As a skull carver there seems to be a gazillion different skull carving burrs to choose from. So which should you use? I will go over some burrs that have greatly improved my skull carving that I use on a daily basis. If you have not already you can check out the burrs I recommend to get started carving in my other post Skull Carving 101. The burrs I cover below are in addition to the ones in that article and are meant to take your skull carving skills up to the nest level! I specifically carved a skull for this article that would use all these burrs so you can see firsthand how they perform.
I will be using a Dremel 4000 with a flex shaft and an adjustable chuck. I highly highly recommend getting the adjustable chuck if you do not already have one. You will only be able to use the dental burrs in this article with the adjustable chuck.
Tungsten Steel Carbide Cutting Burrs
There are a ton of different brands and variations of these burrs so feel free to shop around but I have found Tungsten Steel Carbide Cutting Burrs work well. Although you might think these burrs seem to rough and gnarly they actually do quite the opposite and provide smooth surfaces. Because these burrs are large they cut out a larger area and therefore leave a smoother carved area. I use these mostly for shaping and cutting channels in designs. You can also use the cylinder shaped burr to cut out a negative space while keeping the surface in the valley very smooth. These burrs are better suited for larger thicker skulls but I also find myself using them even for smaller skulls to smooth out areas. I recommend turning your Dremel or rotary tool to the highest rpm as this will help with making smoother cuts. The cylinder burr also works well for carving around a design that has been outlined so that the design is raised above the rest of the bone as you can see I did around the flower in the video. Carving down the area immediately around a design creates a relief and more depth to how the carving looks.
Square Cross Cut Burr (3/32’)
The square cross cut burrs are essentially the same as the burrs above but just a lot smaller. The business Profitable Hobbies sells these burrs as well as the ones we will cover below. I pretty much use these burrs exclusively for outlining designs like the dogwood flowers here. They cut through the bone beautifully and create sharp lines. You can use these burrs to do outlining on thinner skulls like sheep, fox, etc. but you will just have to be careful not to plunge the burr too deep into the bone that it goes all the way through. Now, if you were trying to do a cut out design these actually work great for that on thinner skulls. I will cut about 1/8 – 2/8 an inch deep when outlining on skulls like deer, bear, and cow.
Pointed Diamond Burr
Even though these burrs are intended for high speed carvers they actually still work great with a Dremel. You will need to turn your rotary tool to the highest speed and use the adjustable chuck. For this example I used burr #6852 Premium Diamond Burr (Pointed) to do the cursive writing on this carved cow skull. The burr #889 Diamond Burr (Pointed) also works well for very fine lines such as used for the writing. You can also use these burrs for outlining small designs as well.
As with most carving you will end up using a combination of several skull carving burrs to complete a carving. I can vouch for the above burrs as I use them on almost every carving I do. If you are interested in how this skull turned out after I finished it final photos will be posted on my Facebook page U.S. Skull Hunter as well as on my Instagram @u.s.skullhunter.
You can click on any of the highlighted words to be taken to the link for each burr I talk about in this article. Links that go to Amazon are affiliate links so if you do choose to purchase one of the tools I suggest here I will get a commission (very small, like pennies) from Amazon. Thanks for reading and let me know if and how you like the burrs!
Burr to the Bone, Hunter