product. With its variable temperature setting, you want to be sure that you are applying the right amount of heat exactly where and how you want it.