For Dentists

In the article about the CARVING TOOLS I USE, I have presented two of the main tools I use to make my handcrafted lamps.

I received many emails with questions about which particular dental burs I use in my artwork.

In this post, I will show you which ones I use the most and for what kind of work. I will present them according to the order of carving stages.

Colors And Speed

All the numbers and tables are taken from NTI Catalog — the company which burs I use very often. However, the numbering system is normalized so the same burs will have the same numbers regardless of the brand.

When using high-speed air turbines like NSK Presto II or Shofu Lab Air-Z you have to remember that you can use only burs with Ø 1,6mm shank (FG) / 1/16″.
You can use them with Dremel as well, with appropriate chuck.

The «Ring Color» indicates the coarseness of the diamond burs. Beginning with super coarse Black (SC), we have Green (C), No Color (M), Red (F), Yellow (SF) and White (UF). I use burs only from black to red.

The other topic is the speed you are using the bur with. I very rarely use Presto with the maximum speed. The perfect speed to use particular bur for the particular work you have to find by trials.

The Contours

Carbide Burs
H33 (168) 
Size: 010

When the whole pattern is ready or at least the part which I am 100% sure about, the first stage is engraving the contours. From my experience, that is the best bur for this work.

I use it with quite low speed. Otherwise, the bur may be too aggressive and it can be difficult to make thin and not too deep lines.


Carbide Burs
H1 (001) /
Size: 012
At the first stage of carving the outer, hard layer of the wood, I precisely carve along the engraved lines. For this work, I use smaller carbide burs.

H1 (001) / Size: 021 or bigger
I use the same type of bur for removing the rest of the harder wood within those areas and for the initial carving deeper into the softer wood. Size depends on the carved area’s size.

If I work with really thick gourd and the area to carve is big, I use Dremel tools with bigger and more aggressive bur of a different type to remove the wood faster.

Into The Wood

Diamond Burs
801 (001) and 801L (697) / 
Sizes: 016, 023, 029, 035.

Ring Color: Black (SC)

Slower and more precise carving deeply into the wood. I also use these burs when I carve in the darkness to control the carving depth. I have to be very precise and careful at that stage.
The “L” type I use most often because it is longer and I can carve deeper.

The Vertical Surfaces

Diamond Burs
837 (111)
and 837L (112) / Size: 012

Ring Color: black (SC), no color (M), red (F)

These ones are great for carving the vertical surfaces (walls). The choice between 837 and 837L depends on the high of the surface.
As to the color, firstly I carve it initially with SC or M to remove more wood and later I smooth the surface with the red (F) one.

835 (107) / Size: 010
Ring Color: no color (M), red (F)

This is the shorter type of similar burs which I use for the very precise carving of the details where the walls are short. For example, I used it for carving the veins of the leaves in the “Escher’s Leaves” table lamp.

My Table lamp XX Questa was definitely the most difficult and challenging of my lamps in terms of the carving the vertical surfaces.

The gourd was very thick so the walls were really high. Also because of the design, there was an enormous amount of walls to carve.

The Texture

Diamond Burs
801 (001) / Size: 010, 012
K801L (697) Size: 014
Ring color: red (F)

Both the 801 and K801L burs I use for making the texture of a «lines» type, like in case of Leaferis lamp and “points” like in case of Narma.

K810L I use for making the texture when the surface is deeper. From my experience, this type of bur is more difficult to buy.

On my Floor lamp III Ammonitis you can see both types of these textures.

Burs I Use

Some of the other types of burs I use more often in creating lamps:

Diamond Burs
815 (040) / Size: 018, 042.
Ring Color: no color (M)
Smoothing the surface before making the final texture.

859 (166) / Size: 012
Ring Color: no color (M)
Ex. : Making the initial holes of the Voronoi structure like in case of the «Escher’s Leaves».

248/12 from DIA-BURS by MANI
Pointing the places for the holes.

These are all of the most important dental burs I use for carving my gourd lamps. That choice has been clarifying for the past years after experimenting with dozens of different burs.

I hope that will help other gourd artists in their work. If you have suggestions or experience with other types of burs, do not hesitate to leave a comment.

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